Catholic Mag Calls for Meaningful Voting Reforms

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October 1, 2012; Source: America

Last week, we took note of a courageous editorial in America, the national Catholic weekly magazine, that drew a comparison between the U.S. attempting to avoid responsiblility for using torture in recent military conflicts and the attempt by some in the Catholic Church to avoid responsibility for failing to stop instances of sexual abuse on the part of priests. America’s editorials seem to aim at pulling no punches, so we also took note of the magazine’s commentary on voter ID laws.

America suggests that the type of voter-impersonation fraud that would be addressed by voter photo ID laws is “virtually nonexistent.” The editors write, “over the past 12 years, Americans have cast hundreds of millions of votes in local, state and national elections. Did you know that in this same time period there have been only 10 alleged cases of in-person voter impersonation?” The 375 instances of alleged election fraud identified by the Republican National Lawyers Association resulted in only 33 convictions or guilty pleas, and none of the cases involved voter impersonation.

America isn’t not blind to problems with our electoral process and offers this one cogent paragraph of needed changes: “Measures are necessary to reduce fraudulent absentee ballots. Polling stations should be carefully monitored so that voters are not unfairly turned away without an opportunity to cast even a provisional ballot. There should be more uniform electoral processes across the 13,000 voting precincts in the United States; Election Day should be a mandatory national holiday to make it easier for people to vote; and there should be a federal constitutional amendment to protect the right to vote for all citizens.”

It is heartening to see such a clear-eyed call for an end to the relentless push for voter ID laws that are all but unnecessary and counterproductive. –Rick Cohen

  • George Hagenauer

    I am the chief election worker at my local Wisconsin town that means I can run the election even if the elected town clerk is not available-basically I have 15 years experience at the polls and take a lot of hours of training each year. I got into it because we I moved from Chicago and invested everything in a new life in Wisconsin- I discovered in the 1990s that Wisconsin at that time had no uniform polling hours. I drove up to the town hall to vote and it was closed! The polls opened late whcih meant that if you worked outside the rural town (zoned totally agricultural with very few businesses bigger than self-employment) you had one shot to vote after work. Whatever the intent was, it kept people with non-rural jobs from voting. The excuse was that no one wanted to get up and work the polls early in the morning. So a few of us volunteered to be trained – the polls opened at 7 am and rather rapidly the election results changed. The state went under a unifrom poll hours law finally a few years later.
    How the laws are written (and since we are not a nation but a repuiblic they vary widely from state to state with often allowed variances between locales within a state) have a major impact on election results. The new poll laws in WIsconsin with photo ID requirements and other changes are definitely designed just to suppress voting. A very simple example is that you would expect with increased need for voter registration and the need to reduce costs, you would utilize existing trained election workers who want to volunteer to help citizens vote. Under the law not only is your ability to register limited to the local government area where you have trained (in spite of the fact that the process is the same statewide) but you need to go to a special trianing in spite of the fact that most election workers have been trained to register voters on election day. I could not make the training – one I have had any number of times- and thus I can only register at the polls.
    Repressing the vote is UnAmerican. I have voted for both parties at various times of my life. The Republican Party has voter repression laws built into their platform. I will not vote for any candidate that supports that position or plank.

  • rick cohen

    Thanks for the very important perspective. very important.