Monday, November 5, 2012

The Importance of Voting

            The American people will vote tomorrow, but the election is far from over.  From what I have read the Obama and Romney teams are gearing up for a post-election legal battle.  I think this election will be eerily similar to the 2000 election debacle.  A lawsuit has already been brought against the state of Florida for halving the early voting time (from 14 days to 8 days) and the extremely long lines in heavily democratic counties.  In Ohio there is controversy over Secretary of State Jon Husted’s decision on provisional ballots.  Husted shifted the burden of recording the form of ID on provisional ballots from the poll worker to the voter.  This could potentially put in jeopardy thousands of votes.  As a result voting-rights advocates filed an emergency motion with a federal judge in Ohio.  So what does this all mean?  It means the results of the Ohio electorate can spend weeks or months in court.  Similar to Florida in 2000, each side will fight for recounts, for their votes to count, and for their opponents votes to be disqualified. 
            Besides making the 2012 election a debacle, and once again making American democracy a global spectacle, there is another issue at hand.  From voter ID laws to shortening early voting time to controversy over ballots, there is an attempt to limit the size and scope of the American electorate.  A smaller, less diverse electorate will directly benefit the GOP.  The Republicans have been losing the race with America’s fasting growing demographics and they know it. 
            It is no surprise that Republic Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, has fought to decrease early voting by a week, or that numerous Red states have fought for stricter voter ID laws.  Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai planned on using strict voter ID laws as a strategy to help Mitt Romney win his state.  He explicitly stated that voter ID would allow Governor Romney to win Pennsylvania.  Luckily for US, our system has worked and numerous judges struck down that law and others throughout the nation.  The judges argued that the laws inhibit the elderly, the poor, and minorities (usually democratic voters) from exercising their right to vote.  
            The problem I have with the GOP is they succeed when Americans are denied their right to vote.  The ironic part is that I believe most Americans are moderate Republicans (socially liberal, fiscally conservative, advocates of small government).  The message of the GOP has gone so far right that they alienated large groups of Americans.  Now I truly believe Mitt Romney is a moderate Republican, which is why I contemplated voting for him, but it is unfortunate that he had to feign being a conservative to win the primary.  But that issue is for another day. 
            The United States of America is supposed to be the bastion of democracy in the world.  Millions have died for rights that many of us take for granted.  Just take a look at Syria and Libya and see how people will give their lives for democracy.  Unfortunately, many institutions in the US have misplaced their attention.  Both parties should work to make sure every single eligible voter participates in elections because only when we practice what we preach will the United States be legitimate in promoting democracy around the world.  To try to prevent individuals from voting is the most Un-American thing one can do. 
            And to reiterate that point, it is the responsibility of every American who can vote to do so.  We owe it to everyone who died, is dying, and will die for the right to choose his or her government.  I can’t stand it when people say, “I’m not voting, the system won’t change,” or “voting is a waste of time.”  We take voting for granted, just like any other freedom, because we have never lived without it, but ask anyone who cannot vote how important they think it is.  So whether you vote for Obama or Romney or any other candidate all that matters is that you vote!  If you don’t like the current system then vote for 3rd party candidates.  No vote is ever wasted so get out and make your voice heard! 

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