Virtual Voices

Early military voting under fire

Campaign 2012

All's fair in love, war, and politics.

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Democrats have opposed state laws that require citizens to present a government-issued form of photo identification before voting. They claim such measures are discriminatory and present an undue hardship on "the poor," elderly, and certain racial and ethnic minorities.

States have the authority to regulate the voting process. To even suggest voter ID laws infringe on voting rights is absurd in a country where citizens might be asked to show a photo ID while running everyday errands or using government services like the public library. To invoke Jim Crow (poll taxes, literacy tests, threats of violence, and actual violence) is scandalous.

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Democrats now have the military in their sights. The Obama campaign is suing Ohio (18 electoral votes) because the state allows members of the military to vote early in person until the Monday before Election Day, while the deadline for other early voters is the Friday before the election. Democrats contend the "arbitrary" law is unconstitutional, as it treats similarly situated voters differently.

It's no coincidence that the sort of people who don't have a valid form of photo ID tend to vote for Democrats and that members of the military tend to vote for Republicans. But one side makes a better case for voting laws than the other. Men and women without government-issued photo ID can get a ride (bus, subway, taxi, or helpful family/friend with a car) to the DMV, fill out an application, show proof of identity and residency, and pay a small fee for a non-driver ID card. In some cases, the government waives the fee. Citizens in the military, who volunteer to risk their lives to serve this great nation, ought to be given extra consideration.

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a non-profit organization run by Christians Jay and Jordan Sekulow, father and son, respectively, plans to submit an amicus brief in support of the military. The ACLJ protects religious and constitutional freedoms. From the ACLJ site (emphasis added):

"President Obama's argument that there is 'no legitimate justification' for granting military members particular consideration in ensuring their right to vote is legally incorrect. State and federal law already treats military and non-military differently to combat the unique challenges faced by those who have volunteered their lives in service to their country. … Should military personnel be given a last minute assignment or called to report to a location far from their home, they should have every opportunity to vote."

Fifteen military groups oppose the lawsuit. "Efforts to facilitate and maximize military voting should be welcomed, not viewed with constitutional suspicion," the groups wrote in a court filing.

Is all fair in love, war, and politics? The president knows military voters likely won't help him much. But filing a lawsuit so close to the election to take away a few more days of voting from military volunteers is a cynical move. Then again, implying that certain racial minorities are too stupid, ignorant, and/or lazy to obtain photo ID is worse.

La Shawn Barber
La Shawn Barber

La Shawn writes about culture, faith, and politics. Her work has appeared in the Christian Research Journal, Christianity Today, the Washington Examiner, and other publications

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