If it strikes you that I’m being facetious about the dire need for strict unicorn leash laws, then you haven’t been paying attention. You should be afraid of untethered unicorns because they pose a real danger to our Republic; at least that’s what some would have us believe.
In a democracy we are responsible for presenting our perspectives and hope that the best ideas will prevail. However, now it seems that because some politicians cannot sway the argument they change the rules. We’ve seen this in the clarion call for strict voter ID laws. “Aren’t ID laws necessary to prevent fraud?” you may ask. Like leash laws for mythical unicorns, voter ID laws address a fantasy issue. In 2012 a nationwide analysis of more than 2,068 cases of alleged voter fraud from 2000-2012 found that in-person voter fraud totaled 10 cases, or just 1 case of voter fraud for each 15 million registered voters, and less than a single incident of voter fraud per year – in the entire nation!
Given that voter fraud exists merely as a fantasy and a myth, the only discernable reason for strict voter ID laws is to limit the opportunity to vote. Of course restrictions are intended primarily to prevent voting by people that disagree and aren’t buying a candidate’s or a political party’s particular brand of crazy. It is a national disgrace when politicians, our elected officials, seek to silence the voice of the very electorate they are supposed to represent.
Voting restrictions disproportionately affect the elderly (many of whom don’t have birth certificates), minorities (many of whom live in cities where a driver’s license isn’t necessary), and the poor (who simply cannot afford the requisite ID). Part of what makes this so offensive is that the elderly, minorities, and the poor are among the groups that most need their voices heard. Disenfranchising millions of citizens to indulge the myth of voter ID fraud is insane. Our legal system is predicated on innocence until proven guilty. We must defend and respect the voices of all of our citizens, and they too should be innocent until proven guilty. It is incumbent upon us to defend the sacred right to vote for all and we should accept nothing less.
Our vote affects the discussion and the implementation of policy on the economy, minimum wage, education, energy, global climate change, transportation and congestion, pay equality, marriage equality, and access to healthcare. These issues are just the tip of the iceberg and whom we elect to represent us affects our life and the culture in which we live.
Your vote in the upcoming June 3 primary election is important. California now has an open primary system. That means only the top two vote getters for each office, regardless of political party, move on to the general election. You are responsible for determining who will be on the ballot in November.
Given all the noise and the constant demagoguery, it’s understandable why so many of our fellow citizens and perhaps even you yourself feel apathetic and frustrated, deciding not to vote in a “meaningless” mid-term election. If your vote truly didn’t matter, state legislators around the country wouldn’t be working so hard to restrict voting by perpetuating a fantasy threat that frightens voters. Our country still has a one-person, one-vote system. Remember, every vote makes a difference and your vote means everything, now and always.
If you don’t vote, you silence your own voice;
If you don’t vote, those that would disenfranchise voters win and you lose;
If you don’t vote, democracy loses;
If you don’t vote, we all lose – especially the unicorns.
Dr. Ari É. Grayson is host of “Perspectives ~ with Dr. Ari Grayson,” a program webcast each Saturday on Laguna’s own KX.OneLaguna.com.