Voting 2012: A Right?

It does not seem like almost an entire four years has gone by since then presidential nominee Barack Obama was elected as America’s first Black president.  Yet, here we are again.  Buoyed by a litany of new political and social issues while still anchored by America’s past woes: racism, a flawed education system, inequality, poverty, crime, and the lists go on.

Given the fluctuating approval rating of President Obama, the increasingly vocal opponents, and racially charged commentary that has endured throughout the president’s first term, the millions who participated – some for the first time ever – in the electoral process and placed their vote for Obama will certainly need to participate in the November 6th election and bring a friend or two.

Initially I “penned” this article several months ago when the voter identification law had first become the hot topic blazing its way through local and nationally syndicated news forums, although the new voter laws were first initiated in 2008 and had been adopted by 13 states since the bill was proposed.

I assume that by now we all are somewhat familiar with the legislation.  If not, the goal of the bill is to require voters in several states to produce “government approved” identification and end the current practice of voters signing a statement verifying their identity.  Under the Republican driven legislation opponents argue that the right to vote is no longer; under the new laws voting is seemingly a privilege not extended to all eligible Americans.

This, according to challengers, is a “throwback to Jim Crow-era poll taxes,” not only in the form of “government approved” identification, but as listed by the American Civil Liberties Union, in forms of  “reducing the number of days for early voting; restrictions on third-party voter registration activities; limiting the opportunity to make an address change at the polls on election day; systematic purges of register voters; challenges to student voters as non-residents; unfounded allegations of voter fraud; and moving or closing precincts in minority communities.”

Under the bill seniors, students, persons with disabilities, and minorities are disproportionately affected and may face unnecessary hurdles on election day.  This is an issue for all Americans regardless of if you’re a Georgia citizen, where strict voter ID law has been enacted or if you’re a citizen of Wyoming where voter ID is not required at all.  This bill isn’t an issue of partisanship, but of democracy, equality, and the right that every eligible American has to vote free of barriers.

For those of you who typically don’t vote because of the claim that your vote does not matter, pay attention to the proof.  If your vote, my vote, our votes did not matter, would such extremes be taken to silence you despite unjustified claims of voter fraud?  You matter.  It is your right.     

To learn more about current voter ID laws in your state please call or visit your state board of elections website or office.  You can also learn more about voter ID state requirements by clicking here to Be In the Know.

For additional information of how to register and a checklist of what to bring with you on the day of elections click the “Your Vote Counts” button.

On August 30th Texas federal court has struck down the proposal of voter identification, citing it as discriminatory of certain voters.

Click here to read more about the ruling.

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