A Democracy in Peril – Film Examines Voter Suppression

Amid the bomb throwing of charges and countercharges that has become what passes today for political discussion, a couple of positions have hardened. When the elections of 2016, 2018, and 2020 come up, Republicans cry, “Voter Fraud!”, while Democrats shout back, “Voter Suppression!”  Those who have become tired of the noise have started to demand of both sides, “Show us your evidence.”

To date, the case that widespread voter fraud is a danger has not been made by the Right; in fact, the mere existence of voter fraud has yet to be conclusively demonstrated.  The Left is doing somewhat better documenting voter suppression.  A case in point is “Rigged: The Voter Suppression Playbook”, which will be shown at Niles Discovery Church at 1:30 pm on July 1300 and following by a facilitated audience discussion.

Directed by Michael Kasino, written by Timothy Smith, and narrated by Jeffrey Wright, the film goes back to 2008, after the election of Barrack Obama, and traces the decade-long development by Republican operatives of plans to make it harder for people of color to vote.

“Rigged” shows the tactics that have been used: the closure or early closing of polling places in Democratic districts, the purging of voter rolls to eliminate groups of people based on questionable or frankly spurious grounds, voting machines which conveniently malfunction, strict and arbitrary voter i.d. laws, and that old standby—gerrymandering.

There are interviews with people affected by voter suppression, among them a woman made homeless by a hurricane who struggled to relocate and get a legal address in time for the election, only to arrive at the polling place and discover her name had been purged for no discernible reason.  Also giving their take are officials and others trying to eliminate voter suppression, as well as people involved in the making of the documentary.  The history of voting policy and current challenges to its integrity are richly illustrated with archival footage of political figures from Lyndon Johnson to Donald Trump.

For Screenwriter Smith, the goal of the documentary was “to show audiences that this is happening — and too few people are noticing.” By the end of “Rigged”, all but the most hardened skeptics will be convinced that that voter suppression is real—and so are its dangers.

The Second Saturday Documentary Series is co-sponsored by Niles Discovery Church and the San Jose Peace and Justice Center. Learn more about the series at bit.ly/nilesssds.

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