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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

The 2012 presidential election is coming up soon and both sides are gearing up for an all-out battle. President Obama and the Democrats have been working overtime to win over groups like the LGBTQ and immigrant communities, while the Republicans have been tirelessly working toward systematic voting purges.

From my first day in a U.S. elementary school, I was taught that voting was part and parcel of what made this country strong. If I was unhappy with a policy, with a public official or with an impending bill, I could use my ability to vote and take part in the democratic process.

In middle school, I learned about the Electoral College and how it stood in the way of my vote. The college creates a sort of middleman in the American electoral process, and so much has been lost in translation. Of course, I’m referring to the 2000 presidential election where the candidate who won the national popular vote lost the election.

Now in Florida, voter purging has become all the rage. Gov. Rick Scott has won his lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security to have access to the SAVE Database. SAVE stands for Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements. This database contains the names of residents who have yet to become U.S. citizens and therefore can’t vote.

If one were to overlook this breach of privacy and look into the actual accuracy of the database, one would find, according to the Orlando Sentinel, that research has shown it to be outdated or have faulty information.

A preliminary search based on driver’s license information found 2,625 suspected non-citizens. A closer look, conducted by the Tampa Bay Times, found that the majority of those suspected were U.S. citizens and only a handful were non-citizens.

Despite the flaws in Florida’s methods, Scott’s victory and his gleeful enthusiasm at purging the polls have inspired other states to implement similar measures. Ohio, Michigan, New Mexico and Iowa are backing up our governor and giving Florida two thumbs up.

It’s important to ensure the purity of our elections process, but instituting a faulty search system has resulted in a thinly veiled witch hunt in the name of combating voter fraud.

Voter fraud has not become the norm, and there are few cases that show otherwise. However, the extreme obsession on restricting certain groups from voting is skewing our rights as democratic citizens.

Our country’s main call to democracy was the ability to voice our opinions. Today, our options are becoming increasingly limited.

The whole process continues to give credence to the emerging phrase, “Democracy for the few.”

The veil obscuring the corruption in our government is thinning daily. Soon it will disappear, and all we’ll have left is the dark truth that democracy for the majority disappeared a long time ago.

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Don’t let the fancy rhetoric of these purges fool you. It’s just another method to remove a group’s representation. Be aware and learn the truth behind the words.

Today, you may not think these restrictions mean anything, but don’t say you weren’t warned when tomorrow you find yourself without a voice.

Michela Martinazzi is an art history junior at UF. Her column appears on Tuesdays. You can contact her at opinions@alligator.org.

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