Voter ID laws have been a topic of much controversy lately. In states covered by the Civil Rights Act, where changes to voting requirements trigger review by the federal government, the Justice Department has acted aggressively to block photo ID requirements for voters. There are three primary reasons given in the legal briefs DOJ files against these laws:
1. Photo ID for voters is an unnecessary burden, because voter fraud isn’t really a big problem.
2. The ID requirements would discriminate against poor and/or minority voters, even though every state which has introduced such laws has gone to great lengths to make a suitable ID card available to those who don’t already have a drivers’ license, at zero or minimal cost. This argument is generally advanced by implication, subsumed into a more forceful legal argument, which is:
3. Photo ID requirements would have a disproportionate effect on minority voters, even if there’s nothing particularly discriminatory about them. In other words, a large number of minority voters don’t have suitable ID at the moment, and even if obtaining a photo ID wouldn’t be much of an inconvenience (and the inconvenience is not demonstrably intended as any sort of racial discrimination) it would still hit a disproportionately large number of minority voters. In Texas, for example, this argument was buttressed by asserting that a very large percentage of the Hispanic population does not currently hold a driver’s license.
Argument Number Three is really all the DOJ needs, even though it might seem odd to a reasonable denizen of 2012 America that a law from 1964 would infer that a carefully crafted, racially neutral modern law is presumptively racist, simply because it affects unacceptably large numbers of people in a given community. Leaving the Civil Rights Act aside, we certainly don’t apply that standard to most of our other laws, a great many of which demonstrably affect various subsets of the American populace in disproportionate ways.
Still, a lot of people become queasy when the voting franchise is restricted in any way, because we hold the right to vote in great reverence. It’s Argument Number One that holds much sway over popular opinion: we don’t really need to place this photo-ID burden upon voters, we are assured, because vote fraud isn’t enough of a problem to require such action.
Commando conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe demolished this argument in the most direct way possible: by sending a young man into a polling place within Attorney General Eric Holder’s Washington, D.C. district, giving the poll worker Eric Holder’s name and address, and promptly receiving a ballot.
As related at Breitbart.com, O’Keefe’s provocateur actually offered to show voter ID, and threw in a bonus side order of magnificent smart-assery on his way out the door:
The young man then suggests that he should show his ID; the poll worker, in compliance with DC law, states: “You don’t need it. It’s all right. As long as you’re in here, you’re on our list, and that’s who you say you are, you’re okay.”
The young man replies: “I would feel more comfortable if I just had my ID. Is it alright if I go get it?” The poll worker agrees.
“I’ll be back Faster than you can say Furious,” the young man jokes on his way out, in a reference to the Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal that has plagued Holder’s Department of Justice.
(Emphasis mine.) Well-played, sir. Very well played.
O’Keefe’s Project Veritas has been working up to this moment for some time now:
As Project Veritas has proven, voter fraud is easy and simple–and may be increasingly common in the absence of voter ID laws.
Project Veritas has already shown how dead people can vote in New Hampshire, prompting the state senate to pass a voter ID law; they’ve also shown people can use celebrity names like Tim Tebow and Tom Brady to vote in Minnesota, prompting the state legislature to put voter ID on the ballot as a constitutional amendment.
Free-lance provocateurs have gotten in on the fun as well. In early March, a man in Albuquerque, New Mexico registered his 3-year old Labrador to vote, and was able to obtain a voter registration card for the pooch. “They should verify,” he said. “Somebody should have verified this information and somebody should have come out and took a look at exactly who it was. But I made up a birth date, and I made up a social security number and I had a voter registration card in my hand for Buddy two weeks later.”
The county clerk’s office defended itself by pointing out that “state law does not require proof of your Social Security number, your date of birth, or even your name, and added what this man did is voter fraud.” Well, that’s comforting to know.
It’s bizarre how urgently “progressives” insist that we must hold our elections in a 19th-century time warp, when we’ve become so accustomed to simple and effective methods of identifying ourselves for far more mundane activities than casting votes to change the course of our titanic, all-encompassing government. We need rational methods of voter identification, because we can’t all be Eric Holder. Or maybe we can.
Update: A response from the Justice Department, if not an official one: an anonymous official sniffed to Talking Points Memo that “it’s no coincidence that these so-called examples of rampant voter fraud consistently turn out to be manufactured ones.” As far as I can tell, that was not meant as a joke.