Voting Suppression

For those who don’t know, the GOP has been gunning for some time to require photo IDs and create other barriers to voting. In a previous post, I came out for photo ID. Now, I’m not so sure. There are a few reasons.

One, I’ve become convinced that many citizens don’t have photo ID for perfectly valid reasons. The elderly, poor, and rural often don’t have them. Two, the political motivations have become more and more blatant. Consider this recent article.

“You have to show ID for almost everything — to rent a Blockbuster movie!” said Mr. Pearce, a Republican in the State House of Representatives. “Nobody has the right to cancel my vote by voting illegally. This is about political corruption.”

See, here’s the thing. There have been virtually zero cases of voter fraud, of “voting illegally”. This is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. So why is the emphasis being put here, instead of say, on electronic voting machines. (Computer scientists have demonstrated how elections could be stolen without anyone knowing. This is not to say it’s been done, but there is absolutely no way of knowing. Scary.)

And then there is the obvious codeword, “Cancel”. Why do all the Republicans who talk about this speak of canceling votes? Who says that these people will all vote for the opposite as you? It’s as if Republicans are for it because the people without formal photo ID are overwhelming Democratic. It’s like they’ve all been told to use the codeword “cancel” instead of using their own words. It’s like they are ignoring all the serious problems with elections for trivial little ones that favor their party. Why, it’s almost as if this is a partisan ploy, designed for partisan purposes!

Anyhow, here’s my real thoughts. People shouldn’t need voter ID cards, they should have minimal civic knowledge cards. If it comes to cancelling votes, I don’t like the idea of my vote being potentially cancelled out by people who just don’t know the basic facts. I don’t mind voters believing things I don’t or having different priorities. That’s just democracy in action. But what about the people who can’t name a senator, or how many branches of government there are, or what century the Declaration of Independence was signed in, or vote for candidates because they have good hair, or have the vaguest conception of what the office they are helping to determine actually does. That’s the crime.

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