A “Power Grab” or Democracy?

Elections in most countries are held on a weekend.  Why?  Because people don’t have to worry about how to make it to the polls after work or on their lunch break.  Because it makes it more convenient for voters.  And thus, it makes it more likely that more people will get off their arses and vote!  The United States is one of the few exceptions, where elections are held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.  Out of 68 nations that hold regular elections, the only ones that do not hold them on weekends are Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, the Philippines, South Korea, and the United States.  Some of the countries that hold weekday elections declare election day a public holiday, others permit across-the-board absentee ballots or postal votes.

The voting date in the U.S. makes it harder for poor people and minorities to vote, thus concentrating the vote and expanding the impact of the upper class, the wealthy voters, the WASPS.  In addition, we’ve made it harder for those people by closing many polling places in poorer neighborhoods, thus requiring some to make a trip by bus.  Add to that the restrictive voter ID laws that exist in some states and, well, what we end up with is the majority of the voters being middle or upper income and white.

US voter turnout trails most developed countries. During the 2016 presidential election, less than 56% of the estimated voting-age population in the US voted.  While the majority of US states have voter leave laws that guarantee certain employees a modicum of time off to vote, no federal law currently mandates that employees get time off to cast their ballots. So, when faced with choices like having to take unpaid time off work to vote, waking at the wee hours of the morning to vote so that they’re not late to work, standing in hours-long lines with everyone else who waited until after the workday to cast their ballot, or simply not voting at all, many choose the latter. Of the nonvoters surveyed by the US Census Bureau about the 2008 presidential election, the 2012 presidential election, and numerous other elections, the most commonly cited reason for not voting was being too busy or having conflicting work schedules. Obviously, we need to make some changes.

This month, House democrats introduced a bill known as the For The People Act, or HR1. It is a 571-page compendium of existing problems and proposed solutions in four political hot zones: voting, political money, redistricting, and ethics.  Obviously, I cannot address the entire bill in this post, but one portion of the bill calls for election day to be made a federal holiday in order to make it easier for everyone to vote.  Because of the large number of issues covered by HR1, it is highly unlikely that it will become law any time soon, for it would need to pass the Senate and be signed into law by Trump.  The #2 Fool on the Hill, Mitch McConnell, has already mocked and criticized the idea, saying “Just what we need, another paid holiday for federal workers”.  And how many days off do you take, Mitchie???  And then this …

“So, this is the Democrats’ plan to ‘restore democracy. A political power grab that’s smelling more and more like what it is.”

A “power grab” to ensure that everyone has a chance to vote?  I think not.  I think it’s called “democracy”, Mitchell.  Last September, Senator Bernie Sanders proposed a bill in the Senate, S.3498, titled The Democracy Day Act of 2018, that would have declared election day to be a federal holiday.

“Election Day should be a national holiday so that everyone has the time and opportunity to vote.  While this would not be a cure-all, it would indicate a national commitment to create a more vibrant democracy.”

Needless to say, Sanders’ bill was DOA in the republican-controlled Senate led by Mitch McConnell.

Other points in HR1 pertaining to voting:

  • Voter registration would be made easier. Citizens could register online or get registered automatically, via data from driver’s licenses or other government sources. For federal elections, states would have to provide same-day registration and at least 15 days of early voting. Election Day would be a federal holiday.

  • The bill would crack down on efforts to take voters off the rolls or prevent them from casting ballots. Felons could regain their voting rights after finishing their sentences.

  • Federal elections would require paper ballots to prevent computer tampering. State chief election officials couldn’t get involved in federal campaigns.

  • The bill would declare an intent to revive core anti-discrimination provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that were effectively shut down by the Supreme Court six years ago. It would also state that failing to vote isn’t grounds for taking away a person’s voter registration.

There is much more of substance in this bill that I cannot cover in a single post, but NPR has a highly informative, easy-to-understand article covering the highlights that I suggest you take a look at.  Campaign finance, ethics, and gerrymandering are also covered, all of which sorely need to be addressed if we are to have a chance at fair elections.  Sadly, as I noted before, I don’t think the bill has a snowball’s chance of passing the Senate, for the reality is that if every eligible voter had cast a vote in 2016, we would be writing today about President Hillary Clinton, and McConnell and his band of merry thugs are well aware of it.  Mitch and his cronies are well aware that those disenfranchised voters would put an end to this picnic they’ve been having and hold them accountable for their responsibility to ALL the people of this nation, not only those who hold the nation’s wealth in their dirty hands.

31 thoughts on “A “Power Grab” or Democracy?

  1. Jill, living in NC, we have witnessed up close the most restrictive voter ID law which discriminated with precision and significant gerrymandered districts both of which were ruled unconstitutional.

    The voter problem in our country is not enough people voting. We should be doing everything in our power to get everyone to vote. Yet, I continue to witness my former party doing everything in their power to restrict voting by people who may not vote for their candidates. It is not ironic that the District 9 Congressional election is still not certified as the GOP candidate paid a consultant who paid a man who is known for an expertise of collecting absentee ballots that are unsealed and then changing them. The fact the accounts payable notations indicate fraudulent behavior is telling. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • I forget, and I’m too tired to look it up tonight, but didn’t some of your voter ID laws get overturned last year? I think that until we address … seriously address both voter disenfranchisement in all forms, and campaign finance rules, we cannot possibly have election integrity in this nation. Elections are bought and later paid for … at the expense of not only our nation, but the globe.


      • Jill, true. They were. The gerrymandered districts have been ruled unconstitutional twice and require change. The second ruling was in September which left no time to change in the last election.

        Before the Voter ID was passed, its principal author ripped me a new one in two emails when I called them “Jim Crow-like” and unconstitutional. My final email was direct, when I told him I am a 56 year old white man and you and I both know why this law was passed. It was later ruled unconstitutional when they judge said it used “laser-like precision to discriminate.” Keith

        Liked by 1 person

        • Curiosity piqued by your mention of your email and the response from the ‘principal author’ of the voter ID laws, I went in search of. I didn’t find that one, but found the follow up you wrote for Qcitymetro in 2016 … very well said, as is all of your work! And you are right … these laws are indeed Jim Crow-like! My jaw dropped at reading about Aasif Mandvi and the comment he made on The Daily Show! Some days it really feels as if we are moving backward, doesn’t it?


    • I agree … and some states are … as you said, New York, California and others. But there are more states that will not, especially in the south. McConnell infuriates me nearly every time he opens his mouth these days! Time for him to retire!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yep, you’re right about states in the south not being willing to do what New York and California is doing. In fact, those states often look to do the opposite…suppress voting.

        McConnell is infuriating. I also think that he (and others) should have to wear NASCAR-like firesuits showing who is funding him.

        Liked by 2 people

        • There are so many ‘no-brainer’ things that need to be put into place to ensure that every eligible voter has the opportunity to vote, and yet the republicans consistently argue against these measures. That, to me, says that they are desperate to hold onto their votes and realize that if everyone can vote, they don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell. I think two things, voter suppression and campaign finance, MUST be fixed, else we cannot possibly have election integrity.

          I like your idea about the fire suit! Or even just a sandwich board sign! 😉

          Liked by 1 person

          • Agreed. I think that so much of it does come down to desperately wanting to hold onto power. Which is a shame.

            And thanks! Fire suit…sandwich board sign…it doesn’t matter, just as long as people can see the entities our politicians are beholden to.


    • We ceded that title, one which I’m not sure we ever deserved, on 20 January 2017 when Trump took office. Whereas the Three Musketeers were “all for one and one for all”, Trump is “every man (nation) for himself”. To me, he gave up our role as a key player in the international community when he announced his intent to pull out of the Paris Accords.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Voting against someone is still not a democratic way to run an election, im my mind. Giving a person SOMEONE TO VOTE FOR might bring a lot more people to the polls. Then add to that all the other problems mentioned in HR1, and the USA might find themselves becoming a true democracy, or as close as possible in this world at this time.
    But the republicans ask people to vote “against the left,” while democrats ask you to vote “against the right.” You all end up voted against the “other,” and that will always favour conservativism.
    I know, you can lead a dead horse to water, but you can’t make him drink, so why not try leading a living breathing voter to the polls, they just might surprise you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mitch McConnell, has already mocked and criticized the idea, saying “Just what we need, another paid holiday for federal workers”. …….arrogant b*****d! If it wasn’t for federal workers, was that a/hole gonna do the work?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We have midweek voting in the UK too but being allowed postal votes as an option to going to a voting booth has made it easier for some people. It has not however really increased the voting take-up by much. Thee are still too many non voters.We have toyed with the idea of making voting mandatory as some countries do but that wouldn’t help you as some people are forced out of voting on purpose. I just hope when you have a change of management that voter rights are addressed early on to ensure the rights of the disenfranchised.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Voting is always on a Thursday in the UK. Many people don’t vote because of the first past the post system. ‘Stick a (blue/red/yellow/etc.) rosette on a dead donkey and it would be elected round here.’
      The Liberal tried to change things when in coalition and failed dismally.
      In my ‘safe’ seat the other parties don’t even bother trying.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Hmmm … I thought my source had failed me, but it was my oversight that didn’t see the UK listed as Thursday. Getting old and feeble I am. I wonder why postal voting hasn’t brought about an increase in voters? I’ve looked into mandatory voting, thinking it made perfect sense, but … the nations that have tried it have experienced significant problems. For me, though, the thing that turns me against it is that many people who are forced into casting a vote will throw their vote away, such as on ‘Mickey Mouse’, or else vote without knowing a single thing about either candidate. In those cases, it is probably better they don’t vote at all. Yes, I am hoping we can make significant progress even before the new management comes in. Sigh.

      Liked by 2 people

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