Guest Contributor 12-year-old Madison Kimrey illustrates the irony of one GOP State Senator’s stance on voter ID laws given the fact his son was arrested for fraudulent use of ID.
Behold State Senator Robert Anthony Rucho from Mecklenburg County, a lead sponsor of the voting reforms recently passed here in my state of North Carolina. Some of you may also be familiar with him for his tweet stating that “Justice Robert’s Pen and Obamacare have done more damage to the USA then the swords of Nazis, Soviets & terrorists combined.” Please note that the improper use of the word “then” was his and not mine, but we’ll get to Senator Rucho’s opinions on education a little more in a bit.
Many of you are familiar with me because of a speech I gave at Moral Monday, where I informed a large number of people that Senator Rucho argued last year for the elimination of the opportunity for 16 and 17 year olds to pre-register and automatically be added to the voter rolls when they turn 18, saying his own son was confused about when he was supposed to vote.
Something most people aren’t familiar with is something else Rucho said on the floor of the North Carolina General Assembly on July 25th of last year. His comments were in response to the epic Senator Josh Stein, who questioned Senator Rucho two days earlier on his son’s “confusion” and stood up to defend pre-registration and the education programs in our schools that encourage young people to vote and become active participants in our political process. “Senator Stein, do you know what we do in our family? We teach and talk about democracy. Our family does that. Our family goes and votes, when my children were growing up. I don’t need a civics class to do that, Senator Stein. We teach that within our family. I think it’s a better place.”
As for Senator Rucho’s opinions on requiring ID at the polls, here are a few of his greatest hits:
“It is nearly impossible to live in society today without photo identification. Whether you are going to the bank, traveling, filling a prescription or even picking up the family dog, you will be asked to present an ID.”
The bill, “re-establishes a level of confidence in the electoral process and also in our state government.“
The bill puts, “honesty and integrity into the electoral process.”
Last week, blogger Greg Flynn reported that Senator Rucho’s son was charged with using a fake ID to obtain alcohol, consuming alcohol underage, and stealing a bottle of alcohol. I confirmed through a search of public records that indeed one Robert Anthony Rucho II from Matthews, NC was arrested in Chapel Hill on April 17th on these charges.
Young people make mistakes. We do stupid things. Bob Rucho’s son appears to have made a really stupid mistake that many young people have made in the past. Under normal circumstances, this would not even be relevant. Being a State Senator should not mean that you and your family are expected to be perfect and I am not a fan of turning other people’s mistakes into political scandals.
I do think this particular instance is relevant to issues we have in my state, though. Senator Rucho argued the elimination of a program that pre-registered over 160,000 teenagers based on the confusion of his son. He argued against civics education programs based on the fact he didn’t feel they were necessary for his children. He argued that requiring ID would eliminate voter fraud. Indeed, it may be hard for North Carolinians who can’t obtain the documents they need, take time off work, or arrange transportation to the DMV to obtain real ID’s to afford to get fake ID’s. But it’s evidently not that hard for the sons of rich people to do it.
Perhaps Bob Rucho II would have made different choices if he had gotten messages from those around him that he was competent. Senator Rucho decided to make policy that has affected thousands upon thousands of young North Carolinians based not on facts or evidence, but on his personal opinions regarding his son’s incompetence and confidence in his parenting skills. I certainly don’t think he’s going to plan to argue now that we raise the drinking age because his son was confused about what age he was supposed to drink. I really hope he doesn’t start arguing against education programs that teach young people about responsible drinking based on the fact he talks about it in his family. Senator Rucho owes the young people of his district and all of North Carolina an apology. A great way to make amends would be to sponsor the bill that re-establishes pre-registration here in our state and to support legislation to invest in civic education programs.
I believe that the young people of my state and my country will be better decision makers and more active and responsible citizens if given the opportunities that reinforce those qualities and are treated as capable by our leaders and those who elect them. If you believe this too, support policies and programs that will encourage the youth of our nation and let your representatives and candidates know.
Madison Kimrey is student, actress, writer and activist who fights for LGBT rights, humane treatment of animals, women’s rights and promotes youth activism and participation in democracy. Like Her FB page NC Youth Rock HERE.
|Kimberley A. Johnson (BIO) is the author of The Virgin Diaries and an activist for women’s rights. Like her on Facebook, Twitter or follow her on FB HERE.|