Politics Explained: Voter ID Laws

Voter ID laws have a habit of coming to the forefront of political news around election time for obvious reasons. Republicans claim that there exists massive amounts of voter fraud that undercuts the legitimacy of the voting process, and Democrats claim that Voter ID laws is nothing more than a Republican conspiracy to keep minority democrats from voting. It seems that both sides need to do a little more homework.

Normally, I like to take issues that I feel are clear cut and explain why I feel that I’m right and express my disbelief that anyone would disagree. I had every intention of doing that with Voter ID laws, but in preparing to write the post I found that the issue was not as simple as it seems. Instead of shying away from the topic because I will admit that I don’t know the answer, I decided that I should share what I know and together we can discuss a solution.

Before I continue much further, in the words of our 44th president, “let me be clear” about what we are talking about here when it comes to Voter ID laws. A Voter ID Law is any law put into place that requires a voter to present some form of identification upon voting. Depending on the state, that could be as little as a utility bill, or as much as a government issued photo ID (like a driver’s license).

Proponents of Voter ID laws feel that something as foundational to American democracy as voting should be protected. You have to show your ID to buy a beer, get on a plane, even when making credit card purchases; why not show your ID when you vote? The main purpose for presenting some form of ID when you vote is to prevent people from taking advantage of the system in a manner labeled “voter fraud.”

As it stands now, in states that don’t require any form of ID when voting, voter fraud is possible. As you may be aware, in such states (which is most states) to vote, all you need to do is register, which can be done by mail in many cases and requires no photo ID. However, as is the case in California, you need to include some sort of identification number with your mail in registration form(Drivers License number, SSN, etc.). When you register, your name goes on to a list that is then given to the volunteers at the polling stations on election day. If you forgot to add some sort of identification number on your registration to prove you weren’t registering a fake or dead person, then any form of ID (utility bill, drivers license, etc.) is required for the first time you vote.

Seems pretty secure right? Well, what if your grandmother was a registered voter and she died shortly before the election? Chances are, her name is not removed from that list meaning you could go up to the poll, say “Hi my name is [grandma]” and cast a ballot in her name. “Well, that’s silly,” you might be thinking, “I don’t know about your county, but our county has the most effective bureaucracy and things like the death of registered voters is taken care of right away.” Well, to you I say, never move from that county because the world isn’t that perfect.

But to the citizens of bureaucratically effective counties, how about this scenario? A person  goes to work on election day and is talking with a co-worker about how they don’t really care about voting this year, or about how, for some reason, they just won’t be voting. For a person dedicated to the cause of casting extra ballots, it would not be that difficult to discern where the person was supposed to vote and then just go there before the polls close and vote in that person’s name. Or, as it has happened in Mississippi, people can offer to pay people for their vote. One more thing that I thought was interesting. In California, one of the forms of ID you can show at the poll (when you vote for the very first time) is the sample ballot that they send to your house. That makes sense right? I mean the government sent a letter to a person on their records so it must be valid. But how did the name get on the records? By voter registration forms. So you’re telling me that I can fill out a voter registration form by mail, not include any ID number, sign it Mr. John Lies-a-lot, and have the government mail something to Mr. John L. and use that as my ID? (I would love for someone to clear that up for me by the way). But for now it is just something to consider.

As you can see, voter fraud is not by any means impossible, and Republicans will be throwing examples like this around to prove to you that this is an epidemic of epic proportions. To be quite honest, voter fraud doesn’t happen as often as is claimed, but why not just build your defenses before you’re attacked?

Well, here’s the general Democrat response. They make the claim Voter ID is inherently discriminatory. The people who would be affected by this are people who don’t have government issued IDs, which means lower class minorities (who also happen to vote democrat most of the time). Arguments against Voter ID laws also call to the fact that this may be considered a poll tax (having to pay to vote) which is strictly unconstitutional.

With the first argument about it being discriminatory, that’s for you too decide. If you think that this is a plot to suppress Democrat voters, then call it discriminatory. If you think that it’s a way of securing the integrity of the voting process, then you can probably dismiss that argument. By that I mean, dismiss the conspiracy theory, but keep in mind that the opponents of Voter ID laws are not exaggerating when they say that a majority of those affected are the poor. Which brings us to our last issue. How do we force people to get IDs in order to vote without making it a poll tax, because you can’t force people to buy something in order to vote.

So, we could just give them out for free. But just like everything else labeled “free” from the government, that means more taxes for you. Are we willing to do that? Well, fine then we will give them out only to the poor as part of a welfare program, but they need to prove that they are poor enough before they get their free ID. But does this not place too much of a burden on the poor who already struggle to take time out of their day to even make it to the polling station? Would that discourage voter registration among the poor, and is that a consequence we are willing to accept?

Before I make my final comments, keep in mind that proponents for Voter ID laws come from every party. According to a recent poll, 52% of Democrats,74% of Independents, and 87% of Republicans feel that voter ID laws are necessary.

So here is my suggestion, then I would ask you to please leave your ideas either in the comment box or on the People v. Ignorance Facebook Page.

I personally feel that regardless of whether or not voter fraud is common in America right now, that is now excuse to have a system that can be taken advantage of. The right to vote has been fought for too many times for us to simply let this issue fall by the wayside. We need to require photo IDs too vote; voting is just that important. But we can’t cast out our poor like this. That is the beauty of America, that the poorest citizens and the richest CEOs have an equal voice in the ballot box; we can’t place an undue burden on them. So, I would suggest that, if you want a free ID, you have to go to a government organization (City Library, DMV, etc.) to register to vote with proof of your poor financial situation. There your picture will be taken and ID will then be issued. Yes this means tax dollars will be used. But I don’t know if you’ve been to any of those government agencies recently, but there are things that can be done to make the processes more cost efficient, and the saved money could be used for this purpose.

It’s a tough question. What do you think? How do we solve the issue of Voter ID laws? Leave a comment below or, better yet, leave a comment on the People v. Ignorance Facebook Page.

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Politics Explained: The Obamacare Ruling

With the Supreme Court ruling almost entirely in favor of the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare), there has been a lot of talk on both sides of the aisle on what exactly that means. To prime the discussion, I would like you to watch a clip from Candidate Barack Obama four years ago.

If you decided not to watch it, basically it is Candidate Obama promising not to raise taxes at all on the middle class. After he was President Obama, he was interviewed about Obamacare and questioned about whether or not it was in fact a tax increase on the middle class. This clip is a little bit longer, but worth it if you have time to watch it. When confronted on whether or not this is a tax he said, “absolutely not.” There are penalties he says, but it is all fair. What the President didn’t want to admit was, no matter how justifiable you think it is, it is still a tax.

Today, the Supreme Court confirmed that. I will not go too much in depth in analyzing the Court’s decision except for those parts relevant to the Campaign season in front of us. For more details about the ruling itself, here is a nice breakdown.

The Solicitor General (the Government’s lawyer) tried to make the argument that Congress has the right to force people to buy health insurance because of the Congressional duty to regulate interstate commerce. Today the Supreme Court in essence said, “Well, no, this doesn’t really count as interstate commerce, but this is a tax, and Congress can tax…so fine…keep your mandate, but you have to call it a tax.” Now doesn’t that make Obama feel a little silly?

What does that mean politically? Well the GOP now has just the ammo they need to call Obama a “tax-and-spend” president, and the Democrats have what they feel is validation from the Court. Even in Obama’s brief remarks following the decision, he said something to the effect of, “Now let me be clear, we see today that the Court stands with us in saying this is something the country needs.” No Mr. President, that comment could not be any farther from the truth.

Chief Justice Roberts, writing the Majority Opinion said, “We do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the Nation’s elected leaders. We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged provisions.” That is key to remember when thinking about this. The Court did not put it’s stamp of approval on the legislation. I think that Mitt Romney sums it up best when he said today: “What the Court did not do on its last day in session I will do on my first day if elected President of the United States. And that is I will act to repeal Obamacare….Obamacare was bad policy yesterday. It’s bad policy today. Obamacare was bad law yesterday. It’s bad law today.” Constitutional or not, it’s “bad policy”

I predict that this outcome gives Romney more of a boost than if the Court simply threw out the bill as unconstitutional. First off, the democrats can not turn Obamacare into a martyr appreciated more after it’s demise. Even more, I say this because more scrutiny will be brought back to the harmful bill and it will finally be revealed for what it really is, a tax on the middle class.

In Obama’s address today, he talked about what Obamacare means for America. It means that Health Insurance companies are put under Congress’s control. The policies that have made health insurance a profitable business are being outlawed and thrown out. This means that they are going to lose money and normally that would lead to an increase in premiums for policy holders. But no, we can’t have that. We can’t have big bad businesses raising costs on people, so instead we’ll put the Health Insurance companies on life support and then prop them up with government spending. Oh good, so the government will pay for it. I’m sure glad that I don’t have to pay…Oh wait…where does the government get it’s money from? Oh yeah…me.

I can’t seem to find a link for Obama’s remarks, but I really wish you could hear them and hear just what Obama plans on doing to our country.

But like I said, this is not going to end well for Obama and he knows it. At the end of his address, he tried to say we have bigger problems like the economy. Though I agree with the President, when Obama tries to distract from something towards the economy, you know he’s in bad shape. And not only does Obama see it, but we all do. Evidence of this can be seen in the surge of donations to the Romney campaign since the verdict was delivered. In the four hours since the verdict was delivered, the Romney campaign has raised over $1.5 million from over 13,500 donors; all of that in the name of repealing Obamacare. By the end of the day, the Romney camp over doubled that number to $3.2 million

I joined the ranks of those 13,500+ with my small donation, and if you want to send the President a message by supporting Mitt, click this convenient link.

So, though Republicans lost the battle today on getting rid of this harmful policy, it will put them on track to winning the war and getting rid of it in its entirety.

Mormon American

One wonders where to start in responding to Justin Frank’s piece in Time. One wishes one did not have to respond at all, and one actually decided not to respond, but one continues to be so rankled by Frank’s insipid article that one has concluded that one must respond or else one is going to spend the entire Trans-Pacific flight one is about to take stewing about it.  So here one goes.

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Someone had a Dream

Very recently, during a speech at the White House, President Obama was interrupted by a reporter. In a discussion on the subject, a guest on MSNBC asked the question, would such disrespect be shown to the President if he wasn’t black? I honestly was taken aback that someone would suggest such a thing and I’d like to share a little story with you to help illustrate my amazement.

Once upon a time, there was a man, a very great man who gave his life fighting for civil rights. In a very famous address, that man, Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Since then, people have either thought that this dream only applied to Dr. King’s four children, or they have forgotten the statement.

The statement has two parts. First Dr. King desired, and rightfully so, that people would not be judged by the color of their skin. I firmly agree that to do so is wrong. But there is also a second part. The second part of the statement is that people would not be judged by their skin color but instead by the content of their character. People, including the President of the United States, should not be excused from being judged and criticized because of the color of his skin.

The people at MSNBC tried to make the argument that  “We’ve never had this otherness afforded to any other president” and that the office of the president has not been disrespected as much as it has been while Obama has been in it. To them, I have this to say. First off, this must be the first time in the last three years that MSNBC has forgotten about Bush. George W. Bush is always being blamed for the current state of things and he received his fair share of heckling and disrespect. So remember that. And second, people do not disrespect the President because of his accent or skin color. People disrespect the President because he has lost their respect.

Do I think that the presidency should get more respect than it is? Yes. I agree that what that journalist did was extremely unprofessional and should be reprimanded. But when things like this happen, don’t try to make excuses. Don’t think that the President himself is infallible and never did anything to deserve such treatment.