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Voting rights, which are fundamental to the success of a democratic nation, should never be undermined. Voter suppression refers to a situation where the right to vote of an individual is interfered with in order to influence an election outcome. Some of the methods used to suppress voters include the enactment of laws to deal with photo identification cards, imposition of short deadlines of voter registration submission, and disenfranchisement of ex-felons. Electoral fraud, which refers to illegal interference with an election process, includes: illegal registration of voters, improper counting of votes, and intimidation of voters at polls. It can be prevented in many ways, laws put forward by several swing states, as documented in The New York Times, favor voter suppression and mainly aim at locking out some people from practicing their democratic right.
An election is a free and fair process for individuals in a given country. It is a time when one chooses a leader who will best represent the interests and views of not only him/her but his/her countrymen. The whole process should bring harmony to society, bearing in mind that the chosen leader will represent the whole country, not only those who voted for him/her. The greatest hurdle that faces minorities in the United States of America is the transition from household identification or voters’ signature to the photo identification. Seven states have already passed this law, and twenty-seven other states have experienced the introduction of similar measures. Most citizens, mainly the poor, the elderly, Hispanic and blacks, lack government identity cards due to the bureaucracy and hard time involved in attaining one.Attorney General Eric Holder opposes the requirement of a government identification card in Texas elections due to its lack of basis and because it will only undermine the voting rights of the minorities. This was during the annual convention of NAACP, on Tuesday, July 10, 2012, in Houston. He also went ahead to castigate these laws as those who lack the identification cards will have to pay before acquiring the documents and even travel great distances to get them, referring to it as poll taxes. Richard Hasen argues that the strict rules of government identification cards can only help in vote impersonation. He goes further to explain how in Pennsylvania (a state well known to advocate for photo identity cards), where the court conceded of not knowing any cases of impersonation fraud, yet it is clearly documented of how more than seven hundred and fifty thousand voters from Pennsylvania lacked photo identity cards. The same law gives discretion to officials, who are locals of the area, to decide which identity cards should be deemed acceptable. This should not be the case as the election process is not meant to punish but allow people exercise their democratic right.
Legislation passed in states like Florida, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania enacts restrictive laws on voters’ registration. This was through the use of short deadline for submission of forms. Stiff penalties were also put on late filing. The bill, enacted in Florida, led to the throwing in the towel by one organization, League of Women Voters, as the provisions were egregious. It is a shock as this organization has been in the industry for ninety-one years. This is a clear demonstration how the Republicans ignores the calls for democracy. I believe the United States of America is bigger than any single individual; therefore, actions taken by one setting should put the rights of other citizens at heart.
In Ohio and Georgia, wait times of four to ten hours were reported making voters leave the voting line without voting. These tactics have been criticized by one of their own, Charlie Crist, who is a former Florida governor on the Republican ticket. He talked of the mockery on democracy that the calls of the Republicans had in every election period. He further stated that the key to democracy is the right to vote, which gives value to individual’s freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the right to assemble (Rosenthal). This indicates the extent to which even some of the Republicans feel the oppression of democracy by these laws and come out clearly to defend the rights of other citizens.
I advocate for free, fair, and always peaceful elections. Acts that undermine the voting rights of citizens of a country should never be entertained. It is the responsibility of lawmakers to ensure that all the laws of the land respect the rights of every citizen, as clearly stipulated in the constitution. The issues of voter registration should be handled by an independent body that will run the federal elections and strive to ensure that only eligible voters are allowed to cast a vote during elections. All these services should be provided free of charge and to the convenience of every citizen. The USA is a model to many nations, and such voting wars should never bring this nation down. I, therefore, humbly request the republicans to embrace dialogue and put the image of the nation in mind in every action they undertake, for a better America.