Friday, 24 February 2012 00:00
As a member of the voting public (and yes, an active Democrat) Mr. Robert McMillan’s February 9 op-ed piece regarding photo ID requirements for voters should be understood for what it really is, espousing the right wing’s desire to restrict voting by minorities or those less wealthy. Not surprisingly, people belonging to such groups are disproportionately more likely not to have photo IDs, often because they cannot afford them. Because these groups are perceived as more likely to vote for Democrats, within the last decade or so there has been a concentrated effort by the right wing to restrict the ability to cast a ballot, perhaps the most precious right we citizens possess.Unfortunately, as certain elements have been more successful in frightening the public, this reactionary effort has gained further traction and resulted in the passage of many such laws. While seemingly innocuously couched in code phrases like “voter integrity” or to protect against “ballot fraud,” these laws are more properly viewed as what they really are: attempts to resurrect poll taxes and literacy laws – which have been struck down repeatedly by the courts. It is no small shame that many of our present courts have not honestly analyzed these laws and their obvious purpose. For example, no state law ever has been enacted to disenfranchise better-off citizens, or white males.
Mr. McMillan’s analogies of requiring photo IDs to board an airplane, renting a hotel room or entering a secure building are simply misguided – but again represent an attempt to inflame passions and distract the reader from considering the differences. Each of these three examples, lifted straight from Mr. McMillan’s piece, involves potential risks to health and safety. Most everyone is aware of how 9/11 occurred, and that office buildings and hotels have been bombed. To the best of my knowledge, there have not been many attempted bombings of polling places – although certain people have managed to “change” polling locations days before elections, again seemingly for innocuous reasons, but usually with the same end game – restriction of votes by certain targeted groups.
Contrary to Mr. McMillan’s unsupported allegations about “all the voter fraud uncovered in the 2008 presidential election,” the studies indicate otherwise. For example, even a study completed by a group favorable to Mr. McMillan’s viewpoint concluded that between 2000-2010, there were three or fewer convictions for voter fraud during that decade.
I do agree with Mr. McMillan that the battle over these laws is about politics. I would encourage more people to vote, others do not.