I haven’t blogged in a while because of how I have been feeling, but I thought it would be an interesting topic if I talked about the Voter ID laws going up in more conservative states around the country. The thing about the voter ID laws that gives me quite the chuckle is the fraudulent way in which these laws have been marketed to the American people. Being told that Voter ID laws are needed to stop the problem of voter fraud, a problem that really doesn't even exist. With over 146 million registered voters in this country, in the last three elections there were just over 2,000 cases of alleged voter fraud. I say alleged fraud, because only about 400 of those cases actually involved voter registration fraud.
Now conservatives will have us all believe, that in order to stop this terribly troubling statistic, in 37 states around the country they have imposed laws that require some kind of photo ID to be shown when trying to vote. Of course what they won’t tell you is that this law is really designed to prevent the elderly, disabled, and poor voters, most of which are minorities from having any say in this next election. These classes of people, who have the most to lose if Romney/Ryan gets elected, have been disallowed their right to vote by virtue of a law that is unconstitutional. Let me say this again, because it’s worth noting. Voter ID laws are unconstitutional.
We often hear people refer to some things as privileges, as opposed to rights. You will often hear a parent or police officer say driving is a privilege not a right, but you’ll never hear them refer to voting in this way. That is because voting is a right, not a privilege.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reasons of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
These three amendments to our constitution simply state that no one can be denied the right to vote for any reason, whether it is by color, sex, or class.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
The fourteenth amendment considered the amendment which guarantees all citizens equal protection under the law prevents the federal government or any state from enacting laws which grant rights to specific people and not others.
Furthermore, this was already decided by our Supreme Court in 1966. In Harper v. Virginia board of elections, 383 U.S. 663:
"We conclude that a State violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment whenever it makes the affluence of the voter or payment of any fee an electoral standard. Voter qualifications have no relation to wealth nor to paying or not paying this or any other tax. Our cases demonstrate that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment restrains the States from fixing voter qualifications which invidiously discriminate."
I’ll make a couple points I hope are as interesting to you as they are to me. First, Photo Identification in this country is not free. You must pay a fee or tax in order to have one. It’s considered a privilege, not a right. That is the difference between rights and privileges, privileges always cost you something, and rights cost you nothing, provided you are a citizen of this country. When a state requires a person purchase an ID for any reason, they are stating that any benefits that come as a result of having an ID are also a privilege. For example, getting the ability to drive is a privilege afforded to you by having a driver’s license, a form of photo ID. However, things that extend a privilege are not a requirement to having a constitutional right, that is, you are not required to have photo identification in order to be granted the freedom of speech, or the right to bear arms, or the right to a fair trial. Now some of you may have read that and thought to yourselves that buying a gun most definitely requires a photo ID. Purchasing a gun is not a right, only having the right to own and use one (putting aside a previous argument I've had on the subject), and in no state is it required to have a photo id if purchasing a gun from a private seller. So the reality is that rights and privileges are considered separate entities and protected from one another.
Second, requiring that any citizen pay a fee in order to vote violates a principle on which this country was founded, and a reason why the original thirteen colonies went to war with England: No taxation without representation. Now, although the circumstances are somewhat different, in many ways they are quite similar. When the thirteen colonies concluded that they were being unfairly taxed, indeed without having a representative to speak for them in parliament, the slogan took off and helped to incite a revolution. Today a similar battle is taking place. People are being denied the right to have a representative to speak for them in congress, or the white house because of a tax that is being imposed on them. A principle on which this country we all live in, for which the founders fought for their freedom, and many died to give us all is being subverted by a right-wing agenda that is only concerned with further deepening the pockets of the wealthiest 1% of this country on the backs of the everyone else.
I often hear republican rhetoric which I find myself ignoring most of the time repeating things like, Criticism is un-American, if you criticize the war, you are saying you hate the troops, or saying that anything that goes against the opinion of our government is anti-American. Of course, if any of these piss poor examples of Americans even understood the founding principles of the United States, they would know that none of that is true, and nothing is more un-American than subverting its constitution and founding principles in favor of taking away people’s rights, giving corporations a monetary stake in elections, and allowing the wealthiest 1% of people the ability to decide policies which affect the other 99%.
Under these new voter ID laws, citizens who want to vote in elections are required to have a photo ID. Since in no state in the country are photo IDs free, you must pay to have one. Since you are required to pay for an ID before you may vote, this means that any citizen who wants to vote in one of these states is now required to pay money in order to vote.
I want everyone to really understand what that means, because I've already discussed the differences between privileges and rights. If you want to exercise your constitutional right to vote in an election you must pay a fee to do so.
Now setting aside the many reasons why a citizen might not have a photo ID for a minute, one of the biggest reasons may just be the fact that it’s because it costs money. Now for someone who makes decent money, or needs to be able to drive to work, or have one for some other reason, this is just a tax they pay because they want the privileges it grants them. But for some people, the people who are on food stamps, or disabled with an inability to get to the DMV, or just an inability to afford a $30 fee for a photo ID, for which they have never needed it before, the cost may just be too prohibitive.
These people are the people who are most affected by laws that prohibit their ability to have meaningful lives in this country. That means the 1% who are trying to fix this election to grant themselves tax breaks and loopholes that give them more money can only do so by increasing the tax on the middle class and poor, and reducing the benefits of being a citizen of this country, benefits that only help you if you are one of the 99% who don’t consider themselves wealthy.
Simply put, the people who will be most affected by not voting in this election will be most affected if Romney/Ryan win by virtue of unconstitutional voter ID laws.
See here is the problem. Many citizens of this country believe they live in a democracy, however this is not the reality of the situation. In fact, we live in a republic. That means we elect people to represent us, and they decide how to run the country. Most citizens are often disenfranchised by election results as they come in when watching them on their favorite news network during election night. This is because the popular vote which is often shown can be vastly different than the results shown per state, and this is solely determined by our choice to build this country on the principles of a republic. The Electoral College which is made up of state delegates decides who actually wins elections, not the citizens, something most people are often confused about. And this is where things get hinky, because if this country decided its elections purely on the popular vote, even with voter ID laws in place, republican ideology would be unable to overcome the vast number of liberal and moderate people who believe in common sense and being good as opposed to being ignorant, morally questionable, and wealthy. That’s right, wealthy. Because 99% of the United States is not made of wealthy individuals, nor will it ever be. The majority of people in this country are middle class or poor citizens, and although you can always count on a few bible bashers to vote ideology over common sense, the vast majority would overwhelm them.
So wealthy individuals throw tons of money to buy votes, and when they can rig elections anyway they can. This isn't the first time they have tried to rig elections. They have been accused of trying to rig voting machines in many states over the last 12 years, and even though it’s pretty clear Al Gore won Florida in 2000, George Bush was granted a victory by virtue of badly designed voting machines, voting cards, and a conservative court system. Now although I can’t speak to the ruling by the Supreme Court, by every account the voting machines in minority districts in Florida were the ones affected by the bad chad situation due to the punching mechanism that required a tremendous amount of force to punch the cards, and no feedback as to whether they were actually punched. The cards used were also approved by Katherine Harris, the republican Secretary of State for Florida at the time. The cards were aligned incorrectly so that when a person placed the card in the device, the names did not match up correctly to where they were punched, making some votes invalid completely. Are we to believe that coincidentally the poorest districts in Florida, those with minorities, and mostly elderly registered democrats were given these machines, but all other districts that routinely vote republican were given electronic voting machines that not only allowed a person to vote by a simple push of the button but were given feedback to guarantee the person they cast their vote for was in fact the person they voted for.
You decide for yourself. Ask yourself what a person with a whole lot to gain and nothing to lose will do to ensure they continue to gain, or stand to gain even more should they win an election? Ask yourself if you want to live in a country that values disassembling our constitution? Because should the Tea party republicans be granted a republican white house, and republican congress that is exactly what they will do. Ask yourself what category you fall in: poor, middle-class, minority, female, disabled, elderly, homosexual, young, sick, dying, atheist, intelligent, and good. If you fit into any of these classes of people and you vote republican in the next election, you are voting against your interests. Even if you do not agree with some of Obama’s policies, and you fit into one of these classes of people, voting for Romney/Ryan is like shooting yourself in the foot with your own gun, after you load it and point it at your own foot. I’m going to break it down in simplest terms anyone can understand, no lies, no nonsense. If you vote for Obama and you fit in one of these classes of people, nothing gets worse for you the day after the election or in the next four years after, things only get better. If you vote for Romney/Ryan and you are not healthy, white, and male with more money than you could spend in ten lifetimes, than things will only get worse for you in January and in the next four years. But vastly worse than fucking up your own life, you will fuck up the lives of your children. Education will go down, but costs will go up. Social Security which you are paying into right now, will become insolvent as early as 2016, and by the time you are ready to retire you better hope you stashed away a lot of money and remain healthy because you will be paying for all those medical bills and medications out of pocket, or you will need to get the money from your children who will now have less money to support their families because the economy has been deliberately tanked to broaden the gap between the upper and lower class citizens. I say this because the middle-class will be utterly obliterated.
If you think everything I have said is bullshit, vote republican, but ask yourself this: Is it worth losing the benefits you enjoy now as a citizen of this country, even if by the smallest chance I’m actually right?
I often joke that what we don’t need in this country are voter ID laws, but instead Voter IQ laws, which seek to impose laws that require people who want to vote must be able to pass a simple test on subjects like science, economics, social studies, you know all that shit you learned in school. Now the ridiculousness of my idea is as ridiculous as imposing voter ID laws, except that my idea makes a whole lot more sense than theirs.
If the answer to the first question on the test is anything but C, then you fail and can’t vote.
Question 1: Choose one. Elections are decided by:
C. None of the Above
Ok, that one was too hard, let’s try another question.
Question 2: If you choose an answer at random what is your probability of being correct?
Experience demands that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor. – Thomas Jefferson
An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.—Plutarch
The rich are always going to say that, you know, just give us more money and we'll go out and spend more and then it will all trickle down to the rest of you. But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on. – Warren Buffet, 2010