• May 14th, 2021
  • Friday, 03:28:16 AM

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They Are Afraid of Us


Javier Sierra

 

After the most secure election that saw the highest voter turnout in history, Republican governors and state legislators are making it clear they are afraid of us, Latinos, Blacks, Native Americans, Asian Americans. Instead of trying to earn our vote with their ideas, they have opted to attack us with the worst voter suppression campaign in recent history.

Their panic—fueled by an ever more ethnically diverse population—has resulted in the drafting or passing of more than 360 racist legislative bills in 47 states. They aim at restricting our right to vote, alleging the Big Lie that voter fraud defeated Donald Trump.

The For the People Act has alarmed reactionary forces and their financiers because it would help put an end to the obstacles that keep millions of Latinos, Blacks, Native Americans and low-income folks from freely exercising their sacred right to vote and decide their future and that of their families.

So far, the indisputable leader in this rush to suppress is Georgia. On March 25th, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed the draconian S.B. 202—the Frankenstein of suppressing laws, as a Georgia senator called it—which is chock-full of obstacles to impede the participation of the most disadvantaged. The law limits the option of mail-in vote, cuts down early voting alternatives, reduces the number of voting booths, and, with a wink to Trump’s attempt to alter the results of the last election, puts the State Elections Board in the hands of the legislature to interfere in the outcome according to political preferences. Furthermore, in a show of legislative cruelty, it criminalizes giving water or food to voters waiting in line.

And nobody dare question this outlandish abuse of power. Major League Baseball decided to move its All Start game from Atlanta to Colorado in protest of the passing of S.B. 202, which prompted Republicans from Georgia and elsewhere to boycott the National Pastime. Competition in the suppression race is fierce. The Florida legislature added a clause to a bill that would also punish those offering water to waiting voters. Of course, being Latino, Black or Native American already exponentially increases the waiting periods at the polls.

The perennial excuse to suppress the vote of the most vulnerable continues to be alleged electoral fraud. Once again, in 2020, Trump and his party baselessly claimed they were cheated. This crisis threatens the very essence of democracy, the sanctity of the right to vote, and possesses deep roots in the conservative movement. More recently, an historic decision, concluding that racism was over, unleashed the current suppressing offensive. In 2013, the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, dealt a mortal blow to the 1965 Voting Rights Act, weakening its Section V, which obligated certain states to check with the federal government before reforming their voting laws.

The remedy for this anti-democratic plague is called the For the People Act, a bill in Congress that would accomplish the most progressive voting rights transformation in half a century. It would demand the automatic registration of voters, extend mail-in voting and drastically reduce the influence of dark money in the financing of campaigns, among other reforms.

The For the People Act has alarmed reactionary forces and their financiers because it would help put an end to the obstacles that keep millions of Latinos, Blacks, Native Americans and low-income folks from freely exercising their sacred right to vote and decide their future and that of their families.

They are afraid of us because there are many more of us than them.

 

Javier Sierra is a Columnist with the Sierra Club. Sígalo en Twitter @javier_SC.

 

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