Published Thursday, June 14, 2012
“Isn’t it simply awful that so few people vote. What we need are laws that make it easier to vote or laws that penalize people if they don’t.”
I’ve heard words to that effect many times, but I strongly disagree.
I think a much stronger case can be made in favor of making voting more difficult, not easier — a privilege to be earned, not an unbridled right to be abused. Election fraud is serious enough these days that voter I.D. is a growing trend in the states, opposed by the Obama administration mainly because the easier it is to commit voter fraud, the more votes the President’s party seems to get.
There are those who want to make it so easy to vote that you wonder how anything so costless could be the least bit meaningful. Some years ago, I read about a Colorado organization called “Vote by Phone.” I don’t know if the group is still around, but the idea still is — allowing Americans to cast their votes on Election Day by using a touch-tone phone from home instead of showing up at local polling stations.
Low voter turnout does not endanger our political system. Here’s what does: politicians who lie, steal or create rapacious bureaucracies; voters who don’t know what they are doing; politicians who buy votes by bribing voters with their own money; and people who think that either freedom or representative government will be preserved by pulling levers or punching ballot cards or making phone calls.
The right to vote, frankly, is too important to be cheapened and wasted by anyone who does not understand the issues and the candidates. The uninformed would be doing their duty for representative government if they either became informed, or left the decisions at the ballot box up to those who are.
Our political system — resting as it does on the foundations of individual liberty and a republican form of government — is also endangered by people who vote for a living instead of working for one. They use the political process to get something at everyone else’s expense, voting for the candidates who promise them subsidies, handouts and special privileges. This is actually anti-social behavior that erodes our freedoms by concentrating ever more power and resources in the hands of government.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want these people to have it so easy that all they have to do is pick up a phone to pick my pocket.
Surely, the right to vote is precious and vital enough to be worth the effort of a trip to the polling place. Anyone who won’t do that much for good government isn’t qualified to play the game.
(Lawrence W. Reed, a resident of Newnan, is president of the Foundation for Economic Education in Irvington, N. Y., and Atlanta.)