VOTE! (if you can) 


At last, Nov. 6 is coming: Time to vote! Let’s all join the majestic panorama of democracy in action!

Well… calling America’s electoral process “majestic” is overdoing it, for millions of our citizens will not be permitted to vote. That’s because a consortium of national, state and local officials of Republican persuasion — along with their corporate ringleaders — have mounted a tawdry campaign over the past decade to slam the ballot box shut on entire segments of America’s electorate.

In a concerted effort, these rabidly partisan officials have targeted African-Americans, students, Latinos, the elderly, union households, the poor, immigrants and other communities of qualified voters to shoo them away on election day. Why? Because such citizens tend to vote for Democrats and progressive ballot initiatives. So the GOP’s grand strategy is not to “win” by getting the most votes, but to keep from losing by aggressively (and shamefully) shutting out millions of Americans who might vote against their plutocratic, autocratic, kleptocratic candidates and agenda.

Consider voting day itself. It’s a Tuesday, a workday, automatically eliminating people working two or three jobs who can’t afford to take off a couple of hours or more to get to the polls and wait in line to vote. Move elections to weekends, make it a holiday, make democracy easy!
Some 6 million felons who’ve paid their dues should be restored to full citizenship; provide automatic voter registration for every 18-year-old; stop mass purges of voter rolls; vote by mail; provide extended and easy absentee voting; have election week, rather than election day; accept any valid ID; vote where you live; restore the Voting Rights Act; pass a Constitutional Amendment to assure every eligible individual’s right to vote; and invest fully in our nation’s democratic infrastructure, including verifiable voting machines, multiple polling places within easy reach of all, an abundance of trained poll workers to eliminate lines and quickly resolve problems.

And here’s a crazy idea: Make voting fun, a festive occasion for the whole community! In Australia, for example, most polling places have barbecues. Why not add music, art, games and other enjoyment to make voting a truly civic activity?

Instead, in a depraved, anti-democratic grab for partisan gain, Republican officials have frenetically been planting thick briar patches of ridiculous rules, logistical barriers, intimidation tactics, ballot deceptions and outright voter bans in targeted precincts across the country. These thugs are stealing the people’s most valuable civic property: our votes. Shouldn’t they at least have to wear ski masks on election day so everyone can see who’s doing this to us?

You can contact Hightower at jimhightower.com.

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