Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be
There was once a time when you had to own property to vote. During that time, only white land owners were able to cast a ballot for representation, despite the fact that they were not the only people who would be governed. Now in 2012 ,there is a rash of legislation sweeping the country, swing states in particular, attempting to disenfranchise voters once again not with a poll tax or a test, but with a state identification card.
Once upon a time, you had to be a man to vote. There are many here who forget that women have only had the ability to cast a vote for 92 years, despite the fact that our country was founded 236 years ago.
There was once a time when would be voters, well not all would be voters, had to either pay something called a “poll tax” or pass a literacy test in order to vote. See if you can guess where those particular laws were aimed.
The idea that Republicans are attempting to change the voting laws in states like Pennsylvania, Florida, and Wisconsin, so close to the Presidential election, is ill timed at best and racially driven at worst.
Some rights are so inherent to our very being as American Citizens that there is no law that can be made to take them away or infringe unfairly on your ability to exercise them.
Voting is one of those rights.
In Pennsylvania, a state rich with 21 electoral votes, the Republican majority in the State Congress passed a voter ID bill, with no Democrats voting with them, this past spring. The effect of this law was to potentially disenfranchise voters, many of whom are minorities, elderly or impoverished. Trying to give the Republicans the benefit of the doubt and casting the law itself in the best possible light, one could come to the conclusion that they are a state truly concerned with in person voter fraud and that the effect of the law has the racial and impoverished connotations. 
That’s only if viewed in the best light which this law clearly does not deserve. It required that each voter have a state issued ID to vote. Seems simple enough. The proponents of the law claim that, if you can’t buy cigarettes, alcohol or get on a plane without ID, why not to vote?
What’s the big deal?
Here’s the problem: The law was implemented in March of this year, prior to the Presidential election this fall…In that time frame, citizens without the proper ID were required to go to their local Penn DOT (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation) and simply pick it up. Simple, right?
It’s not so simple, because there simply isn’t enough time. Pennsylvania is providing the ID itself for free, which is nice, but someone has to go and get it.
PennDOT operates as most state bureaucracies do. It’s open Monday through Friday, 7:30 am to 4:30 pm, and one or two open Saturdays from 7:30 am to Noon.
There are many people who don’t drive, can’t get rides and must spend hours on the bus just to get to there. Once there, they are often in line for hours, as voter ID is not the only service PennDOT provides.
If you work, and don’t have the liberty of taking a three hour lunch break, or paid time off, you may have to choose between voting and getting paid for the day.
For those who live paycheck to paycheck with a family to feed, that’s a burden that other more affluent Americans don’t have to bear.
The consensus on the Right, amplified by Mr. Romney’s “47%” comment, is that people who don’t have ID are shiftless and are failing to take responsibility for themselves.
However, as the ruling from the Pennsylvania court points out, there isn’t enough time to issue everyone an ID, as the law was implemented 7 months ago, and has been in the courts ever since.
I imagine a law of this magnitude, requiring everyone to have an identification that they didn’t have before, needs more time for proper implementation. At any rate, it needs more than 7 months.
The GOP has a clear disdain for anyone who is not the right color or sex, and a rampant history of trying to stop minorities and women from voting.
They expect that we’ll believe them when they say that there is so much voter fraud that a law of this magnitude and potential to disenfranchise part of the electorate is necessary….immediately.
However, this is actually a non emergent situation. The proponents of the Pennsylvania law had to admit in court under oath that the state has never had an in-person case of voter fraud.
If they’re serious about it, they can have it ready for the midterms in 2014. However, my guess is that they aren’t that serious. Conservatives tend to vote more in the midterms, they won’t put too much effort into it for that election.
The issue hadn’t really come up until this upcoming election, when Republicans, by their own admission, couldn’t find any fraud, at least not by organizations or people that they weren’t hiring to register voters.
Here’s a piece of unsolicited advice to the GOP. As D.L. Hughly once said:
“[I]f you want me to come to your party, you have to invite me.”
Telling half of the country that they don’t take responsibility for themselves and are freeloaders is not an invitation.
Attempting to remove rights from us because you don’t like our opinion and you assume we’re too stupid to cast a vote is not an invitation.
Minorities, in general, don’t trust you…at all. The GOP has done nothing to earn that trust either, with their deceitfulness. Nor have they made real attempts to change their ways with minority communities.
I suspect the reason Obama is winning has less to do with voter fraud and more to do with the fact the GOP is flat out untrustworthy and deceitful.
The GOP has a long way to go with people of color, immigrants and women. Perhaps you should attempt to use civility and demonstrate some respect for the validity of our votes as a way to earn them rather than deny them.