A Republican Virginia Senate and Voter Suppression


    While State Senate Democrats smugly accepted the outcome of Virginia redistricting as victory, they may have set the stage for Obama’s defeat by leaving defense of their majority to Dick Saslaw and the DPVA. Republicans are focused on this vulnerability. Two seats and the door to voter suppression opens wide.

    The new Texas law, advanced and signed by Gov. Rick Perry, provides a clear giveaway on intent. A voter doesn’t even have to show his driver’s license or passport — he can qualify just by producing his license to carry a concealed handgun. Yet note what’s not eligible now in Texas: any form of student identification (heaven forbid ballot-casting by young people with all their inexperience!).  – Neal Peirce

    In a piece published yesterday in the Richmond Times Dispatch but in reality a product of the Washington Post Writers Group, Neal Peirce discusses what is the clear implication of a Republican majority in the coming Virginia Senate. You see, those of us raised in the old South recognize the tricks. A fresh coat of paint doesn’t fool us (not even the one on the rock at that Texas hunting club).  However, voter suppression is a newly honed craft.

    Those working to re-elect the President are already voicing concerns for the kinds of slick maneuvers that drive voters away or confuse them as they enter the booth. The election laws in many states were written in a more honorable (or less sophisticated) time. No law can stop a whisper campaign that is coordinated to sweep through like a plague on election eve. Rumors that law enforcement will be waiting at the polls to serve warrants for traffic tickets or liens for bad debt or review criminal records are aimed squarely at a specific voter group. Placing candidates on the primary ballot who have legally changed their names and qualified by petition to be included as Barack Hussein Obama or whomever may be a new trick on the horizon; which vote would be cast for the real Obama? Handbills and sample ballots that mislead voters about operating the machines or voting are another potential tactic. With Virginia possibly determining the outcome of the Presidential race in 2012, a Republican Senate has no incentive to preclude abuses and every reason to look to states like Texas for innovative ideas.

    Imagine students at William and Mary going to the polls and discovering that their student IDs are not valid for voting. Their out of state driver’s licenses will certainly be used to disqualify them and who is going to have the time to go to DMV before the polls close? Republicans are chafing at the bit for a majority in the state Senate and the 2011 stretch run has begun. No doubt the Attorney General will turn a blind eye toward any law passed and signed by the Governor, requiring the Federal government to intervene, inspiring a backlash that would be more than counterproductive to Democratic interests.

    This past weekend the Republicans and Democrats have gone up on air in earnest in the battle for control of the Virginia Senate. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Not all the tricks are yet available for this fall’s races, but there are other dynamics in play. Already one Democratic Senator, Phil Puckett (38th) has announced he will not support President Obama’s re-election. It is not too far a reach to see control of the Senate swing to the Republicans even if only one seat is lost in the November elections. Imagine the “leverage” any Democrat in the Senate would have with only a one vote majority; the door is cracked. All it would take is a single Judas. There is much more than 13 pieces of silver in play. There is no evidence that Senator Saslaw and the DPVA have this under control.  


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