Right to vote shall not be denied

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“If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president.” Ann Coulter, New York Observer, Oct. 2, 2007

Coulter had her reasons for feeling this way. On Feb. 26, 2001, she said, “The problem with women voting — and your Communists will back me up on this — is that, you know, women have no capacity to understand how money is earned. They have a lot of ideas on how to spend it. And when they take these polls, it’s always more money on education, more money on child care, more money on day care.”

Contrary to Coulter’s comments, women do understand how money is earned. Women fought for decades for the right to vote so they could help determine how it would be spent. Women were imprisoned, tortured, and even killed during this struggle.

Over our history, the right to vote was expanded several times. Amendment 15 gave African-Americans the right to vote. Amendment 19 did the same for women. Amendment 24 stopped government from making citizens pay to vote. Amendment 26 gave voting rights to 18-year-olds. As more citizens achieved this right, the ability to participate in governance increased. Now we are watching this right become eroded by those who are threatened by we, the people.

In 1965, the Voting Rights Act was signed, reaffirming the right to vote, especially for African-Americans in the South. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted this act in Shelby County v. Holder. Southern states rushed to restrict voting by reducing the number of voting machines, reducing early voting days, and making voter ID harder to get. Why? The fewer people who vote, the more power in the hands of the plutocrats.

In my last column, I described how fascism is “the merger of state and corporate power.” (I also said King George VIII admired Hitler. It was, of course, Edward VIII). We are currently seeing the staggering growth of corporate power. Power and money are corrupting our elections, squeezing out millions of ordinary voices, especially since the Supreme Court decision called Citizens United.

This corruption of elections by money is nothing new. Around 100 A.D., the Roman historian Plutarch explained one reason for the fall of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. “The abuse of buying and selling votes crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections. Later on, however, this process of corruption spread to the law courts and to the army, and finally, when even the sword became enslaved to the power of gold, the republic was subjected to the rule of emperors.”

We know how that ended. Today, these abuses continue. For example, the whole “voter fraud” movement is based on the fallacy that without photo ID, millions of people will vote fraudulently. The proponents seem to think that someone can wander in off the street, get a ballot, and vote. They appear totally ignorant of the actual mechanics of registration and voting.

In reality, in-person voter fraud is statistically non-existent. In Texas, from 2000 to 2014, there were four cases of voter fraud out of 72 million votes cast. Acquiring photo ID costs time and money for voters who can’t afford it and effectively denies them the right to vote. That’s why it’s pushed so hard by the right-wing. The fewer people who can vote, the better for those who want to control us.

The right to vote exists regardless of economic, educational, or ethnic background, or even criminal record. In Nevada, people convicted of lesser crimes can have their voting rights restored after completing their sentence. Those convicted of more serious crimes can petition to have these rights restored. We should all be working to expand our rights, not limit them.

Some people say, “I don’t want to register because I might get onto the jury duty list.” In Nevada, jury duty lists are compiled from voter registration lists, DMV lists and NV Energy customer lists. So unless you plan to never use electricity or drive again, your name is on a list somewhere. Skipping the vote for such a trivial reason doesn’t show much love of country.

One final thought ...

Over the centuries, people have been beaten, imprisoned, tortured and killed so you could have the right to vote. If you decide it’s just not worth the bother, think about all the lives that were sacrificed so you could have this right. Then get out there and vote.

Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at news@lahontanvalleynews.com.


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