Voter ID laws should not be controversial. A few points:
--You must have a government-issued ID in order to drive.
--You must have a government-issued ID in order to fly.
--You must have a government-issued ID in order to ride a train.
--You must have a government-issued ID in order to enter this country and almost any other.
--In many venues, you must even have a government-issued ID in order to buy alcohol, buy tobacco, and be admitted to bars and clubs.
Voting is an even greater responsibility than any of those. Why, then, is it so controversial to require a government-issued ID in order for a person to vote in government elections? Voter fraud isn't a significant problem in this country, but it also isn't non-existent--and any fraud is too much fraud. Requiring voters to present a valid form of identification is one of the easiest, cheapest ways to eliminate one avenue of engaging in fraud.
Many argue that it discriminates against Hispanics and other demographics that are less likely to have government-issued ID's. In my mind, there are two responses to this.
First, all laws affect demographic groups differently. There is no such thing as a law that affects everyone in precisely the same manner. This isn't by itself a reason not to enact a law. If it were, then we could have no laws at all. (For example, even speed limit laws disproportionately impact demographics with higher rates of automobile ownership. Federal minimum wage laws disproportionately impact states with more low-wage earners. And so on.)
Fundamentally, however, there's absolutely nothing standing in the way of anyone in any demographic of getting a government-issued ID. We commonly associate ID's with driver's licenses, but that's a misconception. It is definitely true that not everyone can get a driver's license, but not everyone needs one. States also issue plain ID's.
That brings me to my second point: cost. If state ID's cost $15,000, then there may be validity to the discrimination argument. They don't though. In some states, ID's are completely free, and in most others, they cost no more than $10. If you're a citizen, then you can get one of these ID's at little or no cost. Thus, the only people who truly are locked out of voting by ID laws are people who are not U.S. citizens, and it's illegal for them to vote anyway.
Many counter this by saying, "True, but low-income and less educated demographics frequently do not know how to get these free ID's."
Come on, folks: Individual responsibility is an important value in this country. If you don't know how to do something that you need to know how to do, then you must take some initiative and figure that something out. Acquiring a state ID is simple, and figuring out how to do it doesn't even require an Internet connection.
Here's an idea though. Every election cycle, liberal and conservative activists engage in an implicit competition with each other by shoving as many voter registration forms into the hands their favored demographics. They've figured out how to quickly and simply explain to people how to register to vote and then how to actually vote--both of which are more complicated than getting a state ID. Why don't these groups simply hand out one additional form at the same time: a form explaining how to get an ID. This isn't rocket science. You don't even have to know how to sign your own name in order to get a state ID.
This brings us to the real reason many of these activist groups oppose voter ID laws: politics. Having to hand out an additional form and then have people engage in one additional step before voting would have an impact on the number of people they could smash into the polls after telling them who they should vote for. This, my friends, isn't a good reason for opposing a very basic, common-sense measure that would add just a bit more integrity to an electoral system already under assault by Russia and by dishonest allegations of "millions of fraudulent votes" by one of the very highest officials in our government.
This Texas voter law actually is quite a relaxed voter law. It doesn't even require a government-issued ID at all. You can also use bank statements or even utility statements as forms of ID. You simply have to sign an affidavit explaining why you couldn't obtain an actual ID.
Because it no longer requires a certain form of ID, some are opposing it on the grounds that there are consequences for lying on one's affidavit. Seriously?
Of course there are consequences for lying--again, common sense. Why wouldn't there be? What would be the point of having people sign a document at all if there were no consequences of lying on the document? That would simply waste taxpayer money to print the affidavits in the first place.
Any system in which anyone can walk in off the street to take part in the most critical function of our system on the basis of nothing more than his own word is a system that can never be of complete integrity. Much as we may hate to admit it, some people's word is worth less than a little.
Our system should be as watertight as possible, and that starts with a very basic, cheap (even free) requirement already in force for so much else in our society: showing a form of ID.
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