“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” Those were the words Tom Sawyer said over a century ago, but which seem very timely today with the recent rollout of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

After the founding of our country, only citizens who owned property were allowed to vote, which without explicitly outlawing them, prevented poor whites and minorities (who were not even allowed to become citizens at the time) from voting.

Fast forward 100 years and African-American men have been granted the right to vote through the 15th Amendment. However, many Southern states were quick to institute poll taxes and literacy tests as a requirement for voting. Once again, powerful aristocrats found a way to disproportionately suppress the poor and minority vote without explicitly stating their intent.

These intimidation tactics continued into 1960s, when it was not uncommon for minorities to be subjected to violence for exercising their right to vote.

Now in the year 2017, we have a president who has claimed without evidence that 3 million to 5 million people voted illegally in an election he won, prompting thousands to flee voter rolls in fear their personal information will be made public by his sham commission.

Baseless accusations such as those made by the president about voter fraud are merely another unfortunate example in our nation’s history of the rich and the powerful abusing their authority in an effort to suppress and undermine the poor and ethnic minority vote.

In a country with an average voter participation rate laughable to other Western democracies, if the president is truly concerned about our electoral process he should be focused on how we can get more people involved in the process, not discouraged by it.

Trevor Doiron

Jay

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.