THE BLOG
08/19/2013 05:04 pm ET Updated Oct 19, 2013

North Carolina House Bill 589; or, Politics in the New Third World

I find it increasingly difficult to believe that certain states in the alleged "United States" would mindfully attempt to undermine the right to vote especially in relation to many of those "third world" countries that the U.S. often dismisses as being, well, third world. Case in point is the travesty that is North Carolina House Bill 589 which, among other things, requires voters to show photo identification -- a driver's license, passport, veteran's ID, tribal card -- (though, with all sympathies to Michael Jordan, student IDs are not an acceptable form of identification); "reduces early voting by a week, eliminates same-day registration, ends pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds and a student civics program, kills an annual state-sponsored voter registration drive and lessens the amount of public reporting required for so-called dark money groups, also known as 501(c)(4)s."

This is all set up for the 2016 elections presumably as a way to reduce the monster that is voter fraud even though Governor McCrory has gone on record stating the bill was necessary even if there are very few reported cases of voter fraud. "Even if the instances of misidentified people casting votes are low, that shouldn't prevent us from putting this non-burdensome safeguard in place." He then went on to opine, "Just because you haven't been robbed doesn't mean you shouldn't lock your doors at night or when you're away from home."

Don't you love it when people try to argue by analogy and their analogies are, well, specious? Besides the fact this "non-burdensome safeguard" would only be non-burdensome to those who already have the requisite IDs, it clearly is meant to make it burdensome for those who don't and we all know who they are. As for the analogy of locking your doors, there couldn't be a more insipid analogy especially in juxtaposition with the previous line about who's going to be burdened by this and who isn't. Wink, wink, nod, nod.

But to get a real up close and personal look at U.S. politics in new third world, we should take a look at a few of those "third world countries" that the U.S. (and certainly North Carolina) doesn't want to be like... for example, Chile. According to the Political Constitution of the Republic of Chile, (not to be confused with the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which prohibits the federal and state governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen's "race, color, or previous condition of servitude") "All citizens of Chile as well as foreigners residing legally in Chile for at least five years, who are 18 years of age or older on the day of the election, are eligible to vote. Enrollment in Chile is automatic for those aged 17 and older and voting is voluntary. Chileans are not allowed to vote overseas. Before 2012 voting was compulsory for life for Chilean citizens who wished to enroll." Voting used to be compulsory in Chile. I'm not sure why that changed exactly, but that would certainly never happen in, well, North Carolina where they don't want it to be compulsory. As for identity, Chileans only need a national identity card (current up to a year before the election) or a passport (current) in order to vote. There are no restrictions on any other kind of voting.

How about Brazil? According to the U.S. Library of Congress, "voting is considered both a right and a duty in Brazil; thus, registration and voting are compulsory between the ages of eighteen and seventy. Illiterates vote, but their voting registration card identifies their status, and they sign the voting list with a fingerprint on election day. The 1988 constitution lowered the voting age, permitting sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds to vote on a voluntary basis. In 1994 these young voters (who cannot legally drink or drive) totaled 2,132,190 (2.2 percent of the electorate). For these reasons, turnouts for all elections in Brazil are very high, usually more than 85 percent." Wow.

And Argentina? According to Voces Del Sur, "[Argentina] became the 5th country in the region (along with Brazil, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Cub), to grant voting rights to people as from the age of 16." Not only that, but Argentina instituted a compulsory voting law over a century ago followed by Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. Compulsory, as in "obligatory," not "disenfranchised."

In an article written by The Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (an organization desperately needed by some North Carolinians):

Advocates of compulsory voting argue that decisions made by democratically elected governments are more legitimate when higher proportions of the population participate. They argue further that voting, voluntarily or otherwise, has an educational effect upon the citizens. Political parties can derive financial benefits from compulsory voting, since they do not have to spend resources convincing the electorate that it should in general turn out to vote. Lastly, if democracy is government by the people, presumably this includes all people, then it is every citizen's responsibility to elect their representatives.

Clearly, we shouldn't have to start parsing the word "democracy" for those in government who, like Governor McCrory, may have some aversion to things Greek, but it does seem as if North Carolina (and other Third World states as well) will attempt to do whatever it takes to appropriate, by any means possible, political power even if it undermines the sanctions imposed on them by the U.S. Constitution.

Perhaps, this is all because state legislators have spent some time looking over the latest Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project which states: "Non-Hispanic whites, who made up 67 percent of the population in 2005, will be 47 percent in 2050. Hispanics will rise from 14 percent of the population in 2005 to 29 percent in 2050. Blacks were 13 percent of the population in 2005 and will be roughly the same proportion in 2050. Asians, who were 5 percent of the population in 2005, will be 9 percent in 2050." In other words, the powers that be want to get their share of the power before the chants in the streets regarding those who legislate disenfranchisement sound like, "¡El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!"