Voting No Twice
I’ve written a ton about the gay marriage amendment because I’m really pissed off we are even voting on such a thing. When it comes to the Voter ID amendment, I’ve been relatively silent.
I have pretty strong feelings about it but the marriage amendment has been far more important to me because I think it is a fight we have an outside chance to win. Voter ID is probably going to happen. I’m not happy about it but I don’t think I can sway anyone who doesn’t understand the implications of the Voter ID amendment to change their vote.
See, the problem I have with is a seemingly little thing that I believe to be more important than any other talking point. I don’t think we should be putting obstacles in the way of voting.
The disenfranchisement of voters is a big deal, yes. Anyone who ever went to college should understand that Voter ID laws work against anyone who is going to school outside their home state.
Imagine you are off to your first year of college. You are from Iowa but you are going to college in Minnesota, where the newly minted voter ID law is in effect. Your student ID will not suffice. You need a picture ID.
You have an Iowa driver’s license but now you need to get a Minnesota license before election day. Otherwise, you’ll have to drive back to Iowa to vote.
That is bullshit.
But not because it disenfranchises young voters – even though it does.
It is because it makes it harder to vote right when young people are becoming eligible to vote.
The voter turnout rate for the last Presidential election was 61.8%. That means that nearly four out of every ten voters didn’t bother to go to the polls at all. The turnout rate in off-year elections is lower.
There are all sorts of reasons for that but I would think that our goal is to move the needle higher. It seems to me that one of the worst ways to increase voter turnout in this country is to make it harder for people to vote.
The concern is that we protect our votes and yet voter fraud is virtually zero without voter ID laws. What on Earth makes anyone believe that such laws will dramatically reduce a number that is already damn near zero?
Given how easy it is to obtain a fake ID in this country, do we honestly think that someone who wants to perpetrate voter fraud is going to have trouble doing it?
Further, do we honestly think that miniscule percentage of voter fraud avoided will offset the costs of implementation?
Is voter ID the only way to avoid voter fraud? Are there cheaper ways? Are there ways that don’t cost a lot of money and make it harder for people to vote?
All of the complicated issues boil down to one simple idea, though. It shouldn’t be hard to vote.
The people least likely to vote are the ones already jaded by the system. I may not agree with the Libertarian perspective but it seems to me that they have a right to be represented in our government as their own party rather than as the conservative wing of the Democratic party or the liberal wing of the Republican party.
If we get more people to the polls, we will probably see more votes going to candidates who do not represent the major parties.
But those same people who mistrust the system will trust the system even less if the system is set up to make it difficult for them to do something as basic as cast a fucking vote.
Face it – voting is a basic right in this country. There are people who think it should be easier to carry a gun than to cast a vote. I disagree.
When it comes to being an American citizen, casting a vote should be the easiest thing you can do. Nobody should decide to stay home because we have put too many road blocks in the way of making your voice heard.
18 year olds shouldn’t be turned off of voting because we decided that the risk they might abuse that right is just too high. Especially when there is no evidence supporting that assumption of risk.
Voter ID is about creating an expensive solution to a non problem that will make a problem that does exist worse.
I don’t have any problem presenting an ID when I vote. I have one and I carry it with me at all times. That, however, is completely irrelevant.
There are plenty of people who do not have a state issued ID and they have completely valid reasons. Their vote is not “protected” by such laws. It is devalued.
We should never strive to make it harder to vote. We should always strive to make it easier.