Things Requiring a Photo ID

Recently I saw this picture titled “Things That Require Valid ID” and immediately thought of Pennsylvania’s Photo ID law.  Looking through the list of examples, like boarding an airplane to applying to a school, to buy cigarettes and liquor to writing a check, the list covered so many every day things one had to think that requiring a photo ID to vote was not unusual.  I guess that is the point of this picture.  It must be ok to require photo ID to vote.

The tag line, however, got me thinking.  It reads “Asking for ID to vote is not racist”.

Who said anything about racism?  And who disagrees with the notion that each voter needs to identify themselves and the voting place workers need to confirm the voter is who they say they are?

Voting occupies a special place in any Democracy.  It is a sacred right, some say a duty and obligation.  Voting, however, in our Presidential election involves usually about half the electorate and in primaries a quarter or less.  So what’s the big deal about Pennsylvania and a dozen or so other Republican controlled States from requiring photo IDs in order for a citizen to vote?

Photo ID presents no problem to those who hold a driver’s license.  But that is not everyone.  Looking at this subset, one quickly realizes that older citizens on fixed incomes and limited transportation options who make up most of this cohort.

But the kickers in Pennsylvania’s photo ID law is the requirement to show a birth certificate first to get a driver’s license (or photo ID).   If a citizen was born in Pennsylvania, and not too old, a birth certificate copy can normally be found.  If the citizen, however, was born in another State, the means to obtain a copy are cumbersome, costly, and time consuming, if the citizen can figure out how to do it in the first place.

Now consider this.  The citizen who lacks a photo ID has voted in previous elections.  This citizens has lived often at the same address, paid the same gas and telephone bills, and probably voted in the same precinct many times before.  (It is not uncommon for polling place workers to recognize voters by sight.)  And lastly, the citizen has had to sign the voting register each time they have previously voted leaving a signature trail were anyone to become suspicious.

Requiring photo ID is not about increasing the integrity of the vote.  It is about suppressing the vote.  The shear effort to obtain the documents necessary to obtain a photo ID will provide enough inertia that many legal voters will not go to the polls.

With the cost associated with documents, the similarity between photo ID and a poll tax is too close to ignore.

Most Americans have already some form of photo ID so may just blow this off.  I think that is a mistake.  One must ask why would Republicans try to force through this change in a Presidential election year?  Why would there need to be a law when there have been virtually no prosecuted cases of voter fraud?  How would this new requirement offset the effect of unlimited Super Pac spending?  Or would it reinforce that attempt to influence voting outcomes?

The Republican Party appears to be moving to the extreme right.  In the shadows of this fringe area, hides a group of self interested Republicans who want a greater and greater piece of the American pie for themselves.   The idea of grasping political power and then implementing laws and regulations of their choosing is so strong that there appears to be no limit to which this group will not go.

We are watching the sad death of a once great and vibrant party.  Their brazen attempt to shape the election outcome is over the line.  We should all ask, if this is what they will do to win the election, what will they do once they are in office?

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4 Comments on “Things Requiring a Photo ID”

  1. Terry Taylor Says:

    Probably only about 1-2% of the voting public don’t have some form of photo ID. In today’s world it is not hard to get an ID and in many states it is free. I am sure there is a church or political organization that could help people get a photo idea. It is not suppression any more than asking for ID to cash a check or your doctors office asking for ID. IT IS todays world. You need ID.


    • Terry, thanks for your observation…

      What do you think these various States were thinking when they passed (or tried to pass) this photo ID legislation? The public statements were to prevent “voter fraud” which no one of the States could show evidence existed…

      Photo IDs, as any college student knows, are simply a work of art. Producing fake IDs with “todays” technology is easy. So… getting an acceptable ID, in most of these Photo ID States, requires a copy of the original birth certificate… for the elderly or those who have moved from their birth State, this can be complicated if at all possible.

      The most obvious example that these Photo ID States are not serious about their claim to need them is their refusal to adopt a “National picture ID”.

      Frankly, I agree with you about the need for everyone to possess an legitimate ID. Privacy concerns and States versus federal fears get in the way. Positive identification is a must for elections, but there are other ways to assure that than to disadvantageous the poor and elderly.

  2. nancy Says:

    I work at the poles, Photo ID”S keep voter fraud down, we have had people come in who have not live in area and want to vote, I had people try to tell others how to vote, Voters have for years tried to fix elections, and it makes me mad . I have never told anyone how to vote, I do not want anyone to vote who is not a legal citizen of the USA . Letting them vote is FRAUD . I am a Democrat .This is a small town I can imagine how many crooks there are buying/selling votes in large cities, It has to STOP.


    • Nancy, thanks for your perspective. I would 100% support your position on “positive identification” in order for someone to vote. The problem with the recent flood of “photo ID” laws is they are premised on fraudulent voting and there is no court record to back up the claim. These new laws are also sponsored by GOP controlled States and seem particularly designed to discourage minority voters.

      Positive ID can be achieved by other means than a picture ID. Other means such as utility bills, tax bills, or vouched for by another official (for example a driving license) ID holding person are examples of authenticating a legal voter. In Philadelphia, one must sign the voter log each time one votes, so there is a past signature for verification in most circumstances.

      Politics are as old as the hills, so if one wanted to corrupt the voting process and create fraudulent voters, it is the registration and voting list preparation where to look. The photo ID is a discriminatory measure which can be outwitted with phony IDs.

      Again, I support your disgust over fraudulent voting. I just cannot support the mandatory photo ID solutions which have been proposed.


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