Ed’s post this morning reminded me of a conversation I had recently with a Republican friend about voter ID laws. He asked me why Democrats have such a problem with them. He said something like, “Are you guys for voter fraud?” Well, no, I said, and since I was raised to be polite, I said that voter ID laws tend to restrict the voting rights disproportionately of minorities and young people who often don’t have the necessary identification to begin. Ridiculous, my friend said, then they should get it. Well, I didn’t have a ready comeback to that one, until I came across this recent article about a former Republican supporter of voter ID laws who has seen the light. (http://hnn.us/roundup/entries/148815.html )
Jeremiah Goulka points out that 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. Sure, some of them can get one, but it isn’t always easy or cheap. Lost your naturalization papers? That will be $345 for a new set. Don’t have a birth certificate or weren’t issued one? Try the bureaucracy or the courts.
As Ed notes, many Republicans fear that Obama will be reelected by a flood of “government-dependent” voters, those members of the 47 percent in good standing who want nothing more than to continue their dependency. (This mystifies me, too. In my experience, those dependent on welfare or disability payments are eager to get off of them.) This fear has led to a concerted Republican effort to require voter IDs and to suppress turnout among voters more likely to vote Democratic.
I believe, perhaps naively, that there are many more Republicans, like Mr. Goulka, who, if they knew more of the facts about voter ID laws and their true political intention, would oppose them.