“We all want everybody to vote,” Says Florida Senator, Mike Bennett (R). “But we want an informed voter.”
Does this sound familiar? It should. Not everyone in American had the right to vote. In the beginning of America’s history, it was a white man’s game. And not just any white man! You had to be a 21 or older and owned property. In some areas of the 13 colonies, like Delaware, you needed to own at least 50 acres of land.
Of course this excluded tons of other people. Women (who wouldn’t get the right to vote until 1920), blacks (black men were able to vote in 1870), Native Americans, and poor white men.
Fast forward to modern elections. . .
Now everyone can vote! The 2008 presidential election was met with a record breaking voter turnout from unexpected groups. Young people, Blacks and Latinos left their mark and elected President Barack Obama. It was an amazing time.
But Republicans were taking notes. In order to make sure something like this never happened again, they would have to make some fundamental changes in the way our electoral system works. Starting with how a citizen votes.
In 2011, thirty-four states introduced legislation to enact strict photo ID requirements. You might want to check the link directly above to see if your state is included. Other states have changed when their polling stations are opened, by outright canceling Early Voting or Weekend Voting (this is happening in Ohio, as we speak).
What excuse are Republicans using? Voter Fraud! Apparently, it’s a huge problem in America! “Illegals” roll up on our shores and cross our borders, just itchin’ to vote. MY GOD, we have to put a stop to it! We’ve found out that this fear of voter fraud is unfounded. In the course of a five year investigation, only 120 cases were prosecuted. And most of those cases were not acts of malicious corruption. People made mistakes in their registration forms due to confusion in eligibility.
Who does the new photo ID law affect?
Now in order to get a State issued photo ID, you’ll need your original birth certificate, transportation to get to your local DMV, and then as much as $35 to purchase said ID. This will affect:
- the economically disadvantage
- Latinos (who might have trouble proving their citizenship)
- Blacks (especially those in urban areas)
- the disabled (who might have trouble getting to the DMV)
- the elderly (who might have trouble finding their original identification papers and finding transportation)
- college students (because school ID’s don’t count)
- women (who have changed their names through marriage)
These laws should sound familiar, yet again. In keeping with Senator Mike Bennett’s ideology, we must remember a time when an “informed voter” was, again, white. In the American south, during the 50’s and 60’s, blacks were charged a poll tax and/or forced to complete literacy tests to prove they were competent enough to vote.
You wanna see how ridiculous these tests were? Try your best to answer these questions.
With all of these voting shenanigans, the mere thought of attempting to vote can tire you out. That’s what Republicans are counting on. But there are ways to vote without getting turned away. You just have to do the research and know your rights. The ACLU is on top of it. If you visit their website, you’ll find out state-by-state, how you can vote.
I clicked on the state of Ohio, where I live and it shows me:
- What materials I need for registration
- Where I can go to check the status of my registration
- What photo ID is suitable for my polling station
- What times I can visit my polling station
- and more!
So hang in there! This election year can be just as successful as the last one, no matter who you’re voting for. You too, can be an “informed voter,” if you’re informed of your rights. Let’s prove history wrong again by sticking together and preforming our rights as American citizens.