There’s no better case for Australia’s compulsory voting system than the current wave of voter suppression laws sweeping the United States.
In the late 1800s, after African Americans were given the vote, Southern states made it a requirement that voters pass a literacy test and pay a fee to vote. It took the Supreme Court until 1966 to rule these methods of voter suppression unconstitutional.
This year, in this election, Americans in 32 of 50 states will be required to present identification in order to vote. They will be required to show photo ID in 17 states, including the crucial swing states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida and New Hampshire.
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It’s a lonely and worrying business being racist. There are no signposts guiding the way to the Baptist church that is the headquarters of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, in the backwoods of Harrison, in northern Arkansas.
A local farmer says to cross a small bridge, turn left at a hump and then follow the dirt track down a few miles. “You won’t find any blacks around here,” he laughs.
Past a rundown farmhouse with a shiny new black hog parked outside, this is deep Confederate country. Probing further, past ratty chook pens, there are white-tailed deer grazing openly off the track, seeming to carry the conceited knowledge that hunting season doesn’t begin till September 15.
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