MSNBC broke with tradition and had live Sunday-night programming last night, including a special edition of Rachel Maddow's show. Maddow has gotten a lot of attention and praise lately (the latest from this week's New York magazine), but this is what I hope gets a lot of attention: Her invocation against what she's identified as "the new poll tax."
Maddow rightly notes the long wait times at early voting stations — and worries not only about what that bodes for election day, but about who is getting disenfranchised because of it:
This is a poll tax. How much do you get paid for an hour of work? Do you have the kind of job that would be delighted to give you an hour, a half-day, a whole day off work because you were waiting in line at your precinct? Even if it won't cost you your job, can you afford to not work those hours? Are you elderly or disabled, do you not have the physical stamina for this kind of exertion? This is a poll tax... Who is not in those lines — because they can't afford to be?
On Friday, she foreshadowed the piece, writing on MSNBC.com's NewsVine: "What does it cost you to wait eight hours? Is this the way our democracy works now? We're a country where only people who can afford to give up 20 percent of a week's pay are allowed to vote?"
Never mind that there are forces at work trying to deliberately disenfranchise voters — "Democrats vote on November 5th" anyone? — but the fact that this is still going on after the horror shows of 2000 and 2004 says a lot about just how far the election-day process in this country hasn't come. Check out here smart — and important — commentary below: