Progressive Views: Intimidation and Suppression

by Laura Bray
for the “Progressive Views” column, Boerne Star, September 4, 2020

Two protester with signs advocating for the protection of their voter rights
Image by AFGE is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Perhaps you’ve seen the parades through town supporting the current occupant of the White House. These events are less about showing support for the Republican presidential candidate and more about intimidation—convincing you that you’re vote doesn’t count so you don’t bother to vote.

As President Obama said during the recent Democratic National Convention, “This president and those in power—those who benefit from keeping things the way they are—they are counting on your cynicism. They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter. That’s how they win. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all. We can’t let that happen. Do not let them take away your power.”

Last Friday, Texas Public Radio reported that “officials with the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Texas (LWVT) say their volunteers are no longer allowed to leave voter registration forms at US post offices.” The website of the Texas Secretary of State clearly states that voters can “pick up applications at libraries, government offices, or high schools.” With access restricted to schools and libraries due to COVID, access to these forms at government offices—of which the US Postal Service (USPS) is one—is more critical than ever. A USPS spokesman said its policy had “not changed,” but the LWVT president said the response “doesn’t make any sense,” as they’ve been allowed to drop off blank forms in the past.

In my “Voter Suppression” column that ran April 24, I said, “If you care about preserving and protecting your voting rights—quit voting for Republicans. If the only way your party can win is by making it harder for ‘others’ to vote, you’re doing democracy wrong.”  

According to Amanda Marcotte of Salon, “The rise of authoritarianism on the right has coincided with conservatives’ growing realization that Republicans can’t win elections fair and square anymore. Republican politicians see fewer people voting as an important goal, in and of itself.”

“Trump and his Republican enablers are putting voter suppression front and center—fear-mongering about voting by mail, escalating their Election Day poll watching and so-called ballot-security operations, and blocking funding to prepare the country for a pandemic-era election,” said Andy Kroll in Rolling Stone.

ACLU Texas has an excellent website on voting rights that presents a variety of scenarios (“Someone is interfering with my right to vote”) with informative links to address the situation (in the example, the voter should call 1-866-OUR-VOTE).

Only one party is trying to intimidate voters and make it harder for people to register to vote; Democrats are trying to make it easier. Here’s just a sampling of recent Republican efforts:

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