No, Showing Identification is Not a 'Poll Tax'
3:49 PM, Aug 28, 2011 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
There's an entirely absurd op-ed by Georgia Congressman John Lewis in today's New York Times about voter ID laws. You can probably guess where this is going, but here goes:
As for Lewis' insistence that voter impersonation is not a concern, let me help him out here. Earlier this year, ACORN plead guilty to voter registration fraud in Nevada. Here's an exhaustive list of ACORN employees who've run afoul of voter registration laws since 1998, resulting in dozens of arrests and convictions. Here's an SEIU-affiliated voter registration group that submitted a huge amount of invalid voter registrations in one Texas county. To say concern over voter registration fraud amounts to "unfounded fears" is abject nonsense.
As for the matter of college students, Doug Mataconis discusses this in depth and makes the relevant point that "Allowing them to use student ID to register to vote would be akin to giving them the opportunity to vote twice in two different locations." (Mataconis also debunks much of what Lewis has to say about early voting, so be sure and read his post in full for more.)
However, just getting to the crux of the debate, almost all of the criticisms of voter ID laws boil down to someone causually throwing around the racism charge. Charges of racism are not only unfounded, but it's a convenient way to cloud the issue by claiming it's a choice between showing ID and disenfranchising minorities. But it's increasingly common that you have to show photo ID even to use a credit card -- I doubt most Americans see this as an unnecessarily burdensome requirement.
What's odd is that Lewis and others constantly criticize voter ID laws without defining what they think would be sufficient proof of identity. Do Lewis and other Democrats simply think showing up at the polls and taking someone's word that they are who they say they are should be sufficient? Do they really think that's a winning argument with the public? Or is the discussion of racism simply a way of avoiding discussing the kind of lax to non-existant voter ID requirements they are actually arguing for?