This blog was written in response to Blind Owl's "Can I See Some ID?" Find that here: https://www.blindowlblogs.com/post/can-i-see-some-id
Voter ID laws are not inherently racist; they are a subversive voter suppression tactic. It’s actually a very clever (if not somewhat rotten) strategy. Pass laws that require an ID to vote, with the “unintended” result of reducing voter turnout. Then go on television and make a list of things that you need an ID to do. The standard list is pretty impressive; driving a car, flying on a plane, purchasing alcohol, even purchasing something as commonplace as spray paint requires ID. Are all of those practices and requirements racist? In a word, no. This isn’t another “woke “ tactic enlarging the racial inequities in this world, while some of those requirements disproportionately impact impoverished minorities, they don’t exclusively impact them, in fact by pure numbers there are more poor white people in this country than any other group of people. This issue speaks much more to the haves and have nots of society than it does to skin color or cultural differences.
It is worth mentioning that the only item on the list of “GOP approved we card” items above that also is a constitutional right, is voting. Voting is also somewhat unique in terms of the frequency that people might ever participate in it, relative to the rest of the list. Particularly in a metro environment it is not far-fetched that somebody would never own a vehicle, or travel by plane, and while I don’t personally know any, I am told there are some teetotalers out there.
What’s my point? If these politicians are being truthful, and we desperately need voter ID laws to protect our elections, then equal access to IDs for voting needs to have a higher priority than access to an ID for the purposes of driving, flying, or anything else for that matter. There is just one rather gigantic glaring problem that politicians seem less eager to address, the thing with getting everyone IDs is, THAT’S NOT FREE!!! Getting ID access to everyone is going to cost money, more still until we get clear of the “pandemic”.
I can already hear the armchair conservative pundits among you insisting that everybody already has equal access. Every state has the same number of DMV sites available to everyone, So in what way do these laws restrict equal access? Another clever talking point but let’s explore that bad faith nonsense. There are many factors that might mean you have your access limited, just some include; living below the federal poverty line, happening to not own a car, or simply just having limited mobility. Maybe you’re handicapped, maybe you’re older, maybe you just live really far from the nearest available DMV. Any or all of those things make something that’s relatively easy for someone who has a full-time job, is without disability, and/or owns a vehicle more difficult for you. Now I am not one of those “bleeding heart communists,” on the extreme left, I don’t believe in equal outcome as the only desirable goal, this is also not a piece advocating some sort of dystopian Harrison Bergeron type nonsense, But I do believe in genuine equal opportunity.
If you examine from the 2000 up to the 2016 election (the last for which we have data currently) There have been under 100 instances of verifiable voter impersonation, which editorially is the only crime an ID will prevent. In person and even mail in voting are SIGNIFICANTLY less of a concern than literally any computer process. As many major companies can tell you, information systems can be hacked. So the aim is not to stop or prevent widespread voter fraud, widespread voter fraud doesn’t exist and IDs only stop the least prolific problem. The strategy is plain, make voting more difficult and scare a majority of people into agreeing with it being so difficult with hyperbolic nonsense and dog whistled xenophobia, all the time knowing by human nature if something is made more difficult to do, fewer people will do it.
Have no doubt about it, there are unspoken but very deliberate motivations behind these laws. The tacit purpose from the beginning has never changed even though it is never discussed, the main objective of these laws is to get fewer people to vote, Not to improve election security.
Like most reasonable people I don’t feel it is unfair to expect a voter to have some responsibility with regards to being able to vote. I think obtaining a picture ID is reasonable as long as everybody has equal access. But what does equal access look like? Something is not equal when one person can do it with no extra effort and another has to expend significant effort. Even something mundane like getting off work to go get the ID can be a challenge, if you’ve ever lived paycheck to paycheck you know how absurd it is to suggest that you take an “unpaid day off” for almost any reason. Less than oddly states with expanded voter ID requirements haven’t complimented those laws with expanded DMV hours or locations to make sure everyone can get an ID and still vote. The “plan” seems to be, as voters it’s just our problem.
Does this mean that we should just scrap ID laws all together? Actually, no. The premise of them is not terrible. They make sure the person is who they say they are before we let them vote. But those laws stand alone have perverse very intended consequences. We also have to support the legislation with funding to get equal access to remote areas, or urban areas where mobility can be limited… Satellite offices, mobile offices, in-home appointments, whatever it takes. If the politicians pushing so hard to pass these ID laws had half of the same zeal for making sure everybody got an ID as they do for espousing how desperately they are needed, I don’t think we would even be having this time together my friends.