The Garden City Telegram
3/31/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Vote Tuesday

It's another opportunity to be heard at the polls.

On Tuesday, local and area residents have an opportunity to have a say in how their communities and schools are run, and address other important issues.

Unfortunately, we'll once again see far too few eligible voters head to the polls.

When it comes to consistently low voter turnout, deliberate efforts to keep people away — including a crusade by Secretary of State Kris Kobach and other ultraconservative Republicans — aren't helping.

The unnecessary Voter ID requirement that only added more roadblocks to the voting process would be one example. Such misguided initiatives supposedly address voter fraud — even though there's no evidence of as much — yet only discourage participation from certain people, including many who traditionally favor Democratic candidates.

A study last year by the Brennan Center for Justice, which focuses on justice and democracy, showed how Voter ID penalizes low-income and minority voters in particular, and especially those in rural areas.

The study found an astounding 11 percent of eligible voters nationwide lacked the necessary government-issued photo ID required by new Voter ID laws, such as the one in Kansas, including 25 percent of blacks, 16 percent of Hispanics and 18 percent of Americans older than 65. Worse yet, many of those individuals had minimal transportation options needed to get to places free government IDs were issued.

Kobach and others in his camp should know efforts to discourage voter turnout make no sense when it's clear attention should be focused on ways to get more people to the polls.

Indeed, voter apathy — not voter fraud — remains the real problem policymakers should address.

And citizens need to do a much better job themselves of embracing the opportunity to have a say in the political process.

Ignoring the public discussion and failing to vote shouldn't be options. Citizens truly interested in the future of their community need to participate, and make apathy a non-issue.

People may differ in their political positions, but at the end of the day everyone should agree that abstaining from the process accomplishes nothing.

Make your voice heard by exercising a precious, fundamental right. Get out and vote Tuesday.