Steal This Story
Better to Steal a Story Than to Steal an Election
This is a call to action. To anyone who reads this, please do three things:
1. Copy and paste this story word-for-word and post it as your own. (The original author has given full permission to post without attribution, either verbatim or with your own edits.)
2. Go to Strike4TheVote.org and sign up!
3. On Election Day (Nov 3): Stay home from work! If working from home, take the day off! Vote, if you haven’t already! Help others vote! Rally! Protest!
Protest what? Let me explain . . .
First, Abbie Hoffman
In 1971, Abbie Hoffman, a political and social activist, socialist, and revolutionary published a book entitled Steal This Book. Hoffman was one of the Chicago 7, a group of Vietnam War protesters accused of inciting to riot at the 1968 Democratic convention. (All were convicted in a sensational trial, sentenced to 5-year prison terms, and then completely exonerated on appeal.) Many bookstores refused to carry the book, both for its revolutionary content and because it was likely to be stolen. As you can imagine, many readers followed the advice in the title and stole the book. Yet it still sold a quarter million copies over a few months.
So please steal this story. Copy it, paste it, and submit it as your own story. Here is why:
Better to Steal A Story Than to Steal an Election
I want you to steal this story to prevent others from stealing an election. Elections are stolen through voter suppression. Voter suppression seeks to disenfranchise voters in order to change election outcomes. At times, voter suppression has been practiced by both Democrats and Republicans. Current voter suppression is primarily directed at minority voters, poor voters, disabled voters, and young voters. It is widespread. Here are some of the techniques:
Voter ID Laws: The ACLU reports that 21 million American citizens lack government issued identification. They are disproportionately Black, Latinx, and other minorities. In 36 states Voter ID laws prevent these citizens from voting. Poorer Americans (who are also disproportionately minority) have the hardest time getting IDs, because IDs often cost money and time and require transportation. In 2016, a federal court in North Carolina found that North Carolina’s voter ID laws “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.” The Government Accounting Office has estimated that such ID laws reduce voting by 2–3%.
Student ID Laws: Students are often away at school on voting day. Some states prevent students from voting in the state if they are not permanent residents of the state. For example, New Hampshire requires that the voting address where the student is residing on election day be the same as the address on the student’s driver’s license.
Felony Disenfranchisement: Being convicted of a felony can end or limit your voting rights. Some states ban voting only during incarceration, but others ban voting for life, despite the fact that these citizens have paid their so-called “debt to society”. Yet others ban voting until probation or parole has been served. Given the racial biases in the criminal system, these laws disenfranchise Black voters disproportionately. In Iowa, one in four Black men are permanently disenfranchised.
Gerrymandering: Racial and political gerrymandering involves drawing district boundaries in a way that favors the political party currently in power. Today, most gerrymandering is directed at disenfranchising poor, Black, and Latinx voters. As someone once quipped, “Voters should choose their politicians, not the other way around.”
Restrictions of Registration: Many states have laws that make it difficult to register to vote. Some of these laws require registration many months prior to the election, far more time than is conceivably necessary to verify registration information. (In contrast, some states offer same-day registration with no problem.) Tennessee even passed a law that would impose big fines on organizations who register voters if the number of incomplete registrations were over a specified number. (This was subsequently blocked by courts as having a “chilling effect” on voter registration.)
Restrictions on Voting Times: Restrictions on voting times affect poor and minority voters more than they affect more affluent voters. Poor and minority voters have greater difficulty getting off work or voting after work. A number of states have reduced or eliminated early voting and some have restricted the ability to vote by mail.
Restrictions on Voting Places: A number of states have reduced polling places, particularly in minority neighborhoods. The Brennan Center for Justice reports that “Latino voters waited on average 46 percent longer than white voters, and Black voters waited on average 45 percent longer than white voters.” Long waiting times discourage voting, and even more so during a pandemic. In recent elections, some voters have had to stand in line for over four hours to vote.
Aggressive Purging of Voting Rolls. Many states have purged voters from the voting rolls, including those who are legitimately registered to vote. For example, the Secretary of State of Georgia, who was running against a minority candidate, recently removed 300,000 voters simply because the citizens had not voted in a recent election. Since many minority voters and poor voters vote less consistently due to more difficult work and home situations, this practice removes a disproportionate number of minority voters. Many of these removals were mistaken and election authorities often failed to notify voters that they were being removed. Citizens showed up to vote and found that they were no longer registered.
Voter suppression has recently affected election outcomes in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas and most likely in Florida and Georgia. It is one thing to lose an election in the competition for ideas. It is another to lose it through anti-democratic manipulation of the election process. The United States has one of the lowest participation rates in elections.
There are many organizations that are fighting voter suppression. In particular I urge readers to participate in the General Strike on Election Day. That is, stay home, do not work, vote, help others get to the polls. And protest against voter suppression! (There will be a number of events on election day where we can express our opposition to voter suppression.)
We strike because requiring employees to work on election day is one form of voter suppression. By striking we show our opposition to all forms of voter suppression. We also dedicate that day to getting others to the polls. In addition, by striking and voting during the day (if we haven’t already voted by mail) we are freeing up the polls for those who must work and who cannot strike and who must vote before or after work. We also dedicate that day to getting out in the streets to protest the rampant voter suppression that is going on today.
So please go to Strike4TheVote.org and add your name to those supporting the strike.
And then, steal this story.