Considering we witnessed a very interesting Election Day in America yesterday, it seems like the perfect time to talk about voter ID laws and the push, largely by those on the Right, to use those laws to actually restrict freedoms.
I always find it so interesting that the push for voter ID laws comes from the same side of the political aisle that also throws a tantrum anytime someone dares talk about stricter laws on gun purchases. Don’t dare mess with people trying to buy guns, but it’s OK and more dangerous to our democracy to make sure voting is an easy process. At least that’s how their logic goes.
The ugly truth is with the numbers of blacks, Hispanics, young people and immigrants largely favoring Democrats, Republicans see voter ID laws as a way to restrict access and even out the field. It is a campaign tactic, despite their public proclamations that their eagerness for such laws is about preventing fraud. Hogwash. Study after study proves that voter fraud is minuscule at best, not on a level that would require us to change our voting process. However, studies do show that there is a distinct correlation between the call for voter ID laws and minority turnout.
A study done by researchers at the University of Massachusetts proved clearly that states that enacted tougher voter ID laws in the past few years were always states where minority voter turnout had increased in previous elections. In other words, when minorities begin voting, the call is, let’s say, not coincidentally, for stricter rules on voting.
Hmm, makes me wonder, maybe the answer to stricter gun laws is for more minorities to start getting guns and proclaiming for Open Carry. But I digress.
Even the Heritage Foundation, which is a conservative think tank, found that voters without photo ID’s tended to be female, African-American and Democrat, which means those are the people hurt the most by such laws, which means white Republican men will not bear the burden. And are they saying, then, that this voter fraud they are so worried about is a black issue but not something whites do?
And while voter ID laws clearly impact blacks and the poor in general, I think a much bigger target for these laws are Hispanics and their fast-growing population, including immigrants. Hispanics still vote largely Democrat and, once again, if you can’t win with your political stance, you try to win by lowering the turnout, by trying to scare off voters who don’t want the hassle. Politics and the absence of an ability to win by convincing these populations to vote your way are what this about.
Since 2002, the U.S. Department of Justice has prosecuted for election fraud a little over 100 times. In Texas, where Gov. Rick Perry makes campaign fraud charges and thus the need for voter ID laws a big deal, since 2002, Texas has gotten 50 convictions for voter fraud. Fifty cases in 14 years, through all the elections and through all the millions of voters in those years. Does that sound like a big issue to you?
I love the way the New York Times summed up this issue in an op-ed:
You can be stupid and vote in America. You can be drunk and vote in America. You can be mentally insane and vote in America. You could vote in America for Snooki or Rod Blagojevich. Or, like tens of millions of your fellow citizens, you can choose not to vote at all. But if you don't have the means to get a driver's license, or if you cannot afford the time and money it takes to get certain other forms of government ID, you are out of luck?
Yeah, that’s Republican logic on this. Or, let’s be real, it’s not logic in the way you might think. It is calculated logic to push down those voters they can’t win over or don’t want anyway. It’s a twist on the old “if you can’t beat ‘em” philosophy. The Right’s spin is “if you can’t beat ‘em, change the law.”
Photo Credit: Associated Press