Make Them Hear You! is a weekly feature on KGNU, produced by Chris Mohr, letting listeners know how they can have their voices heard on issues up before Congress. You can hear it Wednesday mornings at 8.20am during the Morning Magazine.
Freedom House is a government-supported NGO founded by Eleanor Roosevelt to track threats to democracy. In Poland and Hungary, they say democracy as we normally understand is dead. In both countries the ruling parties have established regimes that maintain the forms of popular elections, but suppressed freedom of the press and delegitimized dissent, almost guaranteeing one-party rule. Paul Krugman claims that “the Republican Party is ready, even eager, to exploit its current political power to lock in permanent rule.”
Look at the state level. In North Carolina, after a Democrat won the governorship, Republicans used the incumbent’s final days to pass legislation stripping the governor’s office of much of its power. In Georgia, Republicans are closing most of the polling places in a mainly black district. In West Virginia, Republican legislators impeached the entire State Supreme Court and replaced it with party loyalists. And if Republicans retain control of both houses of Congress in November, we will be closer to becoming another Poland or Hungary.
I’m asking you to make a few promises. Please promise to vote in the US midterm elections Tuesday, November 6, 2018. Be sure you are registered to vote. Make sure you haven’t been purged from voter rolls. Double-check your registration status well ahead of election day November 6. Google headcount.org/verify-voter-registration. Promise to ignore online trolls and bots, and maintain faith in the power of your vote. Remind millennials that their vote matters. Otherwise why would Russians be spending millions to make you mad and mistrustful of government so you walk away from the voting booth? Why are billions spent to buy your vote? Why are voter suppression tactics like wiping out millions of voters from registration lists and gerrymandering used to weaken your power?
A few more ideas. Use ballotpedia.org to search candidates’ records. Subscribe to a reputable publication for your news. Make a pledge to help your neighbors vote to counter voter suppression. Support organizations that help people get their ID, like spreadthevote.org, and rides to the polls (carpoolvote.com). Volunteer to register voters with the League of Women Voters. Offer to drive friends to the polls. Be a poll worker on Election Day. Spread The Vote is a non-profit that provides hands-on assistance to disenfranchised voters who can’t afford required ID. Lyft is offering free and discounted rides to the polls November 6.
Secretary of State Wayne Williams and The Denver League of Women Voters plan a “Drinks and Dialogue” get-together Sept. 18, to learn what Williams has to say about voter suppression. The ACLU warns about mass purging of voter rolls: “Be ready for an onslaught of voter suppression tactics justified by baseless claims of rampant voter fraud. It is the responsibility of every American to fight vigorously against voter suppression schemes that disenfranchise millions of voters and distort our elections.” Law professor Justin Levitt found 31 instances of voter impersonation out of over a billion votes from 2000 to 2014, and for this millions of people are being disenfranchised.
Democratic Secretary of State challenger Jena Griswold has criticized Williams’ decision last summer to send Colorado’s voter data to Trump’s now-disbanded voter-fraud commission. As a result, as many as eight thousand Colorado voters withdrew their registration. Griswold, 33, said if elected, she wants to make sure the state has the “most secure and accessible elections in the nation.” She wants to expand programs to get more people signed up to vote, such as automatic voter registration; tighten regulations on campaign finance disclosures; and proactively enforce erroneous filings.