The first election in which I was eligible to vote was in 1960, when I paid a required poll tax in Texas in order to vote, a sacrifice since my income was very, very small. As a woman, it was particularly meaningful, as women were ‘granted’ the right to vote only twenty years before I was born. After that first, very exciting opportunity, there have been very few elections in which I have not participated, from city council to county commissioner to president, even voting by absentee ballot if necessary. I come from a family of ordinary people of very low income, but it was instilled into me by example that one always voted, one tried to learn about the candidates, and one never told another how to vote nor asked how they voted. Those behaviors were as much a part of our family values as saying “thank you,” and “please.”
So it is not surprising that voting became a type of sacrament as important to me as my basic citizenship. And it is then surprising, as well as actually shocking, that in this, the twenty-first century, there are actual efforts to prevent fellow citizens from voting. Now I would never support fraudulent votes for any reason, but we all know, from news reports, that the incidence of fraudulent voting is almost non-existent, and we know this from a study done by the very political party that is working overtly and apparently without qualms or hesitancy, to suppress voting rights. Certain states, such as Pennsylvania and our own Texas, are changing rules, requiring hard-to-obtain voter ID’s (in addition to voter registration forms), changing voting hours and days, and actually bragging about it on camera (see any references to Mike Turzai, Republican state representative in Pennsylvania). Furthermore, in several states with large rural areas such as Texas, as many as one-third of counties have no location where voter ID’s can be obtained.
So here are my questions: First of all, why? Why try to suppress voting rights when some of those voters may be of the same party as those doing the suppressing? And then, why is there no outrage from the national candidates of the Republican Party, Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan? By their silence are they giving consent? And if so, how can that in any way be acceptable in any candidates, much less national ones?
And finally, the thought occurs: over and over, we are able, as citizens, at least once we pass the eligibility hurdles, to vote directly for United States senators and representatives. But there is another huge hurdle between us and our votes to elect a president and vice president, the hurdle being the Electoral College. So my final question is, “When are we going to do something about that?”