- Politics and Social Issues
Shocking News (to Some): There are More Reasons to Vote Than the Presidency
There is a debate going on in American about whether voting really matters. Many suggest we not vote at all, that it’s a waste of time and doesn’t make a difference. If voting is a waste of time, how about that 4 hours daily watching television or the two hours a day online the average American spends? Facebook users spend, on average, over six hours a month on the social network. Perhaps if Americans made voting a priority, they might learn that sometimes, voting is worth it.
The problem with the logic of people like George Carlin is that they refer to, or think of, voting as only a presidential race. However, there are other things to vote for. We can vote for school board members, state legislators, judges, police chiefs, governors, lieutenant governors, county commissioners, city councils, mayors, senators, representatives, and presidents (among other offices). Then why do people always mention the presidential race when talking about why they don’t vote? I have some news for you: when you vote, you can skip the presidential race and vote for other offices, i.e. your favorite local council person. I, for one, will not promote the presidential race as a real choice. I may even leave that selection blank when I vote in November.
Then there are state and local propositions to vote for. Certainly, if you don’t care about marijuana laws, taxes, gay marriage, civil rights, immigration laws, education, zoning laws, legislative salaries or any other local issues, then don’t vote. If you care at all, perhaps you can take an hour off your television or online time and read about the propositions and then vote.
Many self described anarchists and political outsiders confuse our political and electoral system with voting itself. It’s not voting that is the problem; the problem is our two party monopoly that limits our choices. Multi-party elections with proportional representation have higher voter turnout than a two party monopoly that limits your electoral choices. We like choices in the U.S., but when we go to vote, we have two flavors to choose from: vanilla and vanilla bean.
I was not happy that my choice for the House of Representatives in the June special election was between corporodem Ron Barber and Tea Party wing-nut Jesse Kelly. I voted for Barber, not because I support him 100%, but because I have met him and at least he’s someone I can talk to about issues. Unlike Tea Party candidates, Rep. Barber lives on planet earth. However, both candidates are pro-coporate, and I had no pro-labor choice to vote for. And if you are a Libertarian or Green party member, you're out of luck. If we had more viable choices of candidates and parties, perhaps fewer people would gripe about voting.
If voting is irrelevant, why are Republicans passing laws that restrict the right to vote?
Republicans, who supposedly want smaller government, pass laws that force people to get government issued photo ID’s to vote. The justification for this is that they want to prevent voter fraud. However, this fraud only exists in the fantasy lands of Republicans. For example, “UFO sightings are 3,615 times more common than instances of voter fraud.” Moreover, in ten years, there were only 13 credible accounts of voter fraud. And since 1997, Republican groups found 311 cases, out of some 593 millions votes cast, of fraud, a rate of 0.00005%.
Voter fraud isn’t the problem; vote suppression is. Republicans want to use voter ID laws to win elections. As Representative Mike Tuzai, PA. admits, “Voted ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.” Voter ID laws target poor, minority, and college voters. These groups vote overwhelmingly Democratic. Passing ID laws is not about addressing fraud, as Republicans fraudulently claim, these laws are about suppressing Democratic votes and thus winning elections.
In Texas, a gun holder's ID is acceptable to vote, but NOT a student ID. College students just happen to be more democratic than NRA members. And in the U.S., 21 million eligible voters lack photo IDs. That could swing the vote to Romney if those laws stand. Whether you vote or not, you should at least have the option.
A Mother Jones’ article states that 1,000 bills to increase voting restrictions have been proposed in 46 states in the last few years. Not surprisingly, many of these laws target voting in the swing states of Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The right to vote is being taken from more than 5 million voters according to the article, and “…the states that have passed restrictive voting laws account for 214 electoral votes, nearly 80 percent of what is needed” to be elected president. Ironically, voting rights are being restricted by the Republican Party that swears they defend the constitution.
In Pennsylvania, 760,000 voters don’t have Department of Transportation IDs that the state requires to vote. And IDs cost money to obtain. This amounts to a poll tax, which is illegal. The story is similar in Texas, “"Even after submitting data that show over 600,000 registered voters do not have either a driver’s license or personal identification card issued by DPS – and that a disproportionate share of those registered voters are Hispanic – the state has failed to propose, much less adopt, any program for individuals who have to travel a significant distance to a DPS office, who have limited access to transportation, or who are unable to get to a DPS office during their hours of operation," Perez wrote.”
Even if you don’t vote, people should have that right. And if you feel your side never wins in an election, and your proposition always loses, then don’t vote. That means my vote is worth more. I thank you in advance.