And for anyone who hasn't known the source of Balink's ire, El Paso County's clerk and recorder spelled it out, sort of, in his monthly newsletter. Balink, it turns out, is not just irked about the possibility that people may vote illegally, but it turns out he's all fired up about Christmas trees, marriage and even menorahs.
Here is a portion of his letter, titled "The New American Revolution Where's the Outrage?" It was sent to his e-mail list and area media outlets, and published in his official newsletter.
"Imagine going to a voter registration office in any country in the world and registering to vote," Balink writes. "No identification documents proving who you are and no proof of citizenship documents for that country are required. You just sign up and you are registered to vote. If you say, "that's not going to happen!' you are right. It's not going to happen in any country in the world ... except in the United States of America."
So far, on point. You're supposed to be a citizen to vote, but even with state-issued drivers' licenses or IDs, Balink can't always be certain a given voter is a legal citizen.
"There has been significant conversation about illegal immigration recently and rightly so ... we are a nation of laws and I believe we should enforce them," Balink continues. "As the son of an immigrant, I understand and appreciate the greatness of America. My father understood that America was a nation of immigrants where opportunities were open to those who sought them. However, the bottom line is America also is a nation of laws ... and America is under attack."
Starting to get a little bit scary, Bob. Under attack? Just where are you going with this ...?
"We are experiencing a serious deterioration of many of the institutions upon which this country was built," Balink continues. "Christmas trees are no longer appropriate in celebration of Christmas we are instructed to refer to them as Holiday trees, and soon, marriage may no longer be defined as a union between a man and woman.
"Shall we propose, then, that the menorah shall henceforth be referred to as "a candelabrum with seven [sic] candles?" Balink continues. "I say "No!' A menorah is a menorah and a "Christmas tree' is just that. And marriage? Well, we all know what marriage means ..."
What? Illegally registering to vote = Christmas trees and menorahs = marriage? What in the heck is going on here?
This week, Balink, whose job it is to oversee a fair and impartial election process, explained his train of thought. Sort of.
"It's a hot topic," he says of his Christmas tree analogy. And about the marriage part?
"We all seem to have a different definition of marriage," he says. "I thought that was funny as heck."
Balink doesn't have one scintilla of proof that people are lining up around the block demanding entry into a voting booth where they don't belong. But he thinks it's "crazy, crazy, crazy" that judges in Georgia and Arizona, and around the country, keep ruling that proof of citizenship is not required to register to vote.
Specifically, those judges have frowned upon efforts to make it harder to vote. Stringent new requirements have been confusing. They have stymied voter registration drives and have proven to be an undue burden, particularly for poor people who can't afford to shell out money for the required documentation.
To his credit, Balink says he would support writing off costs so people can obtain proof that they are who they say they are and can legally vote. But, when you really think about it, perhaps the clerk and recorder might consider rethinking his revolution.
The United States currently ranks 139th out of 172 countries in voter turnout. This year, maybe half the registered voters will show up in El Paso County. Where's the outrage, as Balink might say, over that?
Because like Christmas trees, menorahs and marriage whatever your definition of that may be representative democracy is also a fine institution. firstname.lastname@example.org
Amazing story of some amazing groups of people who care. Well done.
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