So I just read this article in the New York Times about a Texas woman who got 8 years in prison and intended future deportation over “Illegal Voting.” While some may feel that it is fine, because if you are “voting illegally” you deserve to be punished, it becomes so much of a “grayer” type situation once you actually know details on the story (which I’ll link here).
The woman was Rosa Maria Ortega, a 37 year old permanent resident who she herself was brought to this country as an infant. Plain and simple, she didn’t know that she could not vote. She is here legally. She has a green card, she is able to pay taxes, own property, legally get a job and serve in our military, but she is not allowed to vote, and she plain didn’t know she couldn’t. She merely wanted to participate, and she had been allowed to register. She grew up here and went to our school systems so I’m not at all surprised she isn’t aware of the “finer details” on this subject. To be plainly honest, I myself didn’t have a good understanding until I as an adult and researched it myself over a year ago.
The mother of 4 is in trouble for voting in 2012 & 2014 elections. Texas officials were prepared to offer a deal with her and dismiss the charges if she would testify before the Texas Legislature, but Tarrant County criminal district attorney Sharen Wilson put a stop to that plan, because taking her to trial would showcase her office’s effort to crack down on election fraud.
SO…. now to the point that I wanted to make…
I think we make this all more difficult that it needs to be. I think that voting should always be allowed to ANY permanent resident in an area. If you’ve lived in an area for 3 + years, you should be able to vote on anything that affects that area period.
To register to vote, you should be able to go in, provide 3 things that would show you’ve actually resided in that area for three years, and you should be given a “registration number” or issued a formal “registration card” that you would then have to provide that ID on a removable section of your voting card.
If we were worried about having a number that would “identify you” somehow in conjunction with your vote, maybe we could have the cross-referencing occur outside of the ballot box. The people handling the voting would have to match the number of those allowed in, with the number of votes cast at the end of the day.
~ OR that you’d have to provide on the external secrecy envelope containing your ballot — if your area does mail in ballots.
That ID number would be cross-referenced against a list of numbers, and if it didn’t match, then it would not be counted and that person would be then detained to investigate where they got the card and ID number from.
Three years is enough of a chunk of someone’s life spent to have a vote in their specific area to warranted a right to care about the goings on there.
Ideally, above and beyond that, we could entirely remove from the registration process the point of being “Republican” or “Democrat” or “Label X” from the registration process. That way you’d remove the ease at which the higher ups could then find an excuse to disallow some group’s vote.
The point is there are so many different ways we could be doing this, and people are frustratingly avoidant of change, yet content to keep things as inefficient as they currently are… almost just so they can have an excuse to discriminate and complain and cause issues for others “not like them”.
We can’t get a good chunk of people to vote in the first place. Why should we diminish a permanent resident’s ability to vote on issues that affect the area they permanently live in…. its all ego related nonsense.