Mike Huckabee, former Republican governor of Arkansas and currently a Fox News host, has brought his party's voter suppression efforts completely out of the closet.
New voter identification laws, shorter early voting periods and a host of measures are being introduced in many states where the GOP has control of the legislature and the governorship. Labor and civil rights groups say the measures aim is to lower vote totals among youth, minorities and seniors. Republicans expect large majorities of those groups to vote Democratic in 2012.
While advocates of the vote suppression laws usually cloak their maneuvers as efforts to "reduce election fraud," Huckabee, by tossing out the pretenses, has fully exposed the GOP's strategy.
At a pancake breakfast in Mason, Ohio, sponsored by a right-wing group called Build a Better Ohio, he called on people to prevent voters who oppose SB 5, a law that kills collective bargaining rights, from even making it to the polls.
As the result of a massive effort by labor and its allies, Ohioans will vote Nov. 8 on a ballot measure, Issue 2, which will determine whether or not SB 5 remains the law. Hundreds of thousands of workers are determined to vote NO on Issue 2 because they see the question of collective bargaining rights as inseparable from their ability to maintain a decent life for themselves and their families.
But as the right-wingers ate their pancakes, Huckabee told them:
"Make a list. Call them and ask them, 'Are you going to vote on Issue 2 and are you going to vote for it?' If they say no, well, you just make sure that they don't go vote. Let the air out of their tires on Election Day. Tell them that the election has been moved to a different date. That's up to you how you creatively get the job done."
People in his audience laughed. Voter suppression, however, is no laughing matter.
The GOP has shown that it is willing to go beyond just making it more difficult for people to exercise their right to vote. It has shown that it is willing to engage in outright fraud and trickery in order to suppress the vote.
This summer, solidly Democratic voters in Wisconsin, for example, received ballots in the mail, instructing them to return those ballots for an Aug. 9 election to the city clerk "before Aug. 11."
Build a Better Ohio, the right-wing group that sponsored the Huckabee pancake breakfast, has already showed it has no scruples whatsoever, when it comes to voter suppression.
A pro-labor group, We Are Ohio, ran an ad against the state's voter suppression law that included testimony from a great-grandmother. The right-wing Build a Better Ohio lifted footage from that ad to make it appear that the great-grandmother was in favor of the anti-worker law.
Marlene Quinn, the great-grandmother, has come out publicly blasting Build a Better Ohio for doing this (see video below). She said that her support for the collective bargaining rights of public workers was strengthened even more recently when Zoey, her great-granddaughter, was saved from a burning building by Cincinnati firefighters.
Photo: Kennesaw State University Archives // CC 2.0