Sunday, March 25, 2007

Show your face or lose your vote

Ahead of tomorrow's election, Quebec has made it law that in order to vote, your must show your face. Therefore muslim women who wear the niqab (which covers everything but the eyes) won't be allowed to vote, in spite of being taxpaying Canadian citizens. Originally, Quebec's electoral officer rejected the proposal that women in veils be disqualified from voting, but after a deluge of negative response (including death threats), he caved in to the racists.

Whatever you think of the muslim religious tradition of covering the hair and face, disallowing niqab-wearing women from voting is silly at best and racist at worst. The implicit suggestion behind the law is that with faces covered, evil miscreants may be able to scam an illegitimate vote or two because they won't be recognized by the poll clerks. Recognized by the poll clerks? Are you shittin' me? Having worked as a poll clerk for years, I can honestly say that the voters' faces mean sweet fuck-all to us -- the only ID that counts is proof of name and address. Picture ID, while preferable because it has all the information a poll clerk needs in one handy-dandy little card, isn't required. People use things like hydro bills -- anything "official" that has name and address will do. Trust me, after a few hours of cranking hundreds of voters through the system, every one of their faces might as well be covered for all they mean to us.

So why all the panic over the niqab? Simple, because Quebec has a racist constituency -- it's small, but it's there -- and this issue is being used to pander to it. This is one of those stupid non-issues that gets spun into something big for no other reason than to let the racists indulge in a little indignance high and scrape a few more votes from the bottom of the barrel, while distracting the electorate from the real issues. Quebec should seriously be ashamed.