By President Emeritus Dan Mikel
Hey there! Who do you think you are? What are you trying to do? How dare you try to vote?
Most likely you’ve never had to answer those questions. The recently deceased Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, (RBG), was concerned about voter rights and other significant social, political and judicial issues.
As the Brennan Center for Justice has noted, “Over the last 20 years, states have put barriers in front of the ballot box, imposing strict voter ID laws, cutting voting times, restricting registration, and purging voter rolls.”
In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act into law, thereby allowing the federal government to protect the right to vote for all citizens. Over time the law was renewed by Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.
In the spring of 2020 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against extending absentee ballot provisions in our neighboring state of Wisconsin. Justice Ginsburg said the conservative majority opinion “will result in massive disenfranchisement.” In other words, some ordinary people will not be allowed to vote. (Common Dreams, April 7, 2020).
In the Wisconsin 2020 primary, we witnessed the city of Milwaukee reduce the number of polling locations from 180 down to only 5. Ordinary people stood in line for hours to exercise their right to vote. The smaller city of Madison had 66 polling locations. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 9, 2020).
The Native American Rights Fund conducted a multi-year study which showed how Native American are not treated fairly in the electoral process. A lack of a traditional mailing address, voter identification requirements in some states and unequal access to online registration were just a small fraction of the problems cited in the study. (The Circle, July 6, 2020).
Back in Minnesota, there was an attempt by Republicans in 2012 to require a strict VOTER-ID requirement. Union telephone volunteers called potential voters and explained the difficulties inherent in the proposed amendment. College students, women, renters, senior citizens, people of color and others would be unfairly impacted. Other groups did similar outreach. Minnesotans wisely defeated the amendment by a comfortable margin, 52%-46%.
Negative political ads are also used to suppress voting.
As (Retired) MN Supreme Court Justice Paul H. Anderson pointed out in a recent article in the Star Tribune (September 25, 2020), “Negative political ads can suppress the vote by fostering cynical attitudes, especially among independent or undecided voters.” Some people get disgusted at “politics” and do not wish to participate in such a bizarre system.
The first presidential debate (September 29, 2020) where President Trump made a mockery of a debate format similarly is discouraging. We must overcome our revulsion and take the positive step of voting for candidates who represent our values. Joe Biden, U.S. Senator Tina Smith and other labor endorsed candidates fill the bill.
Attacks by Trump on voting by mail are in a similar vein. Casting doubt on the integrity of our election system is an attempt to suppress the number of people voting. There is no evidence to support Trump’s attacks on the postal system. The unprecedented high volume of vote by mail ballots will be delivered. To help the letter carriers, mail your ballot well before the November 3 election.
What’s at stake in the 2020 election? In one word, “EVERYTHING”. Be sure to vote. You do not have to wait until November 3 to vote. You can do it RIGHT NOW. DO IT!!