Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Response to the ID for Voting Post

This post struck a nerve with me because I have a problem with every single reason MrsBulbous gave for people not voting. S/he wrote that $20 may be too much to shell out for a driver's license, or that someone may not be able to make it to the polls due to work requirements or lack of transportation. All three of these actually fall into one category: apathy. If a voter doesn't care for any of the candidates, has seriously thought about the election and decided not to vote, that isn't apathy, that's being a conscientious objector. But claiming all the other excuses is simply apathy.

Here's why: You can show a driver's license as ID at the polls, but you don't have to show a driver's license. You can show a passport, a social security card, or other forms of ID. Passports cost money, that's true, but social security cards don't, and every American citizen should have one. When you apply for driver's license you can't just walk in and ask for one, you have to show proof of citizenship which means a social security card and/or birth certificate. Neither of these things cost money unless you need to get a copy. And even if you don't want to carry around your birth certificate or social security card, then you can apply for a state-issued photo ID, which costs less than a driver's license, about $12. Elections only happen once every two years, so if $12 is too much to spend in one go, then someone could save $.50 a month for the two years before the next election and would be able to get that ID. Does that seem ridiculous? Yes, but it all depends on how much someone values their right to vote.

As for registering to vote at the County Clerk's office, well, registering can now be done online. Forms can be printed, filled out, and sent in and so no one has to actually go to the office. If someone doesn't have a computer at home, libraries provide free Internet access. And if someone can't make it to the library, you can call you local clerk's office and they can send you the forms to register. And while they are sending registration forms, they can also send the applications for absentee ballots, which solves the other problems. If getting to the polls is a problem because of transport issues or work issues, then someone can vote via absentee ballot. Many states allow early voting either at the clerks office or via absentee ballot without needing an excuse, so a lot of people can take that route for pure convenience. But for those who do have an excuse, they can get an absentee ballot in almost all states. Kentucky, for example, doesn't allow just anyone to vote by absentee ballot, but as long as you have a reason you may. Having to work or not having transport are valid excuses for absentee ballots. And any boss that tries to discipline you for taking too long at the polls could have a lawsuit on his or her hands.

So again, all the excuses listed are simply apathy. There are ways around them, but it depends on how much effort someone is willing to put in. It doesn't take much, just a few phone calls or few clicks on a computer, but to some people that is too much. They just don't feel like it. Or if someone can't spare the $10 or $20 for an ID, then it's easy to tell what their right to vote is worth to them: less than $10.

Personally I think my right to vote is worth much more than $10, much more than $20, and much more than the extra effort that I may have to put in so that my voice may be heard. It is every American's right to vote, but nowhere is it written that enacting that right has to be as easy as pie. It's been less than 100 years since women were allowed to vote, and when this country was first founded, only white male land owners were able to vote. So yes, claiming any reason not to make it to the polls is nothing but apathy. So what if it takes a little extra effort. Isn't it worth it?

No comments: