09 October 2008

Thousands Removed From Voting Rolls

A serious issue that could have significant impacts on the upcoming presidential election has arisen in at least six states and possibly more, including Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Nevada, and North Carolina. According to the New York Times, thousands of voters have been taken off voting rolls or simply not allowed to register to vote. The numbers here are not small. For example: "In Colorado, some 37,000 people were removed from the rolls in the three weeks after July 21. During that time, about 5,100 people moved out of the state and about 2,400 died." That leaves 29,500 people who have been removed for no apparent reason, except for the states that are removing people because "they have failed to vote in two consecutive federal elections." I doubt all those people are convicted felons.

It is against federal law to remove voters unless they die, move, or are deemed unfit to vote (such as when someone is convicted of a federal crime). It is also illegal to use social security information to check people's voter registrations, but some states have been doing just that.

"For every voter added to the rolls in the past two months in some states, election officials have removed two, a review of the records shows." Thousands of people are going to show up to their polling placed come November 4th, and are going to be upset that they have been removed from the rolls and will not be able to cast their vote. Especially for the many people who are newly registered so they can have a say in this monumental election year, this is a fabulous way to disengage people from the political process and fuel apathy.

This newest information just adds to the already existing list of voting issues, such as easily hacked and paper-trail-less electronic voting machines and ballots like those in Florida in 2000 that were not clear to many voters. Something needs to fundamentally change in this country's election process. In a democracy such as ours, voting is the primary way in which the citizenry have a say in how the government is run and what issues are important to them. There is already too much apathy in America due to political scandals that have been occurring since Nixon resigned, and the sense that our leaders are so estranged from the people that nothing we do matters on the national scale. For every person that is removed from the voting rolls or decides not to vote because she believes her opinion doesn't matter or won't count, we move farther away from a real democracy and closer to authoritarianism. No one wants that.

It is past the time to talk about this issue. We need to change. We need to insure that people's votes will count, we need to give people the information they need to register without making it hard or confusing, we need to give people more than the standard two choices come election time. We need to save our country and our freedom.

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