Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Indiana Voter IDs

More soon about the North Carolina and Indiana primaries, but wanted to point out a story that's making the rounds about the Indiana voter ID law.

Last week, the US Supreme Court upheld (6 to 3) an Indiana law that requires voters to present a current government issued photo ID before being allowed to vote. The issue being raised was that people who don't have such an ID are disproportionately elderly, poor, or black, and that the ID law amounted to a de facto discrimination based on age, income, or race. Indiana didn't really deny that, but argued instead that preventing voter fraud was more important, even though they couldn't actually produce any evidence that any voter fraud had ever occured.

And today, the day of the Indiana primary, we get the story of several nuns who were turned away by a fellow sister from the polling place because they didn't have proper identification.

Reading these stories, I get pretty angry about the fact that people are being disenfranchised ... and yet, I honestly don't feel that requiring a valid photo ID to prove your identify at the voting booth is, on its face, an unreasonable requirement. We're deciding who the world's single most powerful (wo)man will be for 4 years, who could obliterate the planet with the push of a button. Is it really so much to ask that, when you make that decision, you have a piece of plastic with your photo on it? I don't think so.

What makes it become an unreasonable requirement is when that ID isn't readily available, or costs money, or etc. Right now the de facto ID is a state driver's license, which not only costs about $25 in most states, but is a complete nightmare to obtain. Combine that hassle with that the fact that people who don't drive really don't need a driver's license; is it any wonder that large swaths of the population don't have one?

Those are problems, though, that can be fixed, and fixed relatively easily. IDs can be subsidized, bigger offices in more locations can be opened, and processes can be streamlined. As one participant in the YouTube debate put it: "I know these things cost money, but if I can go to any town across the country and get the exact same grande-double-pump-no-whip-caramel-latte-mochiatta, why can we have standardization for voting?"

1 comment:

Annamika said...

Thanks for writing this.