By Tom Ehrich

My father was a “Taft Republican,” the conservative wing of the GOP led by Sen. Robert Taft.

When Gen. Eisenhower prevailed at the 1952 GOP convention, my father loyally began to work for Ike’s election.

Most important, he worked every election at the voting station near our home in Indianapolis. He considered it his civic duty. I never agreed with his political views, but I admired him greatly for doing that election day duty, making sure that every citizen who wanted to vote got the opportunity to vote.

I get it that the presidential candidates will spend the next two months saying the worst possible things about each other. These are toxic times in American political discourse.

But I am appalled and angered by reports that the Republican Party is doing everything possible to deny citizens the right to vote. As the Speaker of the House is quoted as saying, they will consider it good if blacks and Hispanics stay home on election day. A top official in Ohio is quoted as bragging that his state will suppress so many voters that this swing state will go solidly Republican.

Across the nation, states are raising barriers to voting. They claim they are combating voter fraud. But when researched, it turns out their states have had hardly any voter fraud, and the steps they are taking won’t reduce voter fraud, but will discourage, if not banish, citizens who might vote for President Obama.

This is grotesque and dangerous. Too many men and women gave their lives and risked their lives in combat to preserve democracy – and that means, more than anything else, the right to cast a ballot in free elections. Too many people fought to achieve voting rights for women and for the descendants of former slaves. Too many immigrants fought through horrible prejudice to achieve citizenship, the hallmark of which is the right to vote.

To take away people’s voting rights because you don’t like their political leanings is a perversion of everything America stands for.

It sickens me to think that the party of Lincoln, Taft and Eisenhower is so desperate for power that it will cheat citizens of their right to vote.