The Pizza Canard

My position on voter ID is pretty straight-forward:

First, I think it is absolutely reasonable to require photo ID to vote. The claims that there is “no” vote fraud are hollow: we don’t require ID, therefore it is very hard to identify fraud. (That having been said, I don’t think there’s a lot of it, but there is some).

Second, I think it needs to be easy for law-abiding citizens to get photo ID. Many states have made it difficult to get voter IDs and for many poor people, especially minorities, acquiring documentation like birth certificates can be difficult. One of the Popehat bloggers recently tweeted about a client, a war veteran, who can’t vote because he can’t produce a birth certificate. Hospitals were segregated when he was born, his certificate was destroyed in a fire and computer records are unacceptable. I’ve heard a number of similar stories.

All that having been said, the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard about this issue was just uttered by our President:

We’re the only advanced democracy in the world that makes it harder for people to vote,” Obama said. “You’re laughing, but it’s sad.” Obama noted that it was “easier to order a pizza than vote. How do we redesign our systems so we don’t have 50% voter participation?” he asked.

First of all, we are not the only democracy in the world that makes it harder for people to vote, not by a longshot. And for photo ID, in particular, it’s not even close. Most countries require photo ID. The vast majority of Americans support it. The Supreme Court decided, 6-3, that this was not a huge burden on voters so long as it was easy to obtain the ID.

But easier to order a pizza than to vote? I fucking hope so. A pizza is a $10 commitment that feeds me for one day; a vote is a multi-trillion dollar commitment that can get us all taxed, regulated or killed for four years. I don’t give a rat’s ass if an illegal alien or a convicted felon or a 15-year-old buy a pizza. I do care if they vote.

(I watched the video and Obama wasn’t joking when he said this. He was being serious.)

He went on to suggest that we need to make it easier to vote, maybe even make it possible to vote online (because we all saw how well went). Look, I want to make it reasonably easy for people to vote. But I’ve never understood this burning desire to drag people kicking and screaming to the polls. If someone doesn’t want to vote, the most likely reason is the crappy choices they are presented with.

Comments are closed.

  1. repmom

    Yes to driver’s license to vote, a big no to online voting, though I’m quite cool with ordering a pizza online. And that our president thinks voting should be as easy as ordering a pizza — I find myself speechless on that one.

    Well, not really.

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  2. repmom

    Make that “photo ID”.

    I can edit/delete on Facebook, delete on Twitter, but neither here. Wish I could at least edit here.

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  3. Hal_10000 *

    You can’t edit?  All right, I’ll see if I can fix a setting.  I can edit just fine but that’s probably because I’m admin.

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  4. ilovecress

    You’ll need to fix the issue of being able to get photo ID though. That was the problem in the UK – requiring people to have ID means that you’re legally required to have the Government keep tabs on you to be able to vote, which was an issue that the Brits couldn’t get past.

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  5. blameme

    ilovecress – with people readily handing over healthcare to the government which has much more personal data than an ID, I doubt that would be a major obstacle. The issue here is that photo ID quickly turns into a race or class war (this is heavily related to the discussion we had on the current political climate). It’s the conservatives who typically want the ID, therefore we must be racist bastards who only want to keep minorities from voting. The debate never gets off the ground due to that one issue. Are there some racists who would love people not to vote who don’t look like them? Sure. Are there some who don’t want ID’s so they can have anyone vote and as many times as they want? Sure. But, the debate quickly turns into those being the two “real” reasons (even though all I want is a fair and trusted system for all) and we wind up with no solution.

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  6. blameme

    CM – I am sure it’s possible, but as soon as the topic is raised, it immediately dissolves into racism/class warfare bs and no matter what the idea is, it is shouted down. Just like many others, on both sides.

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  7. Nobody

    Is it not possible to show how a system would work to not disenfranchise anyone?

    Sure, just point out how people of all ethnic backgrounds currently drive cars. Getting a voter ID would be similar to getting a driver’s license.  People who claim it would be an undue burden on minorities are the racists — they’re essentially saying minorities somehow lack the mental ability to get an ID, which would not be more difficult than getting the driver’s license they already have.

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  8. ilovecress

    It’s the conservatives who typically want the ID, therefore we must be racist bastards who only want to keep minorities from voting.

    I don’t think the argument is that it’s racist – it’s that minorities don’t tend to vote conservative, and that’s why they’re being targeted. If minorities we’re lockstep Republican voters, do you think that combating voter fraud would be so high up on the agenda for Republicans?

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  9. AlexInCT

    The only reason you wouldn’t want voters to identify they are legit is because you are gaming the system and figure a voter ID will prevent people from voting more than once and dead people from voting for you.

    Now having said that, I dislike the idea of a voter ID terribly. Leviathan has too many hooks in us serfs already, and this would just be another vehicle for them to abuse their power. Have people with a drivers license use that. Those without can be issued some other form of identification with a picture.

    If voting is important to you, you make sure you have identification.

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  10. blameme

    Actually I would I believe the system should be equal and fair as well as above reproach. EVERY vote should count. Therefore they should all be legal.

    And therein lies the problem ILC,of how you phrased that – “if minorities were lockstep Republicans…” – you made it about race. It isn’t. It’s about fair play. We aren’t targeting minority voters, we are targeting ILLEGAL voters. If your telling me that most illegal voters are minorities, then, who really is gaming the system and is being targeted? I could change the phrase 180 degrees on you and say, “If most illegal voters were white rich people, would democrats defend them so vociferously?” You and I both know the answer.

    So, lets leave the race out of it and focus on fair rules that should apply to all – rich or poor, minority or not.

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  11. CM

    In order for government action to be warranted surely conservatives would need to be very sure that a meaningful problem exists? I think this is one of the main problems. On almost every other issue conservative push back against this kind of thing, particularly in the absence of compelling evidence.

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  12. ilovecress

    BlameMe : Okay – let’s take race out of it. But you have to admit that by targeting illegal voters’ (of which there is no evidence) you’re also affecting legal voters who don’t happen to have ID.

    There is a block of people – let’s call them ‘Mafrican Mamericans’ – who are statistically less likely to have voter ID. These people tend to vote Democrat (hence Democrat opposition) and are less likely to vote Republican (hence Republican Support). The same is with younger voters, immigrants, the poor, and elderly voters.

    It’s not about race. It’s about demographics. The demographics that don’t have voter ID are more likely to vote Democrat. You’re 100% correct that if it was the other way around, the Democrats would be on voter ID like a rash.

    You guys spend so much time on this blog decrying the machivellian nature of politicians, and the corrupt nature of the system – but on this issue its about fairness?

    I’m actually in favour of streamlining a voting system (in NZ we’re currently voting for our f*cking flag…) Requiring ID is fine, if you’re going to ensure that everyone eligible has said ID. But let’s not pretend this is about fairness, or combatting fraud.

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  13. CM

    This is yet another substantial ‘perception’ problem for the right. How do you show that it’s purely coincidental that the people who are likely to find it hardest to vote will be the only ones affected (and the right disproportionately benefits)?


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  14. blameme

    ILC – are you sure there is no evidence? I don’t think you’ve looked hard enough. The % may be small, but it does happen.

    And not to be snarky, but you don’t get to decide for me or any other person “what this is really about.” To me is about making sure that each vote is fair and counts. That’s it. So, please don’t apply your thoughts to me or my motives. This is the kind of shit that devalues debate and basically makes it pointless to debate. You know our “motives” no matter what we say or what system we’d set up.

    As for the next issue, I believe there should no impediment to vote from a cost perspective. I wish people were more engaged and educated, but I can’t help that. So, I don’t think “the poorest” should be affected as we should provide a simple and free way to get them the ID.

    Now, if I were the racist bastard “who really knew what this was about” I wouldn’t be for that would I? I know of no credible person who wants to make it financially hard for someone to vote.

    We just want to know that they are allowed to vote and that they voted once. Why are democrats so afraid of that? Are you guys race baiters that are happy with illegitimate votes as long as you get your way?

    That kind of character assassination sucks doesn’t it? So quit doing it to me and others who AGREE that there should be no impediment for poor people ONLY ILLEGAL VOTES.

    While it is “purely coincidental” that poor people will be affected (even though I would stand against it), I guess it is “purely coincidental” that since the illegal votes would be most like minority driven, that democrats would argue against a free and honest vote as that would lower their illegal votes that would go for democrats? Neither side can “claim” the high ground or low ground.

    The only ground that matters is that people who are allowed to vote legally should be able to be identified legally and at a cost that does not impact poor people (free).

    How can anyone argue with that last statement? It’s fair to all. Unless you democrats “really know what this is about.”

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  15. blameme

    CM – we do that by setting up a system that provides for poor people to have no financial impediment. But, we can never get to that stage as the left immediately screams “racists!!” before we can discuss how to do that.

    It’s a shame that in a country as technologically advanced as the US that we can’t provide a way for this to happen. Well, we can, but the mud slinging stops it from ever happening.

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  16. blameme

    And sorry if I am reading into this too much. I got a cast put on my leg earlier today. I’m not a happy camper. It’s my “gas pedal” foot too, so I am stuck for six weeks.

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  17. ilovecress

    Blameme – I wasn’t refering to your motives I was referring to the GOP party. We all seem to agree that establishment politics is self serving – I’m just including this issue in the too.

    For the evidence thing – there’s a very very very small percentage. Washington Post found 31 cases in over 1,000,000,000 ballots. All I’m saying is that the chance that to GOP are spending so much effort to stop these 31 dudes, it a little fishy. And yes – the effort that the Dems are spending to ensure their people can vote is about turnout too.

    The only ground that matters is that people who are allowed to vote legally should be able to be identified legally and at a cost that does not impact poor people (free).

    Absolutely – but that’s not what Republican lawmakers are proposing. Addressing the requirement part, without the supply part. (however, I could be wrong, you say that any attempts have been called racist – so I may have missed something)

    Well, we can, but the mud slinging stops it from ever happening.

    Again – and it may be the cynic political strategist in me, but both parties have more to gain from the debate turning out their vote than anything approaching an actual solution.

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  18. blameme

    I agree with that ILC. Not solving this is best for both sides. Gives them more ammo to keep us yelling at each other versus actually solving problems. And it is a small percentage – I will give you that. Maybe I am a weird conservative, but I really do care about equal and fair voting. I think most do.

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  19. CM

    I have no reason to believe that your motives are bad. I believe you until you give me a reason not to.

    So would the ‘solution’ actually address the ‘problem’? If those 31 cases drop to 22, was it worth it? Can you then say the voting has gone from unfair and unequal, to fair and equal? Or is the difference indiscernible? If so, how are the additional costs (nothing is free) and hassle (not to mention the additional information gathering and storing by government) justified?

    The perception is that this is a solution looking for a problem, which is generally a complaint that conservatives themselves make.

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  20. blameme

    I’ll have to take some time to look up some numbers, but how do you know people are voting illegally if there is no way to confirm who they are? Seems chicken and egg to me – the numbers of people caught may be low, but how do we know? I have to provide my social security information for almost everything and have to provide ID to get a beer at a restaurant. How is it that this is required for a beverage, but not to vote? Do minorities not drink alcohol? Do they not drive? Surely, if ID is required for those things, then providing an ID for a highly important and critical civil duty is not asking too much.

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  21. CM

    Topical piece.

    In Mississippi, the state passed a law requiring a photo ID to vote, and then announced that it was closing driver’s license offices in “predominantly black and poor” counties across the state (the state’s actions are under federal investigation).

    If that is the case, then that’s suspiciously consistent with assisting Republicans.

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