Monday, November 7, 2016

Every Vote Counts, brick by brick

When I went to vote the second day of early voting, I should have written about what happened to me then  in this very conservative town where I live in middle America  because I was furious. 

But I did not, as I had too many other things preying on my mind, and this was just another thing on the list. As I see the articles going back and forth, however, and I see the atrocities going on in the name of "voter fraud," I cannot stand it any longer. 

Do you want to vote but think you cannot because you do not have proper ID?

When you go to vote, even if you do not have two pieces of identification, or if you do not have a photo ID, it does not matter anymore, according to Texas law, which was voted on and "trumped" down in July of this year, against all Texas Republican conservative wishes and much to Trump's dismay. According to the Federal Appeal Court, Texas was in violation of the Voting Rights Act, and so, the state had to find ways to accomodate voters who could not find appropriate documents, the ones the state wanted everyone to use but were hard to acquire for certain folks.

Of course, extensive proof of identification was discriminatory against black and Latino voters, besides women who might carry two different names because of divorce or a myriad other reasons (I go by both names: my single name, though many know me too from my husband's name, which is NOT my legal name). Many of these women therefore do not often have two same IDs. Students also suffer similar indignities; oftentimes they are listed as living both at home and away from their home state in some college campus. In particularly conservative states, this has pushed the buttons of "you cannot vote here, as you are registered in another state," thus their vote has become invalidated, although this "fictitious residence" may not be necessarily true (my son was a case in point). Moreover, poor and marginalized populations, who do not often have the means to acquire identification except in most extreme needs, suffer when it comes to voting. 

Yet in Texas, the dominating party has only been too glad to keep up this affront to voting. 

Terri Lynn Rote, a registered Republican from Des Moines, Iowa,
was arrested for voting twice.
Special to the Desmoines Register
Is this one of the reasons now that Donald Trump may be spreading his false claims of voter fraud? Is this why Trump voters are intimidating voters at the polling booths, trying to "trump" people out of their vote? Yet so far, the only case I've heard of falsifying a vote was actually a Trump voter voting twice... 

When I went to vote, I decided to test the supposedly non-partisan volunteers at the polls in my precinct, yet the two little old ladies sitting behind the big log book checking in voters miserably failed the test. They asked me  a Latino and a woman who has lived here for 17 years — for my picture ID, so I gave them my VALID Voter Registration ID, supplied to me by the state of Texas. They would not accept it. They wanted a picture ID. When I told them that the laws in Texas had changed, that their attempts at voting restrictions had been invalidated, that they now had to accept my voter registration card as one of the given IDs, they would hear none of it. I did not want to balabor the point, so I took out my drivers license and voted. 

After I left the precinct, I then went home to call the County Office VoteTexas.Gov to complain. They told me they would look into it. The next day I printed out the rules from the official website & took it to my voting site, but they said they could not post it until they received an official copy. BUT they had received a censoring, and the old ladies were gone... The woman outside too, who had told me that the GOP had explained to them the rules (!!!!) was gone too. I told her that I did not care for whom she voted, but I explained that the Grand Ol' Party is NOT the LAW! 

At least the county office did its job, and they listened to my call, and I am sure to others. But what of other voters who go to vote, who are afraid to speak out, yet who don't have a picture ID? 

Here are the rules today, for Texas at least. Look up your state before voting, if you have a problem with your ID. BUT please VOTE. It's very important that you do! 

List of acceptable forms of photo ID:

• Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
• Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
• Texas personal identification card issued by DPS
• Texas license to carry a handgun issued by DPS
• United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph
• United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph
• United States passport

With the exception of the U.S. citizenship certificate, the identification must be current or have expired no more than 4 years before being presented for voter qualification at the polling place.

Anyway, this is my rant the day before election. 

"We built you that wall you wanted"
Lalo Alcaraz © November 7, 2016
As a child refugee, as a person who remembers what it is like to NOT have our voices heard (from having heard my parents tell me before they acquired citizenship!), as a woman who now works with other women and children refugees who are constantly invalidated, imprisoned, and then deported because they can never aspire to be part of this our great country of immigrants (can it continue to be so, at the rate we are going?), or as a teacher who sees her students strive to do their best in the only country they know, but who cannot vote because they were not born here, please, I beg you: go and VOTE! 

We will not be able to change our inane and archaic immigration system unless you and I stand up to change things, from the bottom up. So please, go out and VOTE tomorrow, and take your proper ID. 

So many voiceless depend on you, on me! 

Besos, not borders, 
Ana M. Fores Tamayo
Adjunct Justice 

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