I have been listening to the Senate hearings to confirm a judge who seems to agree that the Voting Rights Act represents “the perpetuation of racial entitlement.” The conversation reminded me of the “racial entitlement” I observed during the 2004 presidential election. I went to Reno, Nevada, as a poll watcher for a national nonprofit organization. I went with a group of friends not expecting much. Here is what I saw in only six hours in a city where the polls were managed by the local GOP:
Voters in a democratic precinct waited in line for 3-5 hours while voting machines sat idle. Students and low income voters stood in the cold waiting to vote because poll workers refused to operate several voting machines. One poll worker was assigned to check voter rolls while others stood by doing nothing. Poll workers wouldn’t allow disabled people to use the folding chairs that no one was using inside the polling place, and argued with us about whether they could go to the front of the line.
Voters in the predominately Latino precinct were harassed by poll workers and immigration officials for being “illegal.” People with dark skin waited hours in line but were not permitted to vote until they could prove that they were citizens. Poll workers called federal immigration officials to intimidate people who didn’t have birth certificates with them. The ACLU got a cease and desist order, but, by the time it was issued, many voters would not get to the front of the line before the polls closed.
All this trash they’re doing — like slowing down the post office and removing ballot boxes, requiring witnesses to sign ballots, and purging voter rolls at the last minute — is just more of what’s been going on for a long time.