Voting Rights: Don’t Let Them Divide US

Written by Joe Driscoll

September 23, 2022

Voter suppression.  It’s real, but not for all the divisive reasons politicians lead you to believe.  In recent major elections over 1/3 of eligible voters didn’t get to the polls.  That’s suppressing the vote on a grand scale.  But it wasn’t voter ID laws, registration issues, roll purges or limitations on early voting that were the main culprits, it was the politicians themselves.  In detailed studies conducted by the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and published by National Public Radio after both the 2016 and 2020 elections the surveys revealed that non-voting citizens are disengaged, disaffected, and believe it makes no difference who is elected because things just go on as they as they have in the past.

Over ¾ of the nonvoters said that it would have been easy to vote if that had wanted to vote.

So why didn’t they vote?  The survey revealed

  • Not being registered to vote (29%)

  • Not being interested in politics (23%)

  • Not liking the candidates (20%)

  • A feeling their vote wouldn’t make a difference (16%)

  • Being undecided on whom to vote for (10%)

Put those findings to a personal sanity test.  We all know people who don’t regularly vote.  How many believed their votes wouldn’t make a difference?  How many don’t have photo IDs?

Politicians, provocateurs, and pundits on both side of the isle will make plenty of noise about voter suppression and election fraud in the coming weeks in an effort to divide us for partisan advantage.  But few will address the real cause, and that’s because its them, the many lifelong incumbents who promise but don’t deliver.  Voter suppression is real, not because voting is difficult, but rather because non-voters are disillusioned with the career politicians who will say and do most anything to save their jobs.  #termlimits

Despite all the noise, free and fair elections depend on two fundamental principles: Access and Integrity.  And these two principles are not mutually exclusive.  They are inseparable and complimentary.  Who would want Access to vote if the results lacked integrity.  How could the results have Integrity if eligible voters were denied equal access to vote.  These are basic principles that should be advocated to unite us.

Access.  Years ago, voting took place on election day.  There is an overwhelming consensus that a one day window is too small in today’s world, but would voting more than 30 days in advance of an election be too early?. Voting decisions are ideally made based information that increasingly comes into focus as campaigns sharpen their appeal and candidates debate the issues.  If reasonable people could agree that one day is too little and more than 30 days is unnecessary, would a midpoint, say 15 days be a starting point for an acceptable compromise?  And to take local preferences into consideration, could we agree that 15 days plus or minus 5, creating a 10-20 day window for voting would be responsible.  A 10-20 day voting window combined with a responsible mail-in absentee ballot would be more than adequate for all interested, eligible voters to have reasonable access to cast their ballots.

Integrity.  The integrity of the vote is dependent on a secret ball ballot being cast by an eligible voter with an uninterrupted “chain of custody” to ensure that every vote cast is uncompromised as it goes from the eligible voter to a designated election official.  While the meaning of “chain of custody” and designation of an “election official” are generally not controversial, the qualification of an “eligible voter” unfortunately is.  While voter ID requirements are overwhelming supported by large majorities, voter-ID laws continue to get a lot of attention, and proponents of the law are being drowned out by opponents claiming the laws discriminate against certain voters.  Rather than getting IDs to the people who are supposedly disenfranchised, opponents spend their efforts trying to end the laws.

And meaningful elections depend on Accountability.  Candidates should be elected based on what they say they will do, and re-elected when they do what they say.  #termlimits

Get out the vote and get rid of ineffective, divisive politicians!

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