You would think that making it easier for citizens to vote would be something for everyone in a democracy to celebrate. But the shocking remarks by these six government officials — some of whom will be on the November ballot — tell a different story.
Gov. Chris Christie: Same-Day Voter Registration Is a “Trick” and GOP Needs to Win Gubernatorial Races So They Control “Voting Mechanisms”
Earlier this week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spoke at a US Chamber of Commerce gathering in Washington, DC. In his comments, The Record reports that Christie “pushed further into the contentious debate over voting rights than ever before, saying Tuesday that Republicans need to win gubernatorial races this year so that they’re the ones controlling ‘voting mechanisms’ going into the next presidential election.”
This isn’t the first time Christie’s come clean about GOP intentions at the ballot box. In August, while campaigning in Chicago for Bruce Rauner, the GOP candidate challenging Gov. Pat Quinn, Christie complained that Illinois would become the 11th state to permit same-day voter registration this November — a move supporters say will increase turnout and improve access. Christie didn’t see it that way, calling it an underhanded Democratic get-out-the-vote tactic. Christie said of Quinn: “I see the stuff that’s going on. Same-day registration all of a sudden this year comes to Illinois. Shocking,” he added sarcastically. “I’m sure it was all based upon public policy, good public policy to get same-day registration here in Illinois just this year, when the governor is in the toilet and needs as much help as he can get.” He added that the voter registration program is designed to be a major “obstacle” for Republican gubernatorial candidates.
Fran Millar: Georgia Senator Complains About Polling Place Being Too Convenient for Black Voters
Georgia state Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) wrote an angry op-ed following the news that DeKalb County, part of which he represents, will permit early voting on the last Sunday in October. The voting will take place at the Gallery at South DeKalb mall. Here’s what Millar wrote in The Atlanta-Journal Constitution: “[T]his location is dominated by African-American shoppers and it is near several large African-American mega churches such as New Birth Missionary Baptist… Is it possible church buses will be used to transport people directly to the mall since the poll will open when the mall opens? If this happens, so much for the accepted principle of separation of church and state.” Millar, who is senior deputy whip for the Georgia Senate Republicans, promised to put an end to Sunday balloting in DeKalb County when state lawmakers assemble in the Capitol in January.
Doug Preis: An Ohio GOP Chair Says We Shouldn’t Accommodate the “Urban — Read African-American — Voter-Turnout Machine”
In 2012, Republican officials in Ohio were limiting early voting hours in Democratic-majority counties, while expanding them on nights and weekends in Republican counties. In response to public outcry, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted mandated the same early voting hours in all 88 Ohio counties. He kept early voting hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays from Oct. 2 to 19 and broadened hours from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Oct. 22 to Nov. 2. But he refused to expand voting hours beyond 7 p.m. during the week, on weekends or three days prior to the election — which is when voting is most convenient for many working-class Ohioans. Here’s what the Franklin Party (Columbus) Ohio GOP chair, Doug Preis, and close adviser to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, said about limiting early voting. “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine.” (And yes, he actually said “read African-American,” that wasn’t inserted.)
Greg Abbott: Texas AG Says Partisan Districting Decisions Are Legal, Even if There Are “Incidental Effects” on Minority Voters
The 2010 Census results showed that 89 percent of the population growth in Texas came from minorities, but “when it came to fitting those new seats in the map, Republican lawmakers made sure three of them favored Republicans, who tend to be white,” according to the Associated Press. The Justice Department claims that Texas lawmakers intentionally redrew the state’s congressional districts in order to dilute the Hispanic vote. Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running for governor of Texas, wrote the following in a letter to the Department of Justice defending the state’s voting maps:
“DOJ’s accusations of racial discrimination are baseless. In 2011, both houses of the Texas Legislature were controlled by large Republican majorities, and their redistricting decisions were designed to increase the Republican Party’s electoral prospects at the expense of the Democrats. It is perfectly constitutional for a Republican-controlled legislature to make partisan districting decisions, even if there are incidental effects on minority voters who support Democratic candidates.”
Ted Yoho: Only Property Owners Should Vote
While running for a Florida congressional seat in 2012, Ted Yoho suggested that only property owners should have the right to vote, as you can watch in this video. Here’s what he said: “I’ve had some radical ideas about voting and it’s probably not a good time to tell them, but you used to have to be a property owner to vote.” He also called early voting by absentee ballots “a travesty.” And yes, Yoho won the election, and is now a member of Congress.
Don Yelton: North Carolina GOP Precinct Chair: Voter-ID Law Will “Kick Democrats in the Butt” and Hurt “Lazy Blacks”
In an interview last year with The Daily Show, Don Yelton, a GOP precinct chair in Buncombe County, North Carolina, defended the state’s new voter-ID law, saying so many offensive things, he was asked to resign the day after it aired. Yelton admits at the start of the segment that the number of Buncombe County residents who commit voter fraud is one or two out of 60,000 a year. The interview correspondent, Aasif Mandvi, replies that those numbers show “there’s enough voter fraud to sway zero elections,” and then Yelton replies, “Mmmm…that’s not the point.” He goes on to say that “if it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that want the government to give them everything, so be it.” and then adds, “The law is going to kick the Democrats in the butt.” After the segment aired, the Buncombe County GOP Chair issued a statement on Yelton’s comments, calling them “offensive, uniformed and unacceptable of any member within the Republican Party” and called for Yelton’s resignation. He obliged.