Our mail ballots for this mid-term election have arrived. Now it’s our turn to exercise our right – and our responsibility as America citizens to vote. It has been less than one hundred years since women finally achieved the right to vote, instantly doubling the number of registered voters.
Regular readers know that Ark Valley Voice rarely publishes editorials. When we do, they are usually related to an issue that has ramifications far beyond our beautiful river valley. They focus on the respect and dignity owed not just to ourselves but to our fellow human beings, and to the rights and responsibilities of citizens to our country. Now, in a manner becoming too blatant to ignore, we face a very real threat to that which lies at the heart of our existence as a democracy; a citizen’s right to vote.
Recent unfounded rumors aside, we have cause here in Colorado, and in Chaffee County, to be assured that our voting process is safe. In fact, just a few weeks ago, our state’s system was referred to as the most secure voting system in the nation by no less than the Department of Homeland Security. That is not the case in many areas of this country. It’s our responsibility as Americans to point out that same right is not enjoyed by every citizen of voting age.
Voter suppression is real, and growing – a fact that should alarm us all. The incidents, most all perpetrated by the leader and members of a certain political party that seems bent on keeping us all ‘in our place,’ are designed to prevent American citizens who represent targeted voting blocks from voting. Those voting blocks tend to be minorities.
Consider: In North Dakota, the Republican-controlled state house has changed the states voting laws so that a street address is required on a person’s ID. This targets Native Americans living on reservations because most residents use post office boxes for mail street addresses because they tend not to have street addresses on reservations. The Native American population constituted more than 5.5 percent of the state’s population and it went heavily for Senator Heidi Heitcamp (Democrat) in the last election. She’s up for re-election.
In Georgia, where the state’s Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp is running for governor against Democrat Stacy Abrams (who if she won would become the state’s first black, female governor), the state has doubled down on what was initial an executive ruling called “exact match, This jeopardizes the ability to vote of some 53,000 registered voters, most of them black. The ruling, which began as in executive order that was struck down by a court ruling. It was re-enacted as state legislation, which requires that a voter registration has to be an exact match, right down to the initials and periods, or the registration is invalid. This leaves registration staff to decide whether a ballot counts and Kemp is in charge of both the purge and attempted voter reinstatement.
In mostly white Waller County, Texas, the scene of a 40 year effort to disenfranchise the voting rights of the mostly black students at Prairie View A&M University, county voting locations were set more than 30 miles away from campus. Most college students have no transportation to get to voting locations. When Jacob Aronowitz, field director for that district’s Texas statehouse candidate Mike Siegal, delivered a letter to protest the attempt to limit voting, he was prevented from leaving. Asked what political party he worked for, Aronowitz said ‘democrat,’ and was arrested. It is redundant to say that this is wrong.
Here in Colorado, respect for the rule of law prevails and one vote per citizen is the law. The only way that the vote will be suppressed is if we don’t exercise our right and responsibility to vote. Kind of makes one glad we live in Colorado.