Columns Opinion — 20 June 2013
High court blundered on voting law

By Denise Dunbar

My son is playing on the Alexandria Little League all-star team this summer. (Yes, thank you, we’re proud of him too.) To play, however, he must provide his original birth certificate — a photocopy or certified copy won’t do. He also must provide three additional pieces of proof of residency.

In other words, he has to prove he is who we say he is, was born where and when we say he was born, and lives where we say he lives. All of this just to play Little League baseball, which, though important to participants and their parents, is pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

By contrast, the U.S. Supreme Court this week decreed that making potential voters prove their citizenship is too burdensome when it struck down Arizona’s voter law. Think about what this says about priorities in America. We are determined to track down Little League cheaters and deny them the opportunity to play a game. Thus, we will ensure the integrity of the results on a baseball diamond.

But we can’t ask if voters are U.S. citizens. Since we can’t weed out voter cheats, we can’t ensure the integrity of our elections. If someone can be made to jump through multiple hoops to play baseball, why can’t they jump through one to vote? I can’t help but think most Americans place a much higher priority on election integrity than who plays in a baseball game, even if it is our national pastime.

Voting is a sacred right in America, as well as the duty of every citizen of this country. Participation in elections is the foundation of our democracy. If people don’t vote, then election results are diminished. However, if people who aren’t legally entitled to vote do anyway, then our elections are tainted.

The basic element of any relationship is trust. Much has happened in recent years to erode Americans’ trust in their government. After September 11, 2001, a large majority of Americans supported the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq — the latter because our government claimed that the country had weapons of mass destruction and not to act was feckless.

The claim of weapons proved false, and our government and former President George W. Bush took a big credibility hit. In the past year, the Benghazi, IRS and Justice Department/journalist scandals have eroded the credibility of President Barack Obama and further diminished trust in our government as a whole.

Ironically, the Arizona law was struck down in the name of voter participation. To require someone to provide proof of citizenship was deemed too onerous. Some people might stay home from the polls rather than make the effort to provide proof!

Yet, far greater numbers of legal, disillusioned voters are likely to stay home rather than vote in elections they view as fraudulent. I view that as a far greater loss.

Integrity on the baseball diamond or in the voting booth: Which is more important?

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