On Voter Self-Suppression and the Consent of the Silent

December, 2014

Florida, Texas, Kansas, Arizona, Iowa, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin: All states, which under Republican governors, announced or passed voter suppression legislation in 2013 or 2014.  Legislation crafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), ready to overlay states with Republican legislatures.  People trying to vote. Wanting to vote. Unable to vote.

Colorado. Not driven by ALEC. Expanded voting rights in 2013 (HB13-1303), without a single Republican vote in either the Senate or the House.  http://openstates.org/co/votes/COV00008312/

Enter the self-suppressing voter. Because, hey, we can only be proud to give up a right if we already have it.

As Bowen campaigned, and as I campaigned for him, we heard from far too many people that they were disgusted with Udall’s campaign and with all the negative ads, therefore they were going to sit out the election. As if this would make a statement. As if this were a principled stand.

Thus they, the Non-Voting Non-Republicans, ceded the election to Charles Koch.  If they wanted the Republicans to win, they should have voted Republican. Refusing to vote had only one result—it ensured Republicans control the U.S. Senate and House seats.Refusing to vote did not change the tone for future elections; it will not prevent the escalation of money being poured into future races; it did not teach Udall’s campaign coordinators any lessons regarding how they screwed up the re-election of a competent Senator; it did not temper emotionally-charged advertising.

Non-voting Republicans are excused from this conclusion because their non-vote only narrowed a very wide margin in the turnout. Non-voters from every other affiliation did not stay above the fray. They voted.

They should own their vote. And either affiliate with the Republican Party or cast a ballot that reflects whatever position they come to after ignoring the noise.

Colorado almost became Texas. Or Wisconsin. This is not your father’s Republican Party. It belongs to the Koch Brothers, and that is a reality that thoughtful Republicans are going to have to reconcile with their conscience.

Because right now, Colorado is one election cycle away from inviting the American Legislative Exchange Council to define its agenda and write its lawsThat is the result of voter self-suppression.

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