June 5, 2013 10:34:05 AM
Upset names of absentee voters were published
In an age where Southern legislators are tigerishly revisiting the merits of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, particularly Section 5, it is amazing to me that local activists aren't up in arms in defense of the vulnerable and elderly about what is happening in our part of the world right here in Lowndes County. Voices raised is long overdue in protesting the fact that it is just plain wrong and possibly a violation of the law to publish the names of people voting absentee because of a disability.
Imagine how disconcerting it must be for the aged living at home alone to know that there might be miscreants lurking about, armed with information of their whereabouts and vulnerabilities. What the Columbus Packet has done with publishing the fact of a voter being disabled is a disservice and a far cry from what a city or county clerk does when it simply posts on a wall that such and such person has voted absentee. (eds. note: The Packet published the names of absentee voters in the city.) This is dangerous and a glaring breach of the public trust. Every clerk, county and city, should spare no means in protecting a voter's privileged personal information. Black it out if they have to.
What is really at heart, we all know, at least locally, is the perception that most of these people might possibly vote Democrat, which is unacceptable to entrenched political interests who've rendered the absentee voting process undesirable in its present form. This has caused maneuverings in state and local politics like I haven't seen in a long time. To be sure, the only power restraining these obstructionists is the 1965 Voting Rights Acts which they have now managed to draw under the spotlight of the U.S. Supreme Court with specious arguments like its relevance in the modern South. They howl silly anecdotes like operatives paying people to vote, candidates strong-arming senior citizens, and the mass absentee voting of dead people. Added to that is the every-so-often visitation of grim-faced, badge-wearing, arms-bearing agents from the audit department paying calls upon the elderly and throwing rapid-fire questions at them like Joe Friday of the old TV series Dragnet, making the voter think that they themselves had committed some dreadful wrong for having merely voted absentee.
This is all the more disheartening when one considers the fact that there are untold hundreds of people, Republicans and Democrats, still out in the boonies and hinterlands who aren't able to exercise their franchise. You'd think that their would be nothing but praise heaped upon anyone who would facilitate the voting process for the infirmed and elderly, but the more these dedicated foot soldiers increase the voter roles the more they bring down the harshest reactions from those in state and local government.
Fearful consternation, the public airing of their vulnerabilities, the experience of it all can be so unpleasant that very often the elderly choose not to vote altogether, which is exactly the desired result that certain politicos have had in mind all along.
James Clayton Terry