No Guarantees: the Right to Vote

A recent New York Times editorial “The Right to Vote” explains how vote suppression is alive and well, with real
barriers created to prevent people from voting, sometimes unintentionally, and
sometime very much on partisan politics purpose. The most effective means are
attacks on voter’s eligibility, by abusing voter registration information. (That’s one reason for OSDV’s efforts to create technology
for open, auditable voter registration systems, with transparency of who is
doing what when in managing registration records.)

But technology is only part
of the picture, as shown by Doug Kellner’s powerful commentary on stories used
to support attacks on voter eligibility:

“Stories about party officials’ intimidation of voters are
comparable to the over-hyped claims of voter registration fraud that lead to
identification requirements that suppress far more legitimate votes than the
potential harm. Just because it can be done doesn’t mean that anyone is
actually doing it.

“This story about a 97 year old voter who can’t prove her
citizenship brought me to tears. Voter ID requirements are just another
suppression tactic – like the literacy tests and poll taxes of old – designed
to target poor and minority voters.

"The story particularly affected me because of my personal
experience representing a client who was born out of wedlock on an Indian
reservation, raised by a friend of his mother in NYC with a different name than
shown on his birth certificate. We endured a three year’s of administrative insensitivity
and then litigation to obtain a passport even though he was a nuclear engineer
and honorably discharged from the Navy.”

Thanks to Doug for reminding us how the machineries of
bureaucracies can grind away at what should be a right, the right to vote.

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