Hassling of voters going too far

In a zeal to lock unregistered voters from reaching the polling booth, we’re making Election Day resemble a hell trip to the DMV.

Some states have gone off the deep end of disenfranchisement, imposing strict photo ID requirements. A new study indicates thousands of people in the strictest states lack the necessary ID, live more than 10 miles from a government office that issues a valid ID, and lack transportation to the office. Lawsuits have been filed challenging some of these laws as a violation of the Voting Rights Act, but still the 2012 general election will be a daunting gauntlet for many unsuspecting citizens.

Utah has enacted ID requirements but they’re not as onerous as those in dozens of other states. Here are the Utah rules:

A voter shall present valid voter identification to one of the poll workers.

Current valid UT driver’s license
Current valid identification card issued by the state or federal government
UT concealed weapon permit
U.S. passport
Current valid U.S. military ID card
Bureau of Indian Affairs card
Tribal treaty card
Tribal ID card

OR

Two forms of ID that bear the name of the voter and provide evidence that the voter resides in the precinct

The most vocal critics brand the ID crackdowns across the nation as an effort by conservative legislatures to suppress the vote by minorities and the poor — the two groups most likely to have any ID hurdles. Supporters demand strict legislation is vital to prevent large-scale voter fraud.

In practice, it’s almost insulting to require that people who’ve been registered to vote for decades are now being required to show their papers. Forget your driver’s license and you’re sent away or made to fill out a provisional ballot, which requires a trip within a few days to the clerk’s office with your proof.

While queuing to vote in the primary election last month, I was mortified to observe what happened to an older man in a wheelchair. The poll workers asked him for government-issued picture ID, hopefully a driver’s license. “I don’t drive,” he said, pointing to his legs. Far from a sinister figure, the guy probably was just there to vote for Sen. Orrin Hatch for the 20th time. But our increasingly paranoid world of red tape, in search of a bogeyman under every rock, put him off on the hassle and denial track.

People keep hollering that their freedom’s being taken away and we’re headed toward dictatorship. If they want to stay free and stop dictators, fighting for easy access to the voting booth would be a good place to start.

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4 Responses to Hassling of voters going too far

  1. Michael Trujillo says:

    Hear hear.

  2. D. Michael Martindale says:

    Oh! My! God!

    Get real. Presenting a photo ID is a standard requirement for all sorts of things in life, and people manage to do it on a daily basis without the slightest difficulty. It’s pure nonsense to fly off into this extreme strawman claim. Anyone for whom showing a photo ID is a burden must be running into roadblocks every time they turn around and try to do anything in life.

    The argument that “I don’t drive’ is absurd, because there’s this thing called a state ID that’s even easier to get than a driver’s license (no driving test) and works equally as well.

    This issue is a thinly disguised attempt by Democrats to get more people voting for them, since those who have reasons to not qualify for a valid ID are likely to vote Democrat. You’re not fooling anyone.

    • Mark Shenefelt says:

      Voting is in a different class than all the commercial activities people use photo ID for, DMD. Last time I checked, voting was a cornerstone of our democracy, and you have no problem sticking it to poor, old, disabled people who might otherwise somehow manage to make it to the polls and end up voting. Turnout’s already hideously low in America, so erecting unnecessary barriers is just wrong.

      The Voting Rights Act was passed for good reason. Bringing government ID front and center is a step back. Hey, maybe we should also poll-tax those freeloadin’ poor people. Actually, if someone has to buy a government ID just to vote, that is a poll tax.

      • Dovie says:

        I have no problem with showing ID to vote EXCEPT that getting ID is has become ridiculously hard and has little real meaning.

        I was renewing my DL this past week. Having had a DL continuously in Utah since 1984, I needed my original birth certificate. I couldn’t find it right off. Thank goodness I have a passport because they took that.

        If this is all an attempt to “prevent identity theft”, I suggest that the govmint start doing fingerprints or retina scans. How easy do you suppose it is, nowadays, to forge the kind of birth certificate that was issued in 1963? Birth certificates and SS cards are really easy to lose, they are really easy to forge, they are really easy to steal, etc.

        If we are going to verify identity, at least do something that actually verifies identity. People get their fingerprints for free. No poll tax.

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