Protecting the right to vote
October 17, 2008
In my judgment, the presidential campaign is over; the American people has made its decision.
But the election itself is NOT over – and no matter what our own individual judgment about the candidates is, we can gird ourselves as citizens and as people of religious and ethical commitment to justice to make sure "Thou Shalt Not Steal" applies to this election.
That's Rabbi Arthur Waskow (who I recently profiled in Zeek!), writing in a recent Shalom Report email. (And this is a rare political post for me, because this is more important than my general feeling that y'all don't come here for my political opinions.)
The chairman of the Republican Party in Macomb County, Michigan, a key swing county in a key swing state, is planning to use a list of foreclosed homes to block people from voting in the upcoming election as part of the state GOP's effort to challenge some voters on Election Day.
That's from an article in the Michigan Messenger last month. During Sukkot we talk a lot about what it means to "dwell" in sukkot. We build, and inhabit, these flimsy, temporary little houses -- but we know we're (most of us) speaking metaphorically about the impermanence of our dwellings. A lot of people are losing their homes in this economic climate, and for those who are enduring the foreclosure process to be intimidated away from voting adds injustice to injury, both for them and for the country.
Republicans in Michigan are training volunteers to challenge voters at the polls. (Learn more about voter challenges, deceptive practices & voter intimidation at 866ourvote.org.) Ugly shenanigans are afoot in Pennsylvania, too, like this spurious flyer circulating in African-American neighborhoods stating that voters who are facing outstanding arrest warrants or who have unpaid traffic tickets may be arrested at the polls on Election Day. (If you're interested, you can listen to that story at NPR.org, which also recently aired the related Worries about voter intimidation run high.)
Four years ago, the Onion ran a piece called U.S. Inspires World With Attempt At Democratic Election. It's funny and it's painful -- and it's going to be a lot more painful if the coming US Presidential election is marred by votes not being counted, or people being dissuaded from voting because they're harassed at the polls or incorrectly informed that they're not eligible to vote when they actually are.
If you're a lawyer or law student, please consider doing voter protection to ensure that people who are entitled to vote are able to do so, especially if you are in a battleground state. (It's my understanding that Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan top that list, though obviously this is important work everywhere.) You can sign up here.
Herein endeth the PSA. Thanks for reading, y'all.
Technorati tags: USpolitics, voterprotection, tikkunolam.