Little Rock There’s nothing new about states, particularly blood-red states, trying to suppress the vote. The Republican strategy continues to be not to change one iota in their far right, white grievance, servant to the rich appeal, but to bear down until their last voters are gone. The president is setting the tone, and local political sycophants are singing every verse.
It was not a surprise that even though John Merrill, Alabama’s Secretary of State, was willing to budge just a smidgen and allow some voters susceptible or concerned about the virus to vote absentee, he was still determined to not make it easy. He insisted that they would have to crawl through the eye of a needle to do so by making a photocopy of their ID and get two witnesses or a notary to verify their ballot. A federal judge set him straight and said that was an undue burden and a unanimous appeal court agreed, but the Supreme Court in an unsigned 5-4 decision, said, heck no, make them take some risks for an absentee ballot.
All of that is just the way it goes now. You want to vote; you’re going to have to work for it. Conservatives are pretty clear that the fewer votes that are cast, the better their chances.
What was a surprise to me was the complete contempt that Merrill had for the voters and citizens of Alabama that he supposedly serves. Here’s what he had to say about these people:
“When I come to your house and show you how to use your printer, I can also show you how to tie your shoes and to tie your tie. I could also go with you to Walmart or Kinko’s and make sure that you know how to get a copy of your ID made while you’re buying cigarettes or alcohol.”
Of course, he assumes everyone asking for an absentee ballot, including the elderly and disabled, or others with pre-existing conditions, have a computer and a printer, and wear a tie. These same people who are afraid to go vote because of their susceptibility, he thinks should skip on down to Walmart and are smoking and drinking.
Let’s be frank. This is one office holder who clearly hates his fellow citizens and could give a hoot if they live or die. More ironic to me is that some of these same folks who want an absentee ballot are likely to be among the Republican’s hardcore base. What are they thinking?
The appeals court judges seem to like Alabamans more than their own officials, writing,
…that state officials were mistaken in arguing “that the photo ID and witness requirements impose only a ‘little bit of work’ on Alabamian voters.” “That misperceives the burden,” they wrote. “The burden here is not the finding of two people or a notary to witness a signature or the finding of a location to copy one’s photo ID. Instead, the burden is tied to the fact that plaintiffs and those similarly situated must risk death or severe illness to fulfill Alabama’s absentee voter requirements and, therefore, to exercise their right to vote.”
Their opinions didn’t move the Supreme Court who probably feel about the same about Alabama as Merrill does, but it’s hard to believe that in the United States we have now become the kind of country where you have to risk your life to vote.