It seems just about every day, we hear about new constraints making it more difficult for citizens to vote. These barriers are being raised by state governments controlled by Republicans. Several Republican legislators have even bragged that they have reduced voter turnout among Democrats. Many Republican-controlled legislatures have enacted laws crafted for them by a single right-wing organization, the “American Legislative Exchange Council.” So, in light of this unpatriotic behavior by members of one political party, why is the National Voter Corps non-partisan?
We have several compelling reasons. If today’s majorities were reversed, there is no doubt that some Democrats would want to suppress Republican turnout. Historically, both major parties have interfered with voting rights. Southern states controlled by Democrats engaged in the very worst behavior. And there are many Republican officials today, especially in the judiciary, who oppose legislation that reduces voter turnout. The freedom to choose our leaders by majority vote is the most fundamental principal of our government. It should not be a partisan issue.
Voting legislation is not always as clear-cut as partisans claim. Consider recent vote-by-mail legislation in Montana. The chairman of the Montana Republican party sparked outrage when he opposed this because he said it would make voting easier for Democrats. But some Native Americans in Montana, a group that tends to favor Democrats, also opposed the legislation. The bill, co-sponsored by a Democrat and a Republican, passed the Republican controlled legislature because it was urgently needed to reduce the cost of holding a special election.
There were efforts by Russia and by WikiLeaks to manipulate the last national election. In the process, voting machines and voter rolls were shown to be very vulnerable to hacking. Although these meddlers meant to help Republicans, their deeper intent is to sow mistrust in the legitimacy of our elections and our government. Next time they might try to interfere to help Democratic candidates if they believe it will create more turmoil. Defending of our elections from foreign interference is not a partisan issue.
Many of the proposals intended to suppress voting are disguised to appear reasonable. “What’s wrong with asking a voter to identify himself before he casts a vote?” And “Does it make sense to allow convicted felons to vote – thieves, rapists, murderers?” But voting rights must not denied by playing on ignorance and fear. When the NVC takes a position on an issue, we want you to know that it is not to increase votes for one political party. It is based on our understanding of what it means to be a citizen of the United States of America.
Most of all, we are non-partisan because we value your trust. When we ask you to help citizens to register, to help provide voters with their necessary documents, to get people to the polls, to support or oppose legislation, you need to know that the information we provide is factual and reliable. When we say that someone is trying suppress voting, we are accusing him of moral and possibly legal wrongdoing. Unlike much public discourse today, we do not make these accusations lightly, and certainly not for political advantage. Your rights as a citizen are under attack. We are acting passionately and honestly to defend them.