Nowhere is the gulf between the two parties more stark on voting rights than it is in the language of their respective national platforms. Read the two planks (below) one after the other, and it's like you are reading about two different Americas. I suppose it's like that everywhere this election season, with each party's fiercest partisans describing an America unrecognizable to the fiercest partisans on the other side of the fight. Below are the two planks. Which America belongs to you? More important, perhaps, to which America do you belong?
Here is the language of the Republican Party, taken directly from its platform endorsed last month:
Voter Integrity to Ensure Honest Elections
Honest elections are the foundation of representative
government. We support State efforts to ensure ballot access for the elderly,
the handicapped, military personnel, and all authorized voters. For the same
reason, we applaud legislation to require photo identification for voting and
to prevent election fraud, particularly with regard to registration and
absentee ballots. We support State laws that require proof of citizenship at
the time of voter registration to protect our electoral system against a significant
and growing form of voter fraud. Every time that a fraudulent vote is cast, it
effectively cancels out a vote of a legitimate voter.
Voter fraud is political poison. It strikes at the heart
of representative government. We call on every citizen, elected official, and
member of the judiciary to preserve the integrity of the vote. We call for
vigorous prosecution of voter fraud at the State and federal level. To do less
disenfranchises present and future generations. We recognize that having a physical
verification of the vote is the best way to ensure a fair election. "Let
ambition counter ambition," as James Madison said. When all parties have
representatives observing the counting of ballots in a transparent process,
integrity is assured. We strongly support the policy that all electronic voting
systems have a voter verified paper audit trail.
States or political subdivisions that use all-mail
elections cannot ensure the integrity of the ballot. When ballots are mailed to
every registered voter, ballots can be stolen or fraudulently voted by
unauthorized individuals because the system does not have a way to verify the
identity of the voter. We call for States and political subdivisions to adopt
voting systems that can verify the identity of the voter.
Military men and women must not be disenfranchised from
the very freedom they defend. We affirm that our troops, wherever stationed, be
allowed to vote and those votes be counted in the November election and in all
elections. To that end, the entire chain of command, from President and the
Secretary of Defense, to base and unit commanders - must ensure the timely
receipt and return of all ballots and the utilization of electronic delivery of
ballots where allowed by State law.
We support changing the way that the decennial census is
conducted, so that citizens are distinguished from lawfully present aliens and
illegal aliens. In order to preserve the principle of one-person, one-vote, the
apportionment of representatives among the States should be according to the
number of citizens.
And here is the language of the Democratic Party, taken directly from its platform endorsed over the past few days:
Voting Rights. We
believe the right to vote and to have your vote counted is an essential
American freedom, and we oppose laws that place unnecessary restrictions on
those seeking to exercise that freedom. Democrats have a proud history of
standing up for the right to vote. During the Obama administration, the Justice
Department has initiated careful, thorough, and independent reviews of proposed
voting changes, and it has prevented states from implementing voter
identification laws that would be harmful to minority voters. Democrats know
that voter identification laws can disproportionately burden young voters,
people of color, low-income families, people with disabilities, and the
elderly, and we refuse to allow the use of political pretexts to disenfranchise
If you read the first plank alone, you would be forgiven for thinking that America's recent elections have been fatally "poisoned" by voter fraud, that voting fraud by illegal immigrants is "a significant and growing" problem, and that many "legitimate" voters, especially the elderly, the handicapped, and military personnel, are routinely being disenfranchised. It's powerful writing for the assumptions it makes, and likely effective, too, even though there is no evidence that any of that is true (if it is, it sure hasn't come out as evidence in court in any of the recent voting rights cases).