Letter to the Editor:
There is a frightening move afoot in our country. It harkens back to the time when Blacks, women, and those who owned no property were denied the right to vote. Since that time, women suffrage fought for women's voting rights and won. The Freedom Riders risked their lives to register Blacks in the South so they could exercise the right to vote. And today, even poor people shave the right to cast a ballot.
The movement afoot has been labeled "voter suppression." Among its alarming facets is the voter ID requirement. It is interesting in itself. President George W. Bush charged his own Justice Department to study voter fraud. This they did for five long years. Their conclusion was that voter fraud was so rare it was inconsequential in its effect on elections. However, several states have still instituted a voter ID requirement. Even our own Secretary of State Matt Schultz has and is working arduously to require voter ID in Iowa. At last report, he found 8 cases of voter fraud, and three or four of those were convicted felons who did not realize they had no voting rights. Mr. Schultz has spent over $150,000 (from a fund designated to encourage MORE people to vote) and he has found .00075 percent cases of fraud. However, he did succeed in banning one legal and qualified voter from casting a ballot.
However, there are other methods in use to suppress the vote. Some states are reducing the hours and the days when voting is permitted. Some are putting more restrictions on absentee ballots and some are using the tried and true ploy of redistricting. These measures have nothing to do with illegal voters, but they have a lot to do with controlling who can go to the polls and vote. A prime example is Florida. It had been common practice for Black people to go to church and then take a bus to the polls. Florida has now closed Sunday voting. People like the GOP chairman in Florida and the Attorney General in Texas have openly stated that they are using these devices to keep some groups from voting.
The voter suppression movement is alive and well. It is bank-rolled by a group of billionaires led by the billionaire Koch brothers. These folks have a rather simple objective - they will control our government by controlling the election of legislators. They are using their money to back candidates that think as they do, which is perfectly legal. The elected officials whose views align with the billionaires will work to inhibit the voters who might resent the idea that a few of the wealthy can and should control and dictate public policy. However, wealth can easily drop millions into campaigns, and it is said that money talks. Currently, their target is Brue Braley. It is not yet clear what senatorial candidate they will back with their limitless funds. Iowa is not exempt from the frightening move that is afoot.
However, even though the Koch brothers and their ilk have money, the hope against voter suppression is the American people. In Ohio and Florida, people stood in line for hours to vote. The lines were long, but the people were determined.
There is just something about the American people. We are stubborn enough that we don't like to have anybody - even the wealthy and privileged ones - messing with our rights.
Jeannie Sieck, Toledo
Beth Lamb, Chelsea
Karla R. Wessels, Tama