Friday, September 22, 2006

Suppress the Vote!

No surprise, Madam Virginia Foxx voted for H.R.4844, the "Federal Election Integrity Act," by which the Madam and the rest of the Republican Party says it wants to "fix" something that isn't broken. They now want us to present picture I.D.s at our polling places, proving that we're U.S. citizens.

I've been through my wallet. I currently have nothing that proves I'm a citizen of this country. Can you prove your citizenship with a picture I.D.? A driver's license won't do it. Madam Foxx and her rubberstampers are very fond of pointing out how easy it is for non-citizens to get an N.C. driver's license.

Anyway, this isn't about hoards of people showing up at polls, impersonating others, and voting illegally. This isn't about anything but suppressing the vote.

The NYTimes said it eloquently day before yesterday:
One of the cornerstones of the Republican Party's strategy for winning elections these days is voter suppression, intentionally putting up barriers between eligible voters and the ballot box. The House of Representatives took a shameful step in this direction yesterday, voting largely along party lines for onerous new voter ID requirements. Laws of this kind are unconstitutional, as an array of courts have already held, and profoundly undemocratic .... The bill was sold as a means of deterring vote fraud, but that is a phony argument. There is no evidence that a significant number of people are showing up at the polls pretending to be other people, or that a significant number of noncitizens are voting .... America has a proud tradition of opening up the franchise to new groups, notably women and blacks, who were once denied it. It is disgraceful that, for partisan political reasons, some people are trying to reverse the tide, and standing in the way of people who have every right to vote.

Locally, the Watauga GOP is all about suppressing the ASU student vote. To wit:

1. In 2004, the local Republican Party appointed Deborah Greene as an assistant precinct judge in Boone 2 precinct, a majority ASU student precinct. Apparently, Ms. Greene meant to challenge, discourage, and generally disrupt student voting, but on the morning of November 2nd, 2004, after she caused her first uproar in the voting enclosure, Ms. Greene was warned that she would be removed as a precinct judge and replaced. There were no more incidents that day.

2. After the results came in for the 2004 elections, and the Republican county commissioners were swept out of office, defeated commissioner Allen Trivette caused bumperstickers to be printed: "SHAME ON YOU, ASU." What did that mean, exactly? "Shame on you students for daring to exercise your constitutional rights to vote in The Land of the Free"? This year Mr. Trivette intends to share his understanding of voter rights with an even younger generation ... if he wins a seat on the Watauga County Board of Education.

3. In 2005, when the local Board of Elections proposed moving another majority ASU precinct, Boone 3, to Farthing Auditorium (from the Agricultural Conference Center), the Republican member of the Board of Elections fought the move with every argument his imagination could gin up ... including his voiced fear that elderly voters might be subjected to pictures of nekkid people in the Catherine Smith art gallery and that there was an increased hazard of forcible rape for female voters on the ASU campus.

We've battled this sort of nonsense for years. In 1990 we were confronted at our own polling place by a "requirement" that we fill out an "application" for a ballot, an extra step someone had evidently thought up to discourage new voters motivated by the candidacy of Harvey Gantt against Jesse Helms. We refused to fill out the "application" "Oh," the poll workers said, and let us vote anyway. How many other people didn't know they could refuse such illegal harassment?

In past elections, ASU students were illegally harassed when they were singled out to produce photo I.D.s. Some of them with driver's licenses from other states feared they wouldn't be allowed to vote, though they were properly and legally registered. It was illegal at that time to single out students and demand they provide photo I.D.s ... unless ALL voters were asked for the same identification.

There are those -- Mr. Trivette and others -- who don't want students voting on principal. "If they weren't born here, they got no business voting in our elections." Well gosh. Voter registration statistics in Watauga County now reveal that a majority of registered voters here were not born in this county. Shall we disenfranchise them all? Fortunately, the Supreme Court disagrees. In 1979 (Symm v. U.S.), the high court ruled that college students have every right to vote where they are in residence for school. To disenfranchise them because they intend to move elsewhere upon graduation, or because they don't own real estate in Watauga, or because they're not likely to vote for Mr. Trivette is just simply unconstitutional.

As is, likely, the proposed law that Madam Foxx and her self-righteous brethren voted for the other day ... to make us PROVE we're citizens in order to vote.

No comments: