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As many here have pointed out before, Democrats are at a disadvantage in 2014, for the simple reason that it is an off-year election. However, when our voters turnout, we win. It may seem simplistic to reduce the challenges Democrats face in 2014 to a single factor, but it is not so far-fetched: increase voter turnout.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Keeping voter turnout anywhere near presidential-years, especially among Democratic base voters, has always been a challenge. Nevertheless, we owe it to the Americans who are needlessly suffering due to Republican obstructionism and callous policies to try our best this year, rather than wait it out until our chances are more favorable in 2016 or beyond.

However, I think there is one message, off-year or not, that rings true with most Americans, and that pays off with valuable dividends at the polls.

The Republican Party is stealing your right to vote.

With Voter ID laws, they are stealing the votes of the elderly, the poor, and the young.

With laws against voting where you go to school, they are stealing the votes of our future leaders, trying to expand their horizons and improve their value to our society.

By restricting absentee and mail-in voting, they are stealing the votes of the citizens who are sick, or caring for sick, or in otherwise difficult situations, and have a difficult time making it to the polls.

By making voting more time-consuming and inconvenient and reducing voting hours, they are stealing the votes of the diligent workers trying to provide for their families and working long hours and cannot risk losing their jobs because of an extended trip to the polls.

By preventing people who have run afoul of the law from voting, they are stealing the votes of people who have dutifully repaid their debts to society, and should have a say in how the government treats them, just like anyone else.

The fact that many of these populations are also the historically underperforming Democratic voters in off-year elections is no coincidence. Republicans have realized that these voters not coming out to vote in off-year elections is the real reason they captured so many seats in 2010; these voter disenfranchisement measures are their efforts to artificially recreate this effect for all elections.

However, once people know that certain officials are trying to keep them from voting, it makes a lot of them much more motivated to show up at the polls, to put up with long lines and uncomfortable situations.

The idea that publicizing the GOP's efforts to disenfranchise voters will bring Democratic voters out in force to stop them seems logical in theory. But as Yogi Berra says, "In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."

In fact, there is considerable evidence that this effect materialized as recently as 2012.

"Republicans thought that they could suppress the vote, but these efforts actually motivated people to get registered and cast a ballot," said Ohio State Senator Nina Turner after the election. "It's no surprise that the communities targeted by these policies came out to the polls in a big way--they saw this not just as an affront to their rights, but as a call to action."
Furthermore, forcing Republican candidates to become more vocal about their support for various voter disenfranchisement policies is an effective issue to drive a wedge between the candidates and their more rabid constituents. The Democratic Party cannot afford to overlook these effective political tools.

One of the problems recently, as with Voter ID, is that the debate is often on the Republicans' justifications for these various measures. Republicans claim with voter ID laws, for example, that they decrease voter fraud, and then the majority of the time is spent on refuting this claim.

(As a side point, it offers an illuminating example of Republican hypocrisy: they are ok with making it harder for you to vote to stop a few offenders, but they are against stronger regulations for corporate crooks, they are against stricter gun control to prevent gun violence, and they are against stronger action against polluters. But, this is not the main point.)

Whether or not the justifications for these various voter restriction measures are valid, Democrats must hammer the main point home: these measures make it harder for people to vote, restrict the times you can vote, and prevent many legitimate voters from voting, just to stop a few offenders.

And any effort to make it harder to vote, before all else, should be treated as an attempt to steal one of your precious rights as an American.

Originally posted to The Progressive Atheist on Thu May 22, 2014 at 08:20 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If you liked this post (6+ / 0-)

    I have a homework assignment for you: Look up how Republicans (or politicians, in general) in your area have made it harder to vote in the last few years, and share in the comments.

    "In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” -Confucius

    by pierre9045 on Thu May 22, 2014 at 08:21:50 AM PDT

    •  Also, who has made it easier to vote. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pierre9045, Gorette, OldDragon

      In Oregon, we have mail-in ballots and a very high turnout.

    •  MA going in the opposite (ie correct) direction (8+ / 0-)

      Ma just instituted early voting and online registration last week. Guess we never had early voting (I've never heard it mentioned). We never have lines more 10 min long even in congested parts of the city in my own experience and others I hear--probably because those in charge are still (like all Americans used to be)  in alignment that voting is a right and privilege that should be extended to as many citizens as possible. So even in Boston, a good size city even in minority neighborhoods there are no horrific lines hours long. Proves it can easily be done if they WANT people to vote. Just get enough machines, locations, and staffing.

      •  that's great news, and I had not heard that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ichibon, jplanner

        I had to wait 20 minutes in line in 2012 and that was the longest I ever waited

        One time with my mom we were in a long line but they let her (and her wheelchair) go right to the front

        I have never heard of hour long lines in Massachusetts anywhere.  But that's because we are a blue state with blue politicians who want to encourage everyone to vote

        Only red state politicians want to inhibit voting

        Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
        DEMAND CREATES JOBS!!!
        Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

        by TrueBlueMajority on Fri May 23, 2014 at 08:13:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think even many Red politicians here would feel (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TrueBlueMajority

          conflicted with inhibiting voting. It is such a value for us. Cradle of Liberty and all. When a mirror is held up to your face, your own hypocrisy is more obvious and harder to escape. And of course surrounded by peers who are Blue as you say and will readily remind you of you hypocrisy, you'd toe the line anyway or shame yourself. (this is how society is supposed to work-those leaders who stop looking out for the good of the people are shamed into proper behavior).

          I like to think it's our values that wouldn't allow restricting voting. I think now-a-days those traditonal New England (?American) values are solidly in the Blue category.

        •  so it is the blueness nowadays that keeps the reds (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TrueBlueMajority

          on their best behavior. Their ethics may be pulled one way toward their immoral national party, but where they live and perhaps how they were raised pulls them toward protecting voting rights.

          I do like to think that the people would rise up if voting restrictions were put in.

          I was raised by first generation Americans, who instilled in us how it was our duty as well as privilege to vote. They took us to the polls every year. They voted in every election so the idea of restricting voting would be an anathema to them. I was also taught this way in school-that it was a value, duty, and honor to vote.

          These things may color what I think about how MA residents hold voting rights.

    •  I live in NC (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TrueBlueMajority, Gorette

      and they have done all of the above and more - we have the most restrictive voting laws in the country right now - the voter ID doesn't kick in until 2016 .. but the rest is ridiculous..

      Why do Republicans Hate Americans?

      by Caniac41 on Fri May 23, 2014 at 06:25:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, in FL!! Did this in comment below. (0+ / 0-)

      "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

      by Gorette on Fri May 23, 2014 at 08:33:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ohio, Goes Without Saying (4+ / 0-)

    Don't waste syllables, drop "trying to" keep it concise like the diary title.

    The 2 big demographics where I think we have the best chance is ethnic minorities and youth.

    It should be feasible to leaflet or poster in key areas such as college campuses, ethnic urban neighborhoods, for the most of us who don't have the cash for billboards.

    The other element of ethnic voting is the "souls to the polls" programs many Black churches have run on the Sundays prior to election day, where early voting is allowed. Ohio for one is shutting down that opportunity but the churches still exist.

    I don't know if Lation churches have similar programs, but anyone with volunteer time & energy might contact minority churches in their region to see if they're doing this on voting day or some other early voting days, and pitch in with rides or coordination etc.

    That'd be a solid GOTV effort, I have to think it would be very high payoff for the time invested because of the high Democratic voting rate of minorities generally and the extremely high Dem rate of Blacks.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu May 22, 2014 at 08:28:22 AM PDT

    •  Keep those syllables (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gorette, OldDragon

      "Trying to" makes a difference -- because the message needs to be that Republicans are trying to keep people from voting.  The response that elicits is to show the Republicans that they can't do that by managing to jump through the hoops and cast a vote anyway.

      In contrast "stealing your right to vote" makes it sound like a done deed -- and that is likely to be demotivating, eliciting a response of "there's really nothing I can do about it".

      Trying to steal your right to vote is the right message.

      If Democrats proclaim the the Earth is round and Republicans insist it is flat, we will shortly see a column in the Washington Post claiming the the earth is really a semi-circle.

      by TexasTom on Fri May 23, 2014 at 06:02:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  THIS (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pierre9045, northerntier, OldDragon

      Black turnout in 2012 was predicted to be flat until "the man is trying to stop you from voting" became the dominant meme and then folks really turned out

      Souls to the polls also affects older black voters who remember well the struggles to get the vote and will tell the younger people around them the importance of voting

      i suggest a picture of the Koch Brothers and the caption:  these men want to stop you from voting.  Fight back.  VOTE!

      Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
      DEMAND CREATES JOBS!!!
      Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Fri May 23, 2014 at 08:17:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  People who feel powerless should look at (7+ / 0-)

    how hard the GOP is working to stop them from voting.

    Who really has the power?

    "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

    by merrywidow on Thu May 22, 2014 at 08:42:00 AM PDT

  •  Motivating to be told they are trying to keep (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pierre9045, MKSinSA, Matt Z

    you from voting, I would hope.

    "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

    by merrywidow on Thu May 22, 2014 at 08:43:27 AM PDT

  •  Dems should spend money on buses and other (7+ / 0-)

    methods of transportation, a babysitting service on election day, chairs and water for lines, whatever it takes to beat the Plutocrats.

    no need for ads telling them why to vote if they can't get there

    "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

    by merrywidow on Thu May 22, 2014 at 08:45:09 AM PDT

  •  Voting is THE issue (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pierre9045, Matt Z, northerntier

    in all of it's ramifications and why a plurality doesn't vote, because their vote doesn't count. Voter enfranchisement is not just an equal protection issue but was the Progressive Party's platform regulating plutocratic corruption of politicians. it goes to the ultimate question now being answered by Roberts, who is the sovereign, we the people or the bosses.

  •  Who has been stealing votes, rigging elections? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pierre9045, northerntier

    We need to hang this on Republicans too.  The Republican history of stealing elections and votes is unequivocal, and that brand must not be forgotten, rather the branding iron must be kept in the fire and reapplied liberally.

    How Kerry Votes Were Switched To Bush Votes

    Stealing America: Vote by Vote

  •  Nothing better to motivate and get out the vote (3+ / 0-)

    There is no message more effective for get out the vote efforts. Vote now, or you may not be able to vote again.  The way to make someone value something is to threaten to take it away from them. Its human nature. If potential voters hear that message they become actual voters.

    Patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings. Steal a little and they throw you in jail. Steal a lot and they make you king.... Dylan

    by bywaterbob on Thu May 22, 2014 at 10:40:33 PM PDT

  •  traitors (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pierre9045

    Americans paid with their lives for the right to vote, both overseas in uniform and on American soil where patriots died at the hands of traitors. Those proposing voter restrictions in the name of fantasyland voter fraud are traitors. They claim to be for freedom and the constitution but they are the enemies of both. The GOP proposing and passing these laws don't belong in power. They belong in Guantanemo with the other enemies of the United States.

  •  that will work with some demographics (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pierre9045

    but remember that a lot of people are so apathetic that they don't care whether Rcons steal something they aren't using anyway

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    DEMAND CREATES JOBS!!!
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Fri May 23, 2014 at 08:10:58 AM PDT

    •  You bring up a valid point (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TrueBlueMajority

      This message will motivate many voters, but not the ones who are generally apathetic to the political process, though the demographics of these groups are quite similar. The next step, then, is that the Democratic Party must come up with some answer that is effective at convincing these people why they should take more interest, to at least come out and vote. Another daunting challenge, to be sure.

      "In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” -Confucius

      by pierre9045 on Fri May 23, 2014 at 08:27:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Above all else, people want to feel like (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TrueBlueMajority, Gorette, OldDragon

        their vote matters, and justified or not, a lot of Americans feel like it doesn't.

        We need to find messages that convey this message: your vote does matter.

        What those messages actually are, is up for debate.

        "In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” -Confucius

        by pierre9045 on Fri May 23, 2014 at 08:30:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Given our plutocracy and in FL the redistricting (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          northerntier, OldDragon

          I feel increasingly that it does not matter. But that's not true. In key ways Republicans would be worse on every measure and make our lives miserable.

          "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

          by Gorette on Fri May 23, 2014 at 08:40:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  In Florida Republicans passed laws to renew (4+ / 0-)

    drivers licenses that will put some people off and thus off voting rolls because you have to show ID to vote here.

    What have they done? The new law for renewals requires documents, all ORIGINALS, of any marriages and divorces, no matter how long ago. For an old person like myself this was done when I got SS. But didn't think I'd ever need those documents and don't know if I still have them.

    I am poor so spending 100-200 on original documents will be impossible unless I borrow money I can't pay back. There are lots of Democrats in this situation.

    So even if you lived here all your life with the same name and SS for 40 or 60 years, if you were divorced etc. you have to go through all this. For me it was in other states and I did not even remember the year. This is a MAJOR PAIN!

    I believe it was done to keep poor old voters from voting. The first thing when you find this out is to think, do I really need to go through all this or maybe just not renew it.

    "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

    by Gorette on Fri May 23, 2014 at 08:33:31 AM PDT

    •  Along with their obstruction of Obamacare, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      northerntier, OldDragon

      it's a wonder how much longer the narrative of the GOP being the party of older voters will continue to go on.

      "In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” -Confucius

      by pierre9045 on Fri May 23, 2014 at 08:54:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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