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Disenfranchisement without evidence or due process

Jay's picture

“All we want to do is combat voter fraud. Why can’t we ask for people to prove that they are who they say they are?” That’s the talking point we always hear to justify legislation to disenfranchise millions of Americans. And it’s an effective talking point in the political sphere, despite its inherently disingenuous nature.

I’d like to propose a counterargument: Why can’t we ask you to prove voting fraud? Why can’t you prove they’re guilty of what you say they are?

When a poll worker disenfranchises a voter, they are making an accusation of voting fraud, a felony. The penalty for that—a mere accusation—is to violate that citizen’s civil right to vote. The poll worker is judge, jury, and executioner. But they never call the sergeant-at-arms to arrest them for voter fraud, do they? That is because the point is to turn as many people away from the polls as possible.

But the state cannot mete out punishment for felonies without due process, a jury trial in a court of law, and the presentation of evidence. A petty government official cannot accuse you of murder, and unilaterally and unalterably violate your civil rights by putting you in prison and throwing away the key. They have to take that case to a court of law and follow procedure. It is not a citizen’s responsibility to prove their innocence, it is the state’s responsibility to prove guilt. It is not a citizen’s responsibility to prove who they represent themselves to be, it is the state’s responsibility to prove that they are an imposter. It is not the citizen’s responsibility to prove that they have the right to vote, that responsibility lays entirely with the voting official, the secretary of state, the attorney general that the citizen does not have the right to vote. In a court of law. With evidence.

Furthermore, when a poll worker unlawfully violates a citizen’s right to vote there are other serious consequences. If a poll worker makes a baseless accusation of voting fraud which turns out to be itself fraudulent, and acts on that accusation with the official act of approbation and the full power of the state by striking their name from the list of persons who are allowed to vote, that constitutes not only libel, for which there is a remedy. In a court of law. With a presentation of evidence. It also constitutes a violation of that person’s civil right to vote: a felony.

I’d like to see a civil rights lawyer accompany a voter who does not have identification, protest a smug poll worker’s adjudication to not allow that person to vote, then sue the poll worker, the town, the county, and the state all to kingdom come. It would also be nice to have some heavy lifting from DOJ, (Is that you, Eric Holder?) You’ve already proven your right to vote by registering to vote.

Funny how they’re never that particular when it comes to who is and who is not authorized to pay your sewer taxes.

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