There is an endless range of activities for which a photo ID is required (e.g., driving, getting on airplanes, purchasing alcohol or cigarettes, getting food stamps). And yet, Democrats are trying to convince the public to oppose voter ID laws by arguing that there are scads of folks who would be disenfranchised if they were required to present some sort of government-issued identification in order to vote.
I have trouble responding to this argument, because of how ridiculous it is. When I first heard it, I couldn’t find any response beyond sheer incredulity. You need to sit down and think for a minute in order to get past the initial shock of how dumb it is.
The chief assumption of the anti-photo-ID argument is this: Republicans want to keep really poor people from voting because those votes tend to go to Democrats. But it seems extremely unlikely that there are tons of people who (1) honestly cannot get government IDs and (2) vote in elections.
First, very few people lack photo IDs. This includes the abjectly poor, many of whom need IDs to qualify for government programs designed for their benefit, including (in many states) food stamps and welfare.
Secondly, if you’re so not-with-it that you can’t even go through the simple process of getting yourself some form of government ID, I highly doubt you’ve got the wherewithal to go register a few months before an election, and then go to your local polling place and vote on election day. Voter turnout for people in the too-abjectly-poor-and-uneducated-to-get-a-government-ID population has to be pitifully low. I can assure you that Mitt Romney doesn’t lay awake at night worrying about them sinking his candidacy.
Nevertheless, the media has managed to put Republicans on the defensive about this. A brief Google search of news story hits for the terms “voter ID laws support” (I was trying to find polling data) yielded the following: Eugene Robinson from The Washington Post calls these laws a “solution in search of a problem”; The Chicago Tribune reports that fewer blacks will vote under new Texas voter ID laws; The New American reports that Eric Holder likened a voter ID law to a poll tax; and on and on. Seven of the first nine stories in the search have titles obviously promoting the anti-ID view.
Conservatives need to take the debate back. The burden of explanation should be on the people who do not want an easily enforceable, wildly popular system for ensuring voting security. An overwhelming majority of Americans support voter ID laws, and yet the media acts as though conservatives are the ones who are suspect; meanwhile, the noble Democrats (who have had plenty of scrapes with voter fraud, and thus plenty of political motives to oppose stricter policing) are above any suspicion of having political motives. Noble souls that they are, they’re all just looking out for the little guy.
Right. Why are the Democrats really so opposed to these laws, going to such lengths as to change the name of voter ID legislation being placed before the voters in Minnesota (perhaps illegally)?