Our right to vote, your right to vote, is under attack. Maybe not here in Minnesota, where we have a secretary of state who works tirelessly to make sure everyone who is eligible to vote on election day is given every opportunity to do so, and voters who might have some issues have an opportunity to iron out any confusion standing in the way of them successfully casting a ballot.
But in other states, home to Republican governors and Republican secretaries of state and Republican-controlled legislatures, in-your-face, stronghanded, and blatantly obvious measures are being taken to make sure hundreds of thousands of people, most of them poor and minorities, cannot cast a ballot on Nov. 6.
How sad is that in the supposed land of the free? Of course, voting on election day is a partisan act because most voters lean to the right or to the left. But, to think that it’s gotten to the point in this country where simply trying to register yourself to vote, or rallying others to do the same, is now a partisan act. But we probably shouldn’t be surprised, given that low voter turnout typically favors Republicans on election day, and heavy voter turnout benefits Democrats.
When you know you're going to struggle to get the votes you need through a traditional, more open and inviting process, you resort to other measures, and that involves suppressing the vote. It means creating a voter fraud epidemic that simply does not exist. It means passing laws that make, for some, voting a difficult proposition when it should be easy and empowering.
When the opposite approach should be taken, like maybe having a national holiday on election day so people who work all day and night might find a moment to cast a ballot, when it comes to allowing eligible voters to vote, the United States of America isn’t living up to its past reputation as a democracy, the land of opportunity.
Nov. 6 will be here before you know it. People need to know that if for whatever reason at their polling place they are hassled or attempts are made to prevent them from voting for all sorts of legitimate and/or illegitimate reasons, voters have a constitutional right to ask for a provisional ballot. Federal law requires that they be provided a provisional ballot upon request, meaning this is beyond debate. On a provisional ballot, you can cast your votes just like you would on a regular ballot, while whatever issues have been raised about your ability to vote are ironed out.
Election day in America should, when all is said and done, be primarily about two things: Which candidates won, and which ones lost. But too often, there’s another group that loses, and it’s voters who were prohibited from exercising thir right. It’s embarrassing.