Ballot Insecurity

With the election season in full swing, the timing is perfect for the release of a new book called American Crisis, Southern Solutions, a collection of essays that discusses the state of the nation from a distinctly Southern perspective. Call me biased, but the best contribution in the book is written by our very own Laughlin McDonald, Director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project.

Laughlin authored "Ballot Security" and with rich examples it describes the partisan tactics used to disfranchise voters across the country. The essay's title refers to the insidious "ballot security" measures designed by lawmakers to achieve an unfair electoral advantage under the guise of good government. They include the recent flurry of voter identification laws created to solve the non-existent problem of in-person voter fraud. Laws like these have a disproportionate impact on low-income individuals, racial and ethnic minorities, senior citizens, voters with disabilities and many other eligible voters who have neither a government-issued photo ID nor the money to obtain one.

Nothing is more fundamental to our democracy than the right to vote because, as the Supreme Court has ruled, voting is "preservative of all rights." Rather than erecting hurdles that prevent Americans from voting, lawmakers must ensure that every eligible voter is allowed to vote, and that every vote counts.

Laughlin writes that "one of the enduring, and unconscionable, ironies of our democracy is the willingness of those with the power to try to limit the right to vote for racial and partisan reasons." Soon the Supreme Court will make a decision in our voter ID lawsuit and decide whether or not the latest ironic power grab will pass constitutional muster.


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I have emailed you guys quite a few times. I guess you don't want to appear anti-adoption because you support a woman's right to choose.

Do you realize that these laws hurt adoptees? Especially Indiana adoptees. Our amended birth certificates have only five lines on them. My amended birth certificate isn't even complete. I can't get a passport to leave my country because of this. I am hearing adoptees are not being allowed to join the military because of their amended birth certificates. I hear adoptive parents can't get social security cards. So if we can't leave the country and we can't join the military, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to finally support adoptee rights in the United States? Do you realize that this voter ID stuff is another way to attack adoptees? We will soon have our voter rights violated. If someone working at a voting station takes a look at our birth certificates, they will send us on our way because they are obviously fake.
I can't prove that I am an American citizen. I will vote. No one's right to privacy outweighs my civil rights

Patti Dexter

I'm not familiar with all of the adult adoptee issues in Indiana, however, I do question why the ACLU is not siding with adult adoptees right to know their origins. Once would think that because adoptees could be being withheld their 'minority' status in some cases and because some adult adoptees have been given their original court dockets with their original birth mothers name on them and coupled with the fact that if said adoptee had never been adopted that they would have access to their original birht certificate, that all of these reasons would be proof that there was 'not anonimity given' to birth mothers. I feel that there is a major civil rights violation against all adult adoptees needs to know what everyone else takes for granted. Also, some believe that heritage can be assumed when one is adopted. You can not change ones nationality and for all adoptees being raised Irish because someone told you YOU WERE BECAUSE YOUR ADOPTIVE PARENTS misleading...especially if you find them later and they tell you your ITALIAN or anything else other than what you were led to believe. I challange anyone to go tell someone of PR or Latino or Italian heritage that because they are now married to someone else they become that nationality (this is just an example); I would venture to say there would be major is no difference with adoptees. In today's society because so many children are adopted of mixed races it isn't so easy to 'hide' their heritage as was done in the past as some thought it was in the best interest of the child. In the best interest of the child and adult adoptee is to have all of the 'true' identifying information available to them and let them make the decision if they want to have contact, and if not, they still have all necessary information that they should be entitled to. Not to be told it isn't there right to know!

Mara Rigge

The non-identifying information that I got about my biological father:

Brown hair, brown eyes, medium complexion, unknown ethnicity, CAUCASION! How did they get causasion if he had a medium complexion and unknown ethnicity? Is this a case of marketing ability? Was I easier to package as "caucasion"?

I want my ethnicity, my biological identity back! I want the ACLU to take this issue of discrimination to the supreme court. Why wont the ACLU defend me and thousands of others that are denied our civil rights as United States citizens? For goodness sake, I'd like to travel abroad! That alone is discrimination keeping me captive in my own country!!!!

Gaye Sherman Ta...

Access by adult adoptees to their OWN original records is NOT a reproductive rights issue and shouldn't be made into one. With surveys showing 80-90% of first parents WANTING contact with the children they relinquished and open adoption becoming the norm because first parents are demanding it, it is incredible that the ACLU would be opposed to an adult's rights to their OWN records.

We are no longer in the era of adoption secrecy. Adoption today is celebrated and honored, not shamefully hidden away and never spoken of. The adopted "children" have become tax-paying responsible adults, even grandparents, but still do not have access to their true heritage.

Federal and state governments insist that individuals present complete and accurate birth records for Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, passports, voting, and drivers licenses. These same governments then deny adoptees' access to the very documents that are expected to be provided. US Passport Services will not accept an adoptee's amended birth certificate (even if complete) if it was filed "more than one year after the date of birth".

Why does the ACLU think we don't deserve OUR records and OUR heritage and OUR identity?

Mara Rigge

The ACLU needs to change it's name to: American Civil Liberties Union Unless You're An Adoptee, Then You're Screwed:



The ACLU should take up this issue of adult adoptees. Don't we have the same rights as anyone else. These laws are outdated and archaic.


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