Voter ID Laws: What's the Big Deal?


This whole flap over whether it's okay to require a registered voter to show a government issue photo ID is interesting to me. And a classic example of blaming the rules because people won't or can't follow them. If you have to show a license to drive a car, why not require one to vote? They're equally high risk, right?


I'm not sure anyone since the days of the old machine politics in Chicago has been able to document a significant case of voter fraud. And given how saturated news coverage is and how easily it can start online with an anonymous posting, I think if there was voter fraud taking place, it would come to light. Thanks to the Internet, the media searchlight is hard to escape these days.

I guess the question is whether there really is a calculated effort to suppress votes among voters more likely to vote Democrat? And are the new voter ID laws an attempt by Republicans to marginalize African American and Hispanic voters?

If you're a kinder, gentler Republican, it's hard to miss this as another case of the Republicans being depicted as racists who are trying to keep people from the polls on election day.

Consider the following excerpt from Reuters:

"The right to vote is under attack all across our country," the group said in a report that launched the latest salvo in the growing war of racially tinged rhetoric over new voter ID requirements.

Conservative groups and Republican-led state legislatures that have proposed the new rules say they will help ensure fair voting and cut back on fraud. They vehemently disagreed with the report.

"This is clearly a campaign by the left to demonize Republicans, to play the race card and to use this as an issue to make believe that Republicans are suppressing minority voters, which is clearly not the case," said Brian Darling, senior fellow for government studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

What is wrong with asking voters to produce a picture? Shouldn't it be up to the community -- to neighbors, family members and friends -- to help new arrivals or the elderly get their pictures taken so they can get a government issued photo ID and vote? And is it true that up to 25% of African Americans don't have government issue IDs? If so, that raises a serious concern of how disenfranchised the community is, even in this day and age. And local governments, churches and neighborhood associations do need to address that disconnect.

Democrats and Democratic stalwarts, like unions, are arguing that student votes are being suppressed because a significant number of students only have photo IDs issued by their colleges and universities. I find this very hard to believe given that a photo ID issued by an educational institution isn't enough identification to get you a beer at the campus watering hole. Also, why is it that this wasn't an issue in 2010 when students came out in huge numbers to elect President Barack Obama but it is an issue in 2012, when his re-election is looking a little iffy?


This post is part of a weekly conversation with our 5 Moms Matter 2012 political bloggers. To see the original question and what the other writers have to say, read Do You Support Voter Identification Laws?

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