Texas’ new voter ID law was to go into effect this month to be enacted in time for the November 2012 presidential election.
It is being delayed, however, as the Justice Department reviews this and similar laws in other states requiring voters to show some form of voter ID, specifically, a picture identification.
Republicans have introduced this law in Texas and Democrats are ferociously fighting it, with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder leading the way.
In a speech in Austin last month, he echoed what other Democratic critics are saying, arguing, among other things, that photo identification measures would do little but suppress turnout of minority and low-income voters. It would harm the “poor and the elderly,” they say, but it’s difficult to show harm.
The arguments against voter ID are getting more nefarious with each such law that is passed. First they were claiming that requiring photo identification would harm the poor because they couldn’t afford to get their ID, as they probably didn’t have driver licenses. So, the offer was made to make the ID available free, taking that argument away.
Then, it was going to be too difficult for the elderly to find transportation to a Texas Department of Public Safety office to obtain their IDs. That doesn’t add up. If they can get to the polls, surely, they can find a ride to the nearest DPS office. And, hey, if they can get to bingo, they can get to the DPS office. Unless they are bedridden, they can find a way.
Now, the argument is that this requirement will disenfranchise the rural voter who will have a problem getting into town to get their photo ID. That really touches a nerve. How dare they think that, just because we are “rural” does not mean that we are hicks living in the sticks. This is 2012 and most have televisions, the Internet, and telephones at the very least.
Sure, transportation is more complicated in the rural areas, but people living there know how to navigate the system. They have means to obtain food and other necessities, so they would find a way to obtain their voter ID if they view voting as a necessity.
It is fascinating that several studies show that, in states that have already implemented voter ID, voter participation actually has gone up.
Why would that be?
Perhaps voters no longer feel disenfranchised because illegitimate voters are not casting ballots that cancel out legitimate votes. Perhaps it proves the old adage: That which is free does not merit as much respect as that which must be earned.
As voting has become easier over the years, participation has not increased proportionately. When the voting age was lowered to 18 in 1971, it was thought that the young people would flock to the polls, but that did not happen.
Let’s face it. That which is earned is appreciated more than that which is given without merit. Perhaps this explains the malaise among American voters. Asking for a simple photo ID is not such a big deal.
Who doesn’t have to show identification every time they cash a check, apply for food stamps (Sorry. Make that SNAP.), or check out a library book?
Voter ID is just a small step, but perhaps it is the right step.