An Examination of Voter ID Laws

titlepageAn Examination of Voter ID Laws

I was fortunate to have found a substantive article on voter ID. It cites its claims and has many facts and stories about alleged voter fraud. I am placing the first three paragraphs here for your viewing but for the entire article you need to travel to the web site of A Liberal Thinker.

James Pilant

What’s the deal with State voter ID laws? | aliberalthinker

Voter ID laws are being introduced in a number of states across the United States, the majority of them being red States. The purpose of these laws are supposedly to combat voter impersonation fraud that apparently has become a serious problem in the view of conservative lawmakers and advocates. Liberal groups are calling foul, claiming that these laws do nothing but discriminate against minorities and the poor, those eligible voters who typically do not possess any form of photo I.D.

There shouldn’t really be a problem with requiring people to present identification in order to vote provided that state governments are willing to issue I.D’s to those without them, at no cost. If governments can demonstrate that they are willing to transition their constituents to get the necessary I.D in order to vote then I fail to see an issue. So how do we define “cost barriers” when it comes to voter I.D laws? Well to state the obvious, state governments will need to provide I.D’s to those requiring them at no cost. The assumption here may be that because State governments are offering free I.D’s to those who need it, the problem is solved, right? Well as the old saying goes, “there is no such thing as a free lunch”.

Cost barriers

To provide “proof” to attain those free government issued cards it may still cost those individuals to apply for them as those applications may in turn require documents not in possession by those individuals concerned. The application process may also daunting as, believe or not, many of the less fortunate do still work and they may not have the spare time to apply for those I.D’s due to work and family obligations. Another cost barrier to those individuals concerned may be their inability to travel to apply for those I.D’s (many of the poor live in isolated rural settings away from State buildings or post offices, many do not have access to the internet either). None of the State I.D laws that I am aware of offer a cost free solution to those less fortunate. Washington Post referred to a particular study that demonstrated the costs to eligible voters under voter ID laws (14):

via What’s the deal with State voter ID laws? | aliberalthinker.

From around the web.

From the web site, Propublica.

Why are these voter ID laws so strongly opposed?

Voting law opponents contend these laws disproportionately affect elderly, minority and low-income groups that tend to vote Democratic. Obtaining photo ID can be costly and burdensome, with even free state ID requiring documents like a birth certificate that can cost up to $25 in some places. According to a study from NYU’s Brennan Center, 11 percent of voting-age citizens lack necessary photo ID while many people in rural areas have trouble accessing ID offices. During closing arguments in a recent case over Texas’s voter ID law, a lawyer for the state brushed aside these obstacles as the “reality to life of choosing to live in that part of Texas.”

Attorney General Eric Holder and others have compared the laws to a poll tax, in which Southern states during the Jim Crow era imposed voting fees, which discouraged blacks, and even some poor whites — until the passage of grandfather clauses — from voting.

Given the sometimes costly steps required to obtain needed documents today, legal scholars argue that photo ID laws create a new “financial barrier to the ballot box.”

From around the web.

From the web site, Milam Blues.

One of the arguments in favor of voter ID is that most people have to show a photo ID in order to accomplish all sorts of normal, every day tasks like cashing a check or buying an airline ticket. Why should it be easier to vote than to cash a check?

Well, here’s why: those every day tasks that normally require an ID are privileges, not rights guaranteed under our Constitution.  Check cashing is a privilege. Voting is a right. The trend toward universal suffrage has been part of our democratic civilization for generations. Most democracies work to extend voting rights. Our state is actively trying to suppress voting rights.

Making it difficult to vote is the same as curtailing your rights to speak your mind, practice your religion, assemble peacefully, or (for some) own a gun. And while we all agree that society has an interest in making sure that only “responsible” people should own a fire arm, I doubt that anyone would want to apply the same argument to going to church or reading a newspaper.

Arkansas Disenfranchises Legitimate Voters

1859_Colton_Map_of_Arkansas_-_Geographicus_-_Arkansas-colton-1860Arkansas Disenfranchises Legitimate Voters

The curse of fake voter fraud strikes innocent Arkansans. I went and had a look at the opposing sides on this controversy. Those who say there is hardly any voter fraud at all can call forth an utterly impressive array of factual data. How about the other side? They explain with breathless enthusiasm that millions and millions of dead Americans are on the voting rolls and therefore there could be a lot of voter fraud although the cases prosecuted number in the tens.

Maybe I’m just not the kind of bold thinker that the proponents of voter ID are, but it seems to me that if you are worried about dead people on the voting, it should be simple matter of computer matching of state databases to remove them from the roles. Am I mistaken? Wouldn’t it just be simpler to let state and county computers go through the voting rolls and remove the dead than taking the risk of disenfranchising legitimate voters?

Of course, a cynical person might believe that the legislature is seeking to make it more difficult to vote for the young, the poor, the old and minorities. However, it is obvious that the upstanding members of the Arkansas legislature would not attack any right as sacred as the right to vote. So, there must be another explanation.

James Pilant

Arkansas County Disenfranchises 1 In 5 Absentee Voters Thanks To Voter ID | ThinkProgress

Last Tuesday, voters in Pulaski County, Arkansas voted on whether to approve a tax that would fund improvements at a local technical college. Yet, nearly 20 percent of the voters who cast an absentee ballot were disenfranchised thanks to the state’s new voter ID law.

In 2013, the Arkansas legislature enacted a voter ID law containing a provision requiring absentee voters to include a copy of their ID along with their ballot. The result, according to a statement Pulaski County Election Commissioner Chris Burks gave to the Arkansas Times, is that 76 of the 384 absentee ballots cast in last Tuesday’s election were not counted. Burks added that, “[i]n my opinion, those absentee ballots returned without ID were 76 real people’s votes that would have otherwise counted but for the sloppily drafted Voter ID bill.”

via Arkansas County Disenfranchises 1 In 5 Absentee Voters Thanks To Voter ID | ThinkProgress.

From around the web.

From the web site, Charles O’Halloran Boyd.

Another reason I have for opposing voter ID laws is their disproportionate impact on minority voters. Any policy that is enacted with the goal of preventing people of a certain race from voting obviously ought to be vehemently opposed. But given the history of racial discrimination and disenfranchisement in this country, it is also imperative that we try to avoid policies that have even an unintentional impact disproportionately on voters of a certain race. In order to continue to move closer toward a more racially egalitarian society, it is important to have a multitude of voters of all races. I would also state that while, as I mentioned earlier, some supporters of voter ID laws are well meaning and non-racist, others are certainly racist and working to disenfranchise minority voters. Not long ago, Mississippi had a governor named Haley Barbour who venerated Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy and had documented ties with the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens. Barbour was also in support of voter ID laws, and I do not think I am being overly judgmental to conclude that he had nefarious motivations. A somewhat similar case exists in my native state of Georgia. Back when he was making an unfortunately successful attempt to get elected, our current Governor Nathan Deal was championing our state’s voter ID law and let his true feelings be known. “We got all the complaints of the ghetto grandmothers who didn’t have birth certificates and all that,” Deal said, derisively. While in office, he has promoted “Confederate History Month” and called an attempt from a liberal organization to gain his endorsement for a racially integrated prom (frighteningly, segregation of high school proms is still an issue in the South) a “silly publicity stunt.” Again, Deal’s motives don’t look so good. The country has made a great deal of progress when it comes to achieving universal suffrage and breaking down racial barriers to voting. But voter ID laws are a step in the wrong direction, and they must be repealed.