The latest assault on Americans’ right to vote is coming from the states of Kansas and Arizona. Republican officials in both states have decided to ignore a key party principle — fiscal prudence — to create separate registration systems for state and federal elections.
The sole purpose of the two-tiered system is to prevent as many potential Democratic voters as possible from voting in state and local elections. Faced with demographic shifts that threaten their chances at national office, Republicans are desperate to maintain their hold on state legislatures.
As Missourians know all too well, legislatures can do a lot of damage. They also control congressional redistricting.
Pre-filing of bills for the 2014 Missouri legislative session doesn’t begin until Dec. 1. But given that two-tiered voting comes straight out of the American Legislative Exchange Council handbook, and given that GOP legislative leaders in Missouri are spoon-fed by that right-wing organization, it would be an upset if Missouri doesn’t take up the cause next year.
Be advised: Not only is two-tiered voting unfair and undemocratic, it also would be very complicated and expensive for local election boards to implement. Thus, your tax dollars could be helping to subvert democracy.
Back in June, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out an Arizona law that required residents to show proof of U.S. citizenship when filling out a simple federal voter registration form. By the court’s usual 5-4 conservative-liberal split, the 7-2 ruling in Arizona v. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona Inc. was a landslide.
But ALEC thinks maybe the law just applies to federal elections. So Kansas and Arizona are working on creating two kinds of voters. Those who show the proper papers will be able to vote in all elections. Those without such proof will only be able to vote for president, Senate and U.S. House candidates.
This will require up to four separate registration forms and require local election authorities to print at least two separate kinds of ballots for election jurisdiction. It would lead to Election Day chaos. All in the name of preventing citizens from voting.
Kansas and Arizona are pretending to worry that waves of undocumented immigrants will show up at polling places and sway the vote. This is absurd; the last place any undocumented alien is likely to show up is somewhere where he could get into trouble.
The real purpose is simply to make voting so onerous that people give up. The effort is doomed to fail. Just as courts eventually realized that “separate but equal” was wrong when applied to race, courts will realize that it’s equally wrong when it comes to voting.
Copyright St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Reprinted with permission.