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 Healthcare.gov 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.