Really, whose vote is it anyway?

Hello Duhawks and welcome back to a new school year! To those of you who are just starting your college career here at Loras, welcome to our family! For my first-time readers out there, or for those who have forgotten who I am, my name is Dallas Knapp. Just a little bit about myself: I am from Bloomington-Normal, IL and I am a junior Politics and International Studies double major.  This will be my second year writing for The Lorian, and I am also the leader of the Pre-Law Society here on campus; so if you’re looking into law, don’t be afraid to contact me. One last thing I should mention is that I am a fall fellow on the Hillary Clinton campaign. While I act as a representative of the campaign during pretty much any other time, this is not one of those times. This column consists of my opinions, musings, and observations. It should not be associated or impugned upon the Clinton Campaign in any way, shape, or form.

That being said, with campaign season well underway, there has been a flood of campaign commercials hitting the airwaves in Iowa. This candidate is more trustworthy than that one, and definitely much better suited for President than the other guy — it just never seems to end. But while Iowans are blasted with campaign message upon campaign message, the rest of the nation gets to sit back, watch, and wait to see who comes out as the winner of the Iowa Caucuses. This way, they get their chance to cast their vote in the nomination process.
But not everyone will be able to vote, because of intentional voting disenfranchisement. I am talking about the poor, the minorities, and also the elderly peoples of America who are unable to vote due to, you guessed it: voter ID laws. In an attempt to “make sure our democracy is safe,” the Republican Party has intentionally disenfranchised Democratic voters in an effort to maintain their majorities in state and federal governments.

At this time I would like to draw a distinction between the Republican Party and the Republican voter. By the Republican voter I mean the everyday member of the party, and by the Republican Party, I mean the RNC. The RNC has spread a message of fear throughout its constituents; a fear of lawbreakers and criminals trying to subvert the electoral system in an effort to get Democrats elected.

While the fear mongering might sound true, it’s not. The fact is, it is extremely hard for someone to fraudulently vote in America. For me to vote as my brother, I would have to have his voter ID card, know where his precinct is, find his precinct before him and then vote at his precinct before him. To accomplish this is a lot of work — it really is. Think about it: do you know where your precinct is? Where your friend’s precinct is? Where that stranger’s precinct is? Probably not, and if you don’t know where a stranger’s voting location is, you can’t really commit fraud, now can you?

No, voter ID laws are disenfranchisement and discriminatory. Remember, these kind of laws were not allowed until the sudden evisceration of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that the enforcement mechanisms within the law were not with the times — that they were based in a period where racism was alive and well, and that “racism was dead” in America. Almost immediately, Republican-controlled states all across the union started to push and push and push for voter ID laws only a year before the 2014 midterm elections.  Under these new voter ID laws, citizens would be required to show a state ID at their polling place before they could vote. Though it sounds mundane enough, not everyone owns a state ID.  These laws required people without a state ID to make a trip to the DMV, but again not everyone has a means to get to the DMV.  Voter ID laws effectively prevented those too poor to own a car or take the necessary time off work from voting. Coincidentally, the states that were seeking to implement means of disenfranchisement were the same states that would have been prohibited from doing so had the Voting Rights Act not been gutted.  The smartest wolf would dress itself in sheep’s cloth, just as the smartest politicians will frame disenfranchisement as protecting democracy and not perverting it.

If the RNC were serious about eradicating voting fraud, they would get rid of absentee ballots, where voter fraud most often (but still rarely) takes place.  There is an actual problem in nursing homes across America where nurses and families will steal the absentee ballots of the disabled elderly in order to vote for their own preferred candidate.  But the RNC won’t make any effort to cut absentee ballots specifically because it is the elderly that benefit most from the program—a key constituency for Republican politicians everywhere.

Luckily, we live in Iowa where same-day registration is still allowed and protected.  For those potential voters reading, count your blessings: you chose the right school in the right state.  Not twenty minutes away, though, Scott Walker and the Republican Party there are doing their darnedest to infringe upon the rights of the poor and minorities throughout Wisconsin.  Be thankful Duhawks, but also remember that not everyone shares the same privileges that we do.

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