Voter ID. Changes to the Voting Rights Act. A purging of voter registration lists. Restrictions on early voting and absentee voting. False claims of “dead voters” and “voter fraud” and “illegal immigrants at the polls.”
These actions and claims aren’t new. They’ve been brewing up for 35 years now under the heading of a so-called “Christian” movement, surging in the past two presidential election cycles and threatening to come to a head in future ballots.
In fact, these efforts go back to 1980 when Paul Weyrich – a religious political activist who founded many right-wing groups, including the Heritage Foundation, Moral Majority, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – told a religious convention in Dallas that “I don’t want everybody to vote.”
That’s because most Americans don’t agree with the pseudo-religious sentiments that Weyrich’s groups promote – legal discrimination that’s supposedly “faith-based,” tax policies favoring wealth, business laws favoring mega-corporations, and more.
Voter restrictions and restraints allow these questionable practices to take effect, though, just like Weyrich’s groups (and their corporate donors) want.
Here’s a brief transcript of Weyrich’s address, followed by a quick video maintained by People For the American Way:
How many of our Christians have what I call the ‘goo goo syndrome’? ‘Good government.’ They want everybody to vote.
I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.
And how effective have these efforts been? Consider Kansas’ last governor’s race as a case in point. Republican incumbent Sam Brownback – noted equally for both declaring a religious “Day of Restoration” holiday in his state and for tax cuts that left Kansas in financial shambles – faced Democrat Paul Davis, who was endorsed by over 100 Republican elected officials who couldn’t tolerate Brownback’s policies.
In that election year, 23,782 Kansans had their voting rights suspended due to a new “proof of citizenship” law. Another estimated 17,000 couldn’t vote because they didn’t have an approved state-issued ID. That’s over 40,000 registered voters in Kansas who were disenfranchised on Election Day ’14.
And by how many votes did Brownback win re-election that year? 33,052.
Featured image of Paul Weyrich from Birdgram via Wikipedia