STATESBORO — Lynn Westmoreland, former Georgia congressman, visited Georgia Southern University’s Statesboro campus on Tuesday as part of National Voter Registration Day.
Congressman Westmoreland said that voting makes people a good citizen, but said that an uninformed voter was bad.
“When you register, to vote you register to become a good citizen,” Westmoreland said. “The worst thing we can have in our society is an uneducated voter.”
Westmoreland served in the House of Representatives from 2005 to 2017, representing the 8 and the 3 District.
Westmoreland also said that people who vote and participate are also the ones who should hold elected officials to their promises.
“The ones who elect the elected officials need to hold them accountable,” Westmoreland said. “If you voted for them, those are the ones to me who have to hold these officials most accountable.”
Westmoreland said that he thought the voting access has gotten better, and that Georgia should be considered a national model for voting, as Georgia has several options that people can use to prove identity and residence.
“Evidently the voting access has gotten better. I don’t know how much more you can do,” Westmoreland said. “You can also use a utility bill, a hunting registration or an ID.”
If voters do not have their ID with them, Congressman Westmoreland also said voters can use provisional ballots.
“Even if you go into the polling place, and you don’t have your identification, you can still vote on the provisional ballot,” Westmoreland said. “You have the right to come back and show them an ID and they will count that provisional ballot with the regular ballots.”
Eduardo Delgado, Georgia Vice President of the College Democrats, who was in attendance, said he respected the Congressman’s viewpoint, but that he disagreed with the Congressman’s on access to voting in Georgia.
“I was glad to see Congressman Westmoreland was committed to give his perspective on voter registration.” Delgado said. “I vehemently disagree with much of what he said pertaining to the Georgia being a ‘national model. Though, I do respect some of the points he made during his remarks.”
Westmoreland also served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1993 to 2005, rising to the position of House Republican Leader in 2001. As Republican leader, he worked with Georgia Speaker of the House Tom Murphy, a Democrat who served as Speaker of the House from 1973 to 2003. Westmoreland said that building a relationship is key to bipartisan success.
“You have to work with people,” Westmoreland said. “And to do that you have to build a relationship, and that’s a hard thing to do.”
Westmoreland said that being more moderate in policy was the key to building these relationships.
“People in politics want a touchdown on every play, but everything happens between the 40 yard lines… a yard here, a yard there,” Westmoreland said. “It’s not compromising your principles. It’s just about moving the ball forward.”
Blaine Salter, Chairman of the GS College Republicans who introduced the Congressman, said that he was honored to introduce a man who was committed to people joining the political process.
“The congressman stressed the importance of people participating in the political process by voting and how one person can truly make a difference, as reflected in his own public service record,” Salter said.
Nathan Woodruff, The George-Anne Managing News Editor, email@example.com