New Orleans The rightwing, Republican posturing around voting has really officially gone from the ridiculous to the absurd. This is shadowboxing to appease the base. Nothing more.
I vote by mail in Louisiana. Why not? I travel regularly. We vote on Saturdays. If I didn’t vote by mail, I would be trying to juggle parking and City Hall to vote absentee. It works, and I’m doing it.
Opening my mail, I found my ballot for the December 10th runoff for the Public Service Commission from my area. There were also three ballot issues still outstanding. Two were a slight dilution of any future governor’s power by mandating that appointees on two committees be approved by the State Senate. Our current governor supported them, so why not? More democratic even. The other was bizarre. I read it several times, not believing that I was getting this right. I, along with all other voters in Louisiana, we’re being asked by our Republican majority legislature to vote YES or NO on whether the only people allowed to register and vote in Louisiana elections would be required to be citizens. It’s already the law obviously. The measure was solely performative. I voted NO, just to lodge my protest at being manipulated by the legislature to join the herd they want to convince that there was a serious effort to have non-citizens in the state register and vote. Come on, man!
I guess I should consider myself lucky. At least in Louisiana we don’t have the witch hunt of state funded voter brigades on a snipe hunt looking for non-existent vampire voters pulling the ballot fraudulently, like they do in Florida, Georgia, and Virginia. Not surprisingly, they have found no evidence of such activity in the two weeks since the midterms. Largely proving in the words of Paul Smith, senior vice president of the Campaign Legal Center, that “The whole concept of voter impersonation fraud is such a horribly exaggerated problem. It doesn’t change the outcome of the election, it’s a felony, and you risk getting put in jail and you have a high possibility of getting caught. It’s a rare phenomena.”
In county after county, state after state, the best these werewolf hunters have been able to scout out have usually been isolated and random. People confused, who thought they were registered just as a woman voting for Republicans in Texas found out a couple of years ago. Or, former felons believing they could vote in Florida mistakenly and not realizing the legislature there had undercut the vote of the people by adding additional barriers. When it happens, there is no evidence of conspiracy. It’s rare one-off individuals committing at worst a “disorganized” crime which most prosecutors don’t even bother to spend time dealing with once the error turns up.
These are police and politicians looking to find people who they want to believe committed a crime that didn’t do it. Lands of the bizarre!
Maybe in Louisiana we had some guestworker or new immigrant still waiting and hoping for citizenship who tired to vote? I don’t know, because if it happened, there have been no reports of it. Luckily, in the futile wisdom of the state legislature they have concocted a preemptive strike against any of these folks thinking in the future that somehow it was legal for a noncitizen to register and vote. What do they think this is, a school board election in Takoma Park, Maryland or something? This is Louisiana doggone it! We need to nip this in the bud before we round up the posse to look for those ghost votes like they have in other states.
Why can’t politicians deal with real issues that people care about? What’s the point of make believe?