Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Silencing Progress One Youth Vote at a Time

It's Tuesday. One week from the Iowa Caucus. 7 days from the true and official start of the election season. So what do we have to greet us on this seventh day away from when Americans will go to the polls and exercise their right to vote? We have more Republican shenanigans to bar eligible voters from voting.

It's the 1960s all over again, only this time the target group under legislators' discriminatory ire are college students. The optimistic few who have yet to become disenchanted by our government, frustrated by our policies and ready to say to hell with the whole way of Washington.

Let's just stop right there. This is not Iraq or Afghanistan or Iran where stuffing the ballot box to keep the autocratic regime of an ultra-conservative Islamist regime is as simple as "Rachel" on Glee trying to get "Kurt" in all of his unicorn glitteriness elected Senior Class President. The days of hand writing, hand counting, taking three weeks to certify an election commission this is not. This is the United States of America where elections are wrapped up -- for the most part -- the same day they begin.

But what about Florida and those hanging chads of 2000 you say? That was not an instance of voter fraud. That was an instance of votes lost. Votes not being counted and our high court appointing a President against the will of the people who in the popular vote proved George W. Bush wasn't it.

The author of the article calls B.S. too.

"Republicans usually don’t want to acknowledge that their purpose is to turn away voters, especially when race is involved, so they invented an explanation, claiming that stricter ID laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud. In fact, there is almost no voter fraud in America to prevent."
He goes on to say that Republicans want to ban college students new to the electoral process because Blacks, Hispanics, and of course the youth tend to vote liberal. I guess if you're Black and young and Hispanic and young you're twice the thorn in the Republican side than just someone Black and old or Hispanic and old.

These types of laws stir an anger in me so deeply it's hard for me to even comprehend. But I'm going to try and explain.



Being younger than the rest of my blog partners here at The Urban Politico I still remember vividly my first voting experience. I was sitting on my extra-long twin bed in my oversized dorm room at my off-campus dorm -- how cool was I -- with a manila envelope of all the materials I needed to fill out my absentee Illinois ballot for the 2004 Presidential election. I voted for Kerry with pride. I voted for Illinois state legislator Barack Obama for the U.S. Senate. The rest of the ballot is a blur but those two votes I know I cast. 15 whole punching minutes later, I voted, sealed my completed ballot in the postage-paid envelope and set off to the first floor; avoiding the elevator that got stuck between floors.

In 2008, now out of college, I cast another absentee ballot for the state of Illinois. In this instance I simply refused to register in Texas because I actually wanted my vote, the way I was voting, to count.

It did.

The one time Senator I voted into office in 2004 became President.

My faith in the electoral process, which was shattered at 13 with the election of Bush 43, was restored. All was right in the world and things were as they were supposed to be. Swing state's swung in their respective directions, people voted instead of dying, the other candidate conceded when he saw that he could not win and no state reported any problems with ballots, votes or people not being able to exercise their right.

This is the way things should go. Not to say that the electoral process only works when a Democrat is elected to office. Rather, there were no bumps, no hiccups and no idiosyncrasies to call the election of Barack Hussein A.K.A. Blessed King (that's what his name means) Obama into office.

But the smooth election of 2008 made way for the rocky term that is the Obama Presidency. The term was marred by beggings of his birth certificate, Salem witch-hunt like quests to invalidate him as President and even as a man fit to lead the free world. His term has been marred by more concern of whether or not he's smoking rather than how well he's leading. It's been marred by more focus on his "questionable intellect" than his capacity or even incapacity to navigate certain political fields with a prowess that leaves him unscathed in all outcomes.

Because of these distractions, Republicans have now taken it upon themselves to silence the voting voice of the young and minorities because "voting as a liberal is what kids do."

Voting as a liberal is not just what minority kids do. Just like voting as a conservative is not just something old White men do. Voting is something people who care about the future of their country do; it matters not the race or age of that person. Voting is something people who want to be involved in the civic creation of their country do; it matters not the race or age of that person. Voting is something people who want to see change come to their country do; it matters not the race or age.

At 13 I knew there was something wrong with the Gore - Bush outcome. You can bet your sweet behind that four and a half years later, with more knowledge to boot, voting was a chief priority in 2004 even if my candidate did not win.

The Republican push to invalidate the voting voice of the young is a direct assault on the Obama campaign. It is the Obama campaign in 2008 that mobilized the youth vote through five dollar donations given to grassroots organizers on street corners. It is the Obama campaign in 2008 that made use of this new craze we call social media by drumming up support on Facebook and MySpace that now extends to Twitter and YouTube. It is the Obama campaign that an entire cable network supported -- in true bias -- during the biggest night of their year when many young minority voters would be watching. (BET Awards '08)

As a young college-educated Black woman I don't necessarily feel attacked by this latest Republican push to silence my voice. This issue is bigger than me. This GOP push is an attack on the entire electoral process. It would be the same if Democrats were doing it to silence the voice of young majority Republicans ignorant though they may be.

Attack ads. I can honor that. The Supreme Court decision allowing constant giving by corporations to campaigns in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission I can also stand behind because it went through the judicial process even if the outcome is one I disagree with. But this legislative push to stop something, to curb a right that is given in the constitution, reinforced by the 15th amendment and further bolstered by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is one I can't get behind.

This is some Diddy "bitchassness" if I've ever heard, seen or read it before. But giving this push a childish name, calling Republicans out on their B.S., even getting it blocked by the Justice Department won't make this push stop. Unfortunately the only way to make it stop is if Obama were not a candidate. But that's not going to happen.

So what now?

Elections season begins in 7 days.

What are the young, the minorities, those with a dissenting voice from the old guard supposed to do? Vote with out of state I.D's? Yes. Register for an express passport just in case their I.D. is rejected? Yes. Vote via absentee ballot vote? Yes. Call into question the constitutionality of barring a student's vote because they pay out of state tuition? Yes.

This really is a matter of life or death. Not being able to vote and the election having an outcome undesired by so many bangs the final nail into the coffin of disenchantment with our government, our electoral system, and our future.

Disenchantment leads to death.

Therefore; Vote or Die.

1. Is there a way to stop the voter ID laws from going into effect?
2. If they were to take effect do you think they'd be repealed immediately after the 2012 election thus showing just how biased they are?
3. Do you feel attacked by the laws or do you feel the issue is bigger than just those that seem to be the target?

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