Protecting a privilege and obligation 06-17-2011

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Column by Jim Flynn

Our view of the recently passed Florida voting law is influenced by the patriotic example of my foreign-born grandparents. They worked hard and waited patiently to become U.S. citizens. Thereafter they never missed an opportunity to exercise their privilege and obligation to vote.

They were working class people without high school educations. They never owned a home, an automobile, or a television. They died broke and left only their good character.

They were lifelong Democrats who read the daily paper, listened to radio, and understood the issues and politics of their time. They would be puzzled by objections to the recently passed Florida law designed to limit voting to identifiable eligible voters.

Criticisms of the new voting law have included selective exclusion, discrimination, voter suppression, burdensome requirements, intimidation, and mean spiritedness.

We’ll concede mean spiritedness. The Republican Legislature and governor intend to discourage fraudulent votes by the dead, double dippers, under-age registrants, non-citizen immigrants, and persons sponsored by community organizations brazen enough to register Mary Poppins (a fictional British citizen).

Critics contend there is little or no proof that dead people are still registered, that snow birds and students vote in two places, that minors and non-citizen immigrants have been registered using counterfeit credentials, and that hustler organizers register fictional persons such as Dick Tracy. There has been more than enough periodic discovery of those kinds of frauds to justify preventive identification.

Election manipulation and fraud have been present since the beginning of our nation. Big city political machines have been transporting drunk, delusional and dead voters to the polls for many decades. The whole story is set out in “Deliver the Vote – A History of Election Fraud, An American Political Tradition 1742-2004.”

Critics of the new voter law are disingenuous. To paraphrase Mr. Shakespeare (from Hamlet): Methinks they protest too much. Politicians in both political parties have been playing election games and getting away with them for a long time. Every now and then the worm turns.

Requests for photo identification have become commonplace everywhere – shopping, banking, borrowing, flying, and driving. The 9/11 conspirators were able to pass identification for flying lessons, and half of them were registered to vote in Florida and Virginia while preparing to bring down the World Trade Center.

Political whining about a simple method to safeguard the integrity of our right to vote is misplaced. Critics of voter ID requirements would do better service by focusing on recurrent problems over absentee ballots, vote counting, and election reporting.

My unlettered immigrant grandparents might have been mildly annoyed by the inconvenience of having to secure a photo ID in order to vote, but they would have done so, no matter what. They would certainly have been chagrined by folks who contend voting should be as convenient as home delivery of the morning newspaper. Good grief! What kind of citizenship is that?






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