To the Telegram:
A letter in the Sept 21 Telegram attempted to justify the new onerous voter ID laws.
These laws are actually an attempt by Republicans to discourage the votes of African Americans, elderly, students and the poor.
Although the ID itself is usually not charged for, many of these voters will be required to ascertain other identification to prove their identifies, and receive voter IDs. Some voters will be required to spend money for documents like birth certificates, spending $20 for a new one. Other voters like Ruthelle Frank, an elderly Wisconsin citizen, were required to spend up to $200 to correct faulty documents like her birth certificate, which misspelled the names of her parents. Only vigorous opposition by the ACLU on her part prevented this travesty. Some may consider the amount of $20 to be minimal but imagine going to your polling place and being asked for $20 to cast your vote.
African Americans are much less likely to have documents like drivers licenses. Students, who have lived in a state for several months, may not be able to use student IDs, and States like Ohio tried to restrict early voting opportunities that allowed voters with conflicting work schedules to vote before hand, and therefore, eliminated long, around the block waits in line. Ohio was actually prepared to eliminate this early voting that had accommodated 93,000 voters in 2008 — voters that would normally be more likely to vote for Democrats. But thankfully, a federal judge ruled against the added restrictions. Not surprisingly, all but one of the states pushing for these new ID laws has a Republican governor and Republican-controlled legislature.
The Sept. 21 letter writer listed 15 different activities that require IDs but the freedom to vote is much more special than a library card. She failed to mention none of the other IDs on her list would empower citizens to influence the composition of local, state and federal government, potentially affecting every aspect of their lives and the lives of others.
She also mistakenly referred to voting as a “privilege” — it’s a constitutional right.
Check out Amendments 15, 19, 23, 24 and 26. The 14th Amendment also guarantees each state shall grant its resident’s “equal protection under the laws,” and the 1st Amendment, grants the freedom of speech, which assures our right to vote for the candidates of our choice.
Historically, Democrats and Republicans have been implicated in forms of fraud like stuffing ballot boxes. But, individual voter misrepresentation — the form of fraud Republicans are addressing with these new laws — has been found to be almost nonexistent and poses no real problem.
Isn’t it also paradoxical that the prerequisite documents sometimes needed to obtain an actual state voter ID are not sufficient in themselves to satisfy the identification needed to vote?
Before you jeopardize your right to vote, try reading the constitutional Amendments that guarantee your unimpeded right to do so. The attempts to restrict voting rights are so clearly unconstitutional that its amazing Republicans have the gall to try.
Peter W. Johnson,