Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Book of Matthew: Hold on to your votes!

Will your vote in the upcoming election count?

Published: September 26, 2008
Section: Opinions

I’ll be honest; this week, I had planed to join the ranks of, oh, just about every other columnist in the nation, and write about the US financial crisis. But when I was doing my research for the column, I realized a couple of things. First, I had to admit to myself that there was nothing I could write that hadn’t already been written by someone else, and second, I managed to (accidentally) find a better topic.

So, I won’t be talking money today. I’ll be talking about voter theft. Please pardon my rambling.

If you are reading this and are eligible to vote, then I sincerely hope you will do so in this coming election. I also hope that your vote is counted. I think you know why I say that.

You probably remember what happened in Florida during the election of 2000: the ballot problems, the recount, all of the irregularities that eventually led to George W. Bush being declared the winner by the Supreme Court.

What you may not know is that after the election, Democrats and Republicans came up with an idea that eventually became the Help America Vote Act, which was passed by the Republican Congress and signed by President Bush.

Of, course, it completely failed to change anything, and in 2004, it was suspected that voting problems, most notably in Ohio, denied Senator John Kerry an election that should have been his.

In 2004, millions of Americans living abroad never received their ballots. In New Mexico, malfunctioning counting machines failed to count over 20,000 ballots, and this is a state that Bush only won by about 6,000 votes. In Ohio, many registration cards mysteriously failed to be processed, and thousands of voters were denied the right to vote for little or not reason.

The point of this little history lesson is for us to arrive at a simple question. Knowing what we do about the last two presidential elections, is there any reason for voters to have faith in the system this time around?

According to Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the answer is no. Recently, on his Air America radio show, Ring of Fire, Kennedy claims that the Help America Vote Act has made this upcoming election just as vulnerable as the last two.

He cites a little-known requirement known as the “perfect match”, which requires the information from all government records of each individual voter to match. The government checks this by using a computer program that searches these records for even the slightest discrepancies (things as small as a missing middle initial or a hyphen), and if one is found, that voter is removed from voter roles.

Kennedy continues by saying that, because of this requirement, about 300,000 voters in the state of New Jersey alone have received notices saying that they are ineligible to vote.

And yet, they are lucky compared to residents of other states, because most of the time no warning is given at all. Come Election Day, their votes of those deemed “ineligible” are simply thrown out.

However, it is the last piece of information Kennedy shares that is the most important for us college students. He talks about newly registered voters, and a law that requires these voters to show their license or state I.D. when they vote.

This isn’t particularly difficult for those who actually go to the polls, but for college students who fill out absentee ballots, it is easy to forget to include a color copy of your license.

Unfortunately, the law could care less, and these ballots will be thrown out without any notification.

So in short, fellow voters, be careful with your votes. This year is not the time for us to allow our voices to go unheard due to legal technicalities.