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Fair Elections and Your Pocketbook

Voter Suppression & How Black Organizations Are Combatting It Courtesy National Urban League

by J. Michael Atherton

Fair elections save us money while unfair elections cost us money. “Fair elections” represent the entire population, as opposed to “unfair elections” where a minority manipulates the vote to their benefit. While there is almost no evidence of fraudulent voting, we have verifiable proof that Republicans in statehouses across the nation are designing and passing bills that obstruct voting in order to reduce voter turnout. Vote suppression may be effective, but it’s an old trick.

A 20th century painting of the landmark election of October 29, 1733, held on the village green at St. Paul's, Mt. Vernon, NY
A Meddling Royal Governor: Turnout at a Landmark Colonial Election at St. Paul's, Mt. Vernon NY

One grievance in the Declaration of Independence is the British tactic of making voting burdensome. Not impossible, just troublesome enough to weaken the resolve in many people to vote. The Brits hated colonial voters. Republicans are merely copycatting the colonial British when they scheme to reduce the vote; their voter suppression merely updates 18th century British tactics. Lest you think this is merely a history lesson, realize there is a very good reason that voter suppression matters today as much as it did in colonial days: unfair elections breed unfair taxation.

The link between unfair elections and our pocketbooks is clear and direct. The group that uses unfair election tactics to grab power runs government in such a way that they pay little to no

In this April 14, 1964, file photo, a man holds a Confederate flag at right, as demonstrators, including one carrying a sign saying: "More than 300,000 Negroes are Denied Vote in Ala", protest in front of an Indianapolis hotel. (AP Photo/Bob Daugherty, File) Center for Public Integrity

taxes. But the costs of government do not suddenly evaporate. Someone must pay for snow removal, highways, sewage, the postal system, safe food and drugs, our national defense, and so on. That “someone” is us, the taxpayers. Those who perpetrated unfair and unrepresentative elections bilk us out of having any say about taxes. To make this clear: unfair elections make you and me pay more taxes. After all, the very reason to design an unfair election is to benefit those who could not win a free and fair election. What to do if you want fair taxation?

Vote every time you can. Vote in the midterm and general elections. Vote for the mayor, supervisors, county commissioners, and representatives and senators in Concord and Washington. And remember to vote for the President. Refuse to let Republicans make you pay m

ore than your fair share. Don’t let them throw obstacles in your way so they can get their way. Remember, your vote benefits your pocketbook.

National Conference of State Legislatures

If someone asks why you vote so often, just tell them you want to save money.

About the author

John Michael Atherton (Mike) has retired from 30 years of teaching philosophy (after 20 years of teaching a variety of subjects from elementary to graduate school). Four years in the Peace Corps in Swaziland (now Eswatini), followed by marriage, first child, and PhD all at the University of Chicago. Moved to Southwest Pennsylvania where wife Cynthia Walter taught ecology and he taught philosophy while they raised two daughters. Moved to Dover in 2019 to be near their two grandsons in Maine. He has consistently found the Dems to be a group that publicly and privately follows their stated values: compassion, honesty, integrity, respect the dignity of all people, expanded freedom, responsible citizenship, promoting civil society, and protecting our environment. Just add that they are great fun to be around and you have a winning combination.

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