Voting Access in the U.S. – “We can fix this”

Desilene Victor, 102 Year Old Voter who waited for five hours in line to vote, at the State of the Union.

President Obama clearly cares about voting rights and voter access. He also seems determined to do something about it. I am quite heartened by this.
In the short span of three months, the President has put the issue of long lines at voting places front and center in all three of the most significant speeches for any President: Election night, Inauguration, and The State of the Union.
On election night in November President Obama told us that we “have to fix” our dysfunctional voting system. On Inauguration Day he told us that “Our journey is not complete” until we fix it.
Most significantly and powerfully, during last night’s State of the Union Address, the President not only told us “we CAN fix this”, he introduced us to one of the reasons why we must.
In the gallery sat Desilene Victor, a 102 year old Miami voter who waited in line for over FIVE HOURS to vote in the last election. After the President told her story and introduced her, she received standing ovations from those below and instant national attention. This attention is vitally important to the issue of voter access. Judith Browne Dianis (@jbrownedianis) and the Advancement Project deserve great credit for shining the light on Desilene and what she represents.
Opponents of online voting often point to senior voters as a group that would somehow be disenfranchised if the use of online voting were to become widespread. They argue that older voters are less likely to have and understand computers. Like most of their arguments, if you actually unpack and disect this one you see how silly it is.
Leaving aside the fact that advocates like myself never suggest that we should abruptly replace the polling place with online voting, the very notion that the convenience of online voting would inconvenience seniors is flawed. First of all, many seniors now use computers for things like banking and travel arrangement right along with the rest of us. My own father is 89 years old and is very fluent with email and the computer. These conveniences haven’t “left seniors behind”.
More importantly, even if someone as old as Desilene Victor does not have a computer or IPAD or smartphone, do any of us honestly believe for a second that it would take five hours to get her in front of one?
Senior centers, nursing homes, libraries and even coffee shops have free internet access to the public. There is no doubt that trekking to a polling place is more difficult for ANYONE than getting to the nearest computer or smartphone, or getting one to you.
It shouldn’t have to take Desilene Victor or anybody else more than five minutes to vote, much less five hours in line waiting for the chance.
Yes, Mr. President. We can fix this. Our journey is not complete.
We must fix this. We MUST Cyber the Vote.

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