Thursday, October 09, 2008
Trampling voters' rights
In one of the most disappointing developments of this election year, the political activist group ACORN has been accused or investigated for voter registration fraud in fifteen states. What is deeply disappointing is that the Obama campaign paid $800,000 to a subsidiary of ACORN. ACORN endorsed Senator Obama in February, but maintains on its website it is a nonpartisan organization.
The allegations around ACORN are serious. Voting officials in several states are finding people registered to vote in multiple locations, driver's licence numbers that are invalid, social security numbers that are invalid, and even the names of celebrities and sports stars attached to questionable applications.
I realize some will attribute such to sloppy oversight. However, there is something more sacred at stake. It is the right of every registered voter to have his or her vote count equally. That right is violated with even just one instance of a person voting in more than one place, or voting under a false identification. It is hateful that any group supposedly dedicated to justice would allow such a sloppy operation to go on. It is hateful and unjust to every single voter who is registered legally.
Further, some of the stories about how activists harass people to register to vote are disgusting to anyone who believes in democracy. The New York Post ran a story you can check out on their website about a man who was constantly harassed to register vote to again and again. A woman claims in various news reports to be bothered at her bus stop. Elections officials claim that their offices were flooded with applications at the last minute, thus making it difficult to sift out the illegal voters by election day.
While I will admit that everyone has their own definition of what harasses them, I think most rational people will agree that political activists cross the line when they demand that their point of view be heard by the average person instead of merely making that point of view available to be heard. As strongly as I believe in the right to speak freely and campaign, I believe in one's right to ignore the speaker or the campaigner and be left alone if one makes it clear he or she is not interested.
Throughout American history, there have been groups who claimed that they were such champions of the rights of the people, that they were entitled to violate some of those rights from time to time. Often people who are in those type of groups care as much about your real rights and life as high pressure timeshare salesmen at a vacation spot. Political machines such as the Boss Tweed machine in New York and the ole hard school of the Daley machine in Chicago come to mind. Those guys had the idea, "hey, some laws are bent some rights are bothered, eh, who cares, its for the good of the people." Of course, the good of the people usually ended up in their wallets.
Once again, our rights are threatened. Even if some claim the best of intentions, the rights are still threatened. Some things in our ever growing tolerant society can not be tolerated. Perhaps the most sacred thing that can not be tolerated is having the right that a legally registered voter has to have his or her vote count equally violated.
I call on the Obama campaign, the McCain Campaign, the South Carolina Democratic Party and the South Carolina Republican Party to join me in denouncing the tactics of those groups whose actions violate voting rights. As for those of us who are legally registered voters, I believe we have a duty to make sure we vote.