To The Daily Sun,
Is it a right or a privilege? This is the debate I hear when folks talk about health care policy and public education (my belief is that both are rights, but that’s another letter). What about voting RIGHTS?
Merriam-Webster states a right is something to which one has a just claim, such as a power or privilege to which one is justly entitled. A privilege is a right or liberty granted as a favor or benefit especially to some and not others. I hope we can all agree that voting in the USA is a right (and yes, we are privileged to have that right, as there are places in the world that do not). Unfortunately, we have elected representatives working to make voting a benefit to some and not to others (a privilege). Voting rights are under attack as states (N.H. included) pass voter suppression laws.
Voter suppression is a strategy to influence election outcomes by discouraging or preventing certain people from voting; think voter ID laws, purging of voter rolls, and cuts to early voting. These make it harder for many Americans to vote. Voter fraud is often cited as justification for such laws, yet, the evidence of voter fraud is almost non-existent, both nationally and here in N.H. These laws can lead to significant burdens for some eligible voters trying to exercise their most fundamental constitutional RIGHT. Perhaps you and I do not feel it is a hardship to show identification or prove residency at the polls, but that is an example of privilege. Studies suggest that up to 11 percent of American citizens lack a government issued photo ID and would be required to navigate administrative burdens to obtain one or forego the right to vote entirely. Here in N.H., SB-3, a voter suppression bill, was passed earlier this year, though it is facing legal challenges. How did your representative/senator vote?
Another N.H. bill working its way through the process is HB-372, is a worse version of SB-3, designed to disenfranchise college students. Be informed. Don’t be fooled by pithy statements and five-second sound bites. Just because a voter suppression bill might not affect you personally, everyone’s vote counts and should be counted if we are to truly be a government of the people by the people and for the people. Let your elected officials know how you feel, then watch how they vote, and remember that the mid-term elections are less than a year away. America claims to be a beacon of democracy. We should not tolerate tactics that suppress voter turnout.