Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The problem with Voter ID laws

The SCOTUS struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, informing us that racial discrimination is no longer a problem in the U.S. Within hours, Texas immediately began working to pass voter ID legislation that was struck down by the courts less than a year ago for being unfairly discriminatory towards poor and racial minorities.

Cobbled & copy/pasted from a few different news sources:

  • Texas grew by 4 million people over the past decade (2010 U.S. census). Roughly 90 percent of that growth was attributed to minorities, and Latinos alone accounted for 65 percent of the population growth. (link)
  • Recent studies show that 25% of voting age African-Americans in the United States do not possess a government-issued photo ID, while only 8% of voting age whites lack such identification. (link)
  • 600,000 registered voters lack a driver's license or another form of government identification. (link)
  • Eighty-one Texas counties have no DPS office, and 34 more have offices that are open two days per week or less. DPS offices are not open late for the convenience of working people, meaning they’ll have to take time off and sometimes travel far to get a certificate that will allow them to vote. (link)
  • DPS will issue free Election Identification Certificates. But to get one, the D.C. court found, “applicants will have to present DPS officials with a government-issued form of ID, the cheapest of which, a certified copy of a birth certificate, costs $22.” (link)

This is, in effect, a poll tax. Requiring the working poor, legally registered voters, to take time off work to travel far, stand in hours-long lines, and pay for these IDs is untenable.

There are no documented instances of the type of voter ID fraud that such laws endeavor to prevent.

This is overtly classist, racist, disablist (and even ageist) discrimination.

Though photo ID is necessary for many other transactions, there are 600,000 legally registered voters who don't have it and don't need it in their day-to-day life. They may have used their SS card for work, or they may be non-drivers, elderly,* and/or dependents on other family members. They may be disabled.* They may have no means of transportation to the DPS. They may have to choose between feeding their children and now paying for photo IDs to exercise their legal right to vote.

If you think these are paltry excuses, you seriously need to check your fucking privilege. Six hundred thousand voters being denied their rights is no small matter.

*There are provisions to allow mail-in voting for legally disabled and people over 65, but not for the physically disabled who do not have legal status of it or for the elderly who aren't elderly enough, regardless of their health, ability, or finances.


Additional reading:

". . . as many as 15 percent of Americans making less than $35,000 a year lack a photo ID, as do 18 percent of senior citizens." (link)

"The reason voter impersonation fraud is so rare is that it is an incredibly stupid and inefficient way to rig an election." and "The greatest irony of the new crop of voter ID laws is that they do nothing to combat the more frequent problem of absentee ballot fraud." (link)

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