Protecting Your Vote

Protecting Your Vote

I'm missing it. Maybe someone can explain. What's the big deal about requiring voters to provide identification? And, it is a big deal. The U.S. Attorney General's office looks like it's going to challenge every state that has such requirements. And, the NAACP has approached the United Nations Human Rights Division (Syria is a member) to investigate deprivation of voting rights of U.S. citizens.

  Are the protestors and so-called "advocates" saying that non-whites and poor people (I guess those are two definitions of minorities) are stupid? That seems to be the argument. They're too dumb to be able to get documents to show who they are. I don't buy that. The poor I know seem to know how to navigate the system perfectly well - whether white or non-white.  My observation is that people, however you label them, are smart enough to make their way in the world although not everyone is as successful as another. On the other hand, call them stupid often enough and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Dependency does that. By the way, almost every state has laws preventing those who have been found mentally incompetent from voting. These aren't the people we're talking about.

  Voting is important. We should be alert to preventing any person or any system from blocking anyone from voting systematically or other wise. We should also be alert to preventing someone who is voting who isn't who they say they are. It isn't enough to say that there is no evidence that voter fraud has been extensive under the no id system. Without proper id no one really knows. With proper id you can still bus to the polls people who have never voted and don't really care but will do what they're told and it would still be legal. That's as long as they are U.S. citizens, live in the district in which they are voting, and aren't otherwise ineligible (felons, i.e.).

  In the meantime, most citizens have to flash identification papers when they board planes, cash checks, get debit or credit cards, buy an alcoholic drink, drive a car, apply for welfare, or social security, make some transactions at banks, go to a doctor's office or hospital, own property, or perhaps rent property, take out a loan, go to school, or when asked by the police (you don't have to in every instance). Are all of those actions discriminatory? Maybe they're just more important than voting.

  Oh, yes. I remember the Jim Crow days. These aren't them. I also remember the ballot stuffing days of the great city political machines. Chicago helped out JFK quite a bit, by the way. I also know that even in smaller jurisdictions, "ballot control" was prevalent where one party controlled everything. Counting paper ballots was not only a task, but an opportunity. A piece of pencil lead under the fingernail could do wonders on a paper ballot. Not everyone did this, but "watchers" checked fingernails anyway. It appears that much of that has gone away, particularly with electronic voting. However, I'm waiting for a big hacking scandal to break out somewhere. It's too tempting and inevitable.

  In the meantime, we've got a growing population (300,000,000 plus in the U.S.), a lot of immigrants, legal and illegal, and a more transient population than we've ever had. It's easy to move about. It's even easy to pretend you are someone you aren't. Yet, every citizen has the right to vote and should have. It's a precious right that is destroyed by anyone who votes who is not entitled to vote. Asking for id, even a photo id, is not too much to ask to protect the voting rights for all of us.