You have to play by the rules when it comes to elections.
Last Friday, members of the Bangladeshi-American community held a protest across from city hall, claiming the city has discriminated against voters and suppressed their vote.
The protest was in response to charges filed against three members of that community for allegedly handling absentee ballots illegally. Three men are now facing a felony charge of handing in absentee ballots to the city clerk’s office from voters who are not related to them or part of their household.
State law is strict about who gets to handle absentee ballots. It says that if a voter can’t return their ballot or mail it in, they can only have an immediate family member or member of their household return it.
That rule is clearly printed on the envelope the ballots come in and in two other places inside the packaging.
There is no excuse for anyone to violate this rule.
The city clerk’s duty is to report wrongdoing to the police department and the police are duty bound to investigate the matter and turn over their findings to the county prosecutor. In this case, the county prosecutor deferred to the state Attorney General’s Office, which specializes in election matters.
To claim discrimination and voter suppression undercuts legitimate complaints by those who are genuinely discriminated against elsewhere.
The law is clear, but there were those at the rally who claimed these incidents were no crime at all, and that the men being charged are victims.
The law is plain and clear for anyone to see. If people are going to get involved in the elective process, they have to get informed about the rules – beforehand.
Ignorance is no excuse.