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Rose: What if voting worked like the right to bear arms?

OPINION

The opinions expressed by letter or opinion writers are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of AlachuaChronicle.com.

BY CHRIS ROSE II

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I was standing in line again at a busy gun sales counter, watching store associates operating at a feverish pace to first check and verify, then to re-check and verify, a host of both paper and digital forms and information before completing a transaction. I was there to pick up my latest purchase, a full week and a half after paying for it. It seems that for some outlets this year, Election Day didn’t count towards Alachua County’s horrendous 5-business-day waiting period. 

Mildly annoyed at this point, I thought about the insanity of it all. Forcing someone who had just passed a federal background check–in itself a delay of hours in times of peak sales–to undergo more hoops and hurdles, waiting on the government like free-range tax cattle for the mere privilege of purchasing a new firearm. 

As I observed patiently, taking in all the hum and buzz around me and the growing line behind me, I had to marvel at the entire process. “Thank goodness for the 2nd Amendment,” I remarked to a colleague. “If we didn’t have that, there’s no telling what types of infringements and delays they would come up with.”

My friend nodded, a knowing smile on his face. Then, overhearing more conversations about the election, I let my thoughts drift into a comparison of sorts… what if voting was regulated like the right to bear arms?

First, voting rights would be denied for anyone under the age of 21.

Registering to vote would then require signing up, scheduling, and paying for a training course. This course would attempt to educate you on the potential dangers of voting. It would try to inform you about when and where you could and could not vote. It would seek to ensure you knew how to cast your ballot. 

Once you completed the course, you would receive a certificate, which you would take down to the Supervisor of Elections office. This might also require scheduling an appointment. Once there, you would need to prove your identity, have your fingerprints taken, and fill out a form answering a series of questions to make sure you were indeed eligible to become a voter. You would pay a fee for all this as well. 

After that, your prints and the form you filled out would be sent to the Florida Division of Elections headquarters in Tallahassee, where officials would compare your answers and your information to State records. Any discrepancies would result in major delays and would likely require you to begin the process over again, including another round of payments. 

If everything matched properly according to their rules, it might take three additional months for you to receive your voter registration card, with your picture on the front, in the mail. It’s very important for you to know that you must have this card in your possession every time you go to vote. If you try to vote without your card – big trouble. More fines and fees, and you may even lose your right to vote in the future. 

Once you get your card, you can only vote in designated voting areas, which could change with each term of the legislature. It’s up to you to keep up with any and all new rules and their effective dates. 

With limited exceptions, you must conceal your vote in public. No exposure, no showing other people that you were voting. Violations of this might land you in jail and/or cause you to lose your right to vote. While on the way to go vote – which would always be in-person – if you got stopped by a policeman, you must show him your voter card. Failure to do so could mean losing your right to vote. 

There could come a time when you don’t plan to or even want to vote in an election–maybe you feel unprepared to do so–but you would feel that you were forced to do so out of fear for your safety or the safety of others. This could result in a criminal investigation, possibly even a trial; you could be subject to multiple court appearances and costs where you would need to prove that you actually had no other option but to vote. 

You would also need to renew your voter registration card every few years, and you would pay a fee here, too. Failure to renew means losing your right to vote. 

In order to remain eligible to vote, you must not engage in any serious violations of federal, state, and/or local ordinances and laws. At any time, authorities might initiate an inquiry into you, to verify whether you remain an upstanding citizen.

At any time, day or night, friends, relatives, or a complete stranger on the internet could file a list of accusations against you, which would temporarily render you ineligible to vote. Authorities could break into your home or business, without any warning and at any hour they choose, to seize your voter registration card. If you resist: no more voting, ever. If you want your card back, you would need to pay for and undergo a mental health evaluation, proving your competence to vote. You would also need to hire a lawyer for your defense against the charges levied, no matter how frivolous. You might not ever get to see who originally accused you. 

Finally, in almost every election season, you would need to go on the defensive about protecting your right to vote. You would need to campaign, beg, and plead with your peers – sometimes with people who lived thousands of miles away – that voting was indeed your right and a valuable function of a secure society. 

Now, doesn’t this all sound a bit extreme? Does this not seem like a vast infringement on your rights? Why, then, would anyone use their vote to retain in power the very people who make these types of laws? 

This past week, I had a chance encounter with Representative Chuck Clemons. I took the opportunity to ask him if the new legislative session might take a look at repealing the harmful sections of SB7026, the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act. Passed with overwhelming Republican support in 2018, including Clemons’ own vote, this bill implemented into law many of these aforementioned examples.

His response to me was the same as it has been for the last couple years: “Sure, maybe we can work on it.” 

Now that the elections are over and people will be settling into what I perceive to be a transition back to regularly scheduled programming, I meanwhile intend to hold him and others with jobs in Tallahassee accountable to do just that: work on it. I do hope you will join me in continuing to write, engage, and otherwise communicate with Rep. Clemons and your representatives to assist in this ongoing project.

Martin Luther King Jr. once famously stated, “A right delayed is a right denied.”

It’s time we the people refuse to further accept any delays or intrusive infringement upon this our most basic human right: the right of self-defense. 

Chris Rose II is an elected member of the Libertarian Party of Florida Rules Committee

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