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State Senate Election Hearings Right Out of the Alinsky Playbook

Posted: February 21, 2016 at 6:00 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

sandyBy J. Alexandra Tuttle

What you are about to read is an election year call to action.

Last week, the Senate Education, Health and Environment Committee chaired by Senator Joan Carter Conway held hearings on several bills concerning voter registration and election laws. The Universal Voter Act (SB 11), Student Automatic Registration (SB 19), Universal Voter Registration (SB 938), voting by mail – and other bills all require that the DMV, social services agencies, and even public colleges automatically send information on every person who applies for services to the State Board of Elections without the person’s knowledge or consent to be registered to vote.

These bills do not define how U.S. citizenship would be verified except to say it’s on an “honor basis,” and the person has 21 days to opt out, but must do so in writing.  However, their personal data still remains in the database.

This should infuriate every citizen, as it is an egregious breech of individual privacy that personal data winds up in another database, without their consent, where it is designed to create voters electronically, and will corrupt the system further with potential votes by illegals. It is also the height of voter intimidation – pressuring people who choose to remain invisible in the system to vote.  Once the data is captured, we all know who will be first in line to register these previously unknown persons as Democrats.

There’s more. Although the members of this committee haven’t figured out how to get data from private colleges yet, they pledged during last week’s testimony to work on it.

Senator Conway, the Democrat chairwoman of the committee, was elected in 1997 and made history in 2007 when she became the first black woman to be appointed as chairman of a Senate standing committee in Maryland.   During last week’s hearings, the panelists in favor of these bills were “well-organized and in lock step with each other.”

One might say that the hearings resembled a “love fest” that was positively received by the chairwoman and her committee. In general, the message was tacit approval of anything to increase the voter rolls, without any real concern about safeguarding the voting process. CASA de Maryland and the League of Women Voters were among the supporters of this legislation.   Unfortunately, there was no one there to testify against it.

Toward the end of the long hearing, the committee heard from Senator Sallings, the sponsor of SB 268, “Election Law Qualification of Voters and Proof of Identity,” the one bill that offered a glimmer of hope for election integrity.  Obviously, Senator Sallings took his oath of office seriously when he swore to uphold the Maryland Constitution, which includes Article 1, Section 7 that stipulate the following: “(T)he General Assembly shall pass Laws necessary for the preservation of the purity of Elections.

There was only one other person present to testify in support of the Voter ID law. During her testimony, she was met with condescension from Sen. Conway, who challenged the testimony by implying that it would discriminate against the homeless.
The senator then equated requiring voter ID to Jim Crow laws, putting in a plug to remind everyone of the “people coming to this country in chains.”  This was followed by a “Hurricane Katrina” tangent from the senator, which prompted her to ask how people were supposed to “search for their IDs in the water with the dead bodies.”

Chairwoman Conway definitely knows her Rules for Radicals, as if she had just reread Tactics 4, 5 and 6 that focused on how to “ridicule” and diminish your opponent. The lone testifier was cornered– any response would sound racist and prejudiced.  It is an outrage that a citizen coming to Annapolis is treated that way by an elected official in her position, courtesy of the taxpayer.
Needless to say, this particular afternoon of testimony was an eye-opening experience.

Here was an accomplished black leader dredging up Jim Crow and Katrina as the answer to valid concerns regarding voter integrity. The non sequitur response in order to silence a dissenting opinion is just one more example of using the same tired playbook that goes unchallenged.

Where were the Republicans to protest this obvious attempt to manipulate the election landscape to favor one party?  Why aren’t we there in droves to counter these outrageous legislative proposals with facts?

It revealed once again the weakness and lack of coordination on our side when there are opportunities to take a stand in support or dissent of legislation.  Our absence, week after week, implies tacit agreement or disinterest.  Last week, it revealed that a woman who has risen through the ranks to hold a powerful position still cannot advance her argument beyond the tired meme of slavery and homelessness.

However, more hearings are scheduled in the upcoming weeks.

We have a responsibility to get involved, get engaged and make our voices heard. If we don’t, the opponents of responsible government will continue to pass bad legislation, and ultimately we will lose the electorate forever.

There is a slight modicum of hope however.  Legislation has once again been introduced that would limit the terms of those serving in the legislature, such as Senator Conway.  Perhaps, we should take a cue from those well organized Democrats and come out and support the HB 1209 Hearing 2/29 @1:00 pm. Now that we know their tactics, are you in the fight?