Democracy is an illusion without access to ballot for all citizens

By Jerry Turner - Guest columnist

Nothing in American history has done more to put a lie to what this nation is supposed to stand for than the pernicious efforts to suppress the vote.

In more recent times, the suppressors are almost always the Republican Party and its politicians.

For the first 100 years following the Civil War (1861-65) and the abolition of slavery (1865), it was the Democratic Party and its operatives, most notably in the south.

Whatever faction it has been, no county can abide this damnable conduct and say it’s a true democracy.

We should always find more and easier methods for Americans to express their constitutional right to choose their representatives and the laws that govern them.

Suppression of the vote generally targets Americans of color, in particular African-Americans and Latinos. The poor are frequently abandoned, too.

Nothing was done by lawmakers for a century as Jim Crow laws ran amok in denying southern blacks “the franchise.” It was often accompanied by brutality, thousands of lynchings, segregation and harassment. Law enforcement officials were more likely than not to be an instrument of the terror. Entire states sanctioned it.

It’s at the very top of the most despicable realities in the awards of this republic. May of the injustices around voting were finally corrected by passage of the voting rights act of 1965.

However, a conservative majority of the United States Supreme Court gutted the main provision of the Act in 2013. States with a history of voter suppression, again predominately in the south, had to have the U.S. Justice Department’s permission before changing any of its electoral procedures.

Immediately following Scotus’s decision, several Republican dominated state legislatures, not only in the south and including Ohio, once again began erecting barriers with such measures as voter ID, shorter voting hours, fewer polling places, purges of voter roles, etc.

This all has the odor of Jim Crow tactics.

Why we put up with it — especially given our less than stellar past in the regard — is the question?

As for this year’s presidential election in November, mail-in voting is the obvious answer to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As I write this, however, Republicans are balking at providing states the financial aid to do so.

If we claim to be the world’s foremost democracy, we’re perpetuating an insidious falsehood with voter suppression.

Any real democratic process is a cruel illusion without access to the ballot for all its citizens.

After all, denial is the key element of totalitarian and autocratic societies.

Without the ballot, what makes America any different?

By Jerry Turner

Guest columnist

The writer is a former Sidney Daily News sports editor (1973-75), was a Logan County Schools truant officer (1979-2005) and a veteran of the U.S. Air Force in the Vietnam era (1965-69).

The writer is a former Sidney Daily News sports editor (1973-75), was a Logan County Schools truant officer (1979-2005) and a veteran of the U.S. Air Force in the Vietnam era (1965-69).