One of the many foolish things Attorney General Eric Holder said at his disingenuous, and occasionally disgusting, tirade against voter ID laws, at the NAACP convention in Houston, was “the arc of American history has always moved toward expanding the electorate. It is what has made this nation exceptional. We will simply not allow this era to be the beginning of the reversal of that historic progress.”
This is the latest iteration of the standard Democrat talking point that serious attempts to combat vote fraud are equivalent to the old laws that kept minorities and women from voting. “Expanding the electorate” thus means tolerating limitless voter fraud, because electoral expansion must include people who aren’t legitimately allowed to vote.
If this talking point is taken seriously, then every attempt to identify voters correctly is “contracting” the electorate. Critics of initiatives to require photo ID for voting like to pretend it’s an ominous new outrage against the franchise, as if no attempt to weed out illegitimate voters has ever been made before. (Then they assure us that vote fraud isn’t a big problem, because would-be miscreants are already intimidated by the existing laws!)
Several states implemented photo ID requirements years ago, with no corresponding reduction in voter turnout, for minorities or otherwise. In fact, black turnout increased after photo ID laws were passed in Georgia, Indiana, and Mississippi. Arguing that it somehow could have increased more, without the “intimidation” factor of the ID requirements, indulges twisted political fantasies at the expense of reason.
Every state with current or proposed photo ID laws accepts numerous forms of identification besides drivers’ licenses, a fact conveniently overlooked by vote fraud defenders when they paint pictures of non-driving minorities getting turned away from the polls in droves.
In Pennsylvania, for example, an attempt was made to gin up hysteria with media reports that 750,000 voters would be denied ballots because of the new photo ID laws. It turns out this number came from merely comparing the list of licensed drivers with the list of registered voters (something Florida was mercilessly criticized for doing, by the very same activists and their pet media outlets!) But Pennsylvania also accepts “military ID, school IDs from accredited Pennsylvania colleges and universities, passports, government ID badges and identification issued by Pennsylvania care facilities,” as the National Center for Public Policy Research pointed out. The allowance of care facility IDs neatly covers elderly voters, who were allegedly going to suffer under the new law, because they often lack current drivers’ licenses.
Many of the other names in that “dreadful” list of 750,000 “disenfranchised” voters were simple data mismatches, due to people using slightly different renditions of their names when they registered to vote and drive. Those people would have no problems voting, because they have valid drivers’ licenses. Furthermore, over 20 percent of the names on the list were people who haven’t voted since 2007. Many of them are probably deceased, or no longer residents of Pennsylvania, which means their names should be cleaned from the rolls anyway (a process that would be completed over the next two electoral cycles, after attempts to contact them were made by the state.)
In short, these “controversial” photo ID laws – which are very popular with the public, which is why you rarely hear the media cite polls about their popularity – are refinements of existing efforts to properly identify voters, and in practical terms they affect a relatively small number of people who don’t already have acceptable identification.
For those people, the effort to obtain a proper voting identification card, provided by the state free of charge, is no greater than the effort required to vote in the first place. In some states, such as Indiana, the easiest method of voting – absentee ballots – also waives the requirement for a photo ID.
When people like Eric Holder scream about “poll taxes,” they’re referring to the possibility that miniscule costs will be incurred obtaining documents such as birth certificates, which are necessary for getting a voter ID card. In other words, they want people who don’t have even the most absolutely minimal documentation to receive ballots, or else there will be “disenfranchisement” and the electorate will “shrink.”
It’s no surprise that proponents of voter ID come off as sober and thoughtful, while vote fraud defenders like Holder are shrieking hysterics who invent nonsense about “poll taxes” instead of offering rational arguments. But let’s take the champions of vote fraud seriously for a moment. The logical conclusion of their argument is that any inconvenience or cost to prospective voters “disenfranchises” them, especially if they belong to certain minority groups, who are presumably less capable of handling such responsibilities (or else all the claims of racial disparity made by critics of voter ID would be null and void.)
With that in mind, why aren’t these people agitating for one-click online voting? Just hit up the electoral web page, check off your candidates, and click SUBMIT. Put security on the honor system, with an assertion of legal citizenship and a promise to vote only once that must be accepted, in the manner of a software end user license. Election officials could perform cursory checks for multiple votes from the same IP address, and check the names submitted on web forms against lists of eligible voters, after the election. That ought to properly intimidate prospective miscreants. The critics of photo ID assure us they are easily intimidated.
No one would have to risk “disenfranchisement” because they couldn’t get to a polling place on Election Day, or handle the requirements for absentee balloting, or produce any special documentation. How could any intellectually honest critic of photo ID requirements refuse to endorse such a program? And why should any legitimate American voter waste a moment of their time listening to someone who would endorse it?