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October 26, 2012
It's pretty simple: ID requirements are voter
intimidation and disenfranchisement
It seems so simple.
On election day, you arrive at your
polling place, walk in and show them
your voter registration card along with a
Vote, walk out.
If you don't have
identification, you can't
" It seems so simple
when you look at it
simply. But it simply
isn't that simple.
Since 2011, state
governments across the
nation, including North
Carolina, have pushed
for stricter voting
legislation, ranging from
restrictions on election-day registration
to measures delaying early voting.
However, the most notable proposition is
to require voters to present identification
at the polls.
To you or me, that may seem like a
decent proposal. It's likely that most of
us have a driver's license or a passport
or something handy.
However, laws of this sort would
exclude around 450,000 North Carolina
voters on election day, an amount
composed largely of minorities, the poor,
seniors, and students like us.
If the ID laws take away so many
votes, why is there a push to enact these
The reason lawmakers give is that
the laws will cut down on voter fraud.
"Voter fraud" itself is a blanket term
for a myriad of offenses, including vote
buying and voter intimidation, but
legislators provide accounts of double
voting, deceased voters, or felons voting.
However, according to New York
University's Brennan Center for Justice,
many of these accounts were disproved
after investigation of the stories and the
alleged perpetrators. Also, they point
out that fraudulent votes account for
miniscule fractions of percentages of
the electorate and that voter fraud itself
carries a punishment of a $10,000 fine
and five years in federal prison.
For one vote.
In my opinion, it's wildly unnecessary
to enforce strident restrictions on
upwards of 10 percent of the electorate
for a problem which occurs as low as
0.00004 percent of the time.
So I ask again: why enact these laws?
The movement for stricter voting laws
has been led by conservative governors
and legislatures across the board. If
that doesn't speak volumes, then I'll
allow Pennsylvania House Majority
Leader Mike Turzai to speak on his
colleagues' behalf: "Voter ID (will) allow
Governor Romney to win the state of
. He said it himself: the voter ID
movement is a partisan machination to
eliminate Democrat-leaning voters.
North Carolina's Republican
gubernatorial hopeful Pat McCrory also
wishes to install voter identification laws
in this state, and cites the uniform reason
— voting fraud is a problem that must
"If you don't look for it, you won't find
it," McCrory stated. "Nobody's looking."
Well, Mr. McCrory, I looked.
According to the Republican National
Lawyers' Association, North Carolina
tallied only 15 cases of assorted voter
fraud in the past 12 years: six counts of
non-resident voting, five charges of vote
buying, and four cases of double-voting.
Only the cases of double-voting
occurred in the last election cycle. One
of the defendants, Kierra Leach, said that
she voted early, then voted on election
day because she believed her early vote
"It was an accident," Leach claimed.
"It wasn't planned or anything."
Aye, there's the rub: the electorate is
afraid of disenfranchisement even before
they cast their vote. But the democratic
process shouldn't be intimidating; it
should be a basic right enjoyeld by all
Americans. We shouldn't bar people
from voting because they don't have a
piece of plastic with their picture on it,
and we shouldn't force them to jump an
unnecessary hurdle to vote.
So let's drop this "voter fraud"
Let's keep it simple.
Deconstructing the "America for Jesus" Manifesto
The America for Jesus rallies were held last month
Philadelphia, much to the chagrin of rational human beings
everywhere. They featured several prominent religious pundits,
such as the infamously homophobic Pat Robertson. The
predominant idea was to make all Americans
Running concurrently to the rallies was
the Awakening Youth Rally, which had a goal
of "compelling our generation to radically
abandon itself to a lifestyle of worship."
The manifesto on their website says our
country is in a "state of emergency," and there
is only one way to "heal the land." The video
embedded on the website speaks of "one
remedy." What is it, you ask?
Surprise: the only answer is Jesus, according
to the well-made piece of propaganda.
Apparently, we can no longer rely on
"education, government or man's wisdom." Never mind that
many of our greatest minds, such as Darwin, Twain, and
Einstein, have had little to no belief in God. Relying on the
resurrection of a man who's been dead for millennia sounds
like the only plausible solution, right?
Speaking of ancient history, I wasn't aware that we were a
nation "founded under prayer." In fact, I was raised believing
in our Constitution, which explicitly states that church and state
should remain separate. And as I recall, most of our founding
fathers were deist and, as such, rejected the idea that prayer
could summon God to change things. But I've been living a lie,
I suppose, if the people at AFJ are to be believed.
The quotes ripped straight from their manifesto in the
paragraphs are horrific. Here we have a large group who
believe gay people are sinners and who think women should
have no control over their own bodies.
It seems their idea of "acceptance" is shoving their agenda
down the nation's gullet.
For most of my life. I've believed in an America where I can
live my own way and not be afraid to voice my views. But I've
been mistaken, according to the fine folks running AFJ, who
plan to "summon together the whole body of Christ to pray for
the church and our nation."
This is not true Christianity. Jesus taught loving all different
types, but these people twist his kind words into hate speech.
I used to be religious and felt nothing but good will from
members of my former church. AFJ is not teaching anything
positive; they're exploiting fears in people with weaker minds.
They're preaching the act of shunning nonbelievers.
According to them, our moral backbone would be significantly
strengthened by adopting a unified fear of a bipolar lunatic
who summons fire and brimstone at a moment's notice. If you
don't believe in this god, you'll go to hell, apparently. How
As for me? I'll call their bluff. I refuse to worship and praise a
god who would kill over sexual orientation or personal beliefs.
I will not live in perpetual fear of being punished by a big man
in the sky.
Because I believe in humanity and that there are truer forms
of Christianity than this grotesque circus.
I believe love and tolerance are the only ways we can
truly cooperate as a society. I believe a true religion preaches
acceptance, not hate. Learning from others' perspectives will
enlighten us to and inform us of differing viewpoints.
If we want a stronger America, we need to stop forcing
our beliefs on others and start realizing some people might
not appreciate the things we hold in such high esteem. Jesus
was a great man, and anyjbody can learn something from
his teachings. But using hate speech and degrading whole
demographics is not the way people should learn of his word.
That's the America I believe in: an America for acceptance.
October is not just the month when trees
shake their branches to clear the leaves that
will ultimately collect in massive piles on
the ground. Nor is it only the month where
we get to dress up in creative costumes
and consume an enormous amount of
sweets. During the month of October we
observe National Breast Cancer Awareness,
Domestic Violence Awareness, Disability
Awareness and other causes of which we
should be aware.
How many pink products do we see
this month on the shelves of stores trying
to persuade us that every purchase is one
step closer to a cure for breast cancer? How
many people are willing to run or walk long
distances because they are told every step
counts? We all want to do our part and bring
an end to breast cancer or help someone
escape an abusive relationship.
Companies and organizations even try to
lend a helping hand. But how do we know
if we're actually making progress or the
money we help raise is actually being used
for its original purpose?
Take the Susan G. Komen foundation. It
is the most well-known organization that
supports breast cancer and you can see the
name on nearly every pink product sold in
stores. But the organization has received
criticism for benefitting from corporate
partnerships that produce goods which
contain harmful ingredients instead of
focusing on promoting awareness on how
breast cancer can be avoided or detected
and how those who have been diagnosed
can find a way to cope.
There is thus another important kind of
awareness. It begins with knowing exactly
what we are standing up for and how
and where we can contribute. But it also
means follow through to guarantee that
our contributions are being used to make
the difference we seek. How can we tmst
that the money we give to help others is
actually helping? That isn't to say we should
be suspicious of every organization that is
working towards helping a cause, but we
should be informed.
Nobody should feel bad about
questioning where the proceeds of an
organization go because it is our duty to
question if the organization is being honest.
Don't feel guilty about doing the research.
Once you have the answers you seek, you
can be confident that you are able to bring
awareness to others.
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