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Is the integrity of our election laws in jeopardy?
To begin I believe every citizen has the right to vote in every election and the voting registration process needs to ensure that this is accomplished across the country. Voting is a privilege in which each citizen chooses to participate or not. The registration process currently is not consistent between one state and another and across the country. The process is not complicated or should not be complicated anywhere you live. Specific and consistent conditions should be in place when it comes time to either register and/or vote. No one should be denied his/her right to vote and making sure this does not happen is the responsibility of each state and in some respects the country.
One of the first conditions which is in place is the age requirement. You must be of a specific age to be eligible to vote. Another condition which gives an individual the right to vote is being a citizen. Citizenship is a critical requirement and where applicable should be validated. This does not agree with some of the positions of groups and/or organizations but if you are not a citizen you have no legal right to vote or attempt to vote in any election. The validation of citizenship should not be a difficult task the process only needs to be refined in some cases without being a hardship on those individuals trying to vote. The key for this requirement is to prevent individuals who are not yet citizens or who are here illegally from voting. Individuals who have no right to vote can skew the results of any issue on the ballot whether it is a national election, state election or local issues such as school bond issues.
In conjunction with making sure that only eligible individuals exercise the right to vote it several conditions not the least of which is some form of identification or validation should be presented before being allowed to vote. Granted this has been and is being fought by individuals or groups of individuals as presenting a hardship on those who have no such id. It is not about making the process harder but instilling integrity in the election process. Some states offer an option of getting free IDs through their Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The requirement for issuing such ids is up to each individual state.
Changes in election laws have dramatically increased this year and some have already been signed into law while others are pending in various state legislatures. Examples of changes involve requirements for identification before voting while others allow voting to be accomplished through the mail. In this respect the requirements are at both ends of the voting spectrum. Elections come and go and there may always be problems but it must be decided whether it is a system problem or part of the normal process of voting in particular states. Examples of changes which are pending finalization are improvements in several states such as modernizing the voter registration process, increasing an automation process at government agencies through automation. Some states while utilizing automation combine technology and fail-safe protections which is critical to instill integrity in their process.
Some election laws which have been signed into law in various states make some of the changes effective in 2016 while others will be effective in 2014. Over 20 states have implemented some form of voter identification requirements which is a good thing to instill integrity in the election process. Past problems have been widely publicized in the news in elections and making our election process exhibit integrity principles is definitely needed with the economic, political battles and deceased individuals voting in elections.
Change is a good thing but when proposed changes to election laws are meant to gain political advantage they should be rejected by legislatures across the country. While this may not necessarily be the case the actions creates questions as to the real purpose when proposed requirements are less stringent. As previously mentioned the requirement for voter id at voting polls has been challenged by a number of individuals/organizations. Though it may not necessarily be the case the appearance seems to be to make it easier for voter fraud to gain ground. The votes which are cast in any election must be validated to be made by eligible voters. It is necessary to instill or emphasize integrity in election results.
Another point to make is that voters have some responsibility within the election process to instill integrity. Individuals must ensure they are completing all forms appropriately before mailing them as with provisional ballots or registration forms. The next step is that the voter must ensure that they are voting in the correct location. Voters who vote in the wrong precinct will not have their votes counted. True the officials at the polls need to ensure the integrity of the votes being cast within their location but individuals must take the responsibility to ensure their vote will be counted.