Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Whose right to vote?

Most Americans grew up hearing that it was not only important to vote, it was our duty. Parents sometimes took kids along to the polls to prepare us to appreciate an act guaranteed by the Constitution and the bravery of our military.

Parents taught us that if you don't vote, you have no right to complain. Voting makes you an important citizen because you can influence life in the U.S.

Modern politics have changed things to the point that some state legislatures are actually seeking to restrict the ability of Americans to fulfill their civic duty.

Across the country, legislatures have introduced anti-voting legislation that disproportionately affects the poor, especially those of color.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, the assumption is that when they vote, they must be cheating the system.

An incredible number of these new proposals are simply undemocratic. Texas allows gun owners to use their gun identification to vote, but students may not use their state-issued student IDs.

Some states are abandoning early voting because the resulting large turnouts cost too much. And now the Republican-dominated legislature in Pennsylvania seeks to divide its electoral-college votes in such a way that the votes of different people would be worth different amounts.

No wonder Will Rodgers felt better when the legislature was out of session.

Most of us cannot imagine having our right to vote challenged. For most of us, our education and economic standing most likely guarantee that our rights will be protected. What we owe each other in this constitutional republic is to protect every citizen's right to vote as well.

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