Getting to the truth about voting rights
Posted: Friday, October 21, 2011 8:01 pm
By: By Glenda Caudle
It shouldn’t be so hard to vote.
People who are deeply concerned about their country and want to make their wishes known at the ballot box — in the format intended and set in motion by the Founding Fathers and modified through the years, at the will of the people, to include all responsible citizens in the process — shouldn’t be subjected to the harassment that is inflicted upon them.
And yet they are.
Responsible citizens are troubled during each election cycle by the sure and certain knowledge that their will can be unlawfully and dishonestly thwarted by those who lack the supportive numbers to attain their own ends lawfully but have a firm grip on the power to secure their goals by dishonest and fraudulent means.
In Chicago, where the power of one party to “deliver” by whatever means necessary has legendary status, there have been long-standing and repeated allegations of fraud. The most famous accusations center on the 1960 presidential election and a 1982 election for governor in which 65 individuals were indicted in a massive voter fraud case that involved an estimated 100,000 ballots (10 percent of all votes in the city) being cast fraudulently. Of those indicted all but two — one found incompetent to stand trial and one who died — were convicted.
Recent elections in Philadelphia and in the state of Wisconsin bear the telltale marks of tactics similar to the ones employed with such success and for so long in the Windy City.
Even in Tennessee, the electoral process has been corrupted. In 2005, three election workers in Shelby County pleaded guilty to voting fraud charges that involved casting votes in the names of dead people. In that election, Democrat Ophelia Ford defeated Republican challenger Terry Roland by 13 votes, but because of voting irregularities uncovered by a Memphis newspaper (irregularities which also included votes cast in the names of voters with vacant lot addresses) leaders in the Tennessee Senate refused to seat Ms. Ford. In the course of the investigation, names of dead people and of convicted felons were found on voter rolls and dozens of ballots were counted from those living outside the district. Thirty-seven indictments — with 35 of them rising to the level of felonies — were obtained against three Shelby County poll workers in the scandal.
In a later election, Ford ran again and beat her opponent. The senator was never charged with corruption herself.
State Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro, who witnessed a federal court case brought by Ms. Ford to claim the seat tarnished by charges of corruption, told reporters in a conference call this week that he first brought up a new voter bill in the Volunteer State four years ago specifically because of the problems surrounding that election. That bill passed but is being heatedly attacked with distorted facts and boiling-temperature rhetoric.
However, I can only say a heartfelt “Thank you, Senator.” Thank you for trying to protect my legitimate vote and the votes of other honest citizens.
Unhappily, there is no such thing as a perfect election cycle.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a political season unmarked by fraud.
There probably never will be.
But in an emotion-filled climate created by supporters of election rules so lax they make fraud a walk in the park to perpetrate, in an atmosphere characterized by race-baiting put forth purely to deflect attention from the core problem of dishonesty at the ballot box, in a public arena where those who benefit from timid election standards seek to paint those who hope to secure reasonable standards of integrity as the “bad guys,” I am grateful there are some people struggling, at least, to protect the sanctity of a noble concept.
That concept is one that is a supporting pillar of our system of government. If we abandon it, the edifice collapses.
It is a concept that says people who are willing to take on the responsibilities of citizenship should be able to cast a ballot and know that it will not be stolen from them.
Because that is what happens when election corruption is unchecked. The ballots of all responsible citizens are, in effect, seized by the irresponsible and unprincipled to secure their own ends — no matter what the true will of the people might be.
When dead people vote, when voters outside a precinct vote, when illegal aliens vote, when multiple votes are cast by the same person, when caretakers vote their will and not the will of the registered voter they claim to represent, when ballots are paid for — every voter who has not engaged in such shenanigans runs the risk of losing their vote — no matter which side of the ballot issue they support.
The most stringent supporters of lax voting laws say those who wish to vote should not have any hindrances put in their way. It sounds good. It photographs well on placards waved in marches. It resonates on TV shows. It perpetuates an image of oppression in order to gain support. It replays past atrocities to plant fear in the hearts of good people.
But a fundamental truth of citizenship is this: Voting is a privilege that comes attached to responsibility.
And the very people who make it harder to exercise that privilege and responsibility are actually those who rabble rouse for unfettered use of the ballot box, knowing that that freedom gives them fertile ground to steal elections.
When an “easy” voting rights advocate talks about the need to remove all restraints from voting, what he is really saying is, “Let’s make it as simple as possible to corrupt the voting process.” What he is actually advocating is, “Let’s make life more difficult for responsible citizens who understand that voting is a responsibility and a privilege and behave accordingly, only to have their effort count for nothing.”
Voting shouldn’t be so hard for responsible people.
And those who disguise the opportunity for corruption behind political rhetoric that enflames the unthinking crowd driven by emotion should stop making it so.
Mrs. Caudle may be contacted at glendacaudle @ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 10.21.11