Pennsylvania voters breathed a sigh of relief on Oct. 2 when a judge ruled that the state’s controversial voter ID law wasn’t going to be implemented – at least in the 2012 election.
The ruling was the latest in a succession of state court decisions pushing back against voter suppression efforts that are clearly linked to the national Republican party.
Recent electoral history may explain why the GOP has declared war on voting.
In the five elections since the first George Bush won in 1988, Republicans have managed to win the popular vote only once – George W. Bush’s narrow win in 2004. In every other election – including W’s controversial electoral college “win” in 2000, the Democrat in the race has earned more votes than the Republican.
If the current polling numbers hold up, President Obama is well-positioned to continue the streak in November.
So what’s a political party to do when the electorate repeatedly -- and convincingly -- rejects its message? Well, it could revise the message. Or it could choose the GOP strategy and try to revise the electorate.
It’s not a strategy that began in 2012. A GOP-orchestrated voter purge that disproportionately targeted African-Americans in Gov. Jeb Bush’s Florida ahead of the 2000 election may well have swung the election to his brother George. And, of course, disenfranchisement is as old as the nation itself.
But the scope of the disenfranchisement effort leading up to the 2012 election is stunning. As many as 5 million legal voters could be denied the right to vote in 2012 unless courts intervene, as they have in Pennsylvania, to stop this despicable march back to the pre-Civil Rights era.
It’s past time for Americans to speak up against this travesty. Too many people bled and died for the right to vote. Our country was founded on democratic principles, but it took nearly two centuries, until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, for the principle of one person, one vote to truly have the force of law throughout America.
Less than half a century later, that principle is in jeopardy. The majority of Americans who believe all Americans deserve the right to vote must speak up and act up to protect that right. We must not tolerate corporate-backed efforts to silence the voices of those who disagree with the corporate agenda.
So whatever your political persuasion, be sure to vote this November. But do more than that. Contact your legislators and your congressional representatives to demand that they stand up against efforts to deny any American citizen the right to full participation in our democracy.
Because a democracy that looks away while voters are disenfranchised is a sham, and America is better than that.