Tag Archives: Law

Get Out The Vote And ID

The Pennsylvania state court reaffirmed a ballot measure passed by voters in the last election that established voter ID requirements for the state.  The law, similar to one passed in ten states,  requires any citizen voting in an election to provide a state issued photo ID card as proof of identity.  Proponents of the law claim that this will cut down on voter fraud.  Opponents claim that that the measure will disenfranchise certain voters such as the elderly and the poor.
Some opponents, including Vice-President Joe Biden, claim that requiring ID is tantamount to Jim Crow era poll taxes.  In that time, citizens were required to pay a tax months in advance of an election and then bring the receipt of the tax to the polls to validate their ability to vote.  This led to the 24th amendment to the constitution which states: The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
The issue, however, is not whether the ID requirement is a tax.  It is obviously not a tax since ID cards are free.  It is that, in this day and age, identity theft is rampant and people are required to show ID at almost EVERY interaction the average person experiences.  To get a library card, to see the doctor, to drive a car, to pay by credit card, to GET a credit card, to open a bank account, to get a job, to do almost anything you have to have some form of proof of identification.  Why do we allow people to vote for the highest office in the land without requiring the same?  In fact, in Texas and many other states, voters have to register to vote and have a voter registration card or ID to show at the polls.  How is requiring ID any different?  It is not.  At least not for legitimate voters.
Liberal news media trotted out a 92 year old woman who wept that she had voted in every election since she was allowed to vote, but that she feared she would not be allowed to vote in this one because she does not have photo ID and doesn’t think she can afford one.  How does she cash her social security checks without photo ID?  She does not drive, so she does not have a driver’s license, but the law does not specify a driver’s license.  It specifies photo ID.  In Pennsylvania, state issued ID cards are free.
That is not good enough for opponents of the measure.  They claim that the process of getting the free card would require the infirm or poor to travel across the city and spend money getting the necessary documentation such as birth certificates or social security records, etc. needed for the ID card.  They insist that this is an “unfair burden” and an obstruction to the electoral process. 
Having photo ID is simply the cost of doing business in today’s economy.  If you don’t work, if you don’t drive, if you don’t shop, you still have to interact with some business, individual or agency at some point and at that point, you will need ID.
There is no point in not having it.
Most media reports admit that the most vocal opponents of the measure are democrats because most individuals affected by the measure are the poor and elderly–who tend to vote democrat.  What this means is that Democrats are not interested in voter rights, rather they want to reinforce the impression that the voting is a right that republicans want to take away for the poor and elderly.
Voting is not a right.
Voting is a responsibility.
It is a privilege afforded to those who live up to the responsibility of voting, much like performing jury duty.  The democrats are well known for bussing the poor and infirm to the polling stations so that they can vote for the democratic candidate.  I would wager that, of all those who are brought to polling stations by “get out the vote” busses–funded by liberal democrat leaning groups–almost none vote for conservative or republican candidates or issues.
Now these same groups are calling voter ID a poll tax.  Why?  Because their busses are filled with people with no ID.  I am not alleging that they participate in voter fraud, but there have been allegations of these busses making rounds of polling stations, and who’s to say the same people don’t vote in several districts?  Just food for thought.  Why else are they so adamant about not having accountability in the polling process?
A CBS news report claimed that there have been fewer than 70 convictions of voter fraud in the past decade.  While that may be true, that just means that other incidences of fraud were not discovered or caught or they were over looked.  If the poor and elderly were required to present photo ID at the polls, opponents feel that it might discourage them from coming to vote and that means fewer votes for democrats.  I find it difficult to be concerned about that.
ID cards are free in most states.  To obtain one would require some effort on the part of the citizen.  This is how it should be.  Voting is a responsibility, a privilege afforded to citizens for active participation in government.  If it is not worth the effort to comply with the requirements, don’t complain about not getting the government you want.
The mantra of democracy is one man, one vote.  For our admittedly flawed system to come close to working, we need to ensure that one man gets only one vote.  Voter ID helps with this and the Pennsylvania State Judge, Robert Simpson reaffirmed this by saying the law is “a reasonable, non-discriminatory, non-severe burden when viewed in the broader context of widespread use photo ID in everyday life.”

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Terror in the Lanes!

There is a new menace on the highway these days. Drivers are falling victim to dangers they never anticipated would become so numerous. These dangers lurk in the managed lanes on the Katy freeway in Houston and they can strike without warning. Beware as you commute lest you fall victim to the Harris County Constable!

One of the reasons I bought a motorcycle (the first being to save gas) was the ability to ride in the HOV lanes on the Katy freeway, thus saving some time on my morning commute. I probably only save maybe ten minutes overall, but it is nice not having the stop and go traffic for the whole trip. Since I have been riding in the lanes, I have noticed a lot more police cars along the route than before. The HOV lane is actually a “managed lane” according to the Harris County toll road authority. This means that during the rush hours, any busses, commuter vans or cars with two or more passengers can drive in the lanes as well as motorcycles, but so can single passenger cars with an EZ Tag to pay a toll. In fact, during non-rush hour times, the EZ tag is required for all vehicles in the lanes. If a single passenger car drives in the lanes without an EZ Tag, it is a fineable offense. There have been a lot of fines issued lately.

I wrote a blog a few weeks ago about the toll roads in Houston and how much of a rip-off they are, but now the county is really going after that revenue. On any given day in either direction, I see at least four cars pulled over at different spots in the managed lanes. All of them single passenger cars with—I can only imagine—no EZ Tag. One afternoon, the managed lanes were backed up as bad as the main lanes were. Five lanes in the main lanes and both managed lanes were at a standstill. This usually happens when there is a wreck in or near the managed lanes as people tend to rubberneck a lot. As I neared the heart of the congestion, I saw several lights flashing—typical of a wreck. It was, however, nothing of the kind. Four Harris County constable cars had each stopped a different car at the same time at the same place. Four drivers getting tickets caused all the traffic to come to a near standstill during rush hour.

There are two toll booths (really they are just monitoring stations, since the tolls are paid by EZ Tag, there is no need to man them) with at least one constable cruiser parked in each direction. Yesterday, I noticed the constable standing on the concrete barricade with a pair of binoculars looking down the road for what I suspect are HOV Violators. This morning, I passed the booth and noticed there were five constable cars parked at the standby waiting to pounce on unsuspecting violators. In both cases, traffic slowed past the point of safety to annoying. Not out of fear of getting pulled over—everyone slows to the speed limit when they notice a police car—but out of fear of hitting the officer who was in a dangerous position, or one of the cruisers that were parked too close to the lane.

I can understand the county trying to make up a budget shortfall by collecting fines. That is understandable and since I am a law-abiding citizen, I have no problem paying for any mistakes I might make. What is most irksome to me is the length to which these officers are going to catch the violators. They are creating unsafe conditions in their zeal to write tickets. Are there not more pressing needs for law enforcement in our community than HOV/EZ Tag violators? I’m not saying to ignore them or give them a free pass, but surely 10 constables lying in wait at rush hour is a bit much.

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To protect And To Serve

“To protect and to serve” is emblazoned on many police cruisers across the nation. This message is not just a simple decoration; it is a mandate, a mission statement and a promise to the people. The people, however, don’t seem to understand this pledge—or at least they seem to think it doesn’t involve some risk. A family in Houston is suing the city because one the family members was injured when the car in which he was riding was rear-ended by a suspect fleeing the police. The family maintains that the police should have broken off pursuit when the individual ran.

The police have a dangerous job. They have to put their lives on the line to try to protect their communities from those who would threaten the peace or break the law. This does not mean just identifying those who are “bad guys” and letting them go. It means taking these people off the streets so they can’t continue to break the law or endanger society. Now, these people do not want to be taken off the street. In fact, they are quite opposed to the idea and will try everything in their power to avoid it, including running from the police.

When people run from the police, the police must give chase. You cannot catch someone who is running without chasing them. The police are trained on the safest procedure for chasing. They take driving training and can probably outdrive the average person. Not every bad guy is The Bandit or Elwood Blues and can outdrive an entire police force. But they try. They usually fail. It is these people who cause accidents, not the police who chase them.

It is unfortunate when an accident happens like the one that injured those two men in the car that was rear-ended. But it is not the fault of the police. It is clearly the fault of the individual running from the police. If the family truly wants justice for their loss, they should sue that person driving the car who hit them, not the police or the city.

They will sue the city, of course, because chances are that the bad guy has no assets to be able to pay a judgment and the city is believed to have deep pockets. This is untrue—the city is funded by our taxes so we end up paying out of our pockets—but the lawyers and plaintiffs don’t care. They want their payday.

It doesn’t matter that the police did nothing wrong. It was not their fault that the accident occurred. The plaintiffs will contend that if the police were not chasing the bad guy, then the bad guy would not have driven recklessly and would not have hit them. It is a sad “what if” game to play to second-guess a decision. Had they not pursued that suspect, then the suspect would have gotten away with a crime and would probably commit another. The police must be allowed to do their job. They must be allowed to protect and to serve, even if that means taking a risk. Our security demands it.

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