GOP's Assault On Voting Rights Is In Full Swing
The stories have already started: the Allen campaign and NRSC are threatening black voters in Virginia if they vote; voters in Ohio and Indiana can’t vote because poll workers can’t make the new machines work timely; and of course the robo-calls and push-poll calls over the weekend angered voters into thinking the Democrats were harassing them.
If we have passed laws that protect citizens from fraudulent telephone marketing and allow for “do not call” protections, why can’t we do the same for elections?
If the 2002 “Help America Vote Act” has actually now made it harder for American citizens to vote, then why shouldn’t it be repealed and replaced with a 2007 Voting Rights Act? And if a GOP Senate and Mr. Bush prevent such a law from taking effect, why shouldn’t Democrats make voting rights their wedge issue for state ballots in 2008?
The fact is that solid Democratic candidates will lose today across the country in close races due to voter intimidation, egregious voter ID requirements that are aimed at suppressing Democratic voters, robo-calls and push-polling, inadequate machinery and poll worker training, and failing that, outright fraud by election machinery vendors who are GOP campaign contributors working hand-in-hand with GOP registrars and secretaries of state.
Democrats will not lose today because of inadequate candidates, being wrong on the issues, or even inadequate levels of money. They will lose because in many cases the party went to sleep while the GOP took over the machinery of voting, and didn’t stay engaged on the issue right after the 2004 election. Democrats will be more competitive than ever before due to Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy, and because Rahm Emanuel and Chuck Schumer recruited good candidates across the country and raised boatloads of money for them, yet we acted as if the GOP would play by the rules this time.
The GOP never plays by the rules, and we need to start assuming the worst in the GOP and deal with them accordingly.
All of our House candidates who lose by less than 5 points today should be told they will be supported again in 2008, and that our efforts to put these GOP crooks under the microscope starts tomorrow. Any House Republican who edges out a Democrat today needs to know that we will be on them the next two years like flies on poop. Everything they do, every campaign contribution they take, every vote they make will be scrutinized and the media in their home district will be hearing from Democrats all the time about this GOP incumbent the next two years. Local bloggers should be a part of this. GOP incumbents need to feel the pressure every day for the next two years.
For its part, the party at all levels must work with bloggers and voting rights experts to make this issue our 2008 wedge issue in all key states. We must make the GOP and its party apparatchiks in the voting machinery defend these practices while we expose their funding and connections to voting machine companies and allowance of voting suppression activities. Voters need to be reminded that as far as the GOP is concerned, voting is a privilege and not a right.
The Democratic Party will do well tonight, but not as well as we should have. We have a lot of work to do at all levels of government, and that work starts tomorrow, hopefully enabled by a committee chairman or two in the new Democratic majority in the House.