Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Voter I.D., an effective red herring

Voter I.D., I don't think I could hate you more as an issue.

You seek to stop people who aren't stealing elections from stealing them, while pandering to racists, and borderline racists.

Meanwhile, opponents argue that it's too difficult to get a photo I.D., or unreasonable to expect some people to have them, even when the state offers them for free.

There seem to be conservatives worried that Mexicans, hiding from authorities so they can get jobs in the U.S. and send money home to their families, are simultaneously prioritizing election fraud, possibly while speaking only Spanish.

Meanwhile Democrats are basically saying, a bunch of our voters are too old, black, Hispanic, poor or infirmed to have picture I.D. What great confidence that displays in people.

They say private school college kids and people who move a lot might have trouble voting. But bill drafting and a primary bill sponsor said Tuesday (paragraph 19) that I.D.s don't even have to have an accurate or in-precinct address to work on election day.

"As long as it's your picture that's on it," said Gerry Cohen, director of the Legislative Drafting Division.

Absentee voting — that becomes easier in the bill, which may well explode the "this hurts old people in nursing homes" argument while seeking to prevent fraud, based on the logic that people are more likely to attempt fraud in person.

Laws like the ones proposed in House Bill 351 have been upheld repeatedly by the courts, but of course the reason people talk about the constitutionality of requiring photo I.D. is not to win lawsuits, but to delay implementation, and to make it clear that race is deeply part of this debate.

The NAACP's state president left a copy of the 15th Amendment for legislators after Tuesday's public hearing on H 351. He called the bill "nuanced Jim Crow voter suppression of the 21st century."

So it's a great issue. Anything that reminds everyone that, 46 years ago, the Federal government had to decree that white people in the South damn well better start letting black people vote — yeah, let's talk about that for a while.

In fact, let's talk a whole bunch more about that for a few weeks instead of, say, the state budget. Or education. Or creating jobs. Because our elections are being stolen.**

I won't guess at the motives of Republicans pushing, successfully, for photo ID here and in other states. But it does seem an odd strategy to follow if you don't think the end game is that fewer people will vote for Democrats.

And as little as I care for covering and reading about this issue, voter I.D. was a GOP campaign promise here in North Carolina, and the GOP won big. So let's see it passed. Let's see if the governor vetoes it, and whether Democrats block another Republican overturn try. Then we'll see who's running North Carolina.

And if you really want to prevent in-person voter fraud, start by making voters dip their fingers in ink, which just looks cool.

And, if you're saying current boards of election aren't running clean elections, and that's why fraud is much more common than the relatively low numbers reported (paragraph 10), then argue to do something about the appointment process. It leans heavily in favor of the governor (scroll down), and clearly lends itself to one-party control of local three-member boards.

Or we can chase boogeymen. All of us. Leaders on both sides, the media, the voting public. We can chase boogeymen, and run around in circles.

** Sarcasm not meant for sheriff's elections, which you just expect to be stolen. Probably by Latinos and Democrats.


J.W. Williamson said...

Not that I agree with everything you say here -- I don't, quite -- but this is the best column I've seen on the topic, and I've read (I believe) all of them! Written a few myself, too.

Lucid Idiocy said...

Many, many thanks.

I hope I've not engaged in too much hyperbole myself, to make my points on an issue that has way too much of it already.

Mike Donila said...

this my friend was a masterpiece. still laughing. gonna have to link to it.