US has long history of discrimination in suppressing votes

Posted 27 August 2020 at 8:43 am


I would like to congratulate Mr. Harker on cracking the code on mail-in voting. It is certainly not a coincidence that “blue” states would offer options that expand voting opportunities.

That, of course, is in stark contrast to the President going on the record with Fox News in April saying, “[Democrats] had levels of voting, that if you ever agreed to it you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

I will say that I appreciate the concern for ballot rejections, which highlights the need for voter education. Far from a reason to suspend an option that would expand the opportunity to vote.

Now is a good time to call attention to the fact that the House passed the Voting Rights Advancement Act in an effort to enact sweeping voter reform. The bill, which was reintroduced recently as the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, has been sitting on Mitch McConnell’s desk since December 2019.

The law prevents state and local governments from making last-minute, discriminatory changes to voting practices either at the polls or during early voting periods. So, I wonder why one would oppose this legislation unless the goal was to encourage widespread voter suppression? I suppose it is coincidence that such legislation is stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Now, from the voter fraud standpoint, voter fraud is as American as apple pie. Voting in colonial America was often reserved for white, land-holding males over the age of 21, which excluded a large portion of the population (both free and enslaved). During Reconstruction, poll taxes and literacy tests sought to disenfranchise African Americans and poor whites. Less “systematic” measures marked by violence and carried out by organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan of course suppressed voting in the South. Today, states purge voter rolls, limit early/absentee voter options, and enact ID requirements, which are a modern-day form of the poll tax. Perhaps the biggest example of modern-day voter fraud is the Electoral College, which in the past two decades has awarded us a president who failed to win the popular vote. Halting the possibility of universal mail-in voting is just another tactic by the minority to retain control; add it to the lengthy list of voter suppression tactics.

Ultimately, I am left befuddled that Mr. Harker asks what the Postal Service should do with $25 billion in anticipation of the November 3rd election. Why should Americans have to demand that tax dollars go towards rectifying a manufactured crisis? Trumped up conspiracy theories peddled by the President that mail-in voting leads to fraud were insufficient. So, a loyal donor to the President’s campaign was planted at the head of the USPS to systematically dismantle it in the months leading up to the election. Another nail in the coffin that the GOP has carefully constructed for the Postal Service, starting in 2006 with mandates to pre-fund retirement benefits.

In closing, I will head off the expected Trumpian response; the U.S. Postal Service is just that, a service. It was never intended to turn profits like a business. What is most concerning is that many in rural WNY fail to fully understand the significant role that the USPS plays in your lives. There is a specific reason why the USPS delivers Amazon packages. The company’s profits would drop to an unacceptable rate if an Amazon van showed up at your doorstep, as it does in larger metro areas.

Matthew Ballard

Statesville, NC (formerly Clarendon, NY)