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Right to Vote
June 6, 2012 - John Stack
What is the one defining characteristic of living in a free democratic society? That would be the right to freely vote for the leaders of our choice. Our leaders are not appointed. They are not in office because they are a particular race, religion, political party, income group, land owner, or gender. We may decry the quality of our representatives, but when it comes down to it, the voters should be expressing the will of the people. What people should are we talking about? We are talking US citizens. 18 years old and up. That’s about it. There are complexities to it all, but that’s the basics.
If we are to pass laws and spend our tax money, where should the money go? Should it go for things that actually do good? That help out many more people than it hurts? This seems to be a pretty simple assumption. Here is an example. Seat belts save lives. Thousands of deaths and injuries have been prevented by the use of seat belts. BUT…some people do get injured by seat belts. What if you got in an accident and your car was on fire and you couldn’t unhook your seat belt. You may very well die because you were wearing your seat belt. Should we start a campaign to ban the use of seat belts because NOT wearing seat belts may save some lives? Of course not. The wearing of seatbelts save lives and prevents injuries over the problems caused by wearing seatbelts by a factor of (lets be conservative here for about the only time in my life) maybe 1,000 to 1.
Now, think of a political party. You are having a tough time broadening the appeal of your message. You are afraid of losing elections because some areas have many more registered voters in the opposite party. Can’t get more of your own party registered. The next best thing is to limit the number of your opponent’s registered voters. Turns out, your opposing party draws much better with black, poor, minorities and new citizens. As luck would have it for you, these groups also happen to be the groups least apt to have photo IDs. It doesn’t take long to figure out by requiring photo ID can disenfranchise ( ie - deprive a person or organization of a privilege, immunity, or legal right, especially the right to vote) a whole lot of your opposition. Heck, you need a drivers license to go to the doctors, to get a checking account, to rent a movie! Yeah! Claim that you are trying to ‘protect the integrity’ of the voting process, throw buffoon James O’Keefe and his Geraldo Rivera-like stunts into the mix and Voila! You get rid of a bunch of voters who won’t vote for you anyway.
Sounds like not only a good plan for your party, but a solid reasoning to back it up. Except…. There are gaps. Look at the 87 year old woman in Wisconsin. Her daughter brought her to the polls, but she could not vote. Why? She had an out of date driver’s license. It was easy to ascertain she was who she claimed to be. She was even on the registration rolls, and probably had been at the same address for decades. But, an out of date photo-id kept her from voting. Now, she’s 87. Probably gets social security. She probably goes to the doctor often. She probably has a checking account of which her social security check gets deposited into. She may even have a video membership she uses. Credit cards. A cell phone. All things you supposedly need an ‘up to date’ ID to have. This woman may not even drive, so may not have a drivers license.
Voter fraud is also extremely rare. There is voter fraud though. But, the vast majority of voter fraud involves absentee ballots, and petition signatures. Neither of these voter fraud problems is even addressed by photo-ID laws. Of the recent big news stories about voter frauds, of those suspected of fraud, only a minuscule amount have turned out to be actual deliberate fraud – and it wasn’t about them having voted, but actually being registered.
James O'keefe is a favorite of the Right. Some of his biggest ‘proofs’ turn out to be completely wrong, or he has mangled the actual truth. Famously, he showed up at a voting precinct and claimed he was Attorney General Eric Holder. He didn’t actually vote, but by some bizarre logic claimed that because it was so easy, it MUST be rampant. A commentator took this to task by saying ‘if you videotape yourself stealing a candy bar at a grocery store, does this prove we need to photo-ID every customer of the store?’ Of course not. In 2 of O’Keefe’s other scheme’s, he found two people who were registered to vote that were not citizens. Let’s just say he was…wrong. Turns out both were naturalized citizens who had previously gotten out of jury duty for being non-citizens. From when they got out of jury duty, until the present, they became citizens. If voter fraud is rampant, you would think such a industrious individual as O’Keefe would be able to actually find some true abuse.
Republican Rick Scott in Florida has been trying to purge rolls of every Latino er..I mean non-citizen from the rolls. Initially Florida claimed 180,000 were possible non-citizens. That later got revised to 2600 possible non-citizens. Of these 2600 possibles, in Dade county, 395 were identified as possible non-citizens. 10 ! Yes 10! Were either non-citizens, or asked to be removed from the rolls. So, lets recap -180,000 were initially to be purged, of which approximately .0004% were taken off the rolls. And this doesn’t even mean there was any criminal intent, nor fraud or abuse. And guess what the vast majority of those to be purged were? Oh yeah. Potential democratic voters.
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