Morning Awful: Regressive South Carolina

Republicans across the country are doubling-down on everything that made Americans mad at them last year, like union-busting and abortion laws. All their promises to create jobs were cover for austerity measures and regressive legislation. South Carolina, the state that fired the first shots of the Civil War, is following up their voter ID law with a new effort to stop voter registration. From the ACLU Blog of Rights:

This time, the legislature is rushing through a law that will severely restrict community-based voter registration drives. House Bill 4549, modeled after a Florida law that forced the League of Women Voters and other civic organizations to abandon voter registration efforts in the state, would effectively shut down community-based voter registration drives in South Carolina, requiring any individual or organization to register with the state before assisting other South Carolinians in registering to vote, and subjecting those individuals or organizations to up to $1,000 in fines, even for honest mistakes like sending the forms to the wrong county or not putting enough postage on the envelopes.

The bill would discourage churches, teachers, colleges, and community centers from helping people to register to vote; it would discourage people like James Felder who, in 1963, while serving his country in the military, helped carry President John F. Kennedy’s body to Arlington National Cemetery, and who in 1970, became one of three black men elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives for the first time since reconstruction. Felder has since made his life’s work registering others to vote and with this new voter suppression bill in effect, he would likely have to give up that work. The bill would also discourage teachers like Dawn Quarles who, since 2008, has helped her students register to vote as part of the government and politics classes she teaches in high school. As we’ve already seen in Florida, restrictions to voter registration will result in discouraging almost all voter registration drives throughout the state.

One of the primary goals of teapublican conservatism is to shrink the franchise down, and one of the primary ways to do that is to make it impossible for citizens to register each other to vote. None of this improves the security of elections. It is all about reinstalling the limited franchise that kept African Americans from exercising the full privileges of citizenship for 100 years after the Civil War. The tools have changed from poll taxes and literacy tests, but the object is exactly the same: to keep power in white hands that tend to vote for the party in power.

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