Saturday, June 2, 2012

Denying Voter Rights in America

So sorry, Charlie, but voter identification laws, such as those passed in Minnesota and Wisconsin, have been made law for only one reason – and one reason only! They will help the Republican Party hold on to power by unfairly disenfranchising qualified voters.
by Charlie Leck

Voter fraud is not a problem in the United States. It is not a significant problem and it isn’t even a minor problem. So, why the rush to pass voter identification laws? If you look you will see that in every case where such laws have been instituted the Republican Party has been in control of the legislative bodies that passed the law. The Republican law-makers have claimed that they only want to protect the “sanctity” of the ballot – that they only want to prevent fraudulent voting.

In fact, voter identification laws impact the little guy who doesn’t drive (because he’s too poor to own a car or secure a driver’s license) and doesn’t have photo ID. The constitutional question is: Should the poor be denied the right to vote? The Republicans argue that they provide all kinds of means for such people to get voter identification. If fact, all of those procedures are very “middle class” and don’t fit the daily life style of those who fall below the poverty level or the lowest educational levels in the state. Is the GOP purpose, then, to prevent the poor and uneducated from voting?

This can not be laughed off as a silly question? It is real and relevant and the Republicans know that most such people – the lower class folks of American society – vote for Democrats. The Republican Party wants to eliminate that voting block from the election; that is, they want to deny certain people the right to vote.

In Minnesota the matter is going on the November ballot as a referendum for a constitutional amendment to require voter identification. It’s odd because the constitution has always been seen as a protector of voting and citizenship rights and not as a disqualifier. A number of organizations and individuals are petitioning the Minnesota Supreme Court to strike the referendum from this year’s ballot. The arguments that will be presented to the state’s high court make perfect sense. Fortunately, we have one of those states that doesn’t have a severely politicized Supreme Court and the petition will be heard fairly.

In case you are interested in the legal points of the argument to the Supreme Court, I’ll list them for you (as outlined by the Constitutional Law Prof Blog) and you can decide for yourself if their argument has merit.

The question on the ballot:
Here’s what language will be used on the Minnesota ballot: “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?”

The argument against the question:
The American Civil Liberties Union in Minnesota (ACLU) is joined by several organizations in this appeal to the state’s Supreme Court, including Common Cause, Jewish Community Action, the League of Women Voters and several individuals. Here’s what they will say in arguments to the Court:

1.       The amendment would require photo ID from “all voters” but the amendment actually only requires it from those who vote in person.
2.      It omits any mention of the “substantially equivalent” verification provision.
3.      It fails to disclose that the proposed amendment would require government issued ID (and not just any ID).
4.      It fails to disclose that the proposed amendment would require provisional voting.
5.      It has a misleading title for the proposed amendment: “Photo Identification Required for Voting.”

Bear in mind that the Minnesota legislature passed the bill that put this on the ballot after the Governor vetoed the Republican sponsored law to institute such voter identification. They did not proceed to a vote to “override” the Governor’s veto. (This is significant!)

In Wisconsin, it’s a different story!
In Wisconsin, the Republican controlled legislature passed the voter identification law and the Republican Governor signed it.

This entire matter is not limited to Minnesota and Wisconsin. The Republican Party, on a nationwide basis, is trying to institute such voting laws in as many states as it can.

Here’s the way E.J. Dionne, a columnist for the Washington Post, summed up the matter:

“The most obvious way of gaming the system is to keep your opponents from voting in the next election. Rigging the electorate is a surefire way of holding on to office. That is exactly what has happened in state after state — Wisconsin is one of them — where GOP legislatures passed new laws on voter identification and registration. They are plainly aimed at making it much more difficult for poorer, younger and minority voters to get or stay on the voter rolls and to cast ballots when Election Day comes.”
click here to read the entire column]

Question: To me, this is all a matter of fairness. Do you want to deny the right to vote to certain people because they are poor (that is, “very poor”)?

Answer: The Republican Party does? I could sugar-coat it, but that is just the way it is.

Where do you stand on constitutional rights? Should they be denied the lowest income five or six percent of the population? What would Jefferson have said? Or Franklin? Or Adams?

Why not become a follower?
If you read my blog regularly, why not become a follower? All you have to do is click in the upper right hand corner and establish a simple means of communication. Then you'll be informed every time a new blog is posted here. If all that's confusing, here's Google's explanation of how to do it! If you don’t want to post comments on the blog, but would like to communicate with me about it, send me an email if you’d like.

No comments:

Post a Comment