The US is already giving us chlorinated chicken, let’s bring in voter suppression too

Over the last 700 years, the people entitled to vote have gradually increased, to property owners, all men, then women and finally anyone over 18. So it’s only fair we start going back the other way

Mark Steel@mrmarksteel
Thursday 05 March 2020 19:27
Stacey Abrams flames Trump for voter suppression in Democrats' response to State of the Union

A few years ago, the smartest thinkers declared modern democracy was sweeping every part of the world. And that was proved right again this week, because even in backward, desolate America, in the remote province called Texas, people were able to vote after queueing for only five hours.

By coincidence, it’s only in the poorer areas that voters are regularly detained this long, and some people suggest this is because of measures brought in by Trump-supporting governors.

For example, in Georgia, governor Brian Kemp ordered the closure of 8 per cent of the state’s polling stations, mostly in those poorer areas. What an imaginative idea, to help the poor to broaden their outlook by encouraging them to travel outside the streets they’re stuck in. For the next election, the governor should put the polling stations in even more adventurous places, such as on top of the Taj Mahal or in the centre of the Hadron Collider, to give disadvantaged citizens the opportunity to improve themselves.

Then voters in these areas are scrutinised to ensure their identity cards match every detail on the register. But this still seems open to cheating, so for the presidential election, the only acceptable ID should be a golf club membership card, receipt for a Range Rover or a photo of the voter stood over a dead rhino they’ve just shot.

This is the sort of imaginative thinking needed to win a modern election. As ever, in Britain, the Conservatives are the first to consider this sort of strategy, which is they have proposed a similar identity card system here.

The reason they give is it will prevent electoral fraud. And this is a serious problem, because in 2017, there was one conviction for electoral fraud. So it seems fair that we have to overhaul the entire electoral system, to make sure this bastard doesn’t try it again. Otherwise, who knows where it will end? For example, the following year, the same number of people were found guilty of illegally shutting down parliament, so look how quickly this sort of thing escalates.

Last year in Wisconsin, 24,000 ​people were barred from voting, because their vehicle was registered at a different address from the one where they tried to vote. There are several reasons someone might do this; they could be a student with a car at their college. They could have moved away temporarily for work. But most likely is they’ve deliberately registered to vote in a place they’ve never been to before, hundreds of miles from where they live, with a plan to visit the place for the first time to cast a sneaky illegal vote, but as the place is five hundred miles away, they needed a car to get there on election day, and registered it at their real address, giving themselves away. Luckily the governor of Wisconsin has seen through that grubby scam.

More than 230,000 people who have moved home since the last election have been told they need to re-register by the end of March or they’ll be struck off the voting register. Until a few weeks ago, the deadline was March 2021, so it’s hard to find a reason why this date has suddenly been brought forward, as there’s nothing significant happening between now and next year that might encourage supporters of Trump to take voters off the register if they’re not likely to vote for him. It’s all being done to make the system efficient, but some conspiracy theorists will always find a sinister motive.

Most of the areas where this happens are where the population is black or Hispanic, so some people suggest there are racist reasons behind the extra rules in place. But Republican leaders dismiss this as paranoid. Because America has always been studiously fair to black and Hispanic people in its elections. In many states, until the 1960s they were so helpful they wouldn’t let them vote at all, saving them six hours of queueing. But do they get any gratitude for this?

Voter ID plan is 'ineffective' and could disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters, report finds

So the Democrats need to retaliate by intimidating voters more likely to support Trump. They could introduce a rule demanding anyone over 80 has to be interviewed for an hour to prove they’re still alive. They could terrify Republicans by allowing Mexican babies to crawl round the polling station without putting them in a cage. To be truly radical, they could put up signs saying voters are only allowed to take one semi-automatic rifle into the polling booth with them.

In the UK, the proposal is voters would need to show a driving license or passport. It’s estimated there are 3.5 million adults in Britain without either, who are more likely to be poor and young. Over the past 700 years, the number of people entitled to vote has gradually increased, to property owners, all men, then women and finally anyone over 18. So it’s only fair we start going back the other way for a change.

In trials last year at the local elections, hundreds of people who were eligible to vote were sent away, as they didn’t bring the right documents. So that’s a start. Next, we should ask Jacob Rees-Mogg to bring in a rule that everyone is given a quiz at the polling booth, in which they’re asked for the Latin names of flowers, and a list of headmasters at Harrow, and if they get one wrong, instead of voting, they’re made to clean the cellar.

And if you have any doubt as to whether these measures are necessary to avoid cheating, simply remember who is most keen to introduce them. Because if Boris Johnson and Donald Trump stand for anything, it’s scrupulous integrity and honesty.

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