Out of My Mind, April 12, 2012

Shouldn’t we be making it easier to vote, not harder?

Thank God we live in Washington State where the legislature hasn’t attempted to tamper with our voters rights like several other states in the U.S. have.
While making sure that voter fraud is held to a minimum is a good thing, these other states, dominated by Republic legislatures, are out to try and solve a problem where none exists. When asked to quote how often voter fraud has been a problem, these legislators cannot cite specific cases. Or they give hazy numbers so low as to be laughable in light of the number of current, legal voters who they are putting roadblocks in front of – especially when they are in a class of people who often vote Democrat. However, these laws requiring government picture IDs often leave out more than just the young and minorities. These laws also affect the elderly who have never driven or have given up their licenses. In some states people who have voted with no issues for over 50 years are now ineligible unless they go and get one of a narrowly defined group of identifications that “prove” they are a citizen.
The framers of the Constitution did not set an explicit definition of citizenship in that all so important document. Voters rights were not even mentioned in the original U.S. Constitution. According to usconstitution.net, it wasn’t until the 14th Amendment that a standard was set where all males 21 and over had the right to vote. The 15th Amendment guaranteed all males over 21 could vote, regardless of race and the 19th Amendment guaranteed women the vote. The 24th Amendment prohibited poll taxes in voting for federal representatives and the 26th Amendment lowered the age to 18.
No where do the framers, our country’s Founding Fathers that so many Conservatives act like they are channelling, require any kind of identification whatsoever. So why do so many Republican-controlled statehouses all of the sudden want to make it harder for its citizens to vote or even register to vote? If there is no proven widespread voter fraud in their states there can only be one reason. They want to limit the vote to people they think will vote for them or for people who think just like them. This makes a mockery of the representative type of government “We the People” deserve.
To require people to pay for a government photo ID, something that many of us who drive or have U.S. Passports take for granted, is an obligation not imposed by our Founding Fathers. If these states feel they need such an identification, and we’re not saying we agree they should, then they should provide a means where their citizens should be able to get one for free. To require they pay or don’t get to vote means only one side is heard and it is just plain wrong – you might as well bring back poll taxes.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He has a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.

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