As a veteran and a person who worked on Republican campaigns in the 1980s and 1990s, I am appalled at the actions of the current Republican Party. Jim Crow laws, according to history.com, were laws of the Deep South meant to marginalize African Americans, including denying African Americans the right to vote.

The facts below indicate the Republican Party is now acting as a “Jim Crow” Party across much of the US. But not just African Americans are hurt, the disabled, students, Hispanics, the poor, are all hurt by the Republican “Jim Crow” voter suppression laws and tactics. Look at the facts:

Prior to 2006, no one in this country needed to provide voter identification in order to vote (MSN.com, June 26, 2020). Now, 36 states have voter ID laws in place. A few years ago the Minnesota Republican Party attempted but failed to have a voter ID law added to our Minnesota Constitution.

When I hear the term “voter ID law”, I now think “Republican Jim Crow law”, and this is why: Republican elected officials argue that the voter ID laws help prevent voter fraud, however voter fraud is very rare (Reuters, July 7, 2020).

Recent studies indicate that voter ID laws are discriminatory, including a study by Zoltan Hajnal, PhD, professor of political science at the University of California San Diego, who says that these laws disproportionately reduce voter turnout in more racially diverse areas.

“The voices of racial and ethnic minorities are suppressed or muted in states that have these laws,” Hajnal said.

A recent article based on an algorithm developed by researchers at Tufts University and Harvard University shows a clear and disturbing racial disparity on voting rights caused by voter ID laws. (Wired.com, Jan. 4, 2018)

An Oct. 19 Washington Post article discusses Republican efforts to make voting more difficult in Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Texas, Iowa and Oklahoma. Republican state officials in various states have used different and often multiple methods to suppress votes, including voter ID laws as discussed above, logistical obstacles to early voting such as the Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, limiting vast counties to a single ballot drop box, objections to broad distribution of ballots to eligible voters and elimination of votes based on state officials, not writing experts, indicating signatures on file do not match the signature on the ballots, even though all other information was verified and correct. Also, President Trump has attempted to destroy trust in the whole electoral enterprise in preparation for legal challenges to mail-in votes.

For most of us, imagining that a sitting president would damage our post office for political purposes is unthinkable! However, evidence shows huge mail slowdowns continue after Trump ally and major donor, Louis DeJoy, who had no postal experience, took over the U.S. Postal Service (The Guardian, Sept. 21, 2020).

DeJoy had dozens of high speed postal machines scrapped and put in requirements that caused mail pile ups in USPS warehouses of many major cities. In September, a federal judge in Washington blocked USPS from implementing further postal changes. The postal changes were clearly aimed at “voter disenfranchisement”, given the increased role USPS will play in this year’s presidential election, U.S. District Judge Stanley Bastian wrote in his ruling. “It is easy to conclude that the recent Postal Services’ changes is an intentional effort on the part the current administration to disrupt and challenge the legitimacy of upcoming local, state, and federal elections.”

In responding to a 2-1 decision of a panel of 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued last week, the Chair of the Republican Party in Minnesota applauded that the votes of tens of thousands of voters in Minnesota who have mailed in ballots may be invalidated (Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Oct. 30, 2020). This voter disenfranchisement of Minnesota residents applauded by the Minnesota GOP will likely be made worse because of the post office disruptions discussed by Judge Bastian.

This article will be published after the election is over. My hope is that Republican “Jim Crow” voter ID laws and voter suppression tactics do not work to undermine the results of any election. These laws and tactics, no matter where they arise, should be an embarrassment to all Americans, especially Republicans. Let’s all work together to get rid of them, permanently!

Kerry Meagher is one of several people in the Savage community who write for Community Voices – a column appearing weekly in the opinion and commentary section of this newspaper.

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