A recent New York Times editorial “The Right to Vote” explains how vote suppression is alive and well, with real barriers created to prevent people from voting, sometimes unintentionally, and sometime very much on partisan politics purpose. The most effective means are attacks on voter’s eligibility, by abusing voter registration information. (That’s one reason for OSDV’s efforts to create technology for open, auditable voter registration systems, with transparency of who is doing what when in managing registration records.)

But technology is only part of the picture, as shown by Doug Kellner’s powerful commentary on stories used to support attacks on voter eligibility:

“Stories about party officials' intimidation of voters are comparable to the over-hyped claims of voter registration fraud that lead to identification requirements that suppress far more legitimate votes than the potential harm. Just because it can be done doesn't mean that anyone is actually doing it.

“This story about a 97 year old voter who can't prove her citizenship brought me to tears. Voter ID requirements are just another suppression tactic - like the literacy tests and poll taxes of old - designed to target poor and minority voters.

"The story particularly affected me because of my personal experience representing a client who was born out of wedlock on an Indian reservation, raised by a friend of his mother in NYC with a different name than shown on his birth certificate. We endured a three year's of administrative insensitivity and then litigation to obtain a passport even though he was a nuclear engineer and honorably discharged from the Navy.”

Thanks to Doug for reminding us how the machineries of bureaucracies can grind away at what should be a right, the right to vote.