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Posts Tagged ‘Kemp’

Like a first kiss, everyone can remember the very first time they voted.

I am still proud of my first presidential vote for George McGovern in 1972 over Richard Nixon. I was just 24 years old, and was pretty depressed with the results – the ONLY state McGovern won was the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts! He was an anti-war Democrat when Americans were becoming tired of Vietnam; a Senator from South Dakota with an impeccable reputation. But Nixon managed his huge victory through lies and innuendo, with Watergate looming on the horizon.

At least Nixon lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 in 1970 – ’cause if you can be drafted to die in Vietnam, you might as well be able to vote.

I remember my foster parents voting. It was the only time they would leave me alone in the house; they would get dressed up for the occasion, Nell would wear powder and lipstick, Jim would don a tie. They would never say who they voted for, but somehow I knew it was a straight-line Blue ticket. After all, Democrats were the party of working people, of unions, and even the Catholic Church! This was FDR and JFK’s legacy, they were like saints to us.

And then in 1965, LBJ signed into law the Voting Rights Act to end racial discrimination at the ballot box.

“Black people attempting to vote were often told by election officials that they gotten the date, time or polling place wrong, that the officials were late or absent, that they possessed insufficient literacy skills or had filled out an application incorrectly. Often African Americans, whose population suffered a high rate of illiteracy due to centuries of oppression and poverty, would be forced to take literacy tests, which they inevitably failed. Johnson also told Congress that voting officials, primarily in southern states, had been known to force black voters to “recite the entire constitution or explain the most complex provisions of state laws”–a task most white voters would have been hard-pressed to accomplish. In some cases, even Black people with college degrees were turned away from the polls.”

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/johnson-signs-voting-rights-act

But as we know, so often passing a law and enforcing it are two different things. In the South, Republicans managed to continue to suppress the Black vote in covert ways. Outlawing a poll tax for example can be replaced by fewer and minimally staffed polling places in urban Black neighborhoods. Where there is a White Supremacist will, they will find a way – just as legislators are doing now in Georgia.

One of the most egregious changes Gov Kemp signed into law last week was cutting by half the number of days a person can request an absentee ballot. Due to Covid, in the last election about a quarter of the GA electorate voted absentee. And almost 65% of those voting absentee were for Joe Biden.

The first time I voted absentee was in VA. We were planning a trip over an upcoming November election, so we had to present ourselves to City Hall and state the reason we needed to vote early. You needed a reason, like a child getting a note from a doctor in order to return to school. Then after presenting our photo IDs, we sat down right there and voted with paper and pen.

This last election we requested absentee ballots, because… we’re old. TN Republicans didn’t think a global pandemic was a good enough reason to vote absentee. Bob thought it was funny that we didn’t need to prove who we were to anybody, just make the request online, and wait for it to be delivered. And wait, and wait. Then vote and seal it. I mean, who would hack a government agency? We hand-delivered our ballots, along with Ada and Hudson’s, to the official ballot box at Nashville’s historic US Post Office! Of course, sealing it “the right way” was tricky but we managed.

I wonder what my Nana would say because she was denied her right to vote over a century ago, after the 19th Amendment was passed. She had married an “Alien,” aka an Irish born citizen. What would my foster mom Nell think if she saw me in a face mask, voting at a post office? Would she wonder why Republicans are making it harder to vote than it is to buy a gun? I’d like to ask her out on our porch, while she was sipping an ice cold Royal Crown cola. I’ll have a Pepsi myself.

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