As the battle over voter identification moves to the courts, reason is already the first casualty. How in the world it is wrong to require an American to identify themselves properly before choosing who will run our town, county, state and country is a mystery. To most of us, it seems odd that it hasn’t always been a requirement rather than a big deal that now, in some places, it is.
Yet, the ends of the political spectrum, as always, have chosen this as a cause that requires much banging of drums and firing of broadsides. On the one side is the example of some poor grandmother who does not drive or do any of the dozen things that already require photo identification and will be denied her vote. On the other is a mythic gang of double-voters and foreigners ranging the land with evil intent.
In between reason lies dead on the field. While the Florida purge of voter rolls and some of the more esoteric aspects of new voter law in North Carolina may go a little far, this is not the poll tax. Interestingly, these laws are being pressed and opposed by groups who, in our less pristine past, were part of actual efforts to suppress the vote. The Florida legislature has less than clean hands in these matters both recently and historically. The Democrat Party once made ballot-box stuffing the order of the day in Kansas City, Chicago and elsewhere.
Those with an interest in actual facts — bothersome things antithetical to modern political debate — could take time to read about the issue in historical perspective. Deliver the Vote: A history of election fraud, an American political tradition 1742-2004 would be a good place to start. One might note the dates involved and take a lesson.
There has been vote fraud throughout the American experience. It has been based on power struggles, race and avarice. It has not been as widespread as those on one side would suggest and not unknown as others would say. It has been practiced across the political spectrum.
A system that requires identification and then makes appropriate documentation available to the dispossessed in an easy and organized fashion addresses the first part of the debate. Same-day registration and other aspects of the new laws are more problematic but for a county that put a man on the moon, likely possible of solution.
We do not want to keep students, grandmothers and homeless people from voting, we just want to make sure they are citizens, live in the appropriate voting district and are indeed who they say they are.
The debate over ‘voter suppression’ is a false one. The vote is suppressed by exasperation, ignorance and sloth, not by asking for identification.