Tuesday, November 02, 2004

A few thoughts before voting

Posted by Craig Westover | 4:13 AM |  

One of the few valid observations that came out of the MPR Town Hall meeting on Minnesota’s Achievement Gap was that the education system does not demand of minority students the same rigor it does of white students. This concern was voiced most ardently at the meeting by people of color.

I raise this point because many of our election laws are designed with the same kind of subtle racism -- the insulting notion that people of color require less rigid election standards in order to be able to vote. By the same token, for the sake of “convenience,” absentee ballots are made available to “busy” people whose schedules take them out of town or for that matter simply don’t wish to be bothered going to the polls and standing in line.

To facilitate “universal suffrage,” states have implemented measures like same-day registration, online voting and poll voting other than on November 2. Making election day a national holiday has been proposed.

At the same time, both parties hurl accusations of potential voter fraud, while actively seeking ways to circumvent the system to “turn out the vote” (in their favor)in the name of democracy and universal franchise.


Aside from the fact that every variation from standard voting procedure opens loopholes and potential for fraud, efforts to make voting “more convenient” hurt, rather than help the democratic process. Such accommodations to apathy reduce voting to a function of convenience rather than conviction.

Voting is indeed a right, but it’s not an entitlement. Everyone should have the opportunity to vote, but the reality is, not everyone should.

Voting should require some minimum effort -- pre-registration, having requisite identification on election day, voting at the right precinct. Absentee ballots should be limited to mandatory inability to vote in-person such as military duty and health restrictions. Convenience balloting or election day conflict with one’s vacation shouldn’t qualify.

Whether in education or voting or far too many other areas, when we forsake the fundamental principles of a free society for the sake of a pseudo-equality, we both cheapen our principles and deplete the American character.