Today is Election Day.
I voted by absentee ballot more than a week ago. In California, any registered voter can sign up to have an absentee ballot sent automatically for every election, and I’m on the list. The envelope is postage paid, and this time I returned it by putting it in the lobby mail drop of my condo complex. It was so easy I felt guilty — and for a good reason.
In many places, voting isn’t that convenient. Any minute now, we may hear examples of the extremes: Voters who have been prevented from casting votes or misled into marking their ballots the wrong way, among other things. We hear about more of it during and after a Presidential election, but manipulating the vote empowers corrupt people too much to make it a once-every-four-years event.
Every citizen who is eligible should register, study the issues carefully and have a guaranteed right to cast a vote which will be counted (unless you refuse, which should also be a protected right under the First Amendment). No one should be expected to show I.D., and polling places must serve local residents well enough to prevent eight hour waits. Intimidation, either blatant or subtle, must be forbidden.
The Twenty-Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution expressly forbids poll taxes when anything related to the Presidency or Congress is on the ballot, although due to the states’ rights concept the amendment doesn’t mention local elections. At this point some voters probably have little faith in the Twenty-Fourth Amendment. We can only hope there’s a limit to what selfish people can do to prevent the poor from voting, but the current focus seems to be on making everyone pay for photo I.D. That will weed out anyone who can’t afford the unconstitutional poll tax, and right-wingers don’t even have to admit it’s a poll tax. They call it a safeguard to prevent voter fraud.
Funny. The worst case of election-related fraud I can recall in my lifetime happened in November 2000. It wasn’t the fault of people who cast votes, though. It was due to the way the State Of Florida held the election. Then-governor Jeb Bush is now running for the GOP nomination for President.
More than twenty years ago, I did volunteer work in a place where I handled a lot of used books. Removing forgotten bookmarks was interesting, and fell on every point of the nice/not so nice/unspeakable spectrum. The worst chill I remember was caused by finding a Nevada poll tax receipt. It was even worse than the chocolate or whatever that brown stuff was.
Some people are trying to push us back in that direction. If they can’t quite pull it off with a poll tax or a clear, in-your-face racist policy, they’ll do it some other way. It’s already happening.