I Cant Vote

I Can’t Vote!
By Anthony Harris ‘08

     I’ve just been disfranchised.  
I came to Atlanta with dreams of gaining my degree from the prestigious Morehouse College, furthering my career in writing, meeting new people, and becoming more of an activist and a public voice.  I’ve just lost my voice.  Georgia House Bill 244 has just passed which restricts voting rights to those with Georgia government issued photo identification.  That is specifically photo identification issued by the state of Georgia or the US Military.  There is no alternative.  Most of you don’t have that.  I certainly don’t.  And now that I live in Atlanta, I don’t even follow my home state’s politics.  In fact, my family moved to Marietta briefly after I started my freshman year.  I don’t even need to follow the San Antonio City Council or who could be the new governor of Texas.  I want to be able re-elect State Senator Vincent Fort.  I want to get rid of Governor Sonny Perdue.  I want to be a part of my new home and to do so with the right to vote.  But I’ve just been disfranchised.  My Morehouse ID won’t get me through the polls.  My Texas ID won’t get me though the polls.  
Now, I very well do have the opportunity to get state provided ID in a nearby Department of Motor Vehicles.  There could be a mobile photo identification unit that would be able to issue me ID.  Yet, due to a shortage of these facilities (there are only 56 DMVs for all 159 counties of Georgia, and I’m doubting that I will see many government issued vans will be present in the West End to get Black people to vote), wait times can extend past four hours at drivers license offices.  As a college student with limited funds, I may not want to pay the minimum twenty-dollar charge.  What of those who may not be able to afford that charge?  Why does that charge seem a lot like a poll tax?  What of those who cannot spend four hours at a DMV to obtain identification?  Why go through this complicated process.  It brings to mind the Common song, “The Questions,” in which Mos Def posits, “Why do I need ID to get ID?  If I had ID, I wouldn’t need ID!”  There are people all over the state of Georgia who have various forms of identification, including photo identification issued from work and other states.  There are Bank of America cards that have your photo on it.  There are many forms of identification but this legislation is made in order to prevent voter fraud.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported over 5,000 people voting after their deaths between 1980 and 2000.  We do have a problem with voter fraud, but is the really the way to solve the problem.  Why do we need the most restrictive legislation in the nation in regards to voting?  Why do I need to have Georgia identification to vote?  I voted without problem in the last election and I intend to do so this November as well.  But now, until I get proper identification, I can’t vote in the state of Georgia.  You can’t vote in the state of Georgia.  No college student in the state of Georgia can vote unless s/he has proper, state issued identification.  This legislation eliminates the votes of the impoverished, elderly, and the college student.  
While the beginnings of this law had a clear, noble purpose in mind, it managed to eliminate votes to the base of the Democratic Party.  While some like Mac Johnson of theOneRepublic Journal believes this legislation limits the voting rights of the “Imaginary-American,” this legislation ignores people and problems.  While it may not be “out for” minorities and elderly, it most certainly did ignore them.  Georgia legislature and the Department of Justice have forgotten people.  Once again, our government has forgotten people.  Hold your shock.  But I’ll probably be able to do something about it when I vote this next… oh yeah.  I forgot.


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