COMMENTARY | The president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Benjamin Todd Jealous, at a meeting in Columbia, SC (reported 12/06/2011, in the Myrtle Beach newspaper, The Sun Times, a McClatchey Co. newspaper) has issued a call to arms for all those opposed to the new Voter ID laws recently passed in South Carolina. He has stylized the legislation as a “coordinated and comprehensive assault” on black and Latino voters by the state of South Carolina, among others. He stated that the reason for the laws, to curtail voter fraud, is a farce. Jealous’ comparison to being struck by lightning as being more likely than voter fraud is nonsensical at its most rational.
What Mr. Jealous fails to do is recognize that there numerous different types of voter fraud. For example, let’s say Uncle Fred has taken an extended vacation to visit family in Chicago during election dates. He wants his vote counted so he calls Cousin William and asks William to go to Fred’s polling place and cast a vote for Fred’s candidate, which William is only too happy to do. Never mind that an absentee ballot would eliminate the need for a valid picture ID. Besides, who will know the difference? There is a reason to assign polling places based upon proximity to voter residence. This is to ensure that elections with local importance (city and county councils, mayoral races, solicitors and judges, etc.) are voted upon by those they will impact. To cast ballots purporting to be someone you are not, even for seemingly innocent reasons constitutes voter fraud. And this is just one example of many.
This all too common occurrence can, and will, skew perceived voter wishes.Most of the time this has no real effect on election outcomes but, the fact remains, it DOES constitute voter fraud and the rare instance of this fraud altering election outcomes is important enough to take note of. The reason for elections is to vote into office the choices of a duly seated electorate and guarantees a level field and fairness in their selection.
Why is there even an echo of a question over having to produce a valid picture ID to verify that the voter is, in fact, the person registered for the privilege to vote? This method of verification is not only reasonable but opposition to verification would seem a conspiracy to commit voter fraud. Picture this, if you will. Go into your local Wal-Mart and gather $150.00 in groceries (pitifully small as it is). When you get to the check-out and write a check for this trove of goodies and when the clerk asks for your ID tell them you don’t have one. What do you think your chances are that you will wheel the cart out and load your trunk? Yup, you’re right. No chance at all. The children are gonna eat send-out pizza again if you can promote the cash to pay the delivery person. The idea of selecting the people who are charged with leading us, protecting us and administering our governing bodies on such a flimsy method of proving legitimacy is ridiculous.
Twenty years ago I went to my local polling place to vote in a local election in Monroe County, Florida. The election had large ramifications for the county but little state-wide importance. We were electing a sheriff and there were several horses in the race. As I signed in with the local poll workers I was asked for a picture ID. I mention this because, at the time, I attached no significance to the request beyond proof that I was duly registered and was who I claimed to be. Little did I know I was being discriminated against.
When the NAACP began its boycott of South Carolina because of the conspicuous display of the Confederate Battle Flag on the flagstaff of the Capitol building in Columbia without regard to a large number of our citizen’s sensibilities I had to agree that the time had passed for this archaic, though venerated symbol of the past to be retired. This contretemps is a whole different subject. The NAACP has been a beacon voice for the underrepresented minorities of this country but the time is past for this organization to join the rest of us in the 21st century.