I always try to get all sides of the story before forming an opinion, so I read the piece entirely, as well as the study referenced in it to see exactly what point was being made. The more I read, the more my original reaction was reinforced.
Pelosi’s general point is that there is an “agressive effort” to “restrict” and “limit” the “voting rights” of American voters, particularly minorities and the disabled. It’s a fairly common tactic for activists to make sweeping, broad unsubstantiated claims, so that doesn’t really surprise me, but I find it interesting that the claim is being made so far in advance of an election. It’s almost as if she’s laying the groundwork for a disappointing election season. Hmm.
So, I’d like to just point out a couple of the claims that Mrs. Pelosi is making and why they are incomprehensibly wrong.
“…in the last few years there has been an aggressive effort to restrict voting as legislators around the country have been pushing bills that make sweeping changes to their election codes to limit the voting rights of students and movers, reduce early voting days, and restrict voter registration and “get-out-the-vote” mobilization efforts.”
Apparently, making it so students can only vote in the state in which they’re registered is restricting their voting rights. That is, unless you consider the ability to vote more than once a “right”.
“Couple these efforts with voter ID laws that the DNC’s Voting Rights Institute reports affect 11 percent of Americans — approximately 23 million citizens of voting age, the vast majority of whom are low-income, disabled, minority, young, and older voters — who lack proper photo ID…”
Is it so unreasonable to ask voters to prove their identity before they cast a vote? The requirement for Voter Identification is one of the most fundamental necessities to prevent voter fraud. This is not discriminating or suppressing in any way. The right to vote is granted to American citizens and it is not unreasonable to ask people to prove who they are, no more than it is unreasonable for voters to have to register. Enjoying the right to do something does not mean that you can do it with no guidelines whatsoever.
She continues some more…
“…and the Federal Elections Commission finding that over 20,000 polling places are inaccessible to people with disabilities – http://smlr.rutgers.edu/fact-sheet-on-disability-and-voter-turnout-in-2010”
Mrs. Pelosi provides the referenced link, presumably to support her claim, however I found no reference in that study to indicate anything about accessibility to polling places. Perhaps she has some data to support this claim, but when you consider that most polling places are in schools, fire stations and other public facilities, I find it a bit unbelievable that there are 20,000 polling places that are not ADA compliant.
Even if, for the sake of argument, we assume her claim is true, the fact still remains that going to a polling place is not the only way to vote. If someone wants to vote and their polling place in inaccesible to them for whatever reason, they can very easily vote via Absentee Ballot as millions of Americans do.
What the study does show is a break down of voter turnout numbers for those with disabilities, and a comparison to those without. The turnout for those with disabilities is not surprisingly, slightly less. The people that have visual, mental or mobility disabilities had a significantly lower turnout than the average. I don’t think this is really news to anyone as it’s pretty reasonable to assume that people that have those types of afflictions would have a more difficult time getting around. Although it does not explain why they didn’t vote via Absentee Ballot. Mrs. Pelosi doesn’t address that (probably because it would marginalize her premise, but that’s a whole other story).
“That’s a whole lot [of] effort to suppress a vote that doesn’t count! If there is an effort to restrict voting, the forces doing the restricting must think the ballot counts – and you voters should too.”
This is where we’re supposed to read between the lines. I’m not going to try and determine Mrs. Pelosi’s intent or motivation, but it’s clear that she is trying to lead the reader into forming an opinion that something subversive is happening. I’m sure that Karl Rove is behind it. Or the Koch Brothers. Or the Tea Party. Or Wall Street.
I will say this: It’s pretty clear to me that Christine Pelosi feels that the Democrats are about to get an ass-whooping and this is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to lay the groundwork for the eventual discrimination and conspiracy claims. After all, when your party’s policies fail, you can’t exactly run on your record. You can’t keep your base happy when the policies you’ve pushed have done them more harm than good. I suppose all that’s left at that point is to baselessly accuse the other guys of subterfuge.
What else is left?
“I voted” Image credit: Denise Cross Photography