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Augustus: Why Requiring an ID to Vote is a Bad Idea

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Ed Augustus, GoLocalMINDSETTER ™

We have to wonder what the true motivation is of recent efforts by Republican lawmakers and tea party activists to install another barrier to voting. That barrier? Requiring each American exercising their RIGHT to vote to have to prove who they are, with a government issued ID. This would make sense if each Election Day we heard of massive voter fraud that had candidates elected with people voting multiple times or ineligible people voting. There is no evidence of this being the case. In fact after a five-year intensive investigation during the Bush administration the Justice Department netted a grand total of 86 voter fraud convictions nationwide during this period.

Most voters I talk to want their elected officials focused on creating jobs and not dreaming up new ways to make lines at the polling places longer, more work and confusion for our town clerks and election workers and less people being involved in our democracy. All of which would result from the imposition of more barriers to voting. Think about all the voters who don’t normally have government issued photo ID’s especially our elderly non-driving citizens. These voters would be forced at their expense and inconvience, to have to go out and get a photo id. This means veterans and good responsible citizens would be presumed to not be who they say they are despite in some cases having voted in the same place for 50 years until they can “show their papers”. 18% of Americans over the age of 65 do not have a photo ID.

There is no doubt that if such a law were passed thousands of long time voters would be turned away and not allow to exercise their RIGHT to vote for not having complied with this new government burden. This is not to mention the cost of a new law like this. The State of Missouri estimates that the cost of issuing new photo ID’s for their recently passed voter id law to be over $ 20 million dollars in the next three years. For what? To prevent the very rare and random person who tries to vote who is not eligible? For that we would waste tax dollars, turn away qualified voters, inconvience citizens? We should instead deal with the real and pressing needs in our communities and states.

Voter fraud is wrong and already illegal!!! There are heavy fines and jail time for those who try to vote multiple times or vote as someone else. With all our pressing problems why are we seeing efforts like this around the country? Because it is part of a political strategy to discourage some populations (particularly minority and younger voters) that have been voting for Democrats from turning out in large numbers. Instead of finding ways of appealing to these voters on the issues some have instead decided it would be easier to just make it harder for their voices to be heard.

In my opinion too many people have sacrificed too much to try and manipulate our election system for one party’s advantage or another. We are a stronger country when all our voices are heard. When both parties and all candidates must make their case to all the people we are a stronger and healthier democracy. That is what our veterans, suffragists and civil rights leaders all sacrificed to make a reality. Anything that would result in less voices being heard would be a betrayal of their sacrifice.

Let’s be honest. We should be dreaming up ways to get MORE people voting and participating in elections not less. Elections should be about the voter and not about the political parties. Thomas Jefferson must be rolling over in his grave. 


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