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May 23, 2014

When Common Sense Is Lost

Joe Charlebois

Many issues in the public arena that will be brought before the voter this federal election cycle boil down to the use of common sense on one side to the use of epithets to marginalize the opposition on the other.


The use of nonsensical and demeaning language to silence one’s opponents is not a new concept, but it is time for those with winning arguments to stand up to the bullying.


One of the issues of recent concern is voter ID laws. This pits one side looking to uphold laws and defend the Constitution against those who seek to make it easier to perpetrate criminal activity by demonizing those who care about electoral integrity.


State voter ID laws are by no means consistent throughout the states. Outside of a federal law that does require photo ID for first time voters, each state’s board of elections set the parameters for presenting one’s self at their polling place. This year alone, according to the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL), voter ID legislation has been introduced in 24 states.


According to the NCSL, there are eleven states with strict ID laws. Eight states have strict Photo ID laws, and three have strict Non-Photo ID laws. There are 20 states with less strict ID laws. Eight of these states have non-strict Photo ID laws while 12 have non-strict, Non-Photo laws. The remaining 19 states – including Maryland and its neighboring states of West Virginia and Pennsylvania – currently require no documentation to vote.


With all of the issues in elections both large and small over the years that may have been affected by a small number of votes, we as citizens of individual communities, states and the United States should – by all possible means – ensure that each and every election is honest and fair.


Opponents of voter ID laws, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and NAACP, would lead one to believe that these laws are only instituted to suppress voting in certain communities. In fact the ACLU calls Voter ID laws “voter suppression laws.”


The ACLU claims that these laws would disproportionately affect “African-Americans, the elderly, students and people with disabilities.” Clearly the ACLU thinks very little of these groups as evidenced in its condescending statement. It reveals the idea that African-Americans, the elderly, students and those with disabilities are too incompetent to attain a method of identification. Ironically those who call these laws “racist” are themselves guilty of using stereotypes exemplifying the epitome of soft bigotry.


In 1964 the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren ruled that populations of districts should contain near equal numbers of citizens. The court used the concept of “one man, one vote” to fix the malapportioned representation within certain state’s House of Representative districts. At the time some states allowed districts to be unevenly distributed in terms of population. This in turn gave greater political clout to chosen legislative districts while giving less to those typically heavily populated with minorities.


As it was with the Warren ruling, when there is any corruption within the electoral system through illegal representation at the polls, measures should be put in place to assure that the concept of “one man, one vote” remains true.


The opposition to these laws ignores the fact that fraud does exist. In fact, one of the strongest opponents of voter ID legislation is the ACLU. In their essay entitled “Fighting Voter Suppression,” the ACLU contradicts itself when it argues “…proponents of such voter suppression legislation have failed to show that voter fraud is a problem anywhere in the country. Aside from the occasional unproven anecdote or baseless allegation, supporters of these laws simply cannot show that there is any need for them.”


One paragraph later in their ill-argued column, the ACLU points out that fraud does exist! Here is what they said: “…the federal government obtained only 26 convictions or guilty pleas for fraud between 2002 and 2005. And other studies of voter fraud consistently find that it is exceedingly rare – a 2007 Demos study concluded that “voter fraud appears to be very rare” and a 2007 study by the Brennan Center found that “by any measure, voter fraud is extraordinarily rare.” The Voting Rights Project will continue to fight these laws that disenfranchise millions of eligible voters without any legitimate justification.


The ACLU, and those who consider themselves leaders in protecting American’s rights, blatantly ignores the fact that any vote cast fraudulently disenfranchises another American’s most precious privilege and duty. The opponents of voter ID are protecting those who violate the voting laws of this country.


Nowhere in the United States is there a state that denies the right of anyone legally allowed to vote based on their race, ethnicity age or sex. Those without a cogent argument or proof that anyone is being turned away from the polls due to race, sex or age must resort to name calling and epithets. Since their argument allows for voter fraud, they are intent on disparaging their opponents by any means necessary.


Supporters of the “one man, one vote” concept and voter ID laws need to stand up to the Alinsky-style attacks that label them racist and follow through on ensuring electoral integrity.


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