Voting worth a little inconvenience

by Ned Cantwell

Your local Sears store may not yet carry it, but you will soon be able to purchase a refrigerator that lets you read your e-mail when you fetch a glass of milk. It is not clear to me why anyone would ever want to mix those two tasks, but there you have it. The technology is available.

There is a chain in the south where you can purchase groceries without using a credit card. Instead, you use your finger. No, not that finger. The other one. All the pertinent information is somehow embedded in your fingerprint, and no further identification will ever be needed.

So what’s the point? The point is this: With all this edgy tech stuff flowing from the minds of creative nerds, don’t tell me we can’t figure out a way to know who is eligible to vote and who is not.

It is the New Mexico election season’s most contentious issue. There are those who believe that if a person can get himself to the polling place, he should be able to vote, no questions asked. The other camp wants tighter restrictions, including a requirement that some show identification when they show up to vote. Why not?

Rebecca Vigil-Giron, New Mexico’s Secretary of State, is a competent executive, I am sure. But Rebecca should not be running New Mexico elections. Blockbuster should.

Blockbuster has never taken my cash and let me walk out of the store with a video without making darn sure of who I am. Occasionally, the clerk asks to see my driver’s license after I present him with the membership card. That seems like overkill, but maybe I look suspicious.

What’s more important, renting “Jersey Girl” or electing a president? Radio Shack may have changed the policy, but there was a time when you went in to buy a 10-buck battery for your cell phone and didn’t leave until they had your name, address and telephone number. We put up with that nonsense but flinch if an election poll worker wants to know who we are?

We allow ourselves to be scrutinized and searched in the name of national security, but balk if someone wants to know if we are really who we say we are when we go to vote for the person whose actions will most impact national security?

Voting, for sure, is a right that is part and parcel of the democratic system. But shouldn’t it also be considered a cherished privilege worth at least some inconvenience on the part of the voter? People who are eligible to vote should be allowed to vote, and the process should not be made difficult for them. On the other hand, there must be in place severe enough restrictions that elections are not swayed by hordes of fraudulent voters.

First-time voters who registered by mail will have to show ID when they go to New Mexico polls beginning next week. Other first-time voters won’t need ID. New Mexico courts made that call earlier this week.

But it makes no difference. One day what is going on with finger registration at that supermarket chain will be commonplace throughout the country.

Once all of our registration information in etched into our fingerprint, voters will be able to walk into a polling place and do what they have always wanted to do with politicians. Give them the finger.

Ned Cantwell is a retired newspaper editor. Contact him at:
ncantwell@charter.net