I begin with something that DCW member Scott wrote on his Facebook page when I posted about Carol Aichele storming our voter registration table a couple weeks ago:
Jessica is a friend of mine who lives in Pennsylvania. She is a strong supporter of Democrats, and works hard to get them elected. But she is also a strong supporter of voting, and has spent many many days over the course of many many years registering people to vote, cheerfully helping people with the process whether they are Republican, Democrat, or independent.
Carol Aichele is the Secretary of the Commonwealth for Pennsylvania. She is a strong supporter of Republicans, and works hard to get them elected. But, as this anecdote shows, she has also become a fierce opponent of voting, and is now spending her time trying to keep people from voting, whether they are Republican, Democrat, or independent.
Voter suppression isn't just Democrat vs. Republican, although it is that. It is also pro-voting vs. anti-voting.
Everything Scott wrote was true, and became even more prescient on Sunday.
For those of you who don't know, I've been registering voters at the same shopping center in Chester County, PA for the past 20 years. For the past several cycles, I have co-chaired the effort with Cheryl Bittner, another local resident as committed to voting as I am. With dozens of volunteers, we have registered, re-registered, handed out absentee ballots, and provided information to several thousand people.
On Sunday, the Republicans achieved their goal of shutting us down. In our town, there are not a lot of places that get the kind of foot traffic that makes a voter drive possible. There is only one major shopping center, and we were lucky that there was a shopkeeper who allowed us to use a small amount of space. Sadly, after the Republicans sent Carol Aichele (who could find nothing to warrant closing our table) they banded together to file false complaints to the shopkeeper (and surrounding businesses) about us. We don't blame the businesses, it is not their job to evaluate the veracity of what was said to them. They had no choice but to ask us to leave.
Here in Pennsylvania, many of us are doing everything we can to not just make sure people are registered but to insure that they have the IDs they need to overcome the high bar set by the state to vote this year. The state has gone so far as to inactivate thousands of voters for no discernible reason, in addition to requiring IDs that are very difficult for hundreds of thousands of people to acquire in the time allotted.
We provided a great service, and we gladly registered and provided information to people regardless of political orientation. Cheryl and I feel appalled, saddened, mortified (and a host of other words) that our country has come to this: out of desperation, bigotry and a sense that they're losing, the Republicans will stop at nothing to deny suffrage. They so hate us, that they will do anything to prevent a bunch of mostly middle aged locals from helping people vote.