Are You a United States Citizen?

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
September 23, 2012

When I was at the editorial cartoonist convention last week, one of the events was a reception at the US Capitol, specifically the House Committee on Agriculture’s Hearing Room. I’m not really sure what the exact connection to agriculture was, but it was a big room with comfy seats and a pleasant place for House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Jim McGovern to talk with us. After the formal niceties, we were able to ask the congressmen a few questions. Rep. McCarthy had brought up immigration and voting rights, and things go very testy very quickly. Rep. McCarthy extolled the virtues of voter integrity; the cartoonists challenged him on ulterior motives. Rep. McCarthy strained smiles and explained in a patronizing way the big picture; the cartoonists disassembled the big picture and questioned his logic. Soon aides stepped in and whisked Rep. Kevin McCarthy to his next appointment (whether he actually had one or not). Rep. McGovern stuck to stories about how his father was a liquor store owner. Things went better for him.

This cartoon has been kicking around my head since the primary vote in August. Our Secretary of State in Michigan, Ruth Johnson, decided (despite Governor Snyder’s opposition) to have this question on the ballot: Are you a United States citizen? A valid question for a voter, sure, but one that had never been on a ballot before. It caused a lot of confusion. At first, you had to check Yes to vote. But then during the election day a clarification was sent that voters could opt out of answering the question. Now it is supposed to be on the November ballot. Ms. Johnson thinks it’s “a helpful reminder.” But decisions were not made in time for it to be on absentee ballots. Messy to say the least. If we could just get Ms. Johnson to address a room full of cartoonists, I’m sure we could get this straightened out.


  1. Kris said,

    September 25, 2012 @ 9:20 am

    Here’s what I haven’t heard or been able to ascertain in my limited free time: how big of a problem is voter fraud? The ‘solutions’ are plentiful in states like PA and SC for example but I haven’t heard the size of the ‘problem’ that they proport to correct.

  2. John Auchter said,

    September 25, 2012 @ 5:15 pm

    And that’s the, uh, elephant in the room. There is no significant voter fraud as nearly as anybody can tell. And any fraud that does exist seems anecdotally to be human error, not planned. I think we’d all be better off if the goal were clarity & transparency, not so much “rigging.”

  3. Tyler said,

    September 25, 2012 @ 6:44 pm

    Just a case of trying to stop people from voting. PA has admitted in court they have no evidence of voter fraud AND that their new laws will stop it from happening. 🙂

    “next up, a leash law for unicorns!”…

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