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  • Doug Tjapkes

Making things easier cannot be good for you!

I’ve come to this conclusion. Whether it’s public elections or public records, tightening of rules is not for your benefit. The stated reasons for these tightened restrictions bear no resemblance to the truth. The real reasons, frankly, are nefarious. I bring up the matter of elections because I read in a news story this week that officials are making it more difficult to apply for absentee ballots in Michigan. Now I’m reading this stuff every day about how states are implementing new rules and procedures that make it more difficult to vote, and that seems so counter-productive to me. Don’t we want everyone to vote, to make easier for everyone to vote? How about automatic voter registration when you get a driver’s license? How about making election day a national holiday? The stated reason: We’re trying to prevent fraud in our elections. My interpretation: We’re trying to make it harder for those people who oppose our ideas to vote. The same is true for FOIA requests. In a recent column, the MLive Media Group complained about the many barriers as they attempted to obtain public records...records that belong to you and me. We could identify with that because members of the HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS team are filing requests every day under the Freedom of Information Act on behalf of prisoners. Michigan is one of only a handful of states that refuse to allow prisoners permission to file such requests. These requests, mind you, are for important documents that could make a profound difference in the prisoner’s legal status. Said MLive’s Sara Scott: “The FOIA system, especially in Michigan, is set up to make things difficult.” She’s absolutely correct. Right here in our squeaky clean Ottawa County I have heard public officials, off the record, chuckling about how difficult they make it for persons hoping to get information through FOIA requests. That’s rotten! Here again, stated reasons are that vital information must be guarded, and that all steps must be taken to avoid frivolous requests. My interpretation: There may be stuff in here that we don’t want you to know about. Whether it’s voting in public elections, or attempting to obtain important public documents, making things easy may not be the popular way. But it’s the right way.

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