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'Voter suppression' narrative is about removing legitimacy from elections

SUPPRESSED: A popular narrative going into the 2018 mid-term elections is that Republicans are engaged in "voter suppression." Photo illustration by Steve Wilson

Type in the phrase "voter suppression" and you receive 3,080,000 results from Google. That's more results than the entire population of Mississippi.

With the November 6 mid-term elections only 11 days away, stories talking about "voter suppression" by Republican secretaries of state and election officials have blanketed the web, painting a picture of a tyrannical pseudo-republic where only the privileged have suffrage and the voices of millions will be silenced because they can't cast a ballot.

The alleged three means by which the Republicans are "suppressing" the vote is voter identification, the reduction of the number of polling places nationwide and the purging of voter rolls.

According to the prevailing narrative, voter identification laws make it more difficult to vote for minorities. In Mississippi, poll workers will accept just about anything with your picture issued by a governmental agency, even expired driver's licenses that are less than a decade old. For those rare Mississippi residents who somehow have no government-issued photo ID, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann's office will even give you a ride to your local circuit clerk's office to obtain one.

One has to use a photo ID to buy an airline ticket, booze, cigarettes and many other items. Why should voting be any different? The tortured logic used to justify not checking the identification of voters is a clever dodge from the truth, which is to allow widespread voter fraud.

Then there's the matter of polling places. It takes money to open a polling place and reducing the number of polling places means localities can save taxpayers money that can be spent on roads and other vital government services. With the advent of modern voting machines, workers at fewer polling places can handle more ballots.

A U.S. Supreme Court decision is blamed by this narrative for the rising number of polling place closures nationwide. The 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder ended the requirement that the U.S. Department of Justice approve or as "pre-clear" any changes in voting practices or procedures in nine mostly Southern states and parts of seven others.

This removal of once-warranted federal intervention to protect minority voting rights is allowing counties to purge redundant precincts and save taxpayers money.

Purging the voter rolls of inactive voters has been done for years. People die, move away or stop participating in the electoral process and their continued presence on the rolls can invite fraud. According to a 2017 examination of data from the U.S. Census Bureau by National Review, there are 3.5 million more registered voters than eligible adults living in the United States.

For those who think that's an insignificant number, that's more registered voters than the entire population of Mississippi or the cities of Chicago or Houston.

Ultimately, the whole point behind this latest narrative is to cast dispersion on the entire electoral process. If you can attack the process, any of the results achieved would be considered illegitimate.

This won't be a permanent view.

Once a future electoral process yields a victory for progressives, the narrative will change and they'll tell us how the system is inviolable and the people have spoken.

Another reason for this narrative to give them a nice gift-wrapped excuse if the blue wave's crest barely laps on the shore of the body politic.

Steve Wilson covers state and local government for the Mississippi Independent News Service. You can follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.​

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