Political Animal


November 05, 2012 8:51 AM GOTNV

By Ed Kilgore

It should be a surprise to no one, but it still feels wrong that going into Election Day, one of our two major parties seems to be putting so much emphasis on keeping people from voting—on getting out the non-vote. As Mike Tomasky remarks this morning, this sort of thing used to be done furtively, as befits shameful acts:

[U]p to now its measures were local and somewhat haphazard—scare-tactic fliers circulated in black neighborhoods, GOP elections officials “forgetting” to ship the right number of voting machines to minority areas, that sort of thing. These things were usually perpetrated with plenty of plausible deniability.
Now, though, in these past couple of years, the GOP strategy has been institutionalized. It’s come above ground, and the thugs in black outfits distributing handbills in the dead of night before Election Day have been replaced or at least supplemented by thugs in suits and ties trying to put a respectable sheen this obviously anti-democratic business.

That’s probably fitting. This election does, after all, follow a four-year period in which conservatives have gotten into the habit of publicly proclaiming things they used to keep to themselves: anyone receiving any sort of government assistance is a “looter” or a “taker;” poor and minority people “vote themselves welfare;” voting is a “privilege, not a right;” people who don’t pay federal income taxes shouldn’t be allowed to vote, etc., etc. The desire to suppress votes to one extent or another has gotten deeply into the DNA of a party that considers itself under siege by demographic change.

And quite predictably, two of the more brazen GOP pols, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, are making a spectacle of themselves in their zeal to restrict voting opportunities. If one of them showed up outside an early polling place with a bullwhip and police dogs, it wouldn’t seem out of place, and many of their “base” supporters would lustily cheer. After all, when Husted defies a judge to require voters to fill out forms establishing their right to vote, or when Scott turns away voters standing in line for hours, that’s some more “looters” who won’t have the opportunity to take away the good virtuous folks’ tax dollars or (earned!) Medicare benefits.

In terms of election results, maybe this sort of crap won’t matter (though as we often forget, there are down-ballot elections that will be affected even if the presidential election isn’t) in the end. But it’s still an outrage to justice, and one that could soon become institutionalized still more if the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is repealed or made toothless by legislative or judicial action. That would truly bring us full circle, to the last time when arrogant men said to uppity Americans seeking to vote: “Don’t you dare!”

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Mudge on November 05, 2012 9:14 AM:

    The voting atrocities we are seeing are what happens when important aspects of government are "sent to the states". Voting regulations for national elections are too important to be left to the states. When Obama wins the electoral college, but (possibly) loses the popular vote, accommodation of any Republican whining about eliminating the electoral college must be accompanied by a requirement for consistent national election laws.

  • Joy on November 05, 2012 9:16 AM:

    I hope the voters of these states remember this when the time comes to re-elect these bastards. Elections have consequences.

  • del on November 05, 2012 9:21 AM:

    Elections have consequences, and this one has world wide implications as the world is watching us. How this election is handled and the results will be determined by the world and if they wish to follow our way of democracy in the future. That's what the Repugs don't take into account, how they are damaging our reputation/image world wide with efforts to suppress the vote which gives the next despot the green light to do the same in their country because after all, the greatest democracy in the world did it. Also they feel they can amend their constitutions to include hate as our states are doing and as they want our national constitution to do. Instead of growing our democracy and making it easier to participate, we wish to shrink it and make it harder to participate.

  • kevo on November 05, 2012 9:22 AM:

    Restricting the vote, tampering with voting procedures under one's elected authority, playing partisan politics regarding any aspect of The Vote and generally being an enemy to representative democracy is untoward behavior at the very least, and criminal more than likely!

    Forget Christmas, Republican State officials seem to be declaring War Against The Vote! -Kevo

  • aimai on November 05, 2012 9:31 AM:

    I want a national voting rights act that makes voter registration and voting laws uniform across all states. But in the interim I'd be satisfied with a checkbox on every vote. Every voter should be given the chance to check:

    "Voting was easy for me"
    "Voting was hard for me"
    All provisional ballots and discarded ballots should be considered "Voting was hard for me"

    The total of each category should be used to fire the Secretary of State automatically. That is: if a high percentage of voters either had their ballots thrown out, forced into the provisional balloting system, or had a hard time voting (self reported) the SoS would be penalized.


  • Bo on November 05, 2012 9:31 AM:

    The GOPers are always emboldened to "put their thumb on the scale" because they believe their own rhetoric about virtually non-existent voter fraud. In their upside-down moral construct, I think they feel justified to perpetrate voter suppression tactics as a counter-measure.

    I certainly hope that the ghost of Katherine Harris does not haunt this year's election results but I wouldn't be surprised if it did . . . at least in Ohio and Florida.

  • boatboy_srq on November 05, 2012 9:44 AM:


    The GOTea has been in that mindset for over three decades. They've done very well at Othering nearly the entire rest of the planet: it would have been impossible to scoff at things "European," or flirt with destroying the US' credit rating, or apply Monroe Doctrine so despicably as in Honduras/Guatemala/Chile/Panama, or whinge over intervention-or-not in Rwanda/Serbia/Kosovo/Libya/Syria, or any of the other hundreds of circumstances where the entire rest of the planet didn't matter to them.

    It doesn't help that the US education they've been so keen to eviscerate can no longer teach social sciences with any measurable effectiveness (how many US HS grads can accurately place other nations on a map, let alone discuss intelligently their significance?). Between the engineered ignorance and the insistence that anyone not Amurkan isn't human somehow, the global implications of GOTNV (among their other initiatives) is either absorbed into their worldview or conveniently hidden from their base. That they could celebrate reducing the US electorate, while complaining about "low" turnout in other "democratic" nations, will strike the rest of the planet as either cognitive dissonance or the height of international dishonesty, either doesn't occur to them or doesn't matter.

  • Celui on November 05, 2012 9:47 AM:

    Totally amazing and totally reprehensible. Voter suppression reeks of Jim Crow, racism, and the states' rights malarky (thanks, VP!!) It seems that a national voting procedure is what is now necessary because some of the various states cannot respect the 'right' to vote, regardless of economic status. We cannot permit some bone-headed legislatures to create a 'more equal than others' mindset in this country. Talk about destroying the slow progress toward a unified America. All in the name of political ideology. Scum.

  • stormskies on November 05, 2012 9:52 AM:

    And then these self righteous pigs who hide behind the Bible go to Church and cross themselves.

  • Josef K on November 05, 2012 10:14 AM:

    What happens if it does swing things closer for Romney but fails to close the deal? A couple small, completely unscientific predictions:

    1. If there's a GOP-controlled House, Speaker Boehner (provided he retains his gavel) will allow Articles of Impeachment against President Obama to be debated and brought to a vote. The charge: "stealing" the 2012 election.

    2. The Secret Service is going to see a steady, tripple-digit rise in the number of threats and attempts against President Obama for the next 4 years.

    3. Senator Harry Reid's efforts to 'reform' the fillibuster rules come to nothing and Senator McConnell sets an entirely new standard for obstructionism.

    4. Pumpkin pies go back on sale by week's end.

  • Bo on November 05, 2012 10:44 AM:

    Josef, one more post-election prediction:

    Boehner will NOT retain his House Speaker job. The teabaggRs will punish him and move further to the right. They will elect a new Speaker -- Doogie Hauser Ryan. Two reasons for this: (1) a "consolation prize" for losing the VP job and (2) the ultimate "F You" gesture as a message to President Obama of more obstruction to come for the next two years (until these self-serving right-wing reactionaries are booted out of Congress).

  • James M on November 05, 2012 10:50 AM:

    Both organisms and organizations face extinction will they lose the ability to adapt and self-correct. The Republican Party may seem strong to us because of its ability to conduct major campaigns, its control of the House and ability to disrupt the Senate. However, I don't think there is any doubt the party is much weaker than it was 30 years ago. Instead of being catalyst for self-examination, I think that an electoral loss on Tuesday will just accelerate the process of decline.

    The GOP has virtually no policy-making apparatus anymore and no heavyweights in economic, defense, or foreign policy. In addition to either knocking out or encouraging the retirement of the policy heavyweights in the GOP, the Tea Party members blew up the party's chances to take control of the Senate in both the midterms and the current election.

    As the post pointed out, the GOP, mainly through its governors and secretaries of state, is now involved in blatant vote suppression, and the support that the GOP enjoys from the current ethnic minorities in the U.S. that will make up the future majority must be at an all-time low. When I was young, even though I didn't agree with its policies, I thought the GOP really stood for something. Now it just seems to be an organized confidence ring to swindle low-information voters in order to maintain favorable tax treatment for the wealthy and minimize regulations on corporations.

  • Nameless Anonymity on November 05, 2012 10:52 AM:

    Hasn't Nate Silver been fabulously reassuring during thee crazed times. I live in PA and no way is it in play for Mitt unless repubs successfully steal it. Many Romney supporters aren't even registered to vote--get in a discussion with them and you find out this fact pretty easily.
    Also, the media spin today on Morning Joe with Joe Scarborough, Mike Halperin, Willie Geist, Chuck Todd and David Gregory was unbearable.
    Scarborough and other Republicans on the show�the regular crowd we seem to see every nauseating single day were actually LAUGHING about VOTER SUPPRESSION attempts in this country. And absolutely fibbing about the actual turnout of crowds such as 20,000 strong, that the president drew over the weekend in Ohio, and falsely saying there is *no enthusiasm* for the president. Morning Joe also failed to accurately report on current political polls. All spin intended to influence the election all morning on Morning Joe. This MSNBC show clearly needs an ombudsman.
    MSNBC management�There are credible reports of voter suppression, of cutting down early voting opportunities in states such as Florida, of doors being closed to voter as crowds are left in line, of multiple attempts to purge voters from registration roles, videos in real time of very large crowds of people standing for hours upon to vote, elderly people included. Even former governor Charlie Crist is reacting to Florida�s Governor Scott�s voter suppression. After 2008, Crist worked to improve opportunities for voting, to help end such long lines to exercise one�s fundamental rights: http://tv.msnbc.com/2012/11/02/crist-to-scott-florida-deserves-better-extend-early-voting/
    Also, it was reported on other, more honest MSNBC programs such as Maddow that crowds were much larger for the president�two rallies this weekend were at 24,000 for the president. Romney�s less than 5,000.
    Also�Morning Joe show reminds viewers of the movie with a jury of twelve angry white guys�it is insulting that Scarborough is allowed to lack sufficient female presence as usual, and Scarborough is continually permitted to muffle and silence Mika, as usual. And overwhelmingly apparent today. Worse show ever. SHAMEFUL OF MSNBC the day before the election to lie endlessly to viewers and ALLOW JOE SCARBOROUGH TO ATTEMPT TO INFLUENCE A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.

  • SecularAnimist on November 05, 2012 10:53 AM:

    One reason the Republican Party is so brazen about stealing elections with voter disenfranchisement and outright election fraud is that they have learned that the Democratic Party will do nothing whatever about it.

    In 2000, Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris stole the Florida election through the blatantly fraudulent disenfrachisement of tens of thousands of eligible voters -- and the Democrats blamed Ralph Nader, and refused to challenge or investigate the matter.

    In 2004, Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (who like Harris was both in charge of the state's election process AND chair of the state's Bush/Cheney campaign committee) stole the Ohio election through blatant vote-counting fraud -- and the Green Party and the Libertarian Party filed a joint lawsuit, which the Democrats would have nothing to do with.

  • Mimikatz on November 05, 2012 11:17 AM:

    There is more to the Ohio story. Jennifer Brunner was elected Sec of State in 2006 and Ohio had a Dem Governor and the legislature passed a bunch of reforms. In 2008 voting was fair and Obama won. But in 2010 Brunner did not run for reelection but ran in the Senate Primary to replace the retiring GOP Senator and lost the primary. The Dems did not have a good turnout and lost not only the Senate race but also Governor, SOS and the Legislature. Unfortunately it was the year for reapportionment and thus this year's poor map for Dems and voter suppression.

    The lesson of eternal vigilance as the price of liberty is clear. When we fight we win, and when we whine and stay home they not only win but stack the deck for the next time.

  • c u n d gulag on November 05, 2012 11:17 AM:

    GOP POV:
    We a WHITE to vote!
    Er... uhm... make that a "right" to vote - for WHITE'S! For ALL others, it's a privilege.

  • Chris on November 05, 2012 11:32 AM:

    Hi Ed, the title GOTNV for a post about the African American vote might send the wrong message. Just sayin'

  • Pamela88 on November 05, 2012 12:06 PM:

    Lois implied I'm dazzled that a single mom able to earn $7447 in 1 month on the internet. did you read this web site.....Key14.Com

  • AngryOldVet on November 05, 2012 12:10 PM:

    Maybe Ed Kilgore is following the 'Conventional Wisdom' that Medicare is NOT a desireable program or that Medicare costs must be cut. Or maybe Ed Kilgore is again channelling his inner DLC/DINO/Repuke-Lite persona that democrats need to concede 90% of what repukes want before beginning negotiations.

    Either way, it is crude and nasty of Kilgore to gratuitously insert his (earned!) insult into a sentence. Medicare recipients paid into that fund all of their working lifes and built their retirement plans around the existence of an affordable Medicare system.

    There is no reason that Ed Kilgore needs to repeatedly insult senior citizens!

    Note: As a retiree, I receive my health care thru the Veterans Administration and not thru Medicare.