So far, a lot of the discussion surrounding the upcoming presidential election has been centered on jobs, Mr. Romney's tax record, and healthcare. Consequently, recent pieces of legislation that suppress many people's right to vote have taken a backseat to these more heatedly debated issues. However, I think that voter suppression is a topic that deserves some more attention, since Republicans are consciously using it in order to swing elections.
Let's take a look at exactly what voter suppression is in case you don't know or haven't heard about it. Voter suppression is when certain policies that restrict many people from voting are put in place in order to swing an election in a certain way. For example, recent voter ID laws in Pennsylvania have disenfranchised 9 percent of the voting population, which comes out to more than 758,000 people. Similar pieces of legislation that suppress voters have been passed in over 16 states. Spokespeople for the Republican Party have said that these laws are in place in order to curb voting fraud. However, voting fraud has hardly ever been an issue in elections. According to a News21 report, there were only 10 cases of voting fraud since 2000, which is approximately one fraudulent vote in every 15,000,000. These laws are simply thinly veiled attempts at restricting the exercise of the people's right to vote.
These laws predominantly affect older generations and students, who, not surprisingly, tend to vote Democrat. They also hit minorities such as African Americans and Latinos much harder, who -- you guessed it! -- generally vote Democrat. From mandating the possession of a voter ID to limiting the number of early voting days, there is nothing at which the Republican Party will stop to ensure Mr. Romney's win come November, as well as the wins of other Republicans who are running for House and Senate. (Of course, it says a lot about the party and the nominee if they must turn to voter suppression to secure a win.)
The right to vote is absolutely, fundamentally inherent in American citizenship. It is not a privilege reserved for the elite or the political right. This country is founded on a government by the people, for the people, and OF the people, and there is something obscene and frightening about the United States disenfranchising its own citizens.
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