A solution to a nonexistent problem: voter ID laws

In Opinion, Top Stories
Courtesy of MCT

 

The year is 2012. We can all agree on that, right? It’s a fact.

Now that the year has been established can anyone answer why the country is still undergoing a struggle for one of our most basic rights as citizens?

Another fact: there is an effort taking place today to remove at least 2,100 names off of Ohio voter rosters. The right to vote should not be eligible for debate nor be threatened by anyone aiming to take it away.

The Civil Rights movements have all come and gone; they are now pages in history books. As a country, we have come a long way by eliminating poll taxes and allowing women and former slaves the right to vote. The fight for voting rights should be a thing of the past, as well.

Sadly it is not.

As a natural skeptic, I do not believe in wild coincidences—especially when politics are involved. So, when looking more closely into the subject of today’s new fad of trying to shrink the electorate, it doesn’t seem very coincidental to me that the right wing is responsible for acting on new ballot fraud suspicions. It’s not by chance that Republicans are claiming that what Democrats and Libertarians are calling a “voter suppression drive” is merely a “citizen movement to prevent ballot fraud”.

The fact is, that while the majority of Republicans are ready to implement new voting rules, making it difficult for many to vote, such fraud has been denied by the Republican secretary of state who claimed to know of no more than “a handful” of fraudulent votes over past few presidential elections in an article in the Los Angeles Times.

While voter fraud is hard to monitor, we can track how many allegations have been filed and how many people convicted. An independent study by journalism students conducted in August found that there’s been 2,068 alleged cases of voter fraud since 2000.

Only 10 of those cases involved voter impersonation.

Or this fact: The Brennan Center for Justice, a New York law university, found that there is no documented trend of voter fraud increase. In 2004, voter fraud in Ohio happened 0.00004 percent of the time. It seems you are more likely to get struck by lightning than commit voter fraud.

Basically, voter fraud rarely occurs and certainly not enough to cause this much investigation and pause on certain citizens’ rights to vote. This is a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist.

If we have a hard enough time trying to get the public to vote much less register to do so, obviously no one is going to take the time to vote fraudulently. Sadly, most people just do not care enough. Where the real crimes take place is among those involved and invested with the procedures of voting.

According to the LA Times, the majority of these threats have been aimed at college students, trailer park residents, homeless people and African-Americans in counties which President Obama won in 2008. It should come as no surprise that Romney supporters are all for minimizing voter turnout. After all, when it comes to college students and African-American voters, Obama has him beat.

There have even been reported cases of college students being removed from rosters for something as trivial as failure to identify their dorm room numbers. Currently 284 students at the Ohio State University campus in Columbus, 110 students at Oberlin College, 88 students at the College of Wooster, 38 students at Kent State have been deemed ineligible to cast their ballots this coming November.

California voters aren’t necessarily under the same threat due to it being a lost cause for the right wing. Ohio, however, is not only a swing state but also pulls tens of thousands of African-American voters.

Now it has to worry about poll watchers fighting to making voters in the state jump through hoops just to get their vote to count. The main group responsible for this is The Ohio Voter Integrity Project, similar to Texas’ True the Vote group, both fronts for Republican and Tea Party voting groups.

Tim Burke, chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party said, “Too much of this is going on for this not to be a coordinated effort,” while Reverend Rousseau A. O’Neal (one of a group of black ministers from Cincinnati who provided buses to take African Americans to the polls in 2008) said, “Bigotry of the highest order” is involved. Whether or not that’s true is up for you to decide.

But, I will leave with one final fact: The Ohio Voter Integrity Project has questioned registration in 13 counties and, in 2008, Obama won nine of them.

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