This one really bothered me. Maybe cuz of Lisa’s class and a resultant heightened awareness. First, there was forcing all the Hispanics in Atlanta to prove – for the second time – that they were U.S. citizens and therefore eligble to vote. Now comes this:
Editorial: G.O.P. to the Poor: Don’t Vote
October 30, 2004
With little notice or discussion, Senator Christopher Bond
of Missouri allowed a provision into a Senate
appropriations bill that could ban even nonpartisan voter
registration efforts in public housing developments all
over the country. This is an example of the unfortunate
impulse now afflicting some parts of the Republican Party:
a desire to suppress voting in poor and minority
neighborhoods. Mr. Bond’s proposal runs contrary to both
the spirit of democracy and federal law, which in recent
years has moved increasingly toward broadening ballot
access. The National Voter Registration Act – commonly
known as the Motor Voter Act – actually requires state
agencies, including those that issue welfare benefits and
drivers’ licenses, to offer voter registration materials to
the people they serve.
The proposed Senate legislation comes on top of recent
G.O.P. maneuvers in Ohio, where Republicans challenged the
registrations of more than 30,000 voters, many of them
impoverished. Federal courts have stepped in to halt such
challenges for now, but more are expected at the polls.
The same impulse to discourage voters was on display over
the last several months in New Mexico, where the Indian
Health Service of the Health and Human Services Department
suspended voter registration efforts for several months at
some medical centers and clinics serving Native Americans.
Earlier this month, the Indian Health Service issued a
memorandum effectively ending the ban, but only after
untold numbers of Native Americans had missed the
opportunity to register to vote in the coming election.
Mr. Bond’s argument – that housing built with public money
should be used only for housing, not voter registration –
makes no sense on its face. It is even more ridiculous
given the universal support for voter registration on
military bases around the world. Military voters tend to
favor Republicans, and public housing residents tend to
favor Democrats. It would be nice if everyone could agree
that both groups should be encouraged to vote.