In the light of recent court decisions I would like to discuss the topic of voter ID laws. Just to set the tone here…I’m in favor of them. If we can require legitimate photo ID to rent a car, use a credit card, or board a plane it stands to reason that it is a credible requirement for exercising your right to vote. That said, here is where the rubber meets the road. In many of the cases that have come up (Texas, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee) the proponents of these bills have tried to implement them right before an election. That is where a good idea gets corrupted by the implementer.
Changes of process and scope need a long lead time in order for them to be done well and completely. Anything done quickly will have the impact of disenfranchising anyone who wasn’t there to begin with. It has been argued that is precisely why these states want to implement the measures. That may be the case, it may not. I will not speculate on that as I don’t know. I just hold to my earlier statement that I believe providing photo ID is a reasonable requirement for exercising one’s right to vote.
There are some who have taken this issue and decided that it is the same as Poll Taxes, Literacy Tests, and many of the tactics that were enacted in the Jim Crow South during and after Reconstruction to restrict, limit and block the rights of Black people to vote. If a state ID was something that was prohibitively expensive (maximum of $30 in any state in the union) then I would completely agree. That said, even at the lowest levels of poverty, $30 isn’t a break the bank amount for something you hold for 6-8 years. Even beyond that, if already have a driver’s license, you don’t need anything more.
To be certain, there are some aspects of any Voter ID law that will need to be ironed out, synched up with other State laws, and informed to people. Even the best intentioned law can be twisted and corrupted by people who want to use it for some political or economic advantage. That said, that is a question for voters to address with their State governments. The dialogue around the issue has become so heated over the Federal elections that people forget, their voter rights apply as much or more for voting in State and local. Until we come to a point where voting apparatus and voter security is much more advanced than voting booths and polling places, we do need some measures to assure that everyone who can vote is able to but people who are not able to vote, don’t.
- Explore voter ID laws in all 50 states (washingtonpost.com)