Earth is the center of the solar system, it is flat, and voter ID laws do not suppress votes
by Pete Johnson

Something we all should be concerned about, simply because we are citizens in a Democratic and free society is the way new voter IDs—usually requiring a photo, are being peddled almost exclusively by Republican controlled States, with Republican Governors—under the pretense that they are only a matter of common sense. We should be concerned, because the old, “this just makes sense tactic” is often used not just to promote genuinely needed laws and policies, but also to justify some of the most incredibly dishonest propaganda possible! Just recently the State of North Carolina used its Republican controlled political machine to pass one of the strictest and most dishonest photo voter ID laws in the entire country!

As always, such claims that they only satisfy common sense, are really examples of wolfs in Sheep’s clothing, which take the wool off of their eyes, and then pull it over the eyes of the public. Indeed, the new law contains a number of measures—such as providing free State IDs at local offices of the DMV—provided the recipient is registered to vote, or registers when applying for the ID, and if a voter lacks prerequisite documents such as a birth certificates or a marriage license, a North Carolina County Register of Deeds must furnish them free. The actual IDs required in order to get a photo ID, make up a list of pretty reasonable documents, such as; A NC driver’s license, a learners permit or provisional license, as well as a US passport, a military or veteran’s ID, or an enrollment card from a recognized NC Tribe, and, those who are non-drivers may receive a free non-drivers “special ID card,” which requires, again, that they are registered, or will register, when applying. So far so good—nothing seems too unreasonable here, but wait until we investigate a little further!

Beginning on Jan. 2014 North Carolina poll officials will ask voters for a photo voter ID, even though no ID will be required until 2016, and though North Carolina’s Republicans, will probably sell this misinformation as being required in order to give extra time to voters, presumably, voters who lack the necessary photo ID, might tend not to vote because they may think that the new IDs are required by 2014, and therefore, may think that their ships have already sailed in the 2014 election—if they don’t have one by then. And voters CAN cast a provisional ballot, BUT, they must present an acceptable ID to the County Board of elections by noon the day before the election canva — and then things really starts to get interesting”

The new ID laws allow for cutting early voting by a week, and even though all polling sites in a county must be open at the same times, except for the County Elections office or its alternative—in lieu of decreasing the time window concerning how long early voting is allowed, NC Republicans advance the argument that more polling places will be available and will make up for the reduction in time—since extra locations will, theoretically, result in providing equal accessibility. However, those who work certain hours or intend to cast early votes, are not limited by space, as much as time. What difference would it make if their polling places tripled but they just could not be off work early enough anyway? The shortened opening time would still be in effect, and therefore, the work schedules of many voters may still prevent them from casting a ballot, even if many more polling places are available.

Same day registration will be cut, and voters must register at least 25 days before the election — another requirement which may interfere with schedules of minorities and result in their veritable disenfranchisement.

Also, minority groups are not always up on the laws, and, might be disqualified even if they have voted in many past elections.

Get this one: straight party voting will also NOT be allowed! Voters must vote for a specific candidate, and, as many of us know, voting a straight tickets enables us to vote effectively for candidates from our own party, rather than playing Russia Roulette with unknown names and offices that we may not be familiar with—otherwise our votes may mistakenly be cast for politicians who are supported by, and who obey, wealthy Republican contributors—merely on the basis of name recognition!

Oddly even pre-registration drives for 16 and 17 year olds will end. Also, Citizens Awareness Month, and required registration drives in High Schools will be eliminated!—possibly reducing the interest of young voters (who most often support Democrats) once they are old enough to vote.

Polling hours can no longer be extended by County election boards, if there are problems such as a delay in opening, only the State Boards of Elections can extend hours to compensate. So, in any State which is predominately run in ways that satisfy Republican interests, this may amount to one more opportunity to put the fox in charge of guarding the henhouse! And, even those who are doing voter registration drives, will no longer be paid on the basis of how many completed forms they submit, but only for their time—hummm?

The handiwork of NC Republicans is also apparent in minor procedural changes like allowing any voter to challenge the legitimacy of another’s if also residing in the same county as the contested voter. Previously challenges were permitted only from voters who lived in the same district, so, this expanded rule could enable mass challenges and embolden vigilantes who want to influence the vote.

Incredibly, programs that provide Judicial and executive branch candidates a chance to qualify for public financing are now prohibited, and so candidates will be dependent on private funding—which gives wealthy and connected candidates an unfair edge— one that will surely prevent voters who are attempting to vote as others, from casting fraudulent ballots—Really?!

And, of course in the interest of preventing non-existent fraud, NC Republicans are increasing the contribution limits to local or State candidates—PACs will now be allowed to make $5000 donations instead of only $4000 ones, and limits for judicial nominees will jump from $1000 to $5000: a 500% increase!

Changes in disclosure rules will enable outside group to make unlimited donations and run negative ads against opponents, or, for other, “electioneering,” expenses, and they will not be required to reveal either the amounts of their donations of where they come from. New laws also end requirements that print ads and mailers by outside groups should include a list of their top five donors. Apparently these changes are made possible by a SCOTUS, which so valiantly defined money as free speech, and helped end election fraud by giving those poor, rich and powerful corporations, a chance to throw unlimited cash at the candidates they support—otherwise how could we ever avoid corruption in politics?

Amazingly as of Jan. 2014, a new State Supreme Court ruling requires that records to and from private Attorneys hired by legislators for the redistricting process will not be subject to open records laws—damn right! Every crooked political maneuver deserves to be kept from the prying eyes of those that will be affected by them! Protecting the right to use unfair gerrymandering is just common sense!

Along with the Republican theme that all of these changes, which come along with new photo IDs are only “common sense,” one of my personal most favorite creatively devious ways to promote fraud is that now, NCs “Stand by Your Ad” law will end. So, this means that no longer will candidates be required to state their names and say, “I approve of this message.” Instead, they will bear the burdensome requirement of having a small photo appear in their ads for at least 2 seconds (a veritable eternity) but they will not be required to include similar acknowledgements in radio ads, or ads funded by those darn “independent outside groups.” Lord knows that any forthright candidate should never be accused of making false statements which really come from these “non-affiliated sources,”—wink, wink…right?

As already stated, the basis for defending all of these valiant attempts to prevent kinds of fraud which are really less possible than being struck by lightening, benefit from that “indisputable” claim that they represent only “common sense.” Those in favor are quick to point out that almost every activity we do, or every right we exercise, commonly requires an ID for the user. Thus the Constitutional protections for one of the most important and cherished personal freedoms—the right to vote—are placed on the same level as acquiring a library card or a fishing license. Isn’t it obvious that freedoms which potentially enable every American to choose who will be in the government, and how it shall be run—as well as which laws will affect all of our daily lives—are obviously no more exempt from impediments to their free use—than a library card, or that all important fishing license?

Republicans are so fond of spreading the myth that Democrats are eager to commit fraud, that they are fond of implying that, we would spare no expense, when bribing (presumably thousands of voters) who might be required to affect the outcomes of important election — along with the massive total amounts of money that would be needed to bribe them, or, that we would encourage these thousands of well paid fraudulent voters to risk being charged with a felony, just to help a party they may not even care about anyway!

The new ID laws are specifically intended to prevent in person voter misrepresentation fraud, which happens only in a handful of cases nationwide.

But, they may actually prevent, only say, three or four actually fraudulent cases of this type out of millions of legitimate votes. Their supporters are generously willing to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer’s dollars to prevent voter fraud from influencing North Carolina’s elections—only from the goodness of their hearts! Never mind that almost all of these photo ID laws are being promoted by States with Republican Governors — Governors who also have the nearly unlimited advantage of working with rubber stamp Republican legislatures! And never mind that the vast majority of the minorities which could possibly be disenfranchised, are those which traditionally have voted heavily for Democrats!—who are we to suggest subterfuge from a party committed to making such a noble gesture?

History is rife with examples of Republicans who have stuffed ballot boxes, sent misleading robo-call—which deliberately misstate the times and places required for voting—as well as perpetrating many other incredibly devious attempt to manipulate the outcomes of close elections. So, are they really qualified to portray Democrats as just itching to risk committing felonies by doing something which probably would involve no more than a handful of successful attempts out of millions of votes?

We are most likely all aware of the fact that Democrats stole the 1960 Presidential elections with the help of former (Mayor Daily Senior) of Chicago, and we are usually knowledgeable of the fact that he accomplished this in part, by adding the names of scores of deceased voters to the voting rolls. We also are likely to admit that it only makes sense that Democrats have also engaged in other types of fraud as well. But compared to methods like ballot box stuffing, misleading robo-calls, telephone intimidations, or electronic manipulation of voting machines, etc., in person voter misrepresentation fraud, is an extremely less effective type of fraud to undertake — therefore to try and implement it on a massive scale, would not exactly speak well for the level of intelligence among Democrats, who are supposedly hell bent on using it to their advantage.

Regardless of all of these impediments, Republicans have busily spread the unsubstantiated myth that voter ID laws are necessary to “preserve the integrity” of fair election.

One of their most famous efforts to implicate Democrats of actively pursuing fraud is the case of ACORN (a community activist organization which among other things conducted voting registration drives) which supposedly encouraged fraudulently registering voters to steal the 2008 elections. And despite that their other activities include, improving housing, wages, access to credit, and public education, Republicans were only interested in the fact that ACORN may have encouraged the “wrong” kinds of voters i.e. Democrats! They supposedly proved this by using a video created by James O’Keefe, which allegedly revealed a sinister underground effort by Democrats to fraudulently register voters. But the video is widely discredited for using deceptive editing and involving entrapment of those who appear in it. If one actually views the video, as I did, it becomes apparent that parts of it were deceptively edited, and that, O’Keefe asks leading questions which encourage a Democratic campaign worker to humorously go along with discussing a hypothetical preplanned fraud —never mind that firstly, this case involved registration fraud—not election fraud, and that the fraud was committed AGAINST ACORN by a few self-centered employees who tried to stuff their own pockets—not the ballot box.

And, although ACORN did (as critics claimed) report many phony names that these unscrupulous employees used to register voters –because such disclosure was required by law — more importantly, it was really ACORN that originally flagged them for scrutiny. So, paradoxically, ACORN was accused of voter fraud, as the result of its own efforts to expose such fraud! And, though rigorous investigations did eventually clear them of all charges, few in the supposedly “liberally biased” media even bothered to report Acorn’s exoneration.

Another notorious case involving Republicans tampering with elections on a large scale was perpetrated in Florida between May of 1999 and Election Day in 2000. Two secretaries of State—who were protégées of Governor Jeb Bush—ordered almost 58,000 ex-felons, who were prohibited from voting under Florida law, to be struck from voter rolls. But the really devious scam that ensued was made possible because the voters whose names had to be removed, matched the gender, birth information, race or names, of one of tens of millions of ex-felons in the United States—You see there were 35 states, which, at that time, allowed ex-felons to vote, and 90% of these could be expected to vote for Democrats. Since these voters, who were stuck from Florida’s rolls, were selected because their names were the same as felons found in other States, no extensive research was done to verify the matches.

In fact 325 names on the Florida voter’s purge list, involved future conviction dates, even though that meant they were not really felons at the time of the elections. Even Madison County’s elections supervisor, Linda Howell refused the purge list because her own name was discovered on it! All of the sordid details are included in an article by Greg Palast, an investigative reporter whose book—“The Best Democracy Money Can Buy,” became a New York Times bestseller, He can be reached at: http://www.gregpalast.com.

What we as voters need to realize is that we are being told about voting scams by a GOP which could be considered the king of Cons itself. And, by using an argument that insists that a sacred right such as voting should be considered as no more important than a fishing license, at least as far as the ID information required is concerned. This particular scam involving individual personal voter misrepresentation is one of the least successful election scams, and has not even been proven to exist in some of the States seeking to implement voter ID requirements.

So in essence the Republican Party wants to spend large sums of money to ensure that something which almost never happens will continue not to happen.

As it does this, it places numerous impediments in front of minority voters who need the photo ID to vote, and, who suspiciously, tend to vote largely for Democrats. I also can’t help but mention, that the paradoxical requirements concerning other valid IDs, which can be accepted as qualification for obtaining the new Photo IDs, begs the question, “Why then, are the prerequisite IDs not acceptable in and of themselves—as they usually have been in most polling places in the past?

Some proponents for the new law, site court cases in which these laws have been approved by certain states, but they fail to mention that even liberal judges, respect the need for already established precedents, which could definitively prove that such new photo ID laws really do impede voters—ironically they cannot do that, because most of these new laws represent brand new policies that have no previous records which might be used to establish such a precedent! So essentially they are approved on the ground of referencing a catch-22 like argument.

No doubt all of these fraudulent efforts by Republicans to unfairly tip election scales have been made much easier because of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, and, by Republican controlled legislatures in States run primarily by Republican Governors. And, despite the fact that what they involve is really a fraudulent attempt to convince voters that such photo voter IDs are politically harmless — only making use of “common sense, — these new IDs really represent an unnecessary and corrupt attempt to control the outcomes of elections.

In reality, there is nothing common or sensible about them. So think twice before you fall for this outrageous hype which we are being spoon fed by Republicans.

Peter Johnson is a senior citizen who has become much more interested in what is happening in America and the world, than he was as a young man. He’s interested in poetry and expository writing, and has had letters to the editor published in Time magazine, Newsweek and Playboy magazine. He is concerned about ignorance and indifference that has been circulated concerning the significance of man made global warming and is dismayed dismayed by the way political lies and corruption are being used to influence the public (apparently free from any penalties or adequate culpability). He frequently writes letters of opinion to the editors of his local newspapers.

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  • JSpencer

    Excellent post. There is nothing “common sense” about creating impediments to American citizens who wish to vote. Doing so is just as transparent in it’s attempt to distort the process as is redistricting. What’s next, a requirement that citizens must meet a basic minimum income before being allowed to vote? No doubt there are people whose definition of “common sense” would include that as well.

  • The attack on voting rights, given how hard the fight to secure those rights has been, has no place in the America we all hold out as an example to the world. My view.

  • samujohn

    If we really want everyone to vote we should mandate it. In Peru, for example, one must vote to validate his/her I.D.- a valid I.D. required for check cashing and almost any gov’t service application. Progressives should ponder this.
    I object to the premise that nothing but good results flow from allowing the least restrictive voting policies. Uninformed and illiterate voters should be barred, as they are least likely to be able to discern where their own interests might lie. (Literacy tests were widely abused in the South, but any voting procedure can be abused by corrupt officials, consider Chicago’s notorious mayor Daily in the 1960 presidential election.) As for splitting the ticket, it is a very progressive step to ban straight party voting. The excessively long Jacksonian ballot is in desperate need of review and revision. I have practiced law in my home state for over thirty years, and am still unable to be familiar with all the persons and constitutional issues on our ballots but I have never voted a straight ticket, because I consider it irresponsible.

  • sheknows

    Hard to believe that in 21st Century America, people still have to fight for the right to vote.
    This is where Democratic/Independent organizations need to fight as fiercely to ensure the vote as Republicans do to block it.

    ” uninformed and illiterate voters should be barred, as they are least likely to discern where their own interests lie”. I disagree. I would bet they can ascertain that some asshole who thinks they shouldn’t be allowed to vote because they aren’t INFORMED enough on the issues, should have his mouth duck taped.

    Careful what you wish for Sam…they may ask for IQ testing soon and Republicans would never see a public office again.

  • samujohn

    Let’s see what an analysis of your comment shows:
    1. outrage
    2. hostility
    3. insult
    No arguments are advanced. I suspect that you are one of those who live in a bubble, never conversing with those who differ with your assumptions. Try debate, you might learn something.

  • The_Ohioan

    Some like to debate ideas opposite to their own, some like to deny that any other idea has been advanced. It depends on whether someone can discern an opposing argument when it occurs.

  • samujohn

    Please enlighten me as to my oversight. I only ascertained the items listed.

  • sheknows

    I believe my statements convey the entire point of my argument. I see no merit in what you propose. I find it actually insulting that you believe yourself to be in a position to judge others in some arbitrary fashion of your design.

    Outrage?..every American should be and HAS been by your argument for literacy testing…which is why we no longer have it!
    Hostility? …I find your attitude toward others in this country hostile
    Insulting?…Oooo, I hope I have been. But not nearly as insulting as what you propose.
    Done with MY end of the debate!

  • The_Ohioan

    ”uninformed and illiterate voters should be barred, as they are least likely to discern where their own interests lie”. I disagree. I would bet they can ascertain that some asshole who thinks they shouldn’t be allowed to vote because they aren’t INFORMED enough on the issues, should have his mouth duck taped.

    Our SK’s arguments are passionate and to the point which may be offputting to those used to a more sophist method. But, SK can speak for herself – very competently. My intervention was only to alert you that dismissive remarks don’t fare well here. See the commenting rules.

  • sheknows

    LOL Thanks for the reminder T_O. I do get quite passionate about some issues and this whole VRA decision has been like someone gently poking a pin in me until I finally blew up. Sorry everyone. Sorry Samujohn. You are entitled to your opinion of course.

  • samujohn

    “(4) Our comment space is reserved for focused comments that relate to each post’s topic specifically, not to or about the writer, not what the commenter thinks the writer should or shouldnt write about, not about TMV as a site or the commenter’s fantasy about TMV’s “real” intent, not the other commenters’ lives or character or brain power. The key word for commenting is civility. Civil discussion, civil debate, civil teaching, presenting ideas and opinions in a civil manner.”

    Does this fit the required standard of civil discussion?
    “some asshole who thinks they shouldn’t be allowed to vote because they aren’t INFORMED enough on the issues, should have his mouth duck taped.”

    SK is simply intolerant and rude. She is not unlike a religious fanatic who condemns those who do not accept her values and world view.
    I was brought up before shouting down your opponents was considered acceptable behavior. Free speech requires a respect of diversity
    of opinion and the support of its originator’s right to be wrong.

  • petew


    “I object to the premise that nothing but good results flow from allowing the least restrictive voting policies. Uninformed and illiterate voters should be barred, as they are least likely to be able to discern where their own interests might lie. (Literacy tests were widely abused in the South, but any voting procedure can be abused by corrupt officials, consider Chicago’s notorious mayor Daily in the 1960 presidential election.) As for splitting the ticket, it is a very progressive step to ban straight party voting. The excessively long Jacksonian ballot is in desperate need of review and revision. I have practiced law in my home state for over thirty years, and am still unable to be familiar with all the persons and constitutional issues on our ballots but I have never voted a straight ticket, because I consider it irresponsible.”

    What bothers me most by the above comment from you is that you seem to be condoning that somehow, uninformed or illiterate voters should not have the same rights as everyone else. Is it really necessary to be well educated, or even literate before choosing who to vote for. Although someone may be required to read the candidates names, party, or the content of referendum questions that form of help would probably be easy to provide. And, also, in today’s world (or even in the past) most voters have been well exposed to campaign rhetoric and talking points from candidates, by watching television or listening to radio, or
    by going on the internet. Before those things were available,citizen’s newspapers, which, although they could not read, have neverless been full of photos of candidates. And as for the belief of those candidates, have you ever heard of talking about politics with friends and family members? Truth be told, there are many ways to receive information, other than just the printed word. Also, the moment someone is put in charge of deciding exactly who is ignorant or uninformed that opens the door to obvious abuses.

    As far as straight ticket options on ballots, I feel just the opposite of you—If I am unaware of a particular candidates ideas and policies, I feel it would be irresponsible to vote, or avoid voting for him, without full knowledge of his political beliefs. and voting for him individually, may or may not, actually represent my personal interests.

    It is also obvious that, by not allowing voters to vote straight tickets,we would be potentially denying, misrepresenting and/or complicating the rights of a voter who believes that the candidates running for their own favored parties, might represent better choices just by virtue of being in agreement with their own political beliefs and/or ideologies.

    Another important question to ask, is, “why is prohibiting straight party voting important in order to prevent fraud? There are many honest and legitimate voters who prefer to vote that way, and, and if one is able to secure a false ID or misrepresent themselves, they would be able to fraudulently pick every candidate individually as well—only on the basis of their own personal partisan bias. Are you, aside from your beliefs about requiring literacy to ensure an informed vote, actually implying that being able to vote straight ticket is a credible threat to campaign honesty and fraudulent voting?–would voluntarily voting for ones own party, cause any candidate to be elected fraudulently? I think not!

  • The_Ohioan

    sheknows – Passion may have become underrated, lately. 🙂

    I understand how you feel about voting rights being curtailed. Anyone who was an adult in the 50’s and 60’s and watched the non-violent civil rights marches, white and black activists walking shoulder to shoulder, and saw the police and police dogs barely leashed from reaching the marchers; who learned that black and white activists were murdered in the dark of night, should be appalled that this right should be threatened again in any way.

    The right to vote that every American has, doesn’t have to “earn”, is the very foundation of our system of government. Any suggestion that it should be nullified in any way must be rejected.

  • samujohn

    I wrote the above before SK’s latest remark. I am sorry that my natural inclination to be contrary was upsetting. We lawyers are accustomed to opposing views vigorously expressed. I once blew up at a prosecutor and the next day returned to apologize. He was gracious and remarked, “It’s OK, this place gets to everybody.”

  • The_Ohioan

    Very gracious, Sam. Lawyers are trained to be confrontational; in a courtroom that works well, in a forum like this … not so much. Now, hopefully, we can all move on and debate the original premise.

  • sheknows

    Samujohn, I am surrounded by attorneys. My daughter, son in law, his mother and one of my best friends. I should not have name called, that was a mistake and I apologize sincerely. However, I found your argument personally offensive simply because my daughter works for legal aid here and my son in law has before private practice. They are extremely familiar with the “disadvantaged” and forgotten of our society. Many of these people, especially the elderly, have fought in wars for this country and should never be subjected to the sort of testing you advocate.
    Where does one draw the ine for the “ideal” voter? IQ above 120, blue eyes, min of 2 yrs college, etc etc.
    There IS no perfect voter model…and you can’t make one. We are a nation of humans…flawed.

  • samujohn

    Your thoughtful post deserves a considered reply. I will take a little while and try to compose one.

  • dduck

    Before this argument runs the risk of being deleted, let make one BIG correction: it is DUCT TAPE, not duck tape which may be a brand, but not correctly descriptive.
    And, SK, since you are worried about not so intelligent Reps being disenfranchised, let me propose mandatory voting, just like we have mandatory jury duty, especially at the national levels, and give everyone a free universal ID card, which I also think will come in handy for some folks under ACA. (Ooooo, Big Brother, strikes again.)

  • Willwright

    All of this will ultimately backfire on the GOP. 80% percent of the population will see this as unfair and discriminatory and the GOP will be identified with these practices. They can’t make their party competitive by alienating voters and shrinking their base of support. Is anybody in the GOP thinking long term? I think not.

  • cjjack

    What was it again about NC’s voting process that was so horribly broken it needed such a massive overhaul?

    “Prevention of voter fraud” can’t be it, because by all accounts the incidence of voter fraud – not only in that state but nationwide – is vanishingly small.

    It is worth noting that these changes were instituted within nanoseconds of the Voting Rights Act being gutted by the Supreme Court. Coincidence?

  • sheknows

    Thanks dd…Yes it is duct tape, not duck. I am sure you don’t want to be involved in my reply anymore than you have to be 🙂

    As for mandatory voting…I am all for it! Guess which political party would definitely not want that in a thousand kajillion years? They are trying to prevent the majority of voters in the country now.

  • dduck

    I know very well now, but who knows 50-100 years from now.

  • You can wrap a duck with duct tape. Whether you can wrap a dduck with duct tape is unknown, except perhaps among certain inhabitants of New York. 🙂

    People have a constitutional right to choose NOT to vote: for religious reasons, or as an expression of protest. Freedom of expression and religion are both protected at Amendment I. Finding no candidate worthy of one’s vote, or wishing not to vote for the lesser of two evils, i.e. not supporting a two party system, or choosing not to waste a vote on a write-in can all be considered forms of expressing a protest against the current system of selecting leaders.

    I understand the impulse to require voting, but it is contrary to the idea of a free people and, in my view, contrary to the Constitution.

  • sheknows

    Technically Elijah, you would be correct. I am certain that when the day comes, the law will allow for conscientious objectors. 🙂

  • dduck

    Es, you would vote, just on the “No Vote” line. Same as jury duty, most show up, fewer actually serve. I still view it as responsibility as registering for the draft.
    I going to duck the duct taping of ducks since it is too personal and I want to spend more time with my family and consider other opportunities.

  • samujohn

    I emphatically disassociate myself from any partisan efforts to push for an advantage in the upcoming elections. I abhor gerrymandering. We desperately need election reform, starting with removing the power of those in elective office to redraw election districts. Our State representatives spend more time on this and on fund raising than they do on considering and working on legislation.

    re:Specific comments by peterw
    “you seem to be condoning that somehow, uninformed or illiterate voters should not have the same rights as everyone else”
    A voter has a moral obligation to inform himself. Citizenship is more than just taking. It is also performing the tasks required by the institutions of self government. If one is illiterate, one lacks independent access to the information required to make a reasoned judgment. You seem to expect these people to do what they clearly cannot. Merely being exposed to ad campaigns in the media would include my cat. It is clearly not enough to sustain self government.
    “… I feel it would be irresponsible to vote, or avoid voting for him, without full knowledge of his political beliefs. and voting for him individually, may or may not, actually represent my personal interests.”
    I doubt I have FULL knowledge of my own political beliefs, much less another’s. As to personal interests, I love the quote of a reputed learned professor, whose name is unknown to me. “The great folly of democracy is the notion that people know what is in their own interests.”
    Yet we must do our best.

  • slamfu

    Can you imagine trying to swing a nationwide election using voter impersonation. Have any of these guys actually thought about how tough that would be? First, you gotta have extra people, lots of them. Then you gotta know the people that aren’t showing up to the polls to vote, and be prepared to impersonate those people. The amount of effort you have to expend, and the amount of exposure goes up dramatically with scale so that its simply not practical even if it was going on, which it isn’t for precisely the reasons just mentioned.

    So much easier to do what the republican appointed voting booth folks did in OH in 2004 and just start tossing boxes full of ballots from democratic areas into dumpsters. WAY easier.

  • dduck

    I have been voting for over 55 years and I still don’t know what the candidates really believes. I just an hearing what he says to get elected. Now it’s true, I am not the smartest guy, the sharpest discerning mind, but I would probably pass the voter intelligence test. I am glad your cat is paying attention, they are smart and a paw on the candidates picture is a great endorsement.

  • petew


    I agree with your dislike of elected office holders who redraw election districts to protect partisan interests. But I also hope you’ll agree that claiming the need for voter photo IDs that are meant to prevent a type of fraud that is actually so rare that it will certainly NOT influence the outcomes of elections, and which had no application for protecting us from fraud, is worth spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayers money to implement anyway!

    However, your belief that uninformed or ignorant voters lack the ability to make reasoned judgement is not what I would call, indicative of democratic ideals. If you think there is an elite class that is qualified to tell all of us whether we are informed enough or intelligent enough, to pick our own representatives, you are perpetuating a belief shared by Kings Emperors and dictators throughout history. And the obvious reason these autocrats thought this way, is because it gave them and/or a certain types of citizen the power to control other peoples lives.

    Not only did Hitler think that German’s who represented a “master race” should be the rightful victors to whom belongs the spoils, Nazi’s effectively produced a spiritless and corrupt society that had no real value or respect for human life. Were they also the only social group that possessed enough foresight and intelligence to make “reasoned judgements” that would affect others?

    What about, Napoleon, What about Karl Marx, or what about lester maddox or even Rush limbaugh? Are we required to submit to any of these people because they have the right to lead us by virtue of some superior or personally acceptable quality?

    If part of our citizenship involves living up to certain social responsibilities then, it is absolutely true that if everyone is allowed to vote—instead of being denied that freedom (because they do not live up to someone elses idea of intelligence or responsibility), then that means that a large group of Americans,is being denied the right to ACTUALLY BE RESPONSIBLE by using their intelligence to select the candidate of their choice. If you believe voting is an important responsibility, then what makes you think, that your, or someone else has the exclusive authority to keep others from using their votes as part of their responsibilities?

    There was a time when the elite and wealthy in American society, were able to make a convincing argument that God wanted white men to run society, because uneducated and suppressed black Americans were inferior and meant to be slaves. This type of reasoning was also used, in the history of women’s rights, and, in just about any other exclusionary belief or idea imaginable! And if our political process had never comes to its senses by deciding that “All men are Created equal” (by sharing rights and common dignities) our entire attempt to create a free society would never have happened at all! We could very well still be a colony of England.

    One of the worst traits that human beings seem to share is the idea that some of us “are more equal” than others, (as Orwell put it) and therefore have the ability to tell other lesser men what to do. But if we claim to be a government of, by and for the people, This is one elitist notion that we must avoid.

    I totally disagree that those who may lack literacy, cannot also become fully informed by watching political debates, or documentaries that require only human ears to absorb. And the fact that many of us take part in verbal or written forums like this, indicates that human communication—even if it only involves listening to commenters with many different opinions, is one of the most important factors in that helps us be a civilized nation that recognizes all of our human rights. It is also a very effective means of gaining knowledge.

    Just Consider how you, or anyone, learned to speak in the first place—were you lectured and given textbook assignments as a child? Isn’t one of the most powerful educational tools the ability to simply talk with and, comprehend the words of others?

    The idea that even your cat watches TV, and therefore that this is somehow indicative that real human beings, with healthy human brains are not able to comprehend the information provided to them by the media, or, even by the spoken word, no more than your cat is, is particularly inappropriate and only represents an irrelevant straw man argument. Is your cat also literate enough to read Shakespeare? can it do math? And, are less educated people who also have little knowledgeable about these things,therefore, no smarter than cats?—how exactly is that even relevant?

    In my Dad’s youth, he lived on a farm with 12 other siblings and received only an 8th grade education (he was born in 1906). Yet I remember him as being, not only a very intelligent man, but also a man who possessed great wisdom and compassion. Although he was not taught Algebra, trigonometry, or Calculus, he could add a dozen three digit figures in his head—in only a matter of seconds—way before modern math techniques were known. Although he didn’t have a degree from Harvard, or a degree from MIT, he was a good judge of character, and very capable of deciding who he wanted to vote for, and who he didn’t. Are you saying that certain people with his limited education should not have had the right to vote? Where should the demarcation line be drawn? Should those of us who are raised not fully understanding English, or People like my father, who was far less educated than voters today, be denied the right to vote?

    As I said, a belief like yours would come with obvious and unavoidable potential to cause abuse. I have spent some time instructing people with mental challenges, and, although they have difficulty understanding simple math, they are very capable of deciding who they like and dislike and who they think have more crooked personalities than others? There are also many who are marginally functional who can learn to live independently and discriminate between virtue and dishonesty. Someone with your philosophy would only enable other members of society to look down on and possibly disenfranchise anyone who didn’t live up to the level of their intelligence–with no regard for anyone who uses other forms of intelligence and makes decisions based on feeling or intuition.

    As an educated man, I don’t see why you even entertain such backwards and prejudicial thinking? Anyone who has any opinion at all about someone who is running for office, should be allowed to vote if they desire to and can make it to the polls, or, fill out an absentee ballot! Next you will be saying that women shouldn’t vote because you have decided that they are less informed, and, like any of us, might be drawn to judging a candidate by the way he or she comes across, or by the way he listens to others. Once any of us plays God by placing restrictions on the rights of those who don’t live up to our own ideas of worthiness—or anything else—that will be our greatest mistake, and, will also be considered to be our greatest political folly as well!

  • samujohn

    It is good that you are thinking about these important subjects. I suggest that you read about the Athenian democratic experience and the Roman Republic. Both of these were uppermost in the mind of the participants in the American Constitutional Convention. Edward Gibbon’s “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”, was published in February 1776 and virtually every educated person had a copy. (I strongly recommend volume one of this book to you. Ignore those who say more modern books are better.) Our upper chamber is called the Senate, after the Roman institution. The venerable Republic of Plato’s condemns democracy as the worst form of government. Our founders feared direct democracy and constructed “circuit breakers” like Separation of Powers,
    upper and lower legislative chambers with different elective cycles and many other devices designed to slow the democratic process and force the fickle public to take time to deliberate before acting.
    I leave you with my best wishes and a quote from Plato.
    “It is good for the young to prod the old. It is good for the old to resist their prodding”

  • petew


    I have read a bit about early democracy in Greece, but I would hesitate to have my thinking about the effects of literacy, concerning the ability of the pubic to adequately deliberate before acting. So, how is modern day America, supposed to be a society that is similarly lacking an adequately informed electorate, such as Greece of the Roman Empire, thousands of years later? With the advent of newspapers (digital and paper copies) television, magazines, the internet, radio, smartphones, as well as a populace which actively discusses many important issues with friends and family,the game has been significantly changed. And, like I said, once you decide who is informed or educated enough to vote, and who isn’t, you set up the very likely proliferation of fraud and intellectual repression!

    In case you didn’t notice, instead of responding to questions like these which I brought up in my last post, instead, you gave me a pat on the head and treated me like a good student—whom you felt necessary to guide in regards to how I evaluate this topic—and even what books to read! Guess what—I am not your student, and you have avoided directly responding to my post with any kind of relevant criticisms or agreements!

    I am aware of the separation of powers in our constitution and the fact that many voters go along with any type of propaganda that moves them with fear, uncertainty, or even, so called, “common sense. ” In our system of checks and balances,the courts are ultimately the litmus tests for determining the constitutionality of any legislation which may have been introduced misleadingly, or, because the public might not desire doing what is really right or correct. A prime example is a scenario like that in which civil rights legislation might have been decided by State referendums rather than by federal law. Obviously the mindset of many voters in the south, would not have allowed them to accept such an idea, and we may have never, or at least, only much later, decided to affirm civil rights for all Americans. The problem with your argument is that, not only are the people sometimes correct, but when they are mislead it is specifically because of the elite people who are fully informed, and work for their own skewed interests anyway!

    Even if illiterate or under informed people were disenfranchised, a more informed electorate would not necessarily be capable of avoiding faulty judgments. Even in today’s society, for example, how many college educated people voted for different parties which represented policies that were clearly different? Would all Nuclear physicists have voted the same way? Would all political science majors have voted in agreement with their fellows? Obviously not! And in fact, I would say, they have never done so, in any significant elections! So by using reason, these facts disprove the notion that an educated populace is better able to decide the issues—if they were, then all, or almost all literate, well informed voters would vote the same. But, obviously they don’t!

    So the point is again, that education does not automatically bestow superior powers of reason on voters. If this were true, then all scientists, philosophers, Doctors, geneticists and all political science majors etc, would tend to vote the same as those that share their educations….NOT!

    Under your philosophy, many capable voters would be denied their Democratic rights just because (for example) they failed to obtain a Bachelor’s degree. And again, the important thing to keep in mind is, where would the demarcation line be drawn? Which ones of us would be deemed worthy enough to elect those who control our lives? And, more importantly, who would be considered informed enough to decide whether others citizens qualify to vote?

    I agree that we should all endeavor to be better informed, but are you really sure you can compare modern day voters in modern democracies with the proletariat or common people, who existed in Athens or Rome thousands of years ago.? We all have inherent rights as human beings, therefore anyone should be able to vote for a politician of their choosing, even if illiterate or under-informed!

  • petew


    The first part of the first paragraph in my most recent post, should read something like, “But I would hesitate to have my thinking about the effects of literacy, concerning the ability of the public to adequately deliberate before acting—become the last word, or the only correct authority about informed thinking.”

    Lately I have been making a lot of structural mistakes in my sentences. Please accept my apologies.

  • samujohn

    I note that you do not cite any source books. Have you not read the “Federalist Papers”? Plato’s “Republic”? Thucydides “History of the Peloponnesian War “? Have you argued with these authorities? You can believe me when I say that everything that you “know by osmosis” {“it is known!”) is wrong! Only that which one has dug out for one’s self can be relied upon. The conceit of modernity is seeing ourselves as the progressive outcome of History, as if our ancestors were ignorant children, and not of the same species as ourselves.

  • zusa1

    “The conceit of modernity is seeing ourselves as the progressive outcome of History, as if our ancestors were ignorant children, and not of the same species as ourselves.”

    Well put.

  • samujohn

    One claimed “I am the way, the truth, and the light.”
    Another claimed to be “the most ignorant man in Athens”.
    I sought out the latter, and made my home nearby.

  • SteveK

    By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you’ll be happy. If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher. – Socrates

    Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.” – Michael Crichton

  • zusa1

    More good quotes, SteveK.

  • petew


    “I note that you do not cite any source books. Have you not read the “Federalist Papers”? Plato’s “Republic”? Thucydides “History of the Peloponnesian War “? Have you argued with these authorities? You can believe me when I say that everything that you “know by osmosis” {“it is known!”) is wrong! Only that which one has dug out for one’s self can be relied upon. The conceit of modernity is seeing ourselves as the progressive outcome of History, as if our ancestors were ignorant children, and not of the same species as ourselves.”

    For you to emphasis the fact that I don’t quote Plato, The Federalist Papers, or The History of the Peloponnesian Wars, is to me, without much merit. If one is truly to undertake his own quest for knowledge and/or truth, that does not exclude the fact that some of these books and sources of information may be, in fact, erroneous, and that one’s own arrivals at truth , when relying on them may also be wrong.

    Buddha advised us not to accept anything automatically which come from another’s
    words. Wherever the actually truth lies, it may or may not always be subject to only objective facts—facts that must be determined by fallible human beings. One may believe in one’s own particular opinions—especially if they are personally valid. But Did you ever see the Monty Python movie, “The life of Brian?” When Brian speaks to a large crowd of people who are convinced that he is the Messiah, he answers that he is just a man, and that they should believe in themselves. The crowd then beings chanting in Unison, “WE WILL BELIEVE IN OURSELVES, WE WILL BELIEVE IN OURSELVES,!” hanging on any word as if it were sent from a divine source.

    Steve K provided this quote from Michael Crichton:

    “Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.” – Michael Crichton.”

    Once again if reading certain books or or viewing certain movies and/or documentaries automatically bestowed the absolute truth on anyone, then you would expect everyone who reads or watches them, to have much the same opinion—and I doubt that this is true. The reason different people come away with different takes, is because it is valid to consult our own subjective feelings and understanding to some extent—in order to form our own authentic opinions.

    But I would also add, that it is may often true that conventional wisdom is actually correct, or at least mostly correct. But the verdict concerning any schooL of thought or idea, as to whether it alone conveys truth, can only be determined by our individual minds alone. Who else is going to tell us,? Karl Marx, Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, Donald trump, or even Christs or Buddha? What they say is useless unless it resonate with our own perceptions of reality, and we are allowed to accept it or reject it, according to our own consciences,or with our own sense of reason. Just as we all should have the opportunity to reject certain candidates, regardless of any intellectual prowess that we may or may not, possess.

    For you to take note of the fact that I didn’t quote from any of the scholarly sources that you mentioned, in no way, invalidates anything I might say in opposition. I have already decided that the many suppressive attempts to influence elections, are unethical and unnecessary. I also reject the notion that anyone has the intellectual right to decide who should be allowed to vote, or who should not—as long as they can register to do so. The old anecdote that affirms that, “I don’t have to fall off a cliff to know that it will hurt,” is good and fine with me—even if Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Diogenes, Mao, Hitler or Jesus Christ tell me that it won’t. To me any Philosopher worth his salt, only present the rest of us with intriguing questions and the possibility to determine the truth of what they say, for ourselves. It is a mistake to assume that any of them know all or most of the answers, or that anyone is a supreme and infallible being that knows all.

    Once again, You have initiated a wordy and tangential discussion about the right to vote, but you have not really responded to any of the points I brought up— other than to suggest that I should read books that will affirm your own opinions.

    Do you think you could actually do that sometime? I don’t intend to be disrespectful or sarcastic, but I do feel we should rather address the points that others might want to make about voting rights and photo IDs—rather than frame our discussion as if it were the curriculum studied in a philosophy class.

  • SteveK

    Excellent reply petew and I agree a response to your questions would be nice.

    The conceit of modernity is seeing ourselves as the progressive outcome of History, as if our ancestors were ignorant children, and not of the same species as ourselves.

    Considering the literacy rate in the United States today is 99% and, the literacy rate in Ancient Athens was between 10% and 20% I’m surprised anyone could have difficulty with the concept that our ‘common folk’ ancestors were comparatively ignorant children to us ‘common folk’ today.

    Regarding the flippant ‘not of the same species’ dig, I don’t think most of us have a problem with the fact that we are of the same species. (see ‘The Origin of the Species’ by Charles Darwin)

    * * * *

    Regarding voting and elections in the Athenian democracy… Only 20% actually participated in government (i.e. voted) and that percentage doesn’t count women, slaves, and other undesirables (see Socrates / hemlock) as they were ineligible to vote in the first place.

    Only adult male Athenian citizens who had completed their military training as ephebes had the right to vote in Athens. The percentage of the population that actually participated in the government was about 20%. This excluded a majority of the population, namely slaves, freed slaves, children, women and metics. The women had limited rights and privileges and were not really considered citizens. They had restricted movement in public and were very segregated from the men. – Wikipedia – Athenian democracy

    When you discount all the peons, poor, and disenfranchised Ancient Athens wasn’t a democracy at all, what it was is model of the government the Republican politicians and big business are trying to give us here… TODAY! A nation controlled politically, economically, and judicially by the 1%er’s.

  • samujohn

    So ignorance is celebrated, how we feel about the truth matters more than the truth itself.
    I see truth as not necessarily liberating and fulfilling, but (to paraphrase) like an outlaw waiting with a club in an alley.
    I lived in public housing as a child for five years (my father was a failure), worked as a juvenile jailer after college (a local school back in the days when one could work and make enough to pay the tuition -graduated and attended night law school while working full time to support my family) After graduating, I opened my own practice on borrowed money, worked for pay, but also represented the mentally ill regularly in involuntarily commitment hearings, where these poor sick souls loose all control over their lives and often take their families with them. I KNOW ABOUT FEELINGS! Feelings are not the truth. Reason may be an inadequate guide, but teamed with empathy and good will it is the best we have. Wishing otherwise will not make it so. Yates vision of the last Century was all too prophetic. Reason did not prevail.

    “Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again; but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? “

  • samujohn

    Hi SteveK,
    Here is my original comment in full:
    If we really want everyone to vote we should mandate it. In Peru, for example, one must vote to validate his/her I.D.- a valid I.D. required for check cashing and almost any gov’t service application. Progressives should ponder this.
    I object to the premise that nothing but good results flow from allowing the least restrictive voting policies. Uninformed and illiterate voters should be barred, as they are least likely to be able to discern where their own interests might lie. (Literacy tests were widely abused in the South, but any voting procedure can be abused by corrupt officials, consider Chicago’s notorious mayor Daily in the 1960 presidential election.) As for splitting the ticket, it is a very progressive step to ban straight party voting. The excessively long Jacksonian ballot is in desperate need of review and revision. I have practiced law in my home state for over thirty years, and am still unable to be familiar with all the persons and constitutional issues on our ballots but I have never voted a straight ticket, because I consider it irresponsible.
    Thank you for citing Wikipedia and making it easy for me to check the facts you cite. Following the same thread I found this explanation.

    “The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines literacy as the “ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society.”[3]”

    Anyone who can accomplish this has my full support as a voter, and would be a substantial improvement over most of us voting now.
    That 99% of American can do this is a big surprise to me. Test results do not support this fanciful view. I challenge anyone to
    substantiate this view with credible evidence. If anyone can, I will issue a groveling apology.

  • petew


    When I mention subjective emotions, I am not referring to the wild swings in feelings that many of the mentally ill feel. You certainly have a point when you point out that feelings can deceive and may not accurately gauge reality, however, I do not want to sell human emotions downriver (so to speak) because I don’t think they are ALWAYS DECEPTIVE, even in the minds of the mentally ill.

    Other than disagreeing that a certain type of citizen, who has superior knowledge and the capacity for reason should be the only type of citizens that can actually exercise the right to vote effectively, I feel that we are not even having a discussion that is on the same page. I totally disagree, that only a learned class should monopolize the power of the vote—And I think it is elitist and prejudicial to think that way. I also believe that as a race, we do learn and grow at times, because of learning that what we once thought of as true, or correct, is not really true. One instance I can think of is where we have dispelled certain superstitious or outrageous notions i.e. That African Americans are inferior, that women are meant to stay at home, that epilepsy is actually caused by being possessed by the devil, or that spontaneous combustion of certain swamp gases, under certain conditions, were believed to be some sort of spirit presence making itself known. etc. etc. Overall I think that Science has allowed us to advances our understanding and knowledge, (or truth)and, that sometimes it is accurate to think of our ancestors as unenlightened by comparison. I am not saying that spirituality has no value or worth, only that many of the superstitious beliefs that often come from that way of thinking have been much ado about nothing and not really true.

    As far as believing in a privileged class of people, or that voting a straight ticket represents a failure to accept our civic responsibility, I strongly disagree, and I don’t care if plato felt otherwise. To me this type of thinking is retrogressive and counterproductive to believing in human dignity itself.

    The mention of the crowd chanting, ” WE WILL BELIEVE IN OURSELVES, WE WILL BELIEVE IN OURSELVES,” Is not meant to judge whether such an attitude is good or bad, right or wrong, but rather, that it is ridiculous to blindly accept or follow a certain way of thinking just because Brian, or anyone says it is the truth.

    No doubt you are an intelligent and thinking person, but if you think others who post on these threads are not, I would have to say you are mistaken. It is entirely possible to read and absorb the same books and sources as another, and come to an entirely different conclusion, Even Plato and socrates were just human beings and as such, only fallible entities—what’s more, I think both of them
    would agree!

  • SteveK

    Hello samujohn,

    I’ve read your original comment, twice now and it struck me the same the second time. I suggest you read the Wikipedia article: Voter suppression because Voter Suppression is what you seem to be promoting… Voter Suppression of ‘others’ I should say.

    For them it’s:

    “Uninformed and illiterate voters should be barred, as they are least likely to be able to discern where their own interests might lie.”

    But for yourself it’s:

    I am “still unable to be familiar with all the persons and constitutional issues on our ballots.”

    Well, if you believe the first statement and admit to the second you should be ineligible to vote, too.

  • sheknows

    I am not sure how you would employ this voting “guideline” to make it feasible samujohn. It is not suppression that is being promoted necessarily,it is “selective” voting. Only those that fit the definition by UNESCO as determined by a set or series of tests I presume designed by who….you?

  • sheknows

    BTW, the literacy rate for the United States as of 2013 census is 99%.

  • petew


    The simplest way to put this travesty concerning who is qualified to vote and who is not, seems to be (as you might also put it), that, “All voters are equal but some voters are more equal than others.”—if I may take the liberty of slightly rephrasing George Orwell’s chilling ending to animal farm? The only possible deviation you might make from Orwell’s statement is that you don’t believe all voters are equal to begin with—I daresay that the upper crust in most societies is far more arrogant than the other classes, so, it could be said that they are the ones who are less equal!—and therefore should be disenfranchised. It all depends on what values you decide are conducive to democratic principles, and, which are not!