Tag Archives: voter suppression

Mitch backs down … who knew?

(Photo by Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has taken back what he said about Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines’ decision to oppose a controversial Georgia vote law.

He said that big business should stay out of politics. McConnell admitted he didn’t speak “artfully” about the firms’ opposition to regulations that critics contend limit voters’ access to casting ballots.

McConnell backs away from warning businesses to stay out of politics (msn.com)

The truth is that McConnell has been exposed once again as the political hypocrite for which he has become infamous. You see, McConnell said that the Supreme Court’s decision in 2010 to allow corporations to contribute unlimited amounts of political money was, um, all right with him. The case became known as “Citizens United.”

So, it was all right for corporations to donate to GOP campaigns but not all right when they oppose GOP-friendly legislation and laws.

Don’t get me wrong. I am glad that GOP leader McConnell has switched gears on this matter. I just felt the need to put it in some context that McConnell chose to overlook.

Vote ‘reform’ based on the Big Lie

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

State legislators and governors keep yapping about “protecting the electoral process” by enacting rules that make it more difficult for millions of Americans to actually vote.

All of which makes me wonder: Against what are these officials seeking to protect us? 

I think I know. They are protecting us against a bogus affliction of voter fraud promulgated by the Big Lie that took root when Donald Trump was in the process of losing his bid for re-election as president of the United States.

You’ll recall when Trump alleged that were he to lose his re-election bid it would be the result of “widespread fraud.” That illegal voters would be able to cast ballots. That they would vote for Joe Biden.

Evidence in state after state has concluded that the voter fraud Trump said existed doesn’t exist. Has there been a scant ballot cast illegally? Sure. Is it as widespread and corrosive to the system as Republicans, led by Trump, Not by a long shot.

Indeed, the man Donald Trump hired to protect the nation’s electoral system, Christopher Krebs, declared the 2020 election to be the “safest, most secure” election in U.S. history. What did he get for doing his job? Donald Trump fired him!

Texas has joined the vote fraud amen chorus by approving voter suppression laws. Major League Baseball responded to Georgia’s restrictions by pulling its all-star game from Atlanta. This debate, as you would expect, has fallen along partisan lines: Republicans make the bogus case of vote fraud; Democrats debunk those claims and allege that the GOP is seeking to hold onto the power it has in many states by any means necessary.

I keep circling back, though, to the cause of all this tempest. It is the Big Lie, which culminated on Jan. 6 when the riotous mob of terrorists mounted an insurrection against the federal government just as it was certifying Joe Biden’s election as president.

The Big Lie continues to fester in the minds of those in state capitols who enact laws that have little to do with vote fraud but seemingly everything to do with making it more difficult for Americans to vote.

We are witnessing a disgraceful assault on a cherished right of citizenship.

Expanding vote base a ‘power grab’? C’mon, Ted!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Ted Cruz says that efforts to allow more people to vote, to expand the voter base, is a “power grab.”

Hmm. Let’s parse that one for a moment, eh?

The Texas Republican U.S. senator was taken to task today by a letter writer whose missive was published in the Dallas Morning News. Richard Kidd of Dallas writes, “The only power grab is a party with minority support trying to hold on to power by disenfranchising as many people as possible … The right to vote is a pillar of a democracy and Cruz took an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Congress has a duty to ensure as many citizens as possible have a right to vote and be represented.”

I get his drift. I trust you do, too.

A mantra I beat into the ground over many years as a full-time journalist was that a representative democracy works best when we spread the power out among more, not fewer, voters. That is one argument I sought to make in different ways for greater voter turnout at election time.

It also lies at the heart, I only can presume, at efforts to expand availability to as many voters as human possible.

At its base, increased voter participation shouldn’t ever become a partisan battle. It has become that, however. Republicans are seeking to restrict voter access to ethnic and racial minorities who tend to vote, um, for Democrats. The GOP just can’t have that happen, right? So in states such as Texas, Republican legislators are pushing for rules that make it more difficult for minorities to get registered and to actually vote.

The result will be to invest more power in fewer Americans. It will place more power in the hands of the few and the proud. It also, in my view, runs directly counter to the argument I have been yammering about since The Flood, which is that democracy works better when we spread the power among greater numbers of voters.

So, for Ted Cruz to lament a phony “power grab” while objecting to increasing voter access only reveals how cheaply he values our democratic process.

So much to hate about this law

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The new Georgia voter suppression law signed by Gov. Brian Kemp is so detestable at so many levels.

One element, though, rises above the rest of it in terms of its offensiveness. It’s the prohibition that makes it a crime to provide food and refreshments to voters who are standing in line — sometimes for many hours — to cast their votes.

I want you to ponder that for a moment. What in the world can be possibly gained from this prohibition? It appears designed to dissuade people from voting if they believe a long wait is in the offing. Indeed, Georgia electoral history suggests that long voting wait times occurs most frequently in precincts with large African-American majorities, who — surprise! — tend to vote for Democratic candidates for public office.

So, this is the Republican response? This is how that state’s GOP intends to fight?

The law limits the number of polling places. It places restrictions on early voting. Across the board the law seeks to make voting a good bit more difficult, which to my way of thinking is about as un-American as any legislation I have seen in a good while.

The notion, though, that Americans cannot deliver refreshments to their fellow citizens to give them sustenance while they wait to cast their ballot is just plain offensive in the extreme.

It sickens me.

GOP = voter suppression

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Honest to goodness, this is the truth, which is that I do not want to believe Republicans favor limiting Americans’ access to voting.

However, it is clear to anyone with a working brain that the GOP is aligned with those who want to restrict many Americans’ rights as citizens of this great land.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has sharpened his political long knife in endorsing a Republican plan to limit access to voting while the state is fighting the pandemic. He targets one of the state’s largest Democratic leaning counties, Harris County.

The Texas Tribune reports: At a press conference in Houston, Abbott served up the opening salvo in the Texas GOP’s legislative response to the 2020 election and its push to further restrict voting by taking aim at local election officials in the state’s most populous and Democratically controlled county. The governor specifically criticized officials in Harris County for attempting to send applications to vote by mail to every registered voter and their bid to set up widespread drive-thru voting, teeing up his support for legislation that would prohibit both initiatives in future elections.

“Whether it’s the unauthorized expansion of mail-in ballots or the unauthorized expansion of drive-thru voting, we must pass laws to prevent election officials from jeopardizing the election process,” Abbott said on Monday. Harris County planned to send out applications to request a mail-in ballot, not the actual ballots.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott backs bills that restrict efforts to expand voting | The Texas Tribune

Texas is not alone. Other states where Republicans command power are taking similar actions.

“These kinds of attempts to confuse, to intimidate, to suppress are a continuation of policies we’ve seen in this state since Reconstruction,” Democratic Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said. “It is a continuation as well of the big lie that’s being peddled by some far-right elements that the election in 2020 was somehow not true and should be overturned.”

What troubles me is that the phony charge of vote fraud is being used as political cover for more nefarious motives designed to prevent racial and ethnic minorities from being able to vote. My goodness, I hate thinking that is the real reason, but the actions of Texas Republican legislators — as well as Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — leave me with no choice but to assume the worst.

It sickens and saddens me.

Will this surge spell end of Trump Era?

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Harris County, Texas, has set two records in a row since the start of early voting on Tuesday.

Dallas County up Interstate 45 hasn’t done too badly, either.

Oh, and how about Travis County, where the state Capitol can be found? They’re turning out in huge numbers, too.

Same for Bexar County.

What does this mean for the 2020 presidential election. Some Democratic activists believe it bodes well for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and us Bidenistas who want the Democrats to oust Donald Trump and Mike Pence from the White House.

I am not going to count them chickens just yet.

However, I hasten to add that Democrats have been all over TV, radio and in print telling us all to “get out and vote.” If the first two days of early voting in Texas are an indication, the message has been heard. Democrats hope it means Biden and Harris are reaping the ballot-box reward.

Let me crystal clear: I do, too, want them to harvest the electoral fruit of this get-out-the-early-vote drive.

Harris, Dallas, Bexar and Travis counties all are Democratic strongholds. I have acquaintances in blood-red Randall and Potter counties who believe the Democratic ticket is catching fire up yonder in the Panhandle. I … am not so sure about that.

However, the record-setting early-vote turnout in those Democratic bastions gives me hope that just maybe, perhaps, possibly the state could turn from an R to a D on the strength of that monstrous balloting tide.

To be sure, the Trumpkins are turning out as well. They’re flying plenty of “Trump-Pence” flags in rural Texas. Donald Trump, though, isn’t going to pitch a huge early vote among his faithful. Indeed, he wants fewer of us do our patriotic duty. Go figure.

Texans answer the call

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Texas started voting for president of the United States today.

How are we doing? How is the state responding to the mostly Democratic call to vote early? First indications suggest that we answered the call.

My wife and I became statistics in that effort. We voted early today. Indeed, we voted before noon today. We didn’t see a huge crowd, although voter traffic in our Princeton precinct appeared brisk.

Reporting statewide suggest that the larger counties experienced gigantic turnouts at polling places. Travis County? Big. Same with Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar counties.

I have long been a bit suspicious about early voting turnout and whether it indicates larger turnouts overall. In the past, we have seen only that larger early voter turnout means only that more voters cast their ballots prior to Election Day; the total number has remained static. In Texas, that overall turnout has remained among the worst in the nation.

That might be changing this time, given the panic that Donald Trump is trying to instill in voting Americans; he keeps yapping about “rampant fraud” in the election. There’s no such thing as “rampant” fraud anywhere.

The conventional wisdom suggests that large turnout helps Democrats, which is why Republicans are trying to suppress that turnout — with help from Russia.

Let’s see how his plays out until Oct. 30, the final day Texans can vote early. My ol’ trick knee is beginning to throb and it’s telling me we might see the dawn of a new political day in Texas.

Shame on you, Gov. Abbott

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

What you see on this blog is an editorial illustration that spells out the idiocy of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to restrict the number of mail-in drop boxes for each of the state’s 254 counties.

Harris County is the state’s most populous county. Loving County is the least populated county. They both get a single drop box. I live in Collin County, with a population of more than 1 million residents; we get a single drop box, too. As does Dallas County, Bexar County, Travis County … all of em!

You want to see a thinly veiled attempt at voter suppression? This map spells it out for you.

Abbott declared some phony concern over ballot security. Never mind the absence of any credible evidence that supports that concern. County election officials throughout Texas do their jobs with diligence and dedication. They take oaths to protect the U.S. and Texas constitutions.

Abbott’s answer to this bogus fear is to eliminate multiple drop box sites in all counties regardless of their population.

I am incredulous to think that Abbott actually believes we are going to fall for his fraudulent claim that ballot security is the driving force behind this maneuver. It is nothing of the sort.

What we see here is an attempt to persuade potentially millions of Texans from voting early, which purportedly bodes well for Democratic candidates and poorly for Republicans — such as Gov. Abbott.

Texas Democrats to ask SCOTUS for help in voting by mail

This is likely a bit of a reach, but perhaps the Texas Democratic Party is heartened by the U.S. Supreme Court decision to include LGBTQ Americans as those who are protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Texas Democrats today have asked the Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue of voting by mail, something Democrats want and which Republicans oppose. The high court had been seen by many as a fallback for rigid GOP conservatism; the LGBTQ ruling, though, now suggests there might be a glimmer of independence inside the nine-member Supreme Court.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has put the brakes on a lower court Texas ruling that cleared the way for voting by mail. The Fifth Circuit sided with GOP officials who keep arguing that vote by mail is too fraught with potential corruption, despite claims to the contrary by elections officials in states that have all-mail voting.

At issue is that damn pandemic that is infecting and killing Americans. Democrats are concerned that in-person voting might expose too many Americans to the COVID-19 virus. They want to boost voter turnout by allowing all-mail voting, something Republicans dislike seemingly because it would invite too many anti-Donald Trump voters to cast their ballots for president this fall.

This is no big flash, but I am standing with Democrats on this one. They have reason to be concerned about “voter suppression,” which is being practiced in the guise of protecting us against “rampant voter fraud” that simply doesn’t exist.

Donald Trump is cooking up this excuse because he fears the outcome of an election that produces massive voter turnout. His GOP allies out here in Trump Country are lining up behind him.

Democrats, meanwhile, are turning to the Supreme Court for a decision on the matter. As the Texas Tribune reports, Democrats want the court to rule on a Fifth Circuit “block on a sweeping ruling that would allow all Texas voters who are seeking to avoid becoming infected at in-person polling places to instead vote by mail. Early voting for the July 14 primary runoff election begins on June 29.”

And … yes, this has implications down the road, for the presidential election in November.

Voter fraud issue is, um, a fraud

I want to give a serious full-throated shout-out to The Hill newspaper for providing a marvelous bit of perspective on the phony issue of voter fraud as it concerns the possibility of an all-mail vote for president of the United States later this year.

To sum it up: The fraudulent vote issue is a fraudulent allegation.

There you have it.

The Hill takes pains to point out that mail fraud is the rarest of political events in the United States. Moreover, it points out that in the state that began all-mail voting, the instance of mail fraud is even more rare than it is nationally. Oregon, the state where I was born, was the first of our states to conduct all-mail voting and has enjoyed great success in protecting the sanctity of this cherished right of citizenship.

Read The Hill story here.

Voter fraud has become a red herring, a canard, a phony excuse to keep more Americans from voting. Republicans are leading the amen chorus seeking to persuade Americans that mail-in voting invites fraudulent ballot-casting. The leader of that chorus is Donald John “Stable Genius in Chief” Trump, who of course tosses out that demagogic rhetoric without a scintilla of evidence to back it up.

All-mail voting is not the way I want to cast my ballot, but if the coronavirus is going to suppress the balloting because Americans fear potential deadly exposure to the virus, then all-mail voting is reasonable — and secure — alternative.

The voter fraud demagoguery needs to be called out for what it is: a bald-faced effort to suppress voter turnout as a dodge to protect certain politicians’ from losing their cherished perches of power.