One Person, One Vote Makes Widespread Fraud Unreal
Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 01:04
Recent efforts around the country to obscure the path to voter participation underscore the necessity to add a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to each citizen to vote in our country to vote. Not just each citizen who can jump over the hurdles placed in front of them.
You might think that living in a country that places so much emphasis on the values of freedom and liberty would also arm their citizens with more than the right to speak freely and carry a concealed weapon around campus. Yet, when it comes to the biggest tool individual citizens have to change who gets to be in charge—voting—the dirty underbelly of the Don’t Tread on Me snake shows itself in our country’s lack of consensus on voting rights.
A recent dustup over voting rights in Colorado stems from Secretary of State Scott Gessler attempting to block sending ballots out to voters deemed inactive/failed to vote, taking advantage of a state statute that allows only active voters to be sent ballots.
His actions are part of a recent pattern on behalf of Republican interests that stems back to the Bush administration’s accusation of widespread fraud that resulted in less than 100 convictions out of hundreds of millions of potential voters.
It may seem like a prudent rule to some, but it shouldn’t mean squat in the realm of allowing people to vote. Living in and being a citizen of this country should be all that matters in voting. As a citizen, I am allowed to vote and therefore should be considered an active voter. If I decide to pass on an election for personal or political reasons, Mr. Gessler or anyone else should not have the power to decide the parameters under which one of their fellow citizens participates in voting.
If there are voter fraud issues to be rooted out, then by all means our state election commission should utilize all resources necessary to do so. Disenfranchising thousands of voters in order to chase down the handful of criminals who errantly vote is like trying to find a needle in a haystack by lighting it on fire.
Over the centuries, voting rights have ebbed and flowed and culminated with The Voting Rights Act of 1965, which declared any means of voter discrimination unlawful. Yet here we are in 2012 with special interests chipping away at the very symbol of democracy.
A report disseminated by the Brennan Center for Justice—a nonpartisan institution focusing on issues of democracy and justice—found the adoption of legislation that restricting voting that has swept up the nation could affect more than five million Americans in the 2012 elections. The report notes that number is larger than the margin of victory in two of the past three presidential elections. These rules that tamper voter turnout are an unnecessary alternative to the punitive ramifications currently on file to deal with fraud.
Similar to aviation rules that make interfering with crew orders a criminal offense, or the warning before every recorded movie about copyright fraud, there are harsh penalties for those who break the law to fraudulently vote. People will occasionally test the limits, but unlike terrorists storming a cockpit, there aren’t enough zealots able to crash through the retired librarian-cum-election monitor seated at the fold-up table to sway an election in any meaningful way. If leaders were so interested in protecting the integrity of the vote, maybe they should start with those automated voting machines that have been proven vulnerable to individual attack, rather than blanket fiats that unfairly discriminate against fellow citizens.
It has been said that states are the laboratories of democracy in our country. They are also home to some pretty ham-fisted and ass-backwards thinking when it comes to actually governing their supposedly free constituents. Colorado can and should resist efforts by Mr. Gessler to disenfranchise voters while maintaining a fair election for all of those eligible to participate.