With an important election less than eight weeks away, voting rights and changes in the voting rules have been in the news. The Ohio Secretary of State's office recently mailed absentee ballot applications to everyone in the state.
According to Kelly Pallante, Trumbull County Board of Elections Director, citizens of Ohio have been able to vote absentee at will since 2006. Until this rule change, voters had to show why they couldn't vote at their local polling place on Election Day; legitimate reasons included disability, being elderly, stationed far from home in the military or employed overseas.
Another recent rule change allows in-person voting the last 35 days before Election Day, including the last three days over the weekend prior to Election Day. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted had initially decided not to allow the weekend voting in October until his directive was challenged in court by the Obama administration.
No surprise there: President Obama decreed a few months ago that his administration would allow young, illegal immigrants to stay in America, in defiance of the law. What's next, allowing them to vote, which is unconstitutional? We should all recall the massive voter fraud committed from 2008-10 by ACORN, the radical leftist organization that strongly supported Obama and illegal immigrants.
In the 1990s, various state legislatures passed laws allowing people to register to vote through other means than going to their local board of elections in person. They claimed this would increase voter participation. It did not.
They also justified that change by saying we need to make registering to vote easier and more convenient. Frankly, registering to vote when I came of age was one of the easiest things I've ever done. A quick trip to the local board of elections, fill out a 3x5 card and wait a few days so they could verify I actually live where I say I live. Done.
It doesn't take much imagination to see the potential for voter fraud when anyone can vote absentee and applications for absentee ballots are mailed to every household. Voter participation has declined in recent decades. What's to prevent someone who has no intention of voting from giving their ballot to a relative or associate who will then vote as many times as absentee ballots they can accumulate?
Pallante said election workers compare the signatures of the ballot against the registration application. Well the person who lawfully received the ballot could sign it before surrendering it. The previous system where everyone who couldn't prove a valid reason to vote absentee had to vote in-person would eliminate the easy fraudulent voting potential.
Furthermore, because of these rule changes, county boards of elections have to hire and pay more people for many more hours than under the old system. At a time of economic stagnation and serious budget constraints, is that wise? Director Pallante said Trumbull has to employ 14 extra workers starting Sept. 17.
This isn't about voting rights; the right of all U.S. citizens to vote has been federally enforced since the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Apparently our leaders at the federal and state levels thought they could increase voter participation by loosening the rules and making voting easier and more convenient. I have the opposite view: if a little inconvenience keeps you from voting, then you're not the kind of citizen who should be deciding elections.
There are many people in this world who cannot vote in free elections. They are in places where civil liberties are not guaranteed as they are in the U.S. I always have and will continue to be an informed voter in each election, even if I have to walk several miles to the polling place. My voice in our government is too precious to me to be discouraged by inconvenience.
Dunlap is a Weathersfield resident.