Poll Taxes Were So Last-Century…

Tis the season–of voter suppression.

Vote suppression, of course, can’t be disentangled from the racism that was the subject of yesterday’s post. Efforts by the GOP to keep folks from the polls, after all, tend to be focused on black folks, and that has been true ever since poll taxes were instituted to keep former slaves from exercising their franchise.

Today’s Republicans are far more inventive–and far more overt. From Voter ID laws that are aimed at solving the  virtually non-existent problem of in-person “voter fraud,” to the chutzpah of Brian Kemp in Georgia, the GOP is pulling out all the stops to keep people of color from the polls. (And thanks to the Supreme Court’s evisceration of the Voting Rights Act, there are lots of stops to pull out.)

The New Yorker has an article titled “Voter-Suppression Tactics in the Age of Trump” that is well worth reading.It begins with a story.

African-Americans used to tell a joke about a black Harvard professor who moves to the Deep South and tries to register to vote. A white clerk tells him that he will first have to read aloud a paragraph from the Constitution. When he easily does so, the clerk says that he will also have to read and translate a section written in Spanish. Again he complies. The clerk then demands that he read sections in French, German, and Russian, all of which he happens to speak fluently. Finally, the clerk shows him a passage in Arabic. The professor looks at it and says, “My Arabic is rusty, but I believe this translates to ‘Negroes cannot vote in this county.’ ”

As the article notes, this old joke has a new saliency. It’s true that–thanks to litigation–literacy tests, poll taxes, and grandfather clauses meant to disadvantage minority voters have all been declared illegal. But new strategies have replaced them.

One need look no further than the governor’s race in Georgia to see their modern equivalents in action. The race between the Republican, Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state, and the Democrat, Stacey Abrams, the former minority leader of the state House of Representatives—who, if she wins, will be the first black female governor in the country—is a virtual tie. But Kemp has invoked the so-called exact-match law to suspend fifty-three thousand voter-registration applications, for infractions as minor as a hyphen missing from a surname. African-Americans make up thirty-two per cent of the state’s population, but they represent nearly seventy per cent of the suspended applications.

This isn’t Kemp’s first effort at disenfranchising minority voters. Historian Carol Anderson has written a book titled “One Person, No Vote,” in which Kemp is prominently profiled.

In 2012, after the Asian American Legal Advocacy Center, in Atlanta, discovered that many of its clients who were naturalized citizens were not on the voter rolls, despite having registered, the group raised the issue with Kemp’s office. “In a show of raw intimidation,” Anderson writes, “Kemp ordered an investigation questioning the methods that the organization had used to register new voters.” In 2014, Kemp investigated the New Georgia Project, a voter-registration initiative that Abrams had founded. In a similar vein, officials in Jefferson County last week ordered a group of African-American senior citizens off a bus taking them to an early-voting site, on the ground that the transportation, which had been organized by the nonpartisan group Black Voters Matter, was a “political activity.”

The article characterizes these and similar (if somewhat less blatant) efforts elsewhere as an attempt to place a white thumb on the demographic scale.

Georgia is far from the only state making an effort to curtail–rather than encourage–voting.  The Brennan Center reports that ninety-nine bills designed to diminish voter access were introduced last year in thirty-one state legislatures. And as early voting has started, we are seeing reports of machines that “flip” voters choices from Democratic candidates to their Republican opponents.

If and when Congress is controlled by elected officials willing to put the interests of the country above the partisan interests of their party, reinvigoration of the Voting Rights Act and measures to protect the franchise need to be priority number one.

Meanwhile, massive turnout next Tuesday will be needed in order to overcome gerrymandering and the various voter suppression and misinformation efforts that are being employed by Republican politicians who want to win at all costs–even if one of those costs is the integrity of our democracy.


  1. Yesterday I tried to locate an early voting site for my friend in PIKE township in Indy.
    I can find sites for all the other (more Republican) townships but nothing for Pike
    I tried another STATE of IN site and entered his address.
    The site says that is an invalid address (It is NOT – it is senior citizen tower with HUNDREDS of people – but NOT the kind of people the Republicans WANT to vote)

    I could not even locate a regular poling cite for Nov 6

    For those unfamiliar with Indianapolis, there are a lot of Black & Hispanic Democrats in Pike so they want to make it hard (or impossible) for them to vote I guess.

    And the Democratic Party Web site — Useless too – but there was a link to DONATE
    (No wonder we keep getting our ass kicked in IN)

    And so it continues in Indiana

  2. The Pike TWP Early Voting Site is in the International Market, 3685 Commercial Drive. It has been widely publicized both by the party and the Election Board. My wife voted there yesterday.

  3. Yes, Indiana has been turned over to the Republicans. And also noted, their platform does nothing for Americans but they still want Hoosier’s money to fight closer battles in other states.

    Sorry, but I even grimace when I get fundraising letters from the DCCC with Bernie Sanders on it. Come on Bernie, bail on these losers! They are only using you to raise money.

    Sheila writes, “If and when Congress is controlled by elected officials willing to put the interests of the country above the partisan interests of their party, reinvigoration of the Voting Rights Act and measures to protect the franchise need to be priority number one.”

    This should have never been allowed to happen in the modern day USA but when the Koch brothers can buy Supreme Court Justices, guess what?

    It’s an Oligarchy…a rubber stamp Oligarchy. Bills are created behind closed doors and sent to all the legislators they own who merely have to sign it. We the Oligarchs!

    As for the VRA, the former POS owned by the Koch’s, said, “There was no evidence of voter suppression in those southern states so there was no need to protect voters any longer.”

    The day after SCOTUS’s decision, how many states filed laws to enact voter suppression laws?

    Too bad the crazed lunatics on the left abhor violence because even voting is being stolen from us and we’ve already shown that voting blue isn’t a silver bullet either.

    Under Trump, the Attorney General has given two alternative media lists to Twitter, Facebook, and Google for censorship and the federal government’s corporate partners have obliged.

    Once the people get royally pissed, the violence will escalate and we’ll see the true faces of DHS, CIA, FBI, NSA and the Pentagon.

    Once again, we don’t have a democracy nor a representative republic. Oppression will lead to violence as the people get frustrated.

    And by the way, keep a close eye on Brazil. Jus sayin…


  4. patmcc; that is an unconscionable situation even for Indiana, but who in this Republican city and state can you report it to and expect results before next Tuesday? Due to problems at the poll in 2016 which causes me to question my vote being counted; I decided to accept the Absentee Ballot application for this mid-term election. I lived in Florida in 2000 when Bush was NOT elected; the only state to do a recount to decide the outcome of the presidential election…the state where George W’s brother Jeb happened to be Governor. During the recount; someone just “happened to find” a locked closet full of boxes of Absentee Ballots and early voter forms; they were considered not arriving in time for the election and DIScounted. I worry that my Absentee Ballot will be counted in my Trump infested neighborhood.

    About that “so-called exact-match law”; I got out my checkbook and my wallet with all of my identification and my stack of monthly bills; my name is spelled “JoAnn”…not one of them has my “exact-match” spelling! They are mostly all caps, “JOANN” or a few “Joann”; minor details as all my checks are cashed and my VISA is accepted with MY misspelling of my own name but if that “exact-match” law was applied here I wouldn’t be allowed to vote.

    We have seen reports that early voting has a higher than usual turnout for this mid-term; the results won’t be known till after November 6th when we learn results decided by whoever we are told is responsible for the count.

    “Meanwhile, massive turnout next Tuesday will be needed in order to overcome gerrymandering and the various voter suppression and misinformation efforts that are being employed by Republican politicians who want to win at all costs–even if one of those costs is the integrity of our democracy.”

    Our government is now in the hands of the enemy of democracy and the Constitution as well as everything America has stood for for more than two CENTURIES; we will be forced to accept THEIR decision. A news brief on MSNBC this morning referred to those 2 million plus popular votes Hillary received as being the full count of Americans who voted against Trump. They didn’t bother to include the more than 7 million votes cast for Jill Stein and Gary Johnson in the same election as votes against Trump.


  5. JoAnn, Indianapolis is Democratic controlled. The Inspectors in charge of the precincts are Democrats. Precinct Clerks and Judges are 2 each, one from each party.

  6. Yes, Brian Kemp represents the worst aspects of Redneck Nation. But his attitude is pervasive everywhere there are Republicans. Most Republicans are white. Most Republicans have no intention of governing for the people. Most Republicans are beholden to the oligarchs. Most Republicans support the gutting of the Voting Rights Act. See the pattern?

    Kemp’s miserable life would become intolerable if he lost to a black female. How could he face his fellow parishioners every Sunday? How could his kids face their friends in their all-white private schools? Oh dear. Even if the Democrat “wins” the popular vote in Georgia for governor, watch for all sorts of suits and legal maneuvering by Kemp as AG and overseer of elections to quash it.

    I think once the vote has been so thoroughly destroyed by Republicans, there will be a revolution. After all, many people have died to get the vote, including women who were beaten to death before 1920 while trying to get suffrage. It is the scourge of racism, now in lockstep with Republicanism, that is STILL eating away at our national foundation. Our original sin continues to haunt us, and may very well be our undoing as a democratic republic. Republicans don’t seem to care about any of that. Oligarchs only care about money and power. Is it any wonder that those two entities are joined at the hip in their dance of death for democracy?

  7. My wife and I voted yesterday in Lawrence Township. The parking lot full and waited for a space to open and it did soon enough. The line was orderly and the precinct volunteers were organized and efficient. Greeted by advocates of both Democrat and Republican candidates on the ballot. Turn out will break all records. Sat and observed for an hour. Every booth set up for voting in constant use and orderly rotation. Constant flow of voters arriving. Very diverse turnout to vote. What I observed is a pleasant contrast to today’s blog from Sheila. I am encouraged.

  8. Don’t forget Dodge City, Kansas, where 13,000 majority Hispanic voters have been deprived of an in-town polling place. Even after moving the polling place, the Republican county clerk sent information to voters with the wrong address. When she was called out on this and asked to provide relief, she sent Kris Kobach, the Republican candidate for governor AND the Secretary of State overseeing the elections, an e-mail with an LOL. Shelby was probably the most wrongly decided case since Dred Scott.

    It’s getting pretty late in the game to save the republic, but if you want to start:


  9. Greetings Mrs. Kennedy. Isn’t who controls local voting precincts determined by which party sits in the office of the Attorney General?

  10. Irvin, I don’t believe so.

    I know that certain aspects of the election process are determined by who holds the Secretary of State office, but beyond that, I’m hazy. Any election lawyers out there?

  11. Slightly off topic, but the 45 rally circus is coming to Fort Wayne on Monday, Nov. 5. Get your free tickets here: https://www.donaldjtrump.com/ and then make other plans. That’s what I just did. Let’s show him lots of empty seats.

  12. Thank you for your answer Mrs Kennedy. You are correct, it is the Sec. of State office. I once held the Inspector job because an evil democrat had won that office .

  13. Reply to Irvin: control of the election process is determined by the vote for Secretary of State in the County. Thus, usually the Secretary of State is Republican in Indiana because she/he wins a majority of Hoosier votes. However, the vote within a County determines which party is in charge of the Precinct Election Board. When party machinery functions as intended, the Precinct Committeeperson recommends to the Ward Chair individuals to be the Inspector (who is in charge of all procedure on Election Day), his/her party Election Clerk and Election Judge. These nominations are confirmed by the County Chair. Thus, when the system works as intended, the Precinct Election Board consists of 5 indiduals: Inspector (recommended by the Precinct Committeeperson whose party won the Secretary of State election in that county). a Clerk and Judge appointed by the Democratic Party and a Clerk and Judge appointed by the Republican Party. These 5 are paid by the County. Sometimes there is a struggle to find 5 people to serve. There is now a provision that Clerks and Judges may serve a half day.

    Conclusion: volunteer to work on Election Day at the poll in your precinct.

  14. Here’s the real issue. The RNC has decided that winning elections is more important than telling the truth whole and nothing but. They have had unprecedented succcess due to that decision.

    Based on that success should the DNC decide likewise?

  15. Thank you Wayne. I remembered that it had to do with a state office but could not recall if it was county by county.

  16. I understand the IN Democratic Party to be providing rides for people to polling sites. I do not know if they are doing it for Early Voting, however knowing the woman who is head of the International Marketplace Coalition on Commercial (an amazing place by the way), think she could help arrange transportation. Perhaps you might give them a call, Pat, at 317.709.7800 and see if they may help the folks at CC Tower with a ride.

    I also voted there and then took the time to check out many of their treasures. They are having an artistic open house on Dec 8th, and provide classes and food events and lots of other community events for their neighbors.

  17. ABSENTEE VOTING: I voted before I left Indiana for the winter. It was not as easy as it looks. The in.gov website told me I could vote absentee in person at the Madison County Government Center. My first problem was to figure out if Government Center is the same thing as Court House, which, after an hour of research, I never determined. So, I decided to go to the address listed for the Government Center, then read and react, as Bob Knight would say. There, I had to go through security. Fine. The dude with the wand wanted to know if I had a photo ID on me. He said that ID cards are now considered dangerous weapons: they can be sharpened and used like a razor, and he would have to confiscate it and give it back when I leave the building, provided I could identify myself without the ID card. I explained that I was there to vote, and I needed my ID card to do that. He said he was not aware that voting was allowed yet, and ran the wand between my legs again. A supervisor appeared and suggested the wand dude let me keep my ID; Mr. Kaiser will find out he’s in the wrong place and that will be that. We can watch him from the monitor. At that, both of them smirked and waved me on. I walked the entire first floor of the building looking for an office devoted to absentee voting. I checked the reader board for other floors. No voting office existed in this building. But having seen the County Clerk’s office listed, I decided to go there and ask directions. Off the elevator on the second floor, I walked the entire floor and found no Clerk’s office or voting facilities, and there were no signs posted to welcome voters and/or direct them to the proper site. But there was a lone table sitting in the hall. No one attended that table, and there were no signs. There was a clipboard on the table. Being nosy, I examined the clipboard. On it was a form to fill out if you wanted to vote absentee. Well, that was progress. I filled out the form, just a few simple questions. Now what? I waited for an attendant. None appeared. I peaked into a couple of unmarked rooms. Nothing. Then I decided to push open a door marked “private”, ready to hit the floor if someone opened fire. Inside, two startled women looked at me. One finally asked if I needed help. I said I wanted to vote and handed the clipboard to one of the women. She asked if I knew where I was supposed to vote. I said no; I thought I had it right, but now I’m not so sure. Well, why did you fill out this form? So I could vote, if this is the right place. I could see three voting machines behind the women. One lady asked me my address. The other asked me for my ID. She handed me my ID and said sign here. The other lady asked me to accompany her to one of the machines, where she recited a lengthy list of instructions. “When you start on the first page and finish with that page, touch CONTINUE, and the next page will appear. She stepped away. I looked at the machine. It was hovering on the last page and asking if I was ready to finalize my vote. Politely, I asked the woman if the machine was ready or if I was missing some obvious instruction. She came over to the machine, touched something, sighed, and the machine jumped to the start page. I voted, I think. The machine said I had voted, but I was skeptical, so I asked the nice woman to verify that I was through. She checked the monitor, emitted a deep, deep sigh and said that I was through. My takeaway: absentee voting in Indiana is as easy as pie, but you have to bake the pie yourself. Columbo, Hercule Poirot, Jessica Fletcher, Thomas Magnum, Jim Rockford and Sherlock Holmes, all cooperating with each other, would never have found the voting place in Anderson, Indian. A question: How do you sharpen the edge of your ID card?

  18. Larry; to answer your last question regarding how to sharpen your ID card to use as a weapon. There are ads on TV for – I think it is a Danish product – a large weird looking gizmo to slide knives AND ID cards across 2 or 3 times to sharpen the edge. On TV it cuts a small frozen piece of meat. Your horrible experience sounds like a SNL comedy skit except for the length; a one-hour episode of “West Wing” if it was still in operation. Really; I am so sorry for your experience and hope your vote does count; as I hope my vote counts, but we will never know.

    As if things aren’t bad enough with the current election campaigns and our sorry choices; I just saw on MSNBC that Hillary Clinton “is not closing the door on the 2020 election” because she “would like to be president”. Expecting Trump to run again is bad enough and our choice of the Republican party’s favorite Democrat, Joe Donnelly currently up for reelection; the Democratic party just moved lower several notches in my estimation if they hold that “door open” for her again. She needs to retire from public life and enjoy her many, many, many, many millions of dollars and our tax dollar support and secret service protection as a former First Lady the rest of her life.


  19. theres measure 2 in nodak, its a petition signed on the ballot.not from legislature.the people..seems it wants to,make it,a citizen only allowed to vote..seems those who work,pay taxes,and spend in the community,have no voice…theres a measure 3, legal rec pot…(now mind you,we couldnt get rid of a sunday blue law,last election year,on a citizen vote..yea,go laugh) the swipe by the no voties,are,it will make it the most liberal law in the nation. now, like any other state,it will still have to be made into a law,with rules,regs etc, but,they want ya to believe, its a freewheelin good time if past…(im all for it) measure 1/ ethics in politics, mmmm, again,,the no voteies wantnya to,believe dark money is good,a friend of the politition..like,citizen united,with a suit on.. again,, the people here are led to believe its the law they are passing,and will be as written in the measure….no clue,or truth,in this stuff ya get in the mail.. cramer and heitkamp both spread the manure ,,,but,heitkamp at least has some substance over cramers con job.. either way, we hold our noses and vote here.. we vote the demo ticket,and 1 is yes,2 is hell no,3 is lets party, in the state capital.. we have same day registration,with photo i,d,… we can,but dont,absentee so to see,the vote made,without being in the dark.. can ya hear me georgia?

  20. now lets face facts,hilary is dead,any chance of her even making a grunt for the job,will only deter and annihilate any chance of the left even being viable..sorry, its the white haired old dude again,and dont even look at blooomberg, or any actor,we have too much to lose. we need the working class to come together,and we need a reality check against wall streets cronies being a need. say what ya like, its not a game this time,its survival…

  21. Yuck. Not only is the Donald going to hold a 90 Minutes of Hate rally in my home town, the rally will be where I normally work, so I could have been called in to work that night. (That is, if they were using the arena video system and not their own equipment.) Since I am probably one of the few people in the crew with a government clearance, I probably would have passed the Secret Service clearance check with ease. Fortunately, I will be out of town that day, and I hope the stink is gone by the time I’m working the next event.

    I would be interested in seeing how many people actually attend, and who: there are a lot of conservative Mennonites and Amish in the outlying areas, so there could be a lot of busses in the parking lot. The arena holds about 8,000 to 9,000 for presentations, the Expo center 6,000 to 8,000. I expect that the Expo center would be used, because it is easier to secure, plus it wouldn’t risk damaging the hockey ice. I also expect the Donald to claim it was the biggest event there, but whatever the attendance, it wouldn’t and couldn’t be the biggest event at the arena: that would have to be the 12,100 who filled the arena to the rafters to watch the IU / IPFW basketball game two years ago.

    I also saw no notice of the event in the local news. Fort Wayne is conservative, old school Republican with some MAGA overtones. Even the radical conservative old guard that occupy the no-nothing editorial section of the local paper haven’t said anything about it.

  22. Irvin – to add to Wayne’s excellent explanation, in Marion County at least, the Clerk of the Court is the chief election official. That office appoints (after party recommendations), trains and pays the precinct election workers. Even though the Secretary of State (currently Republican Connie Lawson) is the state’s chief election official, and the Clerk of the Court (or County Clerk – currently Democrat Myla Eldridge) is the chief county election official, it is the five person precinct level board that accepts or turns away potential voters (subject to potential legal action). They have more discretion than is usually believed. If they decide to accept or reject an expired ID, it is generally their call.

    Also, Wayne is definitely correct about precinct election boards. It is very difficult to find enough people (I am currently one of those Ward Chair types sends in the list).

  23. Steve Schmidt is amazing in his voice against his party and I’ve admired him for a long time. Thank you for that link Vernon. I don’t get MSNBC on my cable channels and have to catch clips when I can. His steady voice is clear and concise.

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