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The right to vote comes with personal responsibility

By Donna Kelly
Posted Monday, May 23, 2011

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Pittsboro, NC - In the recent discussions on early voting we’ve heard a lot about the right to vote and how we should do everything possible to protect that right and make it easier for people to vote. Unfortunately there’s been little discussion of the idea that with rights come responsibilities.

People tend to live up or down to expectations. We should be telling people we believe in their ability to meet their responsibilities instead of telling them we expect them to fail. I don’t accept the idea that Americans are so lazy they need three weeks of early voting in order to find the time to drag themselves to the polls as if it’s some unpleasant burden. While there are some legitimate arguments to be made for early voting, three weeks seems excessive.

The idea that we need early voting because it gives election officials time to sort out any issues with voter registration is not true. Except for a relatively small number of voters, such as those that move into the area at the last minute or teenagers with birthdays close to elections, people can register to vote at any time and certainly don’t have to wait until the last minute to do it.

People can register or update their registrations at DMV offices and most social service agencies if they are applying for or receiving services there. Public libraries and high schools have voter registration forms available and many organizations hold voter registration drives throughout the year at many community events. People can also verify their registration status at any time. So there is plenty of time to sort out voter registration issues before elections if people will take the responsibility to do so.

In North Carolina there are hundreds if not several thousand registrations made during early voting that aren’t fully verified by the time the election results are certified. By state statute these votes are counted and certified anyway to ensure no one is disenfranchised. While most of these are legitimate registrations which are eventually verified it shows that same day registration and voting could allow fraudulent votes to be counted because there just isn’t enough time to complete the usual verification process.

Most of us no longer live in small communities where everyone knows everyone else. We all have to take the responsibility to make sure we are properly registered so that everyone can have confidence in our elections. Unfortunately making it easier to vote makes it easier for those who want to commit fraud as well. When races are sometimes decided by single digits it doesn’t take widespread fraud to change the outcome of an election.

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The right to vote comes with personal responsibility

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