Responding To Voter Suppression, Understanding Manipulated Elections

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Above photo: Stop Voter Suppression from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Voter suppression in the 2020 election has become a topic of great concern. In reality, voter suppression has been part of US politics since the founding of the country. The oligarchs who wrote the US Constitution enabled voter suppression by not including the right to vote in it and only allowing white male property owners to vote, suppressing the votes of 94 percent of the population.

Five of 16 states had white-only voting in 1800 and after 1802, every new state, free or slave, except for Maine banned Black people from voting. In 1807, New Jersey, which originally gave voting rights to “all inhabitants,” excluded women and Black men from voting. Maryland banned Jewish people from its polls until 1828. After the Civil War expanded voting rights to Black men, the Black vote was suppressed through intimidation campaigns and Jim Crow laws. After decades of protests, the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 and voting by Black people increased, but in recent years suppression tactics are reducing that vote.

This year, the Republican Party and President Trump are working to suppress the votes of Black people, the working class, immigrants, and others, especially by attacking the US Postal Service to decrease mail-in voting.

TAKE ACTION: National day to save the Post Office on Tuesday, August 25. Find more information here.

The Democrats are also guilty of voter suppression as they do all they can to keep third parties off the ballot. Green Party presidential nominee Howie Hawkins explains party suppression is voter suppression because millions of people refuse to choose between two Wall Street-funded candidates and so they don’t vote. Sanders-Democrats also point to an unfair nomination process resulting in Joe Biden becoming the nominee.

Voter Suppression is Violence, From Cool revolution.

Voter Suppression Today

Voter suppression has gotten more sophisticated in recent elections through the massive de-registering of voters, abuse of voter ID laws, cutting the number of polling places in minority communities, felony disenfranchisement, not counting provisional ballots, and voter intimidation at the polls. In 2020, the battle over mail-in ballots and the Post Office is also a major issue.

On March 30, President Trump said in an interview on FOX, if there was high voter turnout “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.” Trump was explaining why he opposed more money being spent to help states conduct the 2020 election during the pandemic. More recently, Trump floated the idea of delaying the November 3 election, an idea rejected by even Republican allies and something he does not have the power to do.

Removing people from voter registration lists has become a common practice. A Brennan Center study found that almost 16 million voters were purged from the rolls between 2014 and 2016. Jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination, which are no longer subject to pre-clearance after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013, had a median purge rate 40% higher than other jurisdictions.

Voter ID laws have become a key tool in voter suppression. The ACLU reports that: “Thirty-six states have identification requirements at the polls. Seven states have strict photo ID laws.” Over 21 million U.S. citizens do not have government-issued photo identification resulting in ID laws reducing voter turnout by 2-3 percentage points, according to the US Government Accountability Office.

This year voter intimidation is making a comeback. Trump’s response to the closing night of the DNC was to tell Fox News that on election day he’s going to send law enforcement, sheriffs, US Attorneys, and Attorney  Generals to polling locations. While Trump has no control over sheriffs and police, making the threat is part of an intimidation campaign. 

Republicans are recruiting an estimated 50,000 volunteers to act as “poll watchers” in November, part of a multi-million-dollar effort to control who votes. This campaign includes a $20 million fund for legal battles as well as the GOP’s first national poll-patrol operation in nearly 40 years.

Poll watchers in some states can challenge the eligibility of voters. After the 1981 election, Democrats sued over voter intimidation and federal “consent decree” stopped the practice but the decree was allowed to expire at the end of 2017, and a judge declined to extend it in 2018.

The ACLU points to some of the impacts of these voter suppression efforts and how they are targeted at people of color and youth, writing:

  • Seventy percent of Georgia voters purged in 2018 were Black.
  • Across the country, one in 13 Blacks cannot vote due to disenfranchisement laws.
  • One-third of voters who have a disability report difficulty voting.
  • Only 40 percent of polling places fully accommodate people with disabilities.
  • Counties with larger minority populations have fewer polling sites and poll workers per voter.
  • Six in ten college students come from out of state in New Hampshire, the state trying to block residents with out of state drivers’ licenses.

Stop privatization of the Postal Service from PostalReporter.com.

Voting during the pandemic, mail-in voting and the Postal Service

The COVID-19 pandemic has created new issues for voting in 2020. More people will be voting by mail as 20 states expanded or eased access to voting by mail as a public health measure. The election could be decided by a fight over which mail ballots are counted. One of the most common reasons for invalidating a vote is if the ballot arrives late, making postal delivery of critical importance. In the primaries, more than 540,000 mail ballots were rejected during primaries across 23 states this year, nearly a quarter in key battlegrounds for the fall, i.e. Florida, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Last week, the Democrats in the House passed $25 billion in emergency funding for the Post Office. While this is insufficient, it is opposed by President TrumpSenator Mitch McConnell may not take the issue up in the Senate, saying it is too much money and other COVID-19 relief proposals should be included in it.

Trump is also trying to undermine the ability of the Post Office to deliver ballots on time.  Trump crony, Louis DeJoy, who was appointed Postmaster General, is a prominent Trump donor, deputy finance chairman for the Republican National Committee, and the former lead fundraiser for the Republican National Committee. DeJoy donated more than $2.5 million to the Republican Party and its candidates, so he is heavily invested in a Republican electoral victory.  

DeJoy fired people with experience running the Postal Service on August 17, and twenty-three postal executives were reassigned or displaced in a new organizational structure that centralizes power around DeJoy. He stopped overtime work and mail sorting machines and mailboxes have been removed. As a result of public pressure, he  says he stopped further removals until after the election, although people are reporting finding locked mail boxes. 

The Democrats, who have been complicit with the attack on the Post Office, are paying attention now that it is affecting the election. Unfortunately, their proposal falls far short of the $75 billion investment needed by the Postal Service, and doesn’t address the long term problems created by the Congress and president in 2006 when they required the Postal Service to fund 75 years worth of pension and healthcare costs.

We need to act now because they are likely to ignore the efforts at privatization of the postal service after November. We need to demand more money for the Post Office and insist on the end of any privatization of the Postal Service so it remains a public agency serving the public good. The so-called ‘Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act‘ of 2006, which was designed to weaken the Post Office, must be repealed. And, the Post Office should be given greater power to provide other services like a Postal Bank for the millions of people who do not have access to banking services.

Join the #SaveThePostOffice August 25, National Day of Action.

Showing up by protesting for the Postal Service gives postal workers the power to defy the Postmaster General and speak out. Postal workers in Washington State are refusing to take mail sorting equipment offlinePostal workers have been ordered not to speak to the press so people are not aware how bad the situation is. If workers see the public is on their side, they may have the courage to speak or anonymously leak documents to the media.

Protests in the US in 2011 targeted greed and corruption among banking and business leaders. By Scott Olson for AFP-Getty Images.

2020 Highlights Mirage Democracy

The failure of US democracy is on display in the 2020 election but these are long-term problems. The United States is not a democracy; it is a plutocracy. Elections give people the illusion of choice when in reality the power elites are the ones who choose the candidates, as we described in this 2013 article.

Some people choose not to participate in the elections for this reason. Others choose to use the election to make a point by rejecting the corporate candidates and voting for third-party candidates who support their positions, such as national improved Medicare for All, acting on climate change, ending police violence and imperialism, and more or only voting in down-ballot races.

If you choose to participate in the election, here are some actions you can take to protect your vote:

  1. If you want to vote in 2020, order your mail-in ballots, if they are available, as soon as possible. In our state, Maryland, the Board of Elections warns they may run out of ballots.
  2. Know your rights. It is illegal to intimidate or coerce voters. If you experience it or see it happening to someone else, record it by video or in writing to poll workers.
  3. If you are told you are not registered, demand a provisional ballot. Due to Voter-ID laws, each state has different requirements. Understand what is required in your state, and come prepared.

Finally, it is important to remember when we are inundated with a constant focus on the 2020 elections that the power of the people does not derive from elections. Our task is to build people’s power outside of elections.

People have the power to make the country ungovernable. Both parties are ignoring issues supported by a majority of the people, including, improved Medicare for all, a robust Green New Deal, a guaranteed basic income, a tax on the wealth to shrink the wealth divide, cuts to the bloated military budget, free college and vocational education and confronting the climate crisis, which is already wreaking havoc across the nation.

The Occupy Movement, the Fight for $15, the student debt movement, labor strikes and the uprising against police violence show people have power. We have only begun to scratch the surface of our potential. We have to build the power to rule from below, no matter who is elected president in 2020.

You are invited to a webinar – “After the DNC and RNC – Keep the struggle in the streets” on Sunday, Aug. 30 at 2:00 pm Eastern/11:00 am Pacific.

  • Richard

    If your voting for either D or R your wasting your time & energy and only voting for your own demise. 8/24/2020 and still no president in sight, only cheap imitations at best. Getting closer and closer to “shi*hole country” status every election.

  • mwildfire

    You left out one of the key ways elections are stolen in the modern era–rigging the computers. I suspect this is one reason the Rs are so dead set against mail-in voting–mail-in ballots are PAPER ballots, and you can’t rig paper.

  • Nylene13

    I am sure they could find a way.

    After all, it is said the GOOD counterfeit dollar bills are never found.

    I think we need to divide the country up into small countries.

    That was the original idea.

    The USA is just Too Big to be effective. Unless you are a crook……..

  • Nylene13

    Already most Americans don’t vote. If it got any lower-I assume the Rich would just rig the results to make it LOOK like more people DID vote.

    I don’t think the Rich care if Trump or Biden wins. They are both in bed together….

  • Richard

    Neither party has to rig elections, they already know that in 4 to 8 years their party will be in power again and are content to take turns as they both have the same goals & agendas anyway. It does not help matters any that they only give us the sludge from the bottom of the barrel to choose from either. Paper ballots are a great thing, but need to have one thing added, a check box that says: None of the Above” beside it.

  • Richard

    “That was the original idea” That was “Jeff’s” original idea from a comment he made on the “How The US Helped Push Lebanon To The Brink Of Collapse” story.

    I can only imagine the chaos of having a bunch of small countries in the U.S., it would make the middle east look like disneyland to say the least. Although other countries around the world would get a much needed break the U.S. as we know it would be a war zone from coast to coast, plus x amounts of new opportunities for presidents & governments to continue robbing the citizens blind. We can’t even keep one government in line, much less a handful. I think that our government will be taken care of in the near future by either the citizens, another country or countries, or mother nature, with the latter two probably being the most likely. Sadly, the citizens will suffer the most no matter which way it goes, so enjoy life, family, & friends while you still can.

  • mwildfire

    All true, but still there is evidence that the Rs, at least, do rig the results. Maybe because when your team holds the office, you get the kickbacks.

  • Nylene13

    It was the Founding Fathers original idea.

    I am FAR more concerned that Humans will destroy Mother Earth than that she will destroy us. Some of us living creatures may survive and the planet can start over.

    Enjoy life yes, but also go down fighting for the Earth’s Environment.

  • MrRedwoodGuy .

    I can’t imagine a worse reason to live than “fretting over governments.” What a complete waste of existence.

    Find Nature, find your place in the Universe, find your soul, begin to live.

  • dmorista

    This is a related situation. Most people reading this should realize that a vigilante or vigilantes killed 2 and injured 1 protester in Kenosha last night. Clearly the level and methods or repression will vary in the U.S. The South has a ruling class that ruthlessly and blatantly uses violent tactics against protesters, particularly non-white protesters. The North, while less viulent in that aspect of social control is more amenable to para-military and vigilante activities.

    For anybody interested here’s some information on the Kenosha, Wisconsin killings from last night. This is a link to the best video I know of that shows the vigilante killer. It is about 3 minutes long and shows him shooting at least one person, walking past several MRAP type armoured police vehicles and other police cars, while protesters are yelling that he just shot several people, the police do nothing. He even seems to be expecting to get arrested, but ends up walking away. The video is entitled “Kenosha ‘Vigilante’ With Long Gun Arrested, Booked for Homicide”, it is posted on a website named TMZ. The text posted there is worth quoting in part:

    “Kyle Rittenhouse was arrested in Antioch, Illinois. Court records indicate he was booked for first-degree homicide in relation to the Kenosha shooting. It appears he’s been assigned a public defender and is set to appear in court for an extradition hearing later this week. …

    “A man — who witnesses described as being part of a vigilante militia group — with a long gun brazenly walked down a street in Kenosha, Wisconsin Tuesday night and began firing his weapon at people protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake, killing 2, and incredibly walking right past a swarm of cops who let him go into the night. …

    “That’s when the white vigilante appears on video with his gun. He reportedly had already shot someone several blocks away, and he was being chased by protesters who were trying to subdue him.

    “The vigilante falls to the ground as he’s being chased and then begins unloading his weapon, striking and killing 2 people.

    “And, then the unthinkable happens. As police swarm the area in patrol cars and fortified vehicles, the vigilante — gun clearly visible around his chest — put his hands up in the air. The police vehicles all pass him, as the crowd screams he’s the shooter.”

    It is only fair to post the statement by the Kenosha County Sheriff, clearly a professional who does not cater to vigilante actions. It is also worth noting a this point that the very first people Hitler and the Nazis moved against, after they took power, were the honest police and judiciary. Not the Communists, not the union officials, not the Socialists, not the Jews, but the honest police and judges. Don’t forget that when you watch what is happening in our sad and disintegrating society:

    “1:32 PM PT — Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth says the shooting that occurred and resulted in 2 people dying is exactly why he doesn’t support deputizing citizens with guns to help police patrol neighborhoods. He says it’s way too much added liability for his department … and leads to more confrontation.”

    Of course, Popular Resistance posted an excellent article about all this and more today entitiled “Rebellions Break Out In Lafayette And Kenosha.”