If it ain’t broke, disenfranchise thousands. Or: A mandate Republicans like

Iowa State Secretary of State Matt Shultz (Rep., of course) is keen to have Iowa follow in the footsteps of other states that have moved to require voters to provide some form of ID when voting.

Secretary of State Matt Schultz introduces new voter-ID bill, but legislative response is muted from the Des Moines Register, Jan.  26,2012

“The real point of this law is to make sure you are who you say you are when you come to vote,” he said, adding, “We’re not trying to disenfranchise or keep people from voting. We want security and integrity in our elections.”

While that sounds all well and good, of course the ulterior motive has to be the disenfranchisement of the generally poorer and less established amongst us–who of course tend to vote overwhelmingly Democratic.  And why must we suspect an ulterior motive?  Well, because Mr. Shultz acknowledges that we have no problem with voter fraud here in Iowa:

Schultz acknowledged that there have been no reported instances of voter fraud in Iowa, but said he believed elections were becoming closer, so that the security of each individual vote was becoming more important.

As for the goal of disenfranchising large swaths of people, we need only to look to the recent DoJ ruling striking down South Carolina’s similar requirement.

Justice Dept. rejects South Carolina voter ID law, calling it discriminatory from the Washington Post, Dec. 23, 2011

In its first decision on the laws, Justice’s Civil Rights Division said South Carolina’s statute is discriminatory because its registered minority voters are nearly 20 percent more likely than whites to lack a state-issued photo ID.

Fortunately the bill proposed by Secretary Shultz is receiving little support from the legislature, on either side of the aisle.  Of course Governor Branstad is a supporter–but fortunately that seems to mean less and less these days.

The other aspect of this that I’ve been thinking about lately is that this really seems like a mandate–which Republicans are up in arms about when it comes to health care.  Although voting is voluntary, it is a right protected by the Constitution.  Requiring ID to carry out ones Constitutionally protected duty when an ID is not otherwise required sure seems like a mandate to me.

Which is not to say that I don’t like the law because of the mandate issue.  I’m not against mandates per se.  I just think that the cost of not having it needs to be weighed by the benefit of having it.  In the case of health care, the cost of Americans not carrying health insurance is astronomical.  As for voting, the cost of not requiring photo ID is, well, as Mr. Shultz points out, there is none.

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One Comment on “If it ain’t broke, disenfranchise thousands. Or: A mandate Republicans like”

  1. Adam says:

    Given some of the less important things we have to show ID for, like getting on airplane or buying a bottle of wine, showing ID to vote is not totally unreasonable (as long as it not used to prevent people from voting). But I am always disappointed by the proponents’ lack of understanding about why, considering the history of this country, it is so objectionable to some. How many bubbles in a bar of soap?


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