Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Voting in North Idaho

Yesterday was primary voting day in Idaho. I decided to vote even though I recognize that as a Democrat my vote is meaningless. The fact is, or so I am told by my friends, that if you do not vote in two consecutive elections you will be removed from the voter rolls. I don’t know if that is true but I assume it may be, and although I know my vote is meaningless I treasure it and would not want to lose it, especially with the Presidential election coming up in 2016. .

Apparently there are new rules about voting in Idaho. First, I had to display my photo identification. I never had to do this before. The nice elder ladies that volunteer year after year to man the polling places know who I am (I’ve been voting here in the same place for more than 20 years), but even so I had to display my driver’s license. This unnecessary bureaucratic nonsense aside I then had to tell them I was a registered Democrat so as to get a Democratic ballot (we now have three choices: Republican, Independent, Democrat). This means, of course, that I was immediately identified as a Democrat (an evil, disgusting “liberal”) to anyone within hearing distance, so much for a private, secret ballot. As there are rarely, if ever, more than one Democratic candidate for any given position, they know not only that I am a Democrat but who, precisely, I am voting for.   

If that is not bad enough, when I went to place my ballot in the box I was required to state my name, out loud, and my address! Thus I was not only identified as a Democratic, and a liberal, but they now know exactly where I live! So what, you might say, but when you live in an area populated by large numbers of ultra-right gun nuts who hate liberals it does make you nervous.

Frankly, I doubt this procedure is legal or even constitutional. But it was passed by our overwhelmingly Republican dominated state legislature that seems to pay little attention to such mundane things as federal laws and constitutions (even though they claim they will defend to the death the Constitution of the United States, a document I doubt most have them have ever read or understand).

Anyway, it was an interesting experience in voter suppression, if that is, in fact, what it was intended to be. I suspect the photo identification is a deliberate intent to keep some Hispanics from voting, but the requirement to state your name and address could conceivably be just a stupid idea that was not really intended to dissuade people from voting, even though it might. I have had at least two people tell me they would not vote if they were required to state their  address publicly. As we vote in precincts it is already obvious more or less where we reside and this requirement would seem unnecessary.I don't know if they intended this procedure to be a subtle form of voter suppression (I'm not at all certain they are that sophisticated), but perhaps they did. 

I gather these rules only apply to primaries and not to the general elections. But if they have already identified you as a Democrat they know you are harmless and can be written off as irrelevant. To be a Democrat in a small town like ours, surrounded by right-wing extremists, you might as well have the plague. To be a Democrat is to be a liberal, and to be a liberal is to be a socialist/communist/Obama-loving/ anti-American/atheist who wants to take their money and give it to others (even though virtually everyone in the county is on the “dole” in one way or another). And you certainly do not want to be a scientist. Scientists are people who devote their lives to preventing ordinary people from doing whatever it is they want to do. After all, who needs to worry about global warming, the environment, health care, schools, roads and bridges, food stamps, unemployment insurance, Social Security, jobs, and stuff like that when the End Times are coming?

“Representative government is artifice, a political myth, designed to conceal from the masses the dominance of a self-selected, self-perpetuating, and self-serving traditional ruling class.” 

No comments: