Sunday, June 30, 2013

On Voting Rights

While many in the Catholic blogosphere have been discussing the other Supreme Court decision (and doing it well), I thought that today I might draw attention to the Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act: http://elections.firedoglake.com/2013/06/25/in-5-4-decision-supreme-court-strikes-down-voting-rights-act/ I admit that when I first heard about the decision, I didn't fully grasp the significance. I guess to a certain extent, I take the right to vote for granted. I greatly appreciate that right - I know people died so that I could have that right, and I ALWAYS exercise it. Most recently, I walked over to my local polling place this past Tuesday so that I could cast my vote for the Massachusetts Senate election. I knew the candidate I was voting for had little chance of winning, but I still feel it matters to get out there and vote.

But, here is the thing I took for granted - it isn't a hardship for me to vote.  I can walk to my polling place, or if it is a lousy day outside, I have a car so I can drive. I fill out my census form each year, so I am on the voting rolls. I go in, give my address and my name and pick up my ballot. I speak and read English so I have no difficulty with this at all (our ballots are also in Spanish, but I'm not sure how they accommodate other languages). I have a home so I have an address. I have a driver's license so even if they asked for an id, I could provide one without difficulty. These are all things I don't have to think twice about. I admit I never really gave much thought to the challenges of voting for those who aren't as fortunate.

This article I read this weekend in US Catholic really opened my eyes a bit and got me thinking. Voting Block: New Laws restricting voting rights hit African Americans and the poor particularly hard. It's worth reading.

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