Wednesday, July 18, 2012

With All Due Respect, That's the Point

So, looking for some content, I found this article about this study by a Liberal Think-Tank about how "restrictive" Voter ID laws will "disenfranchise millions of eligible voters."  The core complaint seems to come down to two things: first, that having the documentation to get legal voter ID is expensive, and, second, that it is inconvenient.

I have the "expensive" claim first because it is so laughable.  The study points out that a copy of a birth certificate can cost up to $25, and a marriage license (for married persons whose names don't match their birth certificates) can cost up to $20.  So, worst case scenario, it can cost $45.00 for a "free" ID.  Here's the problem:  first, you should have a copy of your birth certificate anyway.  The reason you can get copies from your courthouse are because you might lose it, not because you shouldn't have it.  You need it for all kinds of things, and the government reasonably expects that you'll just keep a copy.  The same is true of your marriage license.  There are a reason these documents exist in the first place, and the government expects you to keep a copy.  So, I'm sorry if you didn't, but even for "those below the poverty level," $45 dollars is not really that hard to come up with.  It may take some planning, but it can be done.

Now, the "inconvenient" claim.  The authors of the study don't call it merely inconvenient, and would probably be incensed at the fact I'm characterizing it that way, but it's the truth.  Their metric is people without cars who live more than 10 miles (straight line) to the nearest office issuing the required photo ID.  Now this sounds like a good metric.  Right off the bat, one thinks, "Oh, that would be a huge barrier!"  But then one should think, "Registration drives and voter busing."  There are numerous groups all across the nation which go to people's homes to help them register to vote, and who bus voters to polling stations on election day.  Are you telling me these groups aren't going to help people get to the Voter ID office?  Seriously?

Now, here is the thing.  Voting is not, in fact, a Right.  Not in the way that Free Speech is Right.  Voting is a privilege.  You can lose the privilege by committing (and being convicted of) a felony.  You can lose the privilege by choosing not to register to vote.  You can lose the privilege by being in the military (or otherwise overseas) and your state not issuing ballots in time for absentee ballots to be submitted.  I don't hear these groups complaining about that.

Here is another thing: Voting is Important.  It is the way in which Citizens influence their government most directly.  It is the way we have a voice in the direction of the country.  If you can't be inconvenienced enough to find forty-five dollars and a ride into town, I'm convinced you're not taking the responsibilities involved with voting seriously enough that I want you to vote.

In fact, there are two points to voter ID laws.  The first and most obvious is to make it harder to vote illegally.  Requiring a Government Issued photo ID makes it harder to vote as someone else, or to vote when you're not here legally.  The second, though, is as a "minimum barrier to entry."  That is, making someone get a valid voter ID means they have to exert at least a minimum amount of effort to 'prove' that they are actually interested in voting.

1 comment:

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