Republicans’ New Poll Tax

You remember about the poll tax. That was the post-Civil War tax Southern states imposed for the purpose of keeping African-Americans from voting, which was not finally killed off until 1966. Since the tax cost the equivalent of twenty bucks or so, the poor couldn’t pay it.

Welcome to the New Koch Boys Republican Poll Tax, now being implemented by their evil henchman ALEC. The purpose is to disenfranchise Democrats at the state level.

You’re heard about the enormous voter fraud, haven’t you, the one that is the reason for all these new state laws. No, not the fraud that swung the 2000 election to the loser. This is the one in which millions of people who are not entitled to vote cause a fraudulent election outcome.

You haven’t heard of it? That’s because it doesn’t exist. Except of course for the almost certain fraudulent activities of certain Republican operatives who manipulated an electronic count in Ohio a few years ago. But that can’t be fraud because nobody went to jail. Right?

But Republicans insist there is widespread voter fraud. Except there isn’t. Between 2002 and 2007 Justice investigated and failed to turn up a single person who impersonated a voter at the polls. And you remember the brouhaha about ACORN. Voter fraud because they encouraged people to register and vote. In that period, 2002-2007, 86 people were prosecuted for voter fraud. Many of those 86 simply didn’t understand that they weren’t eligible to vote. So, 86 out of 300-million votes. That’s a probability of 0.0000003. Getting struck by lightening is more probable.

And now we have the Koch boys’ Poll Tax equivalent, specifically designed to eliminate Democratic voters from the polls. How do we know this is the goal? Because ALEC—the 98% industry-supported, hard-right-group that writes legislation that is spoon-fed to their pet legislators, to be introduced to their legislative body without change—presents their “homespun” bills almost always in states where there is Republican control. They wouldn’t do that in other states because, (A) it wouldn’t fly, (B) it’s anti-democracy, and (C) Democratic governors see through it in an instant, and veto any such effort.

If there were significant voter fraud, if there were any other reason for these bills than Democrat disenfranchisement, they would be proposed in every state. They are not. They only pass where control of the state government allows Republicans to pretend to themselves that this has something to do with democracy.

Why do they do this, and how?

The why is that large voter turnouts usually favor Democrats. This is not news. Ergo, Repubs seek smaller turnouts. They do this by passing state laws that place obstacles to voting in front of whole classes of potential voters. Requiring new voter IDs is the most egregious of the new rules, but there are many others, such as requiring voter drives to turn in all new paperwork within 48 hours, requiring the purchase of a birth certificate before registration, disallowing registration on or close to an election day, closing DMV offices where IDs can be had in Democratic districts, and much more. All these are obviously anti-democracy, and every single one is Republican sponsored, usually with the generous assistance of ALEC.


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