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Forum, Nov. 22: ‘Tightened-up’ voting process would hurt the poor, older adults, disabled

Published: 11/21/2020 10:00:23 PM
Modified: 11/21/2020 10:00:05 PM
‘Tightened-up’ voting process would hurt the poor, older adults, disabled

Patrick O’Connor’s recent Forum letter asserts: “If we are going to continue with mail-in voting, procedures need to be tightened up” (“Voting procedures must be improved,” Nov. 18). An Election Day cutoff date for counting mail-in ballots is extreme. If we could rely on timely mail delivery and/or widespread official guidance on lead times for mailing absentee ballots, perhaps mailing ballots a week before Election Day would be reasonable.

Voting in person during a pandemic should be discouraged. This year, I would not have wanted my 93-year-old mother (or anybody else, for that matter, including my 65-year-old self) to vote in person, even were she physically able to do so. In 2016, I took my 87-year-old aunt to her polling place. She was new to using a walker. It was difficult for her to climb the steps. I asked the poll workers about ADA compliance. They apologized, saying it wasn’t in the budget.

The purging of voter rolls must be done with extreme caution. At the end of October, I volunteered to make calls to voters. One call recipient was frantically filling out Supplemental Security Income paperwork, as she and her legally blind son faced imminent eviction. Though there’s a moratorium on evictions until the end of the year, there are loopholes for landlords, and hurdles for tenants — thus, evictees risk being purged. In 2016, my sister arrived at her polling place only to find that she had been purged for no discernible reason, so she was unable to vote.

Last fall, I looked into how my mother might acquire a valid Massachusetts ID, as hers had expired. Turns out she would need to stand in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a replacement. She would have been ashamed and heartbroken had she not been able to vote in this year’s national election.

Tightening up voting procedures would disproportionately disenfranchise the poor, older adults, shut-ins and the disabled. Voter fraud in this country is extremely rare. It’s the right of U.S. voters to vote.



Outgoing President Donald Trump hasn’t learned the art of concession

President Donald Trump has not accepted the results of an election whose outcome is clear according to the criteria that have been used to decide every presidential election in the United States in modern times. This includes the election he won in 2016 by a similar Electoral College margin as a result of some close races in key states.

He is supported in this effort by Attorney General William Barr and by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has announced preparations for a “smooth transition to a second Trump administration.” GOP senators in Georgia have called for the removal of Georgia’s secretary of state, with no evidence of wrongdoing or flaws in the process he oversees. These actions undermine democracy.

Among those who have honored the democratic process, and principles higher than the interests of individuals and political parties, are unsuccessful candidates in past presidential elections. Stephen Douglas, after being defeated by Abraham Lincoln, is often quoted as saying, “Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I’m with you, Mr. President, and God bless you.” In a letter left in the desk of the Oval Office, George H.W. Bush wrote to Bill Clinton: “You will be our President when you read this note. ... Your success is now our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.” In a speech conceding the 2000 election, Al Gore said: “Now the political struggle is over and we turn again to the unending struggle for the common good of all Americans and for those multitudes around the world who look to us for leadership in the cause of freedom. ... This is America and we put country before party. We will stand together behind our new president.” John McCain, on the night of the 2008 election, said: “The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly. A little while ago, I had the honor of calling Sen. Barack Obama — to congratulate him on being elected the next president of the country that we both love.”



We need immigrants more than ever

Many of us immigrants cannot contain our joy to see Donald Trump gone by January. The harsh immigration policies of his right-wing adviser, Stephen Miller, have had terrifying and sad consequences for immigrant families.

If one analyzes Trump’s and Miller’s actions, one conclusion is that these two characters are certainly oddballs who lack intelligence and common sense. They do not seem to have coordinated their efforts to give their supporters what they expected: white conservative power for at least eight years.

On one hand, Miller went after Muslims, Hispanics and Asians to give his supporters the sense that an America with a white majority is still possible if they just build a border wall, ban Muslims and separate Central American families to scare them from ever coming back to the U.S.

Trump, the eternal TV pitchman, dismissed COVID-19 as a real treat, never thinking of the effects it could have on the U.S. population. With Trump’s rallies and rhetoric against masks and shutdowns, the illness now is taking a toll — not only in communities of color but white communities, too.

Now this country has more than 250,00 people dead. It is possible that 50,000 more people will die before Trump is out of office in January and before a vaccine program can have an effect nationwide. The country and the economy are a mess.

To those who took the MAGA thing to heart, the question is: What is the plan to replace all the nurses, doctors, nursing aides, police officers, firefighters, child care workers, meat-packing workers, restaurant and retail people, and hundreds of other essential workers who have died this year and who were an essential part of a thriving economy?

Immigration, maybe? We are back to where we started, aren’t we?


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