From E. J.Dionne, Jr.’s column, “Arizona’s voting outrage is a warning to the nation” at The Washington Post:
It’s bad enough that an outrage was perpetrated last week against the voters of Maricopa County, Ariz. It would be far worse if we ignore the warning that the disenfranchisement of thousands of its citizens offers our nation. In November, one of the most contentious campaigns in our history could end in a catastrophe for our democracy.
…The facts of what happened in Arizona’s presidential primary are gradually penetrating the nation’s consciousness. In a move rationalized as an attempt to save money, officials of Maricopa County, the state’s most populous, cut the number of polling places by 70 percent, from 200 in the last presidential election to 60 this time around…Maricopa includes Phoenix, the state’s largest city, which happens to have a non-white majority and is a Democratic island in an otherwise Republican county…As the Arizona Republic reported, the county’s move left one polling place for every 21,000 voters — compared with one polling place for every 2,500 voters in the rest of the state……There were fewer voting locations in “parts of the county with higher minority populations.”
…Many people had to wait hours to cast a ballot, and some polling stations had to stay open long after the scheduled 7 p.m. closing time to accommodate those who had been waiting — and waiting. The Republic told the story of Aracely Calderon, a 56-year-old immigrant from Guatemala who waited five hours to cast her ballot. There were many voters like her.
If all this summons up a fading memory, try Florida in 2000. In adition to the hanging chads, the “Brooks Brothers riot” and other Repubican electoral atrocities, similar crimes against democracy were very much a part of that notorious election year in the ‘Sunshine State’ under the rule of Gov. Jeb Bush, to his eternal shame.
Dionne quotes Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice, noting that “Republicans have “moved with strategic ferocity” to pass a variety of laws around the country to make it harder for people to cast ballots. The Brennan Center reports that 16 states “will have new voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election.”
Looking forward, Dionne warns,
Imagine voting debacles like Arizona’s happening all across the country. Consider what the news reports would be like on the night of Nov. 8, 2016. Are we not divided enough already? Can we risk holding an election whose outcome would be rendered illegitimate in the eyes of a very large number of Americans who might be robbed of their franchise?
“This is not idle fantasy,” Dionne concludes. “Arizona has shown us what could happen. We have seven months to prevent what really could be an electoral cataclysm.”
The progressive media has done a decent job in reporting on the disgrace in Arizona, and the MSM has begun to follow up on the story. In this already embarrassing year for the GOP, the leading conservative columnists have so far continued their appalling silence about the Republicans’ racially-driven voter suppression. In so doing, they betray both genuine conservatism and the values of democracy.