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The Terrible Ordeal of Aaron Belenky



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I can’t help but feel that the anti-Voter-ID crowd is beginning to descend into self-parody. This little gem is from an AP story today:

Belenky, a 39-year-old computer programmer, has his birth certificate and a passport but said he’d have to open and riffle through boxes in his Overland Park apartment to find them and comply with a rule that doesn’t exist across most of the rest of the nation. And now, the prospective Kansas Democrat is irritated enough that he is ready to join a legal challenge.

Really? In order to get to his passport he might have “to open and riffle through” the boxes in his apartment? Well what a desperate imposition that would be. Presumably Belenky also considers it a serious violation of his right to leave the country that those stasi agents at the border won’t let him leave without his passport? And I’d just love to see him deal with the IRS: “I’m sorry but I won’t be filing a tax return this year because all my financial records in a drawer somewhere and I am absolutely not going to open and riffle through it.”

Belenky’s predicament is truly heartrending:

A few weeks after moving to suburban Kansas City from the Seattle area, Aaron Belenky went online to register to vote. But he ended up joining thousands of other Kansas residents whose voting rights are in legal limbo because of the state’s new proof-of-citizenship rule.

Starting this year, new voters aren’t legally registered in Kansas until they’ve presented a birth certificate, passport or other document demonstrating U.S. citizenship. Kansas is among a handful of GOP-dominated states enacting rules to keep noncitizens from voting, but the most visible result is a growing pool of nearly 15,000 residents who’ve filled out registration forms but can’t cast ballots.

As I have written before, I don’t particularly care about Voter-ID either way, and yet the sheer asininity of the arguments against it are turning me in favor. Whether it is worth it or not is a reasonable question. But there really is nothing morally or constitutionally wrong with asking someone who is registering to vote to prove that they are a citizen, and Kansas seems to be absolutely within its rights to try to maintain the integrity of its elections. Moreover, contra his claims, Belenky’s “voting rights” are not “in legal limbo.” He enjoys those rights just as much as any other citizen does and nobody is attempting to take them away. (As opposed to at many points in American history when they really were.) Instead, his new state is asking for him to prove he is who he says he is — in other words to prove that he has voting rights before he puts himself on the state’s list of people who have voting rights. This is no different than having to send your birth certificate or passport in when you apply for a concealed-carry permit.

Nevertheless:

The ACLU contends that Kansas is violating a longstanding federal election law requiring states to allow people to register at driver’s license offices. It and groups such as the NAACP and the League of Women Voters contend that requiring proof of citizenship suppresses registrations among poor, minority and student voters who are more likely to support Democrats.

[Kansas Secretary of State Kris] Kobach strongly disagrees that Kansas is violating federal law and said if the proof-of-citizenship rule is voter suppression, then “so is having registration in the first place.” He said the ACLU and its allies oppose efforts to ensure “that only citizens are registered to vote.”

Let’s put this bluntly: The ACLU is effectively arguing for a system in which anybody who lives in the state of Kansas could register to vote online and never be asked to prove either residency or American citizenship. They are thus advocating for a system in which I, as a non-citizen with no right to vote, could extremely easily register to vote. This is a pretty untenable position. Were I vehemently against Voter-ID, I would be spending my time now finding some genuinely bulletproof and heartbreaking stories of difficulty and disenfranchisement to change the minds of people such as myself who are not particularly bothered either way. In the absence of such, while the claims are as poor as this one (and this one), the hysteria is starting to look a little silly.



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