Why do we keep wanting to fix problems that don’t exist, while ignoring problems that do exist?
Identification cards for voting are an example of this.
On the surface, it sounds like a good idea. Why not require photo ID cards to vote? You get a voter registration card; I show mine when I go to vote. I have voted places where nobody asked to see my registration card.
The last time I voted, my polling place had been moved. I went to the old location but I couldn’t vote there. The people there were able to direct me to my new polling place. ID or not, the problem was easily rectified.
While I wouldn’t have a problem showing an ID to vote, I am against the idea for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, voting is a right.
People say, well, you have to have a license to drive. Driving is not a right. Voting is. Losing an ID card or not obtaining one should not mean giving up a constitutional right.
Of course, in Illinois, you have to have a special ID card to have a gun. I’m against that, too. I’m further against voter IDs because there really is not a problem to be fixed here. Yet, I’m aware of other problems that should be fixed.
For instance, when you move and don’t remove your voting registration, you can be registered to vote in two places. There is no national database that would identify your duplicate voting registration. Some counties and states may have a few safeguards in place, but it’s easy enough to vote twice.
I don’t know how much this happens, but I know that it does happen. As a reporter, I once uncovered a scheme where a rich guy who owned residences in more than one state was voting in general elections in at least two states. If we’re going after voter ID, then let’s go after this problem, too.
Another problem is how people who are easily manipulated are frequently bussed to their polling places with instructions on how to vote and who to vote for. It is the constitutional right of these people to vote, regardless of whether they should be voting. Both parties have made a practice of rounding up people from nursing homes and institutions for the mentally impaired and feeding them heaping scoops of propaganda.
According to the articles I’ve seen on voter fraud, there seems to be relatively few non-citizens voting – only 340 cases nationwide in the past 10 years. That doesn’t seem like such a huge problem that we need to systematically change how we do things.
So, let’s look at the motivations behind this movement. Most people who own homes in more than one state tend to be wealthy. Wealthy people tend to vote Republican. Most people who would not bother getting a voter ID are minorities, poor people and the elderly. Many of them, especially minorities and poor people, tend to vote Democrat in support of their own self-interests.
It is little wonder that the Republicans would like to further disadvantage these groups by requiring voter ID cards.
Most of us are guilty of sometimes thinking that everyone is just like us. It would be no big deal for me to take off for an hour, go to a government facility, pay a small fee and have my picture taken for an ID, so it shouldn’t be a big deal for others. But what if I was poor or old or disabled? Or all three?
If I was 85 years old and bedridden and wondering whether I’m going to have to choose between food and medicine this month, paying as little as $2 for an ID would be too much for me to bear. Maybe even getting out of the house to go get an ID would be enough for me to say, “Heck with it; I just won’t vote.”
We should be encouraging people to vote, not discouraging them. Democracy should not be defined by subsets of people. When we make it difficult for certain groups of people to vote, it’s no longer democracy, is it?
© Copyright 2012 by David Porter who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. FYI, you do not need a photo ID to read this column or to visit us online at www.ramblinman.us.