As the nation is preparing for the final stretch of the 2012 campaign, mother nature may throw a monkey wrench into the process as she usually does. Early voting has already been suspended today in Maryland. Wide spread power outages and damage due to the storm are expected across the east coast.
Now what are the political draw backs to Sandy's wrath? Well for one, if communities are without power and are rebuilding, poll centers could be in trouble. This can be a major problem because these poll centers may not be up and running come November 6th. The storm has also put a hold on the Presidential campaigns. Both candidates have cancelled several campaign stops along the east coast due to Hurricane Sandy. President Obama has now been forced to suspend his campaign to deal with the expected catastrophes of the storm.
A more man made issue making voting more difficult for some are the imposed voter ID laws. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures there are four states with strict photo ID laws. These states include Kansas, Indiana, Tennessee, and Georgia. Idaho, South Dakota, Michigan, New Hampshire, Louisiana, and Florida all have non-strict photo ID laws at the polls. In states with strict photo ID laws, this means that voters cannot even cast their vote without first presenting an approved or accepted form of identification. In the states with non-strict photo ID laws citizens may cast their vote but they have a designated time to present an acceptable form of identification after the election. If they fail to do so, then their ballot will be cast away.
In many states across the country, even stricter voter legislation have been proposed. These proposals have been set forth to prevent the "on-going and wide-spread" voter fraud in our country. I say that sarcastically because the number of reported voter fraud across the United States is so minute and miniscule, it is a waste of time and energy to disenfranchise the voting of the majority of the country for less than one percent of fraudulent voters. Those who will most likely be affected by these voter ID laws are college students, elderly, and Hispanics.
These stricter ID laws are aimed to discourage voters from going to the polls. In several of these states, citizens (especially senior citizens) do not need a photo ID for a driver's license. As always there is a political motive behind this notion. The voters mentioned earlier are typically voters who vote more liberal and voted for President Obama in 2008. This disturbs me because these laws threaten our democracy and democratic process. We should not be trying to discourage citizens from voting, we should be celebrating our right and freedom to vote. Women have not had the privilege of suffrage for even 100 years yet. Many citizens across the world do not enjoy the voting freedoms that we do in the United States. As republicans tout this idea of small government, they want to take away the most precious and arguable the most important aspect of democracy - the vote.
Hurricane Sandy is expected to have drastic consequences across the eastern seaboard including effects on November's presidential election. As this election grows closer Americans must face the choice of who they want as the chief executive officer. One thing that Americans can not take for granted in this election is the right and privilege to vote. We fought for this right against England during the late 1700s and it is one of the most fundamental aspects of a representative democracy. So November 6th, no matter what your ideology, denomination, or views are go out and exercise your right to vote.