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Republicans who oppose voting rights just don’t dig democracy

Why take part in the official business of democracy if one does not believe in citizen participation to the fullest extent of the law?

Poll worker Carl Singletary Jr., right, hands a voter on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, their I Voted card
A poll worker hands a voter their I Voted card on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020.
Charles Rex Arbogast | AP Photos

Almost all Western democracies have higher voter turnout than the United States. In Australia, 18-year-olds automatically are registered to vote upon high school graduation. Citizens are fined for not voting in a national election. In the State of Oregon, all registered voters have received a mail-in ballots since the late 1990’s.

The U.S House of Representatives has passed a bill to simplify our patchwork of state-by-state election laws, reduce partisan gerrymandering, and reduce “dark money” in campaigns. Not one Republican in the House voted for this bill. Some said that it was an attack on states’ rights. These are the same states’ rights that allowed election officials of the past to administer “literacy” tests that the officials themselves could not pass.

Why take part in the official business of democracy if one does not believe in citizen participation to the fullest extent of the law? Why call oneself a “representative” when the voters of a funky-shaped district are chosen by a party rather than the other way around? Why fight for fair elections or even state-run elections, when “dark money” is the real master of the results?

Republicans in the House proved once again that they are uninterested in representative democracy. The reforms of H.R. 1 are long overdue.

Jan Goldberg, Riverside

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes. Letters should be 350 words or less.

GOP ‘cancel culture’

Since the election last November, 43 GOP-controlled state legislatures have introduced 253 bills that would significantly restrict voting. Many of these bills are focused on absentee ballots; e.g., they would be harder to obtain and easier to reject. Other laws would make it harder to register to vote and easier to purge voters from the rolls.

There are those in the GOP who have been complaining about “cancel culture,” which they attribute to the Democrats, especially to the “radical socialist left.” Apparently, they don’t think that preventing people from voting is an even more serious form of “cancel culture.” If a person can’t vote, that person is effectively “cancelled” from having a voice in our American democracy.

Voter suppression is a tactic that the GOP has been using for decades, often quite successfully. This has been and continues to be a direct attack on our democracy that is happening in broad daylight. It is akin to the attack on the U.S. Capitol by domestic terrorists who attempted to overthrow the results of a free and fair election.

The attack on the Capitol was stopped. The GOP’s attack on voting also must be stopped.

Bob Chimis, Elmwood Park

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes. Letters should be 350 words or less.

Selling Lake Michigan water

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plan to divert and sell water from Lake Michigan to Joliet fails to recognize the importance of protecting the Great Lakes, sets a terrible precedent for a climate change-impacted future in which water is increasingly scarce and, much like Mayor Richard M. Daley’s parking meter deal, vastly undervalues the commodity she is selling for pennies on the dollar.

The Great Lakes Compact of 2008, though it contains an exception for Illinois for historical reasons, proscribes the diversion of water outside the Great Lakes watershed, which contains 1/5th of all surface freshwater on Earth. The compact does this precisely because its drafters recognized the centrality of the Great Lakes to our region and the importance of protecting them in order to safeguard our present and future.

Lightfoot and the City Council, which unanimously approved this measure, are being short-sighted, carelessly selling our most precious resource for what amounts to a rounding error in the city’s annual budget.

Peter McInerney, West Ridge