For months, nay years this site, and so many others have fretted over the thorny issue of helping citizens exercise their constitutional right of Universal Suffrage.
Hard to believe that in America, Land of the Free, in the year 2012, we are still having to discuss this.
The reasons are well-established. We are having to discuss it because a part of the political spectrum, the part that bangs on incessantly about "Freedoms", are the same folk who make it their raison d'etre to deny citizens the most basic of democratic rights.
I have words for people like that, and none of them are appropriate for a family blog, certainly not before the watershed!
That the SCOTUS is taking an interest in the Voting Rights Act comes as no surprise. The Supreme Court should be a co-equal branch of government acting as one of the checks and balances that the Founders deemed important, because government is made of men, and men are not to be trusted with absolute power.
The Supreme Court is a pale shadow of the intent, more interested in parsing words to fit an agenda than it is in ensuring justice for the people. They will, that rump majority, seek to remove as many rights as possible before they face their own mortality and are replaced by more "judicial" minds.
I cannot, in the space of one Diary, even begin to address the subject of suppression in the wider sense; the laws restricting registration, the early voting and the "challenge" rules .... but I can provide an easy fix for the long lines, themselves an unnecessary obstacle to democracy.
While there is no real data on the deterrent effect of long lines, the common sense informs us that they MUST deter some potential voters. Even if they do not, it is clear that the Right believes that they do, or we wouldn't have them.
We do have a very easy solution to the problem, and whatever minor objections might be raised, it's a bit of a no-brainer.
We have, in every territory, every Congressional District, every State an infrastructure that could be employed at very little cost, that would ensure easy access to the polls.
We call them Public Schools.
The schools are right where we need them to be. They are embedded in local communities, where the people who would vote actually live. The schools are staffed by educated people who would, or at least could, conduct the ballot with a minimum of oversight.
Even a decently large High School, with a student role of 2500 has, at most, five thousand potential voters plus staff and older students. Most have substantially fewer and if they were open for voting at the normal times would ensure that kines were short.
So .... Once every two years the kids get an extra day off. The faculty man the polls and in the larger schools the Seniors help with logistics. It's a civics class brought to life. The polling staff would actually know most of the voters personally, an admirable safe-guard against the most obvious of frauds, and one that might have a chance of reducing voter impersonation; if that problem exists, which it probably doesn't.
Involving schools in this manner has another benefit. It impresses upon the students the importance of voting. It gets them used to being around, and involved in the democratic process and it is further emphasised by their teachers, folk they respect, actively contributing to the process.
In every way I can think of this system would increase turnout ... massively!
Jeez! We even have a built in transport system to get folk to the polls. We just run the School Buses all day for anyone who needs a ride.
I mean ... really ... how hard is it?