As the nation gears up for the 2012 presidential election, Republican officials have launched an unprecedented, centrally coordinated campaign to suppress the elements of the Democratic vote that elected Barack Obama in 2008. Just as Dixiecrats once used poll taxes and literacy tests to bar black Southerners from voting, a new crop of GOP governors and state legislators has passed a series of seemingly disconnected measures that could prevent millions of students, minorities, immigrants, ex-convicts and the elderly from casting ballots. "What has happened this year is the most significant setback to voting rights in this country in a century," says Judith Browne-Dianis, who monitors barriers to voting as co-director of the Advancement Project, a civil rights organization based in Washington, D.C.
Berman’s piece detailed the efforts of a Republican nationwide campaign, supported by the Koch brothers, which is working to prevent millions of Democrats from voting next year. The story is just now being picked up by traditional media outlets such as the Los Angeles Times, which featured the following telling quote from President Bill Clinton:
"There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and the Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today," former President Clinton told a group of college students in July.
Thankfully, Obama’s re-election campaign has been putting together a series of responses, fighting these sleazy and frankly anti-democratic GOP tactics, through voter-protection initiatives closely navigating these new election laws. Over in Congress, Representative Keith Ellison has introduced legislation to curb voter suppression. However, those who are interested in pushing back against the GOP’s war on voting, will get a chance to do it the old fashioned way – by VOTING (!) – next Tuesday in Maine.
That’s right, as Berman referenced in his Rolling Stone piece linked above, the GOP-led legislature in Maine passed a bill to end same-day voting registration earlier this year, which has been in effect for almost 40 years. Of course, Maine’s teabagging governor, Paul LePage – who we can call the Scott Walker of New England -- signed the bill. Now the voters in Maine will have a chance to throttle this effort next week through a referendum (which is being called “Question 1”). The polling is close in favor of the good guys (48-44).
Chris Bowers wrote about it on the Big Orange.
However, the campaign in Maine needs everyone’s help. If you want to help out, you can do so by contributing, volunteering and telling your story (if you are from Maine), here. You can also make a contribution to the campaign here as it will need all the help it can get down the stretch as the other side not surprisingly is playing dirty. They are also being bankrolled by secret wingnut donors. So the Mainers are going to need every penny they can get to protect their votes.
This is going to be a huge battle to keep an eye on. If Mainers prevail on Tuesday in protecting their vote, it will give much needed boost to those who are already fighting tooth and nail to beat back GOP’s war on voting.