My View: Rigging and Manipulating Electoral Rules is Wrong
As most readers will know, Geoffrey Ritter reported in this week’s Carbondale Times that the Jackson County Electoral Board will not allow Republican candidates to appear on November’s ballot because their paperwork was fastened with a paperclip rather than with a staple. I posted a letter to the editor on this topic from Republican Jackson County Board member Will Stephens this morning, and now I want to share a few of my own thoughts.
First, based on my understanding of what happened, I agree with Stephens. If it’s true that the Republicans were kicked off the ballot because they paper-clipped their paperwork instead of stapling it, that’s wrong. Attempting to win elections by keeping opponents off the ballot is anti-democratic.
But here’s the thing: when it comes to manipulating electoral rules to win elections, Republicans are by far the worst offenders. Republicans in state legislatures across the country, citing unverified claims of voter fraud, have been passing laws designed to limit the Democratic vote in this fall’s elections.
These laws, which sometimes seem benign on the surface, suppress the votes of young people, minorities, and the poor – groups that vote disproportionately Democratic. Suppressing the Democratic vote seems to be a major Republican priority.
The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University has a report and a roundup of news articles from late last year on these efforts to suppress the vote, which you can see by clicking here. To see a summary of the new laws, click here. Last month, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that these laws place the voting rights gains of the 1960s in jeopardy.
I don’t want to see the Republican candidates unfairly thrown off the ballot in Jackson County. But I also don’t want to see the Democratic vote suppressed by new laws that make it more difficult to vote. I want the parties to compete in fair elections, without rigging the rules to benefit one party or another.
I join Stephens in denouncing the ruling denying ballot access to the Jackson County Republican candidates. Will Republicans join me in denouncing the voter suppression laws being passed around the country?
Comments are welcome.