After the Balloons

DNC 2016 balloonsThe balloons dropped, the convention crews are clearing venue, and the real work begins.  On the positive side of the ledger, the Democrats reclaimed God, the Flag, and the ‘sunny patriotism’ of the Reagan afterglow. [JPP] Now the 100 days tick down to the final result on November 8, 2016.  There’s plenty of work for everyone, and pitfalls aplenty.

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The Republicans have been working diligently to suppress the votes of precisely those citizens who are likely to cast ballots for Democratic candidates.  We need to pay close attention to what the Brennan Center is saying about voting rights in America:

“The 2016 election season is already in full swing. As voters in a number of states face new restrictions for the first time in a presidential election, we’ve already seen problems in primaries across the country.  A new photo ID requirement led to long lines in Wisconsin. A reduction in polling places forced some to wait five hours to vote in Arizona. New rules created confusion in North Carolina. This could be an early glimpse of problems in November — as voters face the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act, which was designed to prevent discrimination in voting.”

Let’s not kid ourselves about what will be going on in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Arizona, and other states in which Republicans have implemented creative ways to suppress the votes of the elderly, the young, the members of ethnic minorities, and women.   Repeating for emphasis: “…voters face the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act, which was designed to prevent discrimination in voting.”

“Aside from new restrictions considered in 2016, there are 17 states with voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election this year. The new measures range from strict photo ID requirements to early voting cutbacks to registration restrictions.

Those 17 states (with new laws) are: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.” [Brennan]

What this means is voting registration drive efforts must be supported and enhanced in every way the laws allow. That voters must be attentive to efforts to suppress the vote by closing polling places in minority neighborhoods.  That voters must demand sufficient hours for voting, sufficient polling stations for elections, sufficient staffing for elections.  If you don’t know what these are –ask! Ask, and share the information any way you can, to any one you can.  Voter registration information for Nevada is located here.  Eligible voters in Nevada can update their information online.  The list of voting registrars and county clerks and their contact information is located here.

Register, check the status of your registration, (any name change? change of address?) help someone else register to vote.  Given the efforts at voter suppression in this election cycle it may not be enough to simply show up to vote, especially in those 17 states listed above, it may require a little extra effort, more volunteers, and more resources.  Support the ACLU, the League of Women Voters, Voto Latino, and other groups in the community who work to expand the electorate. 

Take hope – the North Carolina voting discrimination law has been declared discriminatory by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a major win for voting rights.  The anti-voting law in Texas was struck down by the usually very conservative 5th Circuit Court.  There’s hope, but it’s still going to take some extra effort.

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Don’t expect the top of the ticket to be the end and be all. As Democrats learned to their sorrow in the last mid-term elections (and in too many mid-term elections previously) that state and local elections matter.  Nevada has an excellent candidate for the U.S. Senate: Catherine Cortez Masto, who wants to overturn Citizens United, protect Medicare and Social Security, Raise the minimum wage, and enact comprehensive immigration policy reform.

There’s a credible candidate in Nevada’s heavily Republican Congressional District 2, Chip Evans.  Evans’ tells us: “Growth comes from reinvesting in our middle class. We must modernize our infrastructure to remain competitive, repeal laws providing tax breaks for companies sending jobs overseas, and leverage public/private partnerships to train workers while rebuilding our manufacturing base.”

There’s a really stark contrast in Nevada’s Congressional District 4: Ruben Kihuen versus the ever-inarticulate, gaffe-o-matic, Bundy sympathizer, Cresent Hardy.  In case anyone’s unsure about Hardy’s ethno-nationalist perspective, remember he’s the one who won’t debate Kihuen on a local Spanish language broadcast. No, Cresent, no one is asking you to speak Spanish – bless his heart he has enough trouble with English.

There are State Senate and State Assembly seats up for election, there are county commissioners, and school board, and other local elections in this election.  And, please remember that for many candidates the local elections are often the incubators for future candidates for statewide and national elections.  No national leader, executive or legislative, can do it alone. There must be a support system at the state and local level.

Call, register, volunteer, or as Secretary Clinton reminded us, be a good ‘Methodist,’

Wesley Quote

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