Some things are simple and exact, like a chemical formula or the multiplication tables. Equally simple by logic: Everyone who votes should be eligible to vote, and before receiving a ballot should be able to prove it. Voting-rights activists find dark motives in the elementary desire for clean elections, and are eager to cry voter suppression. With the approach of crucial midterms, Americans have every right to make sure their votes still matter when relaxed rules make eligibility irrelevant.
New Hampshire voters became the target of legal lunacy last week when a state judge issued a temporary injunction against enforcement of a new law requiring a person registering to vote within 30 days of an election to show proof of residency. Otherwise the rule would lengthen lines at polling sites and discourage students and the disabled from signing up. It didn’t seem to matter that prospective voters who showed up to vote without the proper documentation would still have 10 days to mail it in.
“Where the law threatens to disenfranchise an individual’s right to vote, the only viable remedy is to enjoin its enforcement,” wrote Presiding Superior Justice Kenneth C. Brown. Who knew the minor inconvenience of handing over a utility bill containing a home address would flummox the descendants of New Hampshire patriots who vowed to “Live free or die”?
Showing identification with a photograph on it is a requirement for a lot of things Americans perform routinely without a second thought, let alone with a cry of despair. Among them, picking up a prescription, buying a bottle of beer, getting aboard an airliner, opening a checking account, applying for a job, purchasing a fishing license, buying a car, renting a house or donating blood. There’s no shortage of bureaucratic mandates that bedevil modern life — paying taxes, sitting in gridlocked traffic, waiting for the cable guy to show up — but showing an ID card is surely not one of them.
Some politicians, primarily Democrats, go beyond the flimsy argument that simple rules calling for proof of residency are, in fact, proof of voter suppression. The state of Georgia requires an exact name match between a voter’s ID and a voter registration form. “The blue wave is African-American,” says Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate for governor. “It’s white, it’s Latino, it’s Asian-Pacific Islander. It is disabled. It is differently abled. It is LGBTQ. It is law enforcement. It is veterans. It is made up of those who’ve been told that they are not worthy of being here. It is comprised of those who are documented and undocumented.” More than a motto, that’s a bold Democratic declaration of a new understanding of American aspiration.
Others do not stop at proclaiming their support of non-citizens casting ballots. San Francisco’s Department of Elections took the unusual step in July of allowing illegal residents to participate in local school board elections. A local poll found their constituents alarmed, with 71 percent of respondents opposed and only 21 percent favor it. Critics of the change included 91 percent of Republicans, 54 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of independents.
Californians worry about the possibility of noncitizens voting. A state law that took effect in April automatically registers driver’s license applicants as voters, whether citizens qualified to cast a ballot or illegals who are not.
Citizens of foreign nations are casting U.S. ballots in increasing numbers. Connecticut, Delaware and New Mexico now allow nonresident voting in city and municipal elections. Currently, California is joined by nine other states in welcoming foreigners to vote in certain special elections, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New arrivals tend to vote Democratic, which is hardly coincidence. The U.S. House of Representatives adopted a nonbinding resolution in September condemning efforts to enable illegal immigrants to vote in U.S. elections. A 2016 study from Old Dominion University found that 6.4 percent of the 42 million foreigners in the U.S. voted in 2008, so it’s not unreasonable to surmise that the number of illegitimate votes could reach into the millions.
The privilege of choosing the nation’s leaders is a fundamental right that must be reserved for citizens of the United States. If the vote is diluted by those determined to boost their ballot totals at any cost, Americans will have lost the ability to determine their future. It’s an end not remotely justified by the means.
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