GOP should win elections fairly, not by suppressing vote

February 22, 2014 

As a Republican, I have seethed in silence for years as I have read of instances of our party's efforts at minority and low-income voter suppression in elections. In silence, because talking politics in these fraught days can be risky to friendships and relationships.

One needn't speculate as to intent of these laws. Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, Pennsylvania Republican leader Mike Turzai, Florida's own Jim Greer and many others are quoted as admitting that the goal of voter ID laws is suppression of the Democratic vote.

And I bit my tongue harder in 2011 as the Florida Legislature embraced these practices, as well as eliminating voting the Sunday before election day, severely limiting early voting, and crafting overlong amendments knowing that they would slow voting lines to a crawl.

And now we read that in Manatee County 30 polling places are being closed, half of them in heavily minority and poor District 2, the only Democratic district in the county.

Recently, I attended a fundraiser for a Republican candidate with perhaps 50 other contributors. I was surprised and heartened that the subject of voter suppression was discussed openly among these GOP partisans. Everyone I talked to about it felt the same, dismayed that our party yet again appears to be engaging in such a tawdry and undemocratic practice.

Not all of us Republicans are cynics who want to win elections at any cost. Many of us believe that we should be above this, that elections should be about having good policies and programs and engaging voters in a positive way.

Republican leaders, please take note: We don't want to win this way!

Alexander (Sandy) Kirkpatrick


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