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ScissorTales: the AARP's odd resistance to voter ID

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: June 9, 2012

THE “I Voted” sticker with the image of an American flag is an icon every election day. The AARP's monthly newsletter for June shows the sticker in an unlikely place — plastered on a coffin.

It's for a story headlined “Voter Registration: What A Mess” about the fact that at least 1.8 million people on voter registration rolls can't vote because they can't breathe. They're dead. Citing figures from the Pew Center on the States, AARP says the 1.8 million dead “voters” are among the more than 24 million inaccurate or outdated voter records. Of every eight voter records, one is inaccurate or outdated.

This would seem to be a good argument for voter ID laws to prevent a voter from, say, casting a ballot in his own name and casting others in the names of the deceased. But guess who's been a strident opponent of voter ID laws. Yes, the AARP.

Debate over a Minnesota voter ID constitutional amendment has again raised AARP's profile on the issue. Some Minnesota members have cut up their AARP cards to protest the liberal organization's stance. The AARP's official line is that voter ID laws negatively affect the elderly more than other groups.

To assume that retired Americans don't have the wherewithal to carry and produce an ID is insulting and patronizing. Our view is that this group of citizens is the most responsible and law-abiding, not the least able to comply with a simple request for identification — the same request made when writing checks, boarding an airplane or dozens of other activities of daily living.

Ethics and ethnicity

To a degree, one can sympathize with Elizabeth Warren, a former Sooner seeking the U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts. Tales of American Indian ancestry aren't unusual in Oklahoma. But most Oklahomans know better than to formally claim that status without documentation. That Warren, a Democrat, was identified as an American Indian professor at two universities indicates she benefited from playing a race card she never held. In a radio interview, Twila Barnes, a spokeswoman for “Cherokees Demand Truth from Elizabeth Warren,” flatly declared her disgust with those who claim “they have a great, great grandma who is a Cherokee princess” that is “usually just a fictitious story somewhere that was invented, and when you do the genealogy it's not there.” We're not fans of racial gamesmanship, but in this case it appears Warren's claims reflect more on her ethics than on her ethnicity.

Not mousing around

Once upon a time, advertisements for junk food were part of Disney programs for kids. But in 2015, such ads on TV, radio and websites will be banished from the Magic Kingdom. The Walt Disney Co. announced new nutrition guidelines this week, furthering a 2006 initiative to make food at its theme parks and resorts healthier. “The emotional connection kids have to our characters and stories gives us a unique opportunity to continue to inspire and encourage them to lead healthier lives,” CEO Bob Iger said. He hopes to influence not only children but also companies. Though advertising revenue may initially decline, Iger's goal is for companies to eventually create products meeting Disney's standards. Ultimately, individuals and families make the decisions about what food to purchase and consume; government attempts to set the menu aren't the answer to our nation's health challenges. Disney's effort at self-imposed corporate responsibility and media pressure is a fresh approach. We hope this change will help children live happily, and healthily, ever after.

Good for the goose ...

Liberal activists have targeted business members of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonpartisan association of conservative state lawmakers dedicated to “limited government, free markets, federalism, and individual liberty.” Walmart is among those who've withdrawn after coming under fire. Now, some conservatives argue the Oklahoma Legislature should leave the National Conference of State Legislatures. From fiscal years 2005 to 2012, the state of Oklahoma paid over $1 million in dues to NCSL, which often lobbies for increased government spending and activism. “Oklahomans already have representation before the federal government — known as United States representatives and United States senators,” writes Jonathan Small, fiscal policy director for the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. “In addition, there are a multitude of state officials and lawmakers who represent the state. Membership in NCSL is unnecessary.” If private support of such groups is somehow despicable, how can one justify spending limited tax dollars on similar organizations?

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by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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