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JAMMED! Voter Suppression Hits Pawnee, Indiana?

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November 15, 2013

As any fan of NBC’s Parks and Recreation knows, Pawnee Councilwoman Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) loves democracy. But just how much?

On last night’s episode, the voting wars arrive in Pawnee, Indiana, where a contentious recall election is imminent. Councilman Jamm (Jon Glaser), Leslie’s archnemesis, introduces a strict ID bill for (what he thinks is) his political gain: Anyone wanting to vote in the recall election would need to present ID that shows a Pawnee address. You see, Pawnee recently incorporated nearby Eagleton, and Jamm thinks former Eagleton residents are more likely to vote for Leslie.

Even more nefarious, he calls a secret special session to try and pass the bill without notice. When Leslie finds out, she filibusters, Wendy Davis-style, except with roller skates and not pink sneakers since, obviously, Leslie was headed to an early-90s themed birthday party. Art uncannily imitates life: Texas passed its extreme photo ID law on an expedited schedule and with fewer votes than is customary. The law requires the name on one’s ID to be “substantially similar” to the name on the rolls, which is far more likely to affect women, since they are more likely to change names upon a marriage or divorce. And indeed, just a couple of weeks ago, Wendy Davis had to sign an affidavit attesting to her identity to cast a ballot.

In the course of her filibuster Leslie finds out that former Eagletonians are planning to support another candidate and, oh-doy, the voter suppression law would actually help Leslie preserve her seat. As she ponders her potential political demise, she realizes–spoiler alert–that “the right to vote is fundamental in any democracy” and is far more important than any one person, and powers through her filibuster despite her hunger, sweat, and spontaneous margaritas (you have to watch).

(The State of Indiana could have used a few Leslie Knopes, as it was the first in the country to pass a strict photo ID law, which the Supreme Court later upheld in Crawford v. Marion County). This fictional politician understands better than some of our real ones that protecting the right to vote transcends partisanship. All of us, regardless of political persuasion, should zealously guard the right to vote–a right “preservative of all rights.”

Check out the Leslie’s filibuster below and to learn more about voting rights go to


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