Dancing on a Fine Line
I just finished listening to a podcast of The Morning Show with Joe & Patti for 7/24/12 and from his surly attitude you’d think it was about time for Joe Teehan to take a much needed vacation, but I guess he just got back. The topic was our State’s newly announce plan to register voters via Facebook and as you might expect if you’ve heard the show, Joe & Patti were on opposite sides of the issue. Joe was arguing for making it easier for other demographics to register while Patti was concerned that using only a drivers license or state ID, which don’t establish citizenship, could lead to non-citizens illegally registering to vote.
I’m perfectly OK with streamlining the process as we did with all mail in ballots, online voting or even Facebook registration as long as the eligibility requirements can be proven to have been met. The requirement to vote in federal elections include being over 18 and a US citizen by either birth or naturalization. Currently a regular issue Washington state license isn’t proof of these requirements.
So what made this episode of Joe & Patti worth blog post? It was the way that Joe danced along the line between promoting change and promoting illegal activity. He argued strongly that just because a person was undocumented, commonly referred to as illegal, didn’t mean that they hadn’t contributed to society and therefore deserved a say in the direction of that society. But as I listened I didn’t perceive any distinction between promoting the idea that non-citizens should be able to go out and vote and promoting the idea that non-citizens should go out and vote. You’ll have to listen to the show for yourself to get the full effect because I won’t be taking the time to prepare a written transcript.
If I were to promote the idea that non-citizens should be able to go out and vote I’d be advocating for a change in law, but if I were promoting the idea that non-citizens should go out and vote I’d be encouraging someone to break a law. There is a huge difference between I don’t like the law so let’s change it and I don’t like the law so let’s break it. I think in a lot of cases encouraging someone to break a law is in itself a crime, so I would wonder if an undocumented person were to register to vote as direct result of Joe’s encouragement would he be guilty of something like voter fraud? Would KGMI be liable for a radio personality going beyond expressing their opinion by encouraging criminal activity?