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"Show Us Your Papers"

I am way too busy these days for long political rants.

But I would be remiss if I do not at least make passing mention of how depressed, disgusted, and, yes, angry I've become as I watch the ongoing attempts at voter suppression in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Iowa, and other states where Republicans and their Teabagger allies control key seats of power.

It is one thing to attempt to win elections. But trying to do so by denying the most basic and important right of any American citizen to hundreds and thousands of people, on entirely spurious grounds... that goes beyond reprehensible. That is despicable.

It would really be nice if there were still some Republicans of conscience out there who would stand up and loudly denounce these efforts, a few men of honor and integrity for whom "win the election" does not "win the election at any cost." There were once many Republicans I admired, even I disagreed with them: men like Everett Dirksen, Clifford Case, Henry Cabot Lodge, William Scranton... yes, even Barry Goldwater, conservative as he is. I do not believe for a moment that Goldwater would have approved of this, any more than Robert A. Heinlein would have. They were conservatives, but they were not bigots, nor racists, nor corrupt. The Vote Suppressors have far more in common with Lester Maddox, George Wallace, John Stennis, and their ilk than they do with their distinguished GOP forebears.

The people behind these efforts at disenfranchising large groups of voters (the young, the old, the black, the brown) are not Republicans, since clearly they have scant regard for our republic or its values. They are oligarchs and racists clad in the skins of dead elephants.

And don't tell me they are libertarians either. No true libertarians would ever support a culture where citizens must "show their papers" to vote or travel. That's a hallmark of a police state, not a free country.

TUESDAY ADDENDUM: Okay, this has been running several days now, has been featured on HUFFINGTON POST and ABC news, referenced on Stephanie Miller, and no doubt countless other people. We have had four hundred messages, and I think everyone has had their say, and everything that needs to be said has been said. Generally eight or ten times. There are plenty of links and references in the comment threads for those who would like to know more about these voter suppression efforts. If you don't want to dig through the links, start with the Brennan Center for Justice and get the facts.

There's no sense in letting this spin on in circles forever. I am locking comments. Back to Westeros and worldcon and similar subjects, boys and girls.

Thanks for listening.



Aug. 14th, 2012 07:52 pm (UTC)
Not seeing the "police state" aspect; unless every other part of our lives is a "police state"
At my local polling place (and I was there last for the Democratic primary), my father's name, my brother's name, my brother-in-law's name are all listed. Yet my father passed away a number of years ago, and my brother and brother-in-law have moved to new localities where they are now registered to vote. So, in my polling place, I (or someone else) could come back to vote 3 times. And these are not aberrations - they are the norm. I still see people on the rolls that no longer live there, adding a number of other names.

So there is certainly an opportunity for people who want to cheat the system to vote early and often. More so in larger polling venues than mine.

In New Jersey, it costs $24 to get a non-driver id license. Yes, not free. But similar ID is needed for a number of programs that service the indigent and elderly, including food stamps, welfare, and medicare. In most places, you cannot cash a check without photo id. Photo ID is sometimes required when using a credit card. In many pharmacies, prescription drugs will not be given without a photo id. You cannot send a child to school without substantial proof of identification and long and private forms regarding medical data (including immunizations, etc.). I cannot even walk into a parent-teacher conference at my child's public school without a photo id. I can't go to the public pool without a photo id. I can't get a library card without a photo id. In many places, you cannot take standardized tests (SATs, etc.) without a photo id. We are required, every year, to present to the government our most sensitive financial information (and we request of our public officials that they disclose theirs to the public on a regular basis).

I am very sensitive to privacy concerns, but also sensitive to fraud. How many people did it take in Florida in 2000 to drive the Bush tally above the Gore tally? Could there have been fraud? Of course. There were reports of extensive voter fraud in the 1960 election in Chicago and Dallas. In close elections, every vote counts and there's not a lot to prevent fraud.

We are verified in nearly every other transaction in our lives (indeed, you personally have opted to log IP addresses for any poster which some could consider an invasion of privacy or the hallmark of a "police state"); why is only voting (and gun purchases!) exempt?

Honestly, I think this can be done in a careful, bipartisan way that does not inhibit voting (as long as it is done with enough time before the applicable election so people will be given sufficient time to plan). And if cost or location is the issue, allow the post office to provide IDs at minimal cost.

I mean, even Egg Targaryen carries around a signet ring for ID!!!


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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