There is no honest case against Voter ID

There is no honest case against Voter ID

The defenders of vote fraud are growing desperate, as common-sense voter ID requirements appear in state after state, surviving legal challenges that took Indiana’s law all the way to the Supreme Court, where it was upheld 6-3.  There is no honest case against voter ID laws.  Every argument deployed by opponents is as fraudulent as the votes that put Al Franken in the Senate.

There are three basic arguments raised against voter ID laws.  The least wild-eyed argument is that some people will be “disenfranchised” because a bizarre set of circumstances has left them unable to meet the elementary documentation requirements necessary to obtain an ID card.  The marquee example is Vivian Applewhite, a 92-year-old Pennsylvania woman who doesn’t have a driver’s license, or any of the six other forms of photo identification accepted by the state – one of which, “photo ID issued by a PA care facility, including long-term care facilities, assisted living residencies, or personal care homes,” would cover quite a few 92-year-olds.

Applewhite had two copies of her birth certificate, but they were destroyed in two separate house fires, and her Social Security card was stolen.  For some reason, she’s being used as a stage prop in the war against sensible voter identification, when the people using her should instead be helping her obtain her replacement birth certificate and Social Security card.  In fact, it eventually came out that she long ago requested a new birth certificate, but the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania never sent it to her.  How strange that the state government isn’t criticized for that obvious lapse in its functions!  But of course, there’s no political advantage for vote fraud defenders in making a big deal about the government’s failure to provide a replacement copy of a common-place document.

If the new standard for a valid law is that it cannot even slightly inconvenience anyone, or cause hardship for a tiny fraction of the population, then I think we’ve finally found a sure-fire way to balance the federal budget.  Many jobs will be created bulldozing all the empty buildings in Washington, D.C.  You can kiss your “progressive” tax system goodbye, liberals – it cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, meet the standards you demand of voter identification.

The second argument advanced by voter ID opponents is that voter fraud isn’t really that big of a problem, so there’s no reason to install safeguards against it.  Anyone who tells you that is assuming you don’t remember ACORN, or the 2008 Minnesota Senate election.  Try asking someone who thinks vote fraud is no big deal exactly how many fraudulent votes we should be expected to tolerate, without taking action to prevent it.  You won’t get an answer, any more than a liberal would be willing to tell you what the maximum acceptable income tax rate is.  Were 1100 felons voting in the Minnesota Senate race – which was ultimately decided by 312 votes – too much fraud, or just about right?

But the heavy artillery against voter ID, and the most scurrilous argument raised against it, is the constant accusation that it’s a racist attempt to suppress the minority vote.  Since voter ID laws generally enjoy at least 60 percent support among state electorates, that’s a heck of a lot of racism – including plenty of minority voters who support ID laws, which presumably makes them self-hating racists.

The great thing about this argument is that it requires no logic whatsoever.  It’s an act of telepathy, peering into the deepest recesses of the mind to disqualify a legitimate legal procedure because its authors have been judged guilty of thoughtcrime.

Thus we have a deeply dishonest screed from Timothy Noah of The New Republic published on August 2, in which he begins by hyperventilating about Mike Turzai, the Republican majority leader of the Pennsylvania House, who said in a speech: “Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania?  Done.”

“The press was jubilant,” says Noah.  “It was as if Koch Enterprises had acknowledged global warming.”  Since global warming has been utterly debunked, only an idiot would acknowledge it, and the Koch Brothers aren’t idiots.  Maybe the latest news about the totally discredited ground station data for global warming didn’t penetrate Timothy Noah’s bubble.

At any rate, if you Google around for video clips of that jubilant press celebrating Mike Turzai’s gaffe, you’ll notice they’re always very careful to cut the video so it excludes everything else he said that evening.  He was listing promises kept by the state Republican Party to its voters, and saying “done” after each one.  And even taking the one sentence Noah is frothing about in isolation, if voter ID will “allow” Romney to win the state, it follows that the speaker believes the absence of voter ID would have prevented him from winning.

Noah might have missed this lesson in grade school, but “allow” does not mean the same thing as “ensure.”  An article published a few days before Noah’s screed, entitled “Why the Obama Campaign Isn’t Sweating Voter ID Laws in Pennsylvania,” noted that the Obama campaign is confidently shifting resources away from Pennsylvania, because the Romney team isn’t behaving as if it believes the state is in play.  “If the campaigns believe voter-ID is a game changer in Pennsylvania, they’re sure not acting like it,” wrote author Nate Cohn.

Which magazine published that article?  Why, it was the The New Republic.  Apparently Tim Noah doesn’t read his own paper, and assumes his readers don’t, either.

Sure enough, a spokesman for Rep. Turzai said he was “speaking at a partisan, political event.  He was simply referencing, for the first time in a long while, the Republican Presidential candidate will be on a more even keel thanks to Voter ID.  The reference was nothing more than that to a statewide Republican crowd.”  For some reason, Tim Noah didn’t see fit to inform his readers of that statement.  I can’t imagine why.

It’s fair enough to criticize the phrasing Turzai used, but to say that voter ID is inherently sinister, because one person said something clumsy about it, is the argument of a simpleton.  The whole “voter suppression” argument amounts to unsustainable assertions of bad faith, conjuring malevolence into laws which contain not a single word of racially discriminatory text.

Since Tim Noah thinks his readers should take his account of the words, and thoughts, of his targets completely on faith, I’ll do the same, and suspend my usual practice of linking to sources.  Feel free to look it up if you want.  Suffice it to say that he goes on to complain about vote suppression cases that have absolutely nothing to do with voter ID laws (guilt by association is a standard tool of dishonest hackery) before characterizing voter identification as follows: “What voter ID laws are useful for is reducing voter participation by you know who. Requiring an unexpired government-issued ID, a bank statement, or a utility bill is good.  Requiring an unexpired government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or a passport, is better, because about 25 percent of African Americans and 16 percent of Latinos don’t have any – as against 11 percent of the general population.”

So asking for a “utility bill” is a “good” way to “reduce voter participation by you-know-who?”  Not for the first time, I marvel at the sheer contempt liberals show for the minority populations they claim to care about.  Does Tim Noah think black and Hispanic voters live in caves, lit by guttering torches?

Unfortunately for this dishonest propagandist, not a single voter ID law in the nation “requires” a driver’s license or passport.  All of them allow at least half a dozen common forms of identification to be presented at the polls, and all of them offer special voter ID cards free of charge – requiring only the most basic and universal documentation, such as a birth certificate or Social Security card, as credentials.  Allowing someone who lacks every bit of that documentation to vote – or collect any benefits whatsoever from the government – is insane.

To return to my thesis: there is no honest case against voter ID laws.  Every single argument is made with some combination of telepathy, unsustainable assertions, misrepresentations of voter ID laws, desperate efforts to make the reader forget he lives in the Information Age, and standards applied to no other function of our titanic government.

Voter ID critics love to pretend that some of these arguments haven’t already been dealt with, quite decisively.  When the Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s voter ID law in 2008, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that it was “amply justified by the valid interest in protecting the integrity and reliability of the electoral process.”

All three of the arguments I’ve outlined here were raised: the Indiana law was said to place an unreasonable burden on voters, the incidence of vote fraud was said to be minimal, and accusations of disparate racial impact were made.  All of those arguments were dismissed.  “We cannot conclude that the statue imposes ‘excessively burdensome requirements’ on any class of voters,” wrote Stevens.  That opinion was signed by Chief Justice John Roberts, who liberals have lately been telling me is one of the greatest judicial minds ever to grace the bench.

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