“If those people are too lazy to get off their butts and go fill out a form to register and vote they don’t deserve to vote!”

That seems to be the consensus of the Republican Party and they are going to pass laws that will keep you from getting the help to even fill out that form and register to vote.

Never mind that registering is not on the top of your list of getting things done, with a swing shift job, kids to watch over or elderly to caretake for. Never mind you have newly moved here and getting a place to live and a job took priority over registering and it has slipped your mind.

If you can’t make the time to register, you don’t deserve to vote. The Republicans only want responsible people voting because they will elect responsible legislators. The vote is too important to be put in the hands of irresponsible people, who knows who they would elect?

Don’t get me started on these organizations that provide information on where to vote, where the polling places are and give them the form to fill out. These organizations are just enabling these lazy, irresponsible people who will elect those other irresponsible candidates. If we could just keep them from voting at all…

That brings us to last week when Republicans in the Tennessee House passed legislation that would make Tennessee the first and only state in the nation to subject voter registration groups to potential jail time and massive fines for submitting registration forms with errors — even minor errors such as failing to mark the Mr./Mrs./Ms. box.

Now according to the Republicans, this isn’t voter suppression as much as making sure everyone is being just as responsible as they are because, after all, we are all the same, aren’t we?

How do Republicans expect grassroots organizations like the Tennessee Black Voter Project to survive after being subjected to $10,000 fines? The answer is they don’t, if they can’t fill out the forms responsibly, they need to be punished.

While Republicans have long worked to make it more difficult to vote, this legislation is an unprecedented attack on voting rights. Now besides making sure these voters and grassroots organizations behave responsibly by filling out these forms correctly in the time frame prescribed by the state, what other reason would they have to go through all this passing of laws, making the grassroots organizations take classes and get certified and imposing fines if forms aren’t filled out the right way?

Could there possibly be another motive? A motive not stated publicly or up front but something hidden? Why would the party of “small government” create a bureaucracy of training grassroots organizations, provide certification for that training and monitor all that? Why would they increase the government when they don’t have to? (See Automatic Voter Registration)

Survival is the answer. When more people vote, Democrats win. Republicans in Tennessee decided to clamp down on registration, knowing full well that liberal groups are much more likely to mount registration drives than conservative groups.

And as the Republican party grows more dependent on older, wealthier, white voters — who are more likely to be registered and more likely to turn out — Republicans know that the harder registering and voting is, the more likely they are to win.

No prospect is more threatening to Republican success than high turnout.

Consider the last three midterm elections. Last year, turnout was 50% and Democrats won huge victories, including taking back the House. In 2014, a “wave” election for Republicans, it was only 37%. In 2010, another Republican wave, it was 42%. Anything that gets more people to the polls will be good for Democrats and bad for Republicans.

Which is why the GOP will do everything in its power to keep registration and turnout low — and why making it easier to vote is so important for Democrats.

Bill Freeman is a mental health counselor with a private practice in Etowah. He is a member of McMinn Indivisible and McMinn Democratic Party. He can be reached at calabash52@gmail.com

Bill Freeman is a mental health counselor with a private practice in Etowah. He is a member of McMinn Indivisible and McMinn Democratic Party. He can be reached at calabash52@gmail.com

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