To the editor:

“There are many things open to debate in America, but the right of all eligible citizens to vote is not one of them.”

Thus spoke Attorney General Merrick Garland the week before last in Washington, D.C., as he announced his decision to direct the Justice Department to investigate the anti-Constitution end-around that the Republican Party is attempting to subvert the voting rights of millions of Americans.

Former President Donald Trump’s election loss last year continues to reverberate throughout a delusional segment of his flock clinging to the idea that victory was “stolen” from him by President Joe Biden, simply because the former says it’s so, without a scintilla of evidence. And this has led to a plethora of red state legislation whose purpose is making it harder for Blacks and other minority groups to practice their constitutional right to vote, as guaranteed by Lyndon Johnson’s 1965 Voting Rights Act.

From Florida to Texas, Georgia to Iowa, new regulations are being enacted reducing voting hours, making electorate IDs more stringent, curtailing mail-in and advance voting, and amazingly, preventing outside groups from furnishing water and refreshments to voters waiting in long lines.

The GOP knows full well that the larger the voter turnout nationally, the less chance it has of winning. This was proven conclusively last November with the millions of mail-in votes necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the tremendous effort by Stacey Abrams in Georgia and other states’ activists to enjoin one of the largest African-American voter turnouts ever.

And the fact that the latter turnout was fueled by the four years of anti-minority racism, misogyny and incompetence by the Trump administration is totally lost by his base. They only want a return to the neo-fascism of 2017 to 2021, and if it takes overturning a fair election (which thankfully failed), doing phony post-election “audits” like the ongoing one in Arizona, or weakening the rights of 14% of our population from voting, so be it.

The sad part about America is that the majority of our white population has changed very little ideologically since the Freedom Rider days of the 1960s, when Black and white activists alike were arrested, roughed up and had their vehicles firebombed routinely by rioting segregationists whose sole purpose was to prevent the Black vote from gaining traction, especially in our southern states.

Biden’s proposed “For the People Act,” whose tenets would’ve halted all the anti-voter subterfuge taking place, has been staked and ultimately defeated by the Washington Senate Republicans. They are abetted by Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who both stand foursquare against ending the filibuster, a tool that the GOP has signaled it will use to block a measure preventing the new voting restrictions.

And this is why Garland’s and the Justice Department’s new scrutiny in 47 states proposing these changes is so important.

 

The obvious fact that this is ultimately a civil rights issue is made clear by Garland doubling the staff of his civil rights division. Guidelines for what is allowable to tighten voting rules are being sent to these states, and it’s anticipated that fierce court battles are coming, mainly concerning the struggles between early and mail-in voting, reduction of poll hours, as well as the use of “observers” practicing any intimidation of voters.

But in sum, the Justice Department is duty-bound to do its due diligence, and all in response to Trump’s “big lie” that won’t go away until he does. The other “big lie” is the one circulating from the national GOP that these new restrictions are needed to safeguard confidence in voting fairness. In reality the only ones complaining are Trump’s supporters falsely clinging to his “big lie.”

We can all look forward to those court battles to head off the targeting of next year’s November midterm elections, and having restrictions in place that would make it virtually impossible for a Democrat to win in the red states affected.

This bears watching by all of us, as the national Republican Party would like nothing more than a return to the Bad Old Days of minorities away at the polls, with the resultant GOP victories.

William F. Klessens

Salem, N.H.

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