Back in college when I was more arrogant, I believed we should have a test before people could vote. You should show a minimum understanding of the issues before you cast your vote. I used to feel that people were voting for stupid reasons and stupid people were electing stupid politicians.
I no longer believe that. Well, at least I no longer believe we should have a test for voters.
Voting is a fundamental right of all Americans. If you’re an American citizen, no matter how little you know about what’s going on, you get to vote and your vote counts the same as mine. It’s an almost pure democracy (we have an electoral college).
Of, course several states are passing voter ID laws (including my state of Texas). There are many people calling it a poll tax and crying racism or that it’s an attempt to suppress votes from Democrats and minorities. While there is a bit of evidence to support this, I think it turns the issue into a partisan one instead of a simple legal or constitutional one.
Requiring a voter ID is similar to a tax, because it is going to require people to pay to vote. Tenn. is offering its IDs free, but for how long? It costs the government money to produce these things, to hire people to produce the cards and do data entry, it creates bureaucracy, etc. Aren’t these all things that conservatives and Republicans hate? Won’t this cost the taxpayers money? It won’t be too long before you have to pay a fee for the card, just like with your driver’s license and your inspection stickers, etc. to offset some of the costs.
Not to mention that the XXIV amendment to the constitution states: The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reasons of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
If you don’t pay for your voter ID card, you’re not allowed to vote. How’s that not just a poll tax by another name?
Another issue is time. How long will it take to get your card? How far in advance of an election do you need to register? In Texas it’s close to thirty days with the current system. What if there’s a big issue and a lot of people want to vote (this works for both parties)? Will states handle the applications quick enough to get them to people so they’ll have them by Election Day? When passports were required to go back and forth from Mexico and Canada, the wait was much longer than normal due to high volume, could people be disenfranchised simply because the state laid off workers and they didn’t have enough people to process applications? With so many states in budget shortfalls, how are they going to pay for these programs? This again leads to my previous arguments that these voter ID programs will end up costing the voters themselves. Voting goes from being a RIGHT to a PRIVELEGE. That’s literally Un-American.
Everything mentioned above could disenfranchise Republicans as well as Democrats. Of course, these voter ID bills and laws are all being spurred by the imaginary threat of voter fraud. This is why Ben Franklin’s quote is something every politician should have staring back at them in front of their desk, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety” We are going to abridge our freedom to keep us safe from a bogeyman.