Originally posted at Writeindependent.org on May 30, 2012
Why are voter registration laws requiring photo ID a bad idea?
It seems so simple: citizens should easily be able to present a photo ID to register to vote, right? Most states have photos on drivers’ licenses. Student ID’s have photos. Elderly people who don’t drive and people without cars should be able to obtain photo ID’s somewhere, right?
Wrong. According to the voter suppression laws that have passed in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Kansas, North Carolina, Mississippi, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, and West Virginia, American citizens must show photo government-issued ID to register to vote. Studies show that 11% of voting age citizens lack such an ID, many of whom would have difficulty producing the kinds of documents required by the government to obtain one. For example, an elderly person who doesn’t drive wouldn’t be able to register. And student ID’s don’t qualify as proof of citizenship for most states.
This tactic has been called “Katrina Democracy” because it means that only people with cars and licenses will be able to vote, while the poorest people who don’t own cars or drive won’t be able to register and will drown in their political powerlessness.
People who live in poverty and elderly who don’t have cars and don’t drive can not provide a driver’s license. Does that mean they shouldn’t be able to vote? If a senior citizen collects social security, it means they have paid taxes to our government, therefore a social security check should be enough proof that they are a citizen.
One would think that a social security number would be enough to prove citizenship, but apparently the states who have passed voter suppression laws don’t accept social security ID or numbers, even though it is a simple solution and easy to track. One number, one vote.
“When voter fraud occurs, it is practically never done in person at polling places. You must sign in, and your signature could betray you (unless you are an expert at handwriting fraud). Your face could betray you too, if the inspector knew the real voter’s face. That is why it is almost impossible to find documented cases of in-person voter fraud – which is the only form of fraud that would theoretically be reduced by photo ID’s.”
If you live in one of the following states, you need to know there is legislation pending to enact voter suppression laws where you live: Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan, Virginia.
Let’s face it: our voting system is out of whack. We need to revamp the system entirely so that everyone who should be voting can vote, and so that those votes are counted properly. But voter suppression should not be part of the program.