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Letter to the editor: Election integrity or voter suppression?

Letter to the editor: Election integrity or voter suppression?

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Mike Groene wants to change the time period for voter mail-in ballots from 35 days to 20, and early in-person voting from 30 days to 15. Why?

Before he defines his reasoning for these changes, he refers to the Jan. 6 stampede into the U.S. Capitol as an “over-passionate mob scene.” “Over-passionate” — hmm ... that’s about the most benign description of the incident I’ve seen.

But that is just an aside for Mike.

Mike’s first rationale for shortening the voting period is that voters may cast a ballot before a candidate’s position “can be exposed” right before the election, or candidates may die or withdraw from an election after a vote has been cast, or finally, health issues may not be exposed until after the vote has been cast. Seems to me we have resources in place to handle those situations already.

His second argument is the need to prevent “coaching us as we fill out our ballot on our kitchen table.”

His third, and main, reason is that shorter times prevent “the harvest season for unethical political groups to influence election results.”

It is interesting to me that Mike is a member of a party that for 35 years was under court supervision for various voter suppression tactics, most notably racially targeted “voter caging.”

Voter caging by a political party is sending mail to lists of registered voters and compiling a list of the mail that is returned marked as undeliverable. They then argue that these names should be eliminated from the voter rolls.

Despite congressional passage of the National Voter Registration Act, which severely limited the ability of political parties to use such data to purge voter rolls, the Republican Party persisted in that and other “ballot security” practices, which led to a consent decree in 1982 with court oversight of the Republicans.

In 1987, the decree was extended by the court after the Republicans continued the practice by challenging black voters whose mail had been returned as undeliverable. The decree was modified again in 1990 and again in 2004 after another round of black voter suppression attempts.

Not until December 2017 did the court allow the decree to expire. Need I point out that was the year President Trump began his term.

This letter has been, admittedly, a long-winded history lesson in the quest by the Republican Party to suppress minority and other voter rights.

Mike can dress up his legislative bill in the benign raiment of ensuring integrity of the vote, but this whole subject could be put to rest if the Republican Party would have the integrity to work for all voters instead of just the fortunate few.

Hope Hunt

North Platte

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