Uninformed, "feel-good" liberals love to lecture us that Voter ID laws, which are designed to maintain the integrity of national elections, are discriminatory. They claim these laws result in the disenfranchisement of people either unwilling or unable to traipse down to the DMV to get a photo-identification to present when they go to their polling place.
Why is it, then, that people can go to the polls and elect a president every four years and not have to present the slightest proof of their identity and yet Tuesday night, at my local Shenendehowa school budget election, I was forced by an ever-so-pleasant poll-Nazi to ante up a photo ID before going into the voting booth?
Why is the burden of proof on a school budget electorate greater than that of the people determining who holds the highest office in the land? Martin Luther King Jr. often commented that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." The integrity of our state and national elections demand the reasonable expectation that voters provide proof of citizenship in the form of a photo ID. If it's required to vote in a school board election, shouldn't it be required in choosing a president or a member of congress? To argue against Voter ID laws in national elections, while demanding it in local elections, is not only hypocritical -- it's an obscenity.
Clifton Park, N.Y.
Natural gas opponents are rude bullies
Vermont prides itself on polite discourse and, generally, we have great respect for each other and the processes we use to resolve difficult issues like utility projects. We recognize that there has to be an objective way to determine what efforts are in the best economic and environmental interest of our state -- a way to separate the central facts from the passion of the extremes. Unfortunately, with most projects there is a group of very vocal opponents, who are inflexible, even fanatical, in their views and for whom no amount of fairness or fact will be persuasive.
For this vocal minority -- and they are a tiny fraction of the general population -- if you don't share their extreme views you are no longer a neighbor with a different opinion, you are the enemy. That's not just unfortunate, it's also uncivil and inconsistent with their ultimate objectives.
As the discussion of delivering natural gas service to Rutland County moves forward -- a more affordable and cleaner option that has existed in Chittenden County for nearly 50 years -- we've seen this behavior repeat itself. Most recently, we've seen angry and disrespectful opponents -- mostly from VPIRG and Rising Tide -- scold supporters as well as the neutral Public Service Board that regulates utilities and weighs the facts. They are also following through on threatened "uncivil" disobedience by trespassing and defacing private property at a Vermont Gas facility in South Burlington. Vermonters deserve rigorous debate without the vandalism and threat of violence.
The behavior of opponents is unfortunate and inconsistent with the value Vermonters place on civil and respectful dialogue. If Vermonters want to learn more about the proposal to expand natural gas service in Addison and Rutland counties -- or if they want to express their support for that project -- they shouldn't be bullied, intimidated or threatened by opponents. That's not the Vermont way.