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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Current Events- Voting Issues

By Sergio, Lila, Lexi, and Karisa

In a Democracy, the basic element to participate in government is a vote. This “right” to vote in America was a strange thing that hadn’t occurred in history; suddenly everyone had the right to vote in this new free country. Or did they? At the start of our countries history only white, male, land owners were aloud to vote. This restricted the voice of the people and made for a system where the lawmakers were directly making laws for one group of people, instead of the country as a whole. Throughout America’s history there has been a fight for true equality at the ballot. This is shown through movements to allow all men to vote, including blacks and other minorities in the 1870s and on, movements for women to have the ability to vote in the 1920s, and fair, equal voting rights movements still occurring today. These equal rights were fought for from our countries origin, all the way to today.

            The fight for equal rights at the polls continues today, and one battlefield for this election cycle has been focused on the state Ohio. This state is what is known as a swing state, meaning that it has a historical record of voting for both parties candidates and in the past it has been a close race in this state. Ohio has put some limits on early voting, but the controversy is that the majority of these limits are on known democratic counties and fewer limits on known republican counties. These limits or fewer limits were passed by a republican secretary of state, which is part of why these laws are being contested so viciously by the Obama administration. The early voting limits in the democratic counties are that they will only be open 8am to 5pm on weekdays and early voting has been cut off three days before the election, which last election cycle was a major weekend for these counties, while republican counties will be open later hours and on weekends as well. These restrictions don’t seem fair to the American public and they don’t seem equal to all, which is what we as a country have been fighting against since our independence.

            Another battleground state in America today is Pennsylvania, which similar to Ohio is a swing state. Pennsylvania has a new and controversial law requiring voter identification every time you vote. Now this law may not seem like anything special and useful to fight against voter fraud, but fraud is very rare and this law is a bit overreaching. This new law is being compared to poll taxes because the voters in a lot of cases have to pay for these “free voter ids”, whether its sending money for their birth certificate to provide verification to get the id, or simply they have to pay for the id. Also another controversy with it is that it targets minorities, immigrant, and poor voters which predominantly vote democrat. Also the lawmakers, who were republicans, tried to brush over the importance of this law to decrease the democrat vote in this all important battleground state. So naturally democrats are up in arms about this issue, believing that it is catered to republicans and that the laws are trying to be stacked against the democratic voters. There is some important issues on both sides of this argument, and the outcome could change how other states voting laws affect the American public and the future.

            The American public needs to pay attention to these states and these issues, because they affect the nation and the outcome of these events may set the precedent for the country for hundreds of years to come. The laws seem to favor the republican parties in each state, or so the democrats are saying and on some points they are correct. If these laws stand the republicans will benefit from them in each state, which infuriates the democrats making them reach out to their voters and promote working around or within the laws to get out and vote. This conflict of parties and voting rights will be interesting to see the outcome of, because it has the potential to shape new laws and reshape our understanding of our rights. We as a group hope that these conflicts reach an equal and fair agreement with the American public’s rights at the forefront of the lawmakers’ minds and the implications that these laws could have for the rest of the states.

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