There’s been a great deal of discussion amongst my Vox Populi brothers and sisters regarding the multi-show topic of requiring valid ID to vote in elections.
This very blog was begun because of these discussions and the complete inadequacy of of 140 character per response that Twitter limits us to. I’ve dragged my feet on this because I knew it was going to be a pain in my ass to look up and cite the references I would need to back up my position, but we have another show upon us this afternoon, so I was time to get cracking.
I’ve taken quite a few courses on constitutional law over the years as it’s something I have a great deal of interest in. My first go around in college was at Cal State Northridge. I had a professor l who had a reputation for being a real ball buster to those who made definitives statements about an element of law in her class. In reality, she wasn’t bad at all provided you came prepared and had citations and/or precedent to back your statement. Whenever she would ask a question and and was given an answer answer, she immediately responded, “under what authority do you cite that?” She expected you to have a statute, case law, or some other form of precedent to back up your argument. This of course was great preparation for those who were planning on the law for a profession as Judges don’t take to kindly to lawyers pull theories out of their rear end without some authority to back them up.
There are two basic arguments against any form of voter ID beyond the current simple registration card required in every state.
The first is that it’s just too onerous on the poor for them to have to get ID, and they will thus be disenfranchised or be subjected to what amounts to a poll tax. The crux of the argument is that there are people so poor that they can’t afford any fee to get an ID, or that they are too far from any place they’d have to travel to in order to obtain an ID, or that for a very small portion of the population, they were born in an area and at a time where it is nearly impossible to obtain an accurate birth record.
I believe this to a be a completely spurious notion for several reasons, which I’ll go into shortly.
The second is that there just isn’t enough documented ID fraud to warrant this requirement. This second argument is the easiest to tackle. If there’s any voter ID fraud it’s too much when it’s easily preventable. There are millions of people in the US that are here illegally an ineligible to vote, and the possibility that any percentage may be voting illegally is enough incentive.
Which leaves us with the first argument…that voters will be disenfranchised by this requirement. This is just patently untrue, at least based on the arguments presented.
First of all, in order to work anywhere in the US legally, every man woman and child who works must present an I9 form for employment verification. You must either present one form of ID from the “A” list which establishes both identity and eligibility, or two forms of ID from the “B” and “C” list to do the same.
For the purposes of voting, from the “A” list, the only acceptable form of ID is an unexpired US passport.
For the purposes of voting, from the “B” list you must provide any one of the following:
- A valid State ID or Driver’s license, provided it contains a photograph or identifying information such as name, date of birth, gender, height, eye color and address
- A Federal ID card provided it contains a photograph or identifying information such as name, date of birth, gender, height, eye color and address
- U.S. Armed Services identification card or draft record
- Voter Registration Card
- U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Card
- Native American tribal document
For the purposes of voting, from the “C” list, in addition to one item from the “B” list you must provide:
- A U.S. Social Security card issued by the Social Security Administration (Note: cards that specify “not valid for employment” are not acceptable.)
- A birth certificate issued by the U.S. State Department (Form FS-545 or Form DS-1350) Original or certified copy of a birth certificate from the U.S. or an outlying possession of the U.S., bearing an official seal
- A Certificate of U.S. Citizenship (Form N-560 or N-561)
- A Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550 or N-570)
- Native American tribal document
- U.S. Citizen I.D. Card (Form I-197)
- An I.D. Card for the use of a Resident Citizen in the United States (Form I-179)
- An unexpired employment authorization card issued by the Dept. of Homeland Security (other than those included on List A)
Note…almost everything on the “C” list requires a photo ID to obtain, depending on the state.
Now, of course, you can make the argument that many of the poor don’t work. So the question then becomes, how do they live if they don’t work? The answer is, they get government assistance of one degree or another.
So what does one need to receive any of the various forms of government assistance in this country? The answer, photo ID. Even in California, the most permissive state for assistance, all people enrolling in any of the programs must produce a photo ID and a Social Security card, in addition to proof of employment (which required photo id), bank statements (which require photo ID to open an account) and proof of shelter costs.
Medicare requires photo ID as well, and so does Medicaid…in every state.
So who is it again that doesn’t have 2 forms of ID, or a photo ID that they can use? You’re basically down to that small group of people who are very old and/or were born in a very rural area where they don’t have or can’t easily get a birth certificate.
Which leaves us with a proposed solution. I do not propose that you must obtain a separate photo ID. I propose that we use the current registration system for voters, and add a Picture to that ID. In terms of cost, it’s minuscule, especially when compared to other federal projects we have no problem dumping billions into.
All that is required is the addition of a digital camera capable of adding the photo onto the form already used for the voter registration card. You simply bring your acceptable forms of ID, those same ones you use to get a job legally, or gain public assistance, when you register to vote. You allow this registration to take place everywhere that currently does it. Pass an amendment to to voting rights act requiring this additional step, and if you feel the need for additional funding, throw a dollar additional cost on to every tax return, which will more than adequately cover it as far as costs. Since the truly poor don’t pay any taxes now, they won’t see the bump and the rest of us can afford a buck.