As we head into election season, voter fraud will become a political issue again. Each party has it's favorite way of worrying that the other is stealing the election. Typically, Democrats claim that Republicans are keeping minorities away from the polls and that sinister corporations and officials will use voting machines and "confusing" ballots to steal elections. Republicans worry that Democrats will cheat via bussing in unregistered voters or voting multiple times.
The Obama administration may be getting into the fray, as Eric Holder's Justice Department weighs whether to attack laws requiring photo ID in order to vote as alleged violations of the Voting Rights Act. Liberal opinion makers are urging on this effort, maintaining that because the percentage of minorities who lack photo ID is slightly higher than the percentage of whites, this is clearly a racist plot. The additional evidence to support the racism theory is that these laws have more often been passed in Southern states -- though I tend to think this is simply a function of the fact that preventing voter fraud is more of a Republican issue (they suspect, rightly, that voter fraud won't help them) and it's mostly Southern states that are controlled by Republicans.
Perhaps I take the right to vote a little too casually, but it seems to me that when we've already required photo Id to get a job, buy a drink, drive or travel by air, being denied the chance to vote for lack of ID is not the largest problem you would have. It's virtually impossible to get along as an adult in modern American society without photo ID, and mostly for good reasons. Having gone that far, I don't see how it's any hardship to expect people to show ID in order to vote. It's true that in recent years there's little evidence of voter fraud involving people impersonating someone else being a statistically significant contributor to election results, but nonetheless it seems like a basic element of good civic process to expect people who want to vote to show that they are who they say who they are. Frankly, the only reasons I can see for opposing voter ID laws are:
1) A partisan desire to disagree with the other party or
2) An expectation that you really do have a number of people who aren't legitimate voters who would cast ballots on your behalf.
Voter ID laws are not the grandfather or literacy tests of the Jim Crow era, and to treat them as such is simply dishonest, sensational, and corrosive to the public square.
Learning Notes Week of March 20
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