Voter ID alters the perception of cheating

As political strategist Lee Atwater said, perception is reality.

First, some numbers.

An alarming number of Americans believe that the U.S. election system is not trustworthy, according to a recent poll.

While a majority of Americans (58%) have a “great deal” or “good amount” of trust that elections are fair, nearly four in ten (39%) do not believe this. And yes, the majority of those who do not trust the system are Republicans, but that number includes Democrats and independents. 

Even if their beliefs are ill-founded, we can’t simply ignore them.  And the 58% of those with “great” or “good” trust is not an overwhelming percentage. I find it to be shockingly low. 

Another number: 79% of Americans want photo ID, according to Gallup. That is a very large majority, twice the number of Americans with little faith in the system. That is not a number to trifle with, or ignore.

One more number: 12 states have strict voter ID requirements, with 8 of them demanding photo ID.

Voter ID seems like an idea whose time has come, and it is heading toward Pennsylvania.

I say that acknowledging that while voter fraud exists, it is minor and has never changed the result of any recent election as far as I can tell.

Bank robbery is also rare, yet every bank has closed-circuit cameras to foil thieves. Auto crashes are rare, yet the law requires seat belts must be worn. Voter ID is a safeguard, like seat belts.

You may ask why (mostly) Republicans are so intent on passing voter ID laws. Democrats say it is because they want to suppress voter turnout.

You may ask why Democrats (mostly) are so intent on stopping those laws. Republicans say it is because they want illegal votes.

Democrats say they want to make sure no one is disenfranchised, as if this were a major problem. Remember how the new “restrictive” laws in Georgia were going to suppress the Black vote, and then the opposite happened?

Was it the law of unintended consequences, or was it that the shrill shrieks of racism were baseless, and the All–Star game was moved out of Atlanta, hurting that Black city, for no damn good reason?

As an example of shrill shrieks, journalist Solomon Jones writes if voter ID comes to the Quaker State, “Democrats may never win a majority in the legislature again.” Never? Exaggerate much?

In Pennsylvania, a constitutional amendment to require photo ID has been introduced, SB 1. 

This is the pertinent text:

(b)  In addition to the qualifications under subsection (a) of this section, a qualified elector shall provide a valid identification at each election in accordance with the following:

1.  When voting in person, the qualified elector shall present a valid identification before receiving a ballot to vote in person.

2.  When not voting in person, the qualified elector shall provide proof of a valid identification with his or her ballot.

(c)  If a qualified elector does not possess a valid identification, he or she shall, upon request and confirmation of identity, be furnished with a government-issued identification at no cost to the qualified elector.

  (d)  For purposes of this section, the term “valid identification” means an unexpired government-issued identification, unless otherwise provided for by law.

The people opposed, such as Philadelphia’s Committee of Seventy, say that valid ID presents an “unnecessary burden” on the voter, while others say it falls most heavily on the poor and minorities.

That may be why the bill requires anyone asking for one to receive a free government-issued ID.

Here’s the clincher: How many of the opponents of valid ID understand that such ID is already required to be presented the first time you vote?

Yes, already required of everyone, including the poor and minorities. 

If that isn’t unconstitutional, why should it be unconstitutional to require that it be presented every time one votes? How much of a “burden” is it? I mean, really.

If you need ID to board an aircraft, or cash a check, or apply for a job, why not to vote?

If the reality is that only legitimate people are voting, that will change the perception of cheating.

21 thoughts on “Voter ID alters the perception of cheating”

  1. last week rite-aid refused to sell an obviously sick and old me Metamucil because I didn’t have my wallet on me to show proper Id.This put a minor damper on my large scale meth operation.

    1. At CVS I am not asked, but I am in their computer and I expect they asked me at one time. They DO request my date of birth (as they did when I used to buy cigarettes) even though I am clearly over 21.

      1. When I’m carded, I always tell the cashier “I just turned 21 last week.” Since I started buying cigarettes over the counter when I was 16, no questions asked, I figure I’m carded now for all the times when I wasn’t back then. So, everything evens out.

        1. When CVS asked me my age — this is years ago — because the cash register required I furnish a birth date, I would often use Aug. 8, 1864. The guy in the register didnt care, just so he had a date to fill in.

  2. It has always seemed rather condescending to me that opponents of voter ID almost always assert that it, “falls most heavily on the poor and minorities.” Really? What characteristic of minority citizens makes it inherently more difficult for them to have an ID? Do they never fly? Do they never open bank accounts? Do they never buy booze or cigarettes? Are they somehow less capable than non-minority citizens? We’re never told.

    Having ID is such a part of modern life that rather than oppose voter ID, Democrats should be working to make sure that everyone who wants an ID and is entitled to one can get one. This amendment does this in part by requiring that IDs be free if requested.

    1. Committee of Seventy claims even getting the free ID might be a hardship for some. My response — there are many nonprofits, churches, social agencies, political parties that would help people get the ID.

      1. Acme cards everyone making a beer or wine purchase. They carded my old man when he was 90. They scan your DL/non-DL id on the back.

    2. I’m fine with voter ID so long as it is free. But, this issue always reminds me of what my great-grandfather said after coming back to Germany after living in the U.S.. He railed against the German “your papers please” culture that existed already then. “In America,” he said, “they believe you have a name, they believe that you were born, and they believe that you can drive!” Not no more. Makes me kinda wistful, but this is modern times.

  3. If you are going to provide free photo ideas to all those who request them, I can see no reason why this should ever be an issue. That would certainly eliminate any burden on the poor. Now take the next logical step: make election day a national holiday and require employers to allow their workers time to vote.

    1. I would support a national voting day on two conditions: 1- No OTHER times to vote, meaning no early voting. (Mail would still be OK for disabled.) 2- Workers who could not prove they voted would be docked a days pay.

      1. I really don’t get the objection to early voting. What’s the difference between a vote at a secure polling place on Saturday, and a vote at a secure polling place on Tuesday? I’ve voted religiously since I first turned 18. I missed a primary or two because I had a deadline and couldn’t get out of the office before the polls closed. It would have been much more convenient to vote early, and I would have, but this was before it was offered.
        I’m not against making election day a national holiday, but between local elections and primaries there are a whole lot of “election days.” What is the problem with making it as easy and convenient to vote as possible with early voting? People with two jobs, deadlines or who are traveling for work, pleasure or to attend the funeral of a family member should be able to vote. It was a good thing that Trump was able to vote absentee in Florida, even though he was not disabled. In my experience, the urgent has a nasty way of squeezing out the important.
        I used to own a restaurant and I can tell you business owners would far prefer early voting to mandatory time off–especially if the worker has to wait four hours to vote, which has been often true since some folks decided it would be a good idea to limit the number of polling places. So, if you say “an hour off to vote” that may be less than useless, when an entire shift may be necessary. We only closed 2 days a year–Thanksgiving and Christmas. Other holidays were great for business. You want to mandate paid time off (else how could an employer dock pay?), that hurts businesses, plus it doesn’t mean workers won’t be “discouraged” by their employers from voting–not to mention you have put in some kind enforcement mechanism. Great for my biz–more people to sue–but I don’t think it would be good policy, especially when there are easier alternatives.
        High turnout is good, not bad. Case in point is your column(s) on Krasner’s non-mandate victories from 10% of the electorate. If more people voted, he probably wouldn’t have been elected or reelected. We should be encouraging voting, not suppressing it. It should be easy to vote, not hard. When voting is hard, or just inconvenient, you tend to get only the “activists” from the ends of the spectrum, who vote.This is bad, and in my view, has contributed to polarization in this country.

        1. I have worked all 3 shifts and never missed an election. 1st shift can go after work, 2nd and 3rd shifts can go before.
          My major objection to early voting is there is no end to it. Various states make it up to a month early.
          In previous columns (available on request) I presented numbers that showed early voting opportunities did NOT increase turnout. I am OK with properly distributed and collected mail ballots for shut-ins, travelers and the like.

  4. You need ID to apply for Welfare, need ID to receive health care at Doctor’s Office and hospitals. You need ID to apply for driver’s license and to get on a plane. You need ID to apply for social security benefits, to buy alcohol & cigarettes, to buy a house, rent a car, buy a cell phone etc,etc. Just register to vote with valid ID. It is common sense

    1. And you need id to get a state id. How if you don’t have birth certificate to show when you’re born. Quite a few of my older relatives, like my father born in 1928 were born at home (some in abject poverty, like my father, grandfather’s & grandmothers) and never had a birth certificate
      Midwives didn’t do them. At least, being Christian, they got baptismal certificates when they were baptized. My maternal gm needed it to apply for SS & Medicare.

  5. Stu, but you need I.D. to get Gov’t. I.D. Not everyone has a birth certificate. Many older people, especially those who migrated from Jim Crow South, don’t have those or other I.D.
    When my grandmother applied for Medicare, she never had a birth cert because, being born into abject poverty, she was born at home with a midwife, not a Dr. She only had a baptismal cert to show how old she was.

  6. I’m not at all against voter ID so long as it is free. I am skeptical that this will do anything to blunt the voter fraud myths that depend on things like Italian satellites, ballots imported from China, and imaginary voting machine “algorithms.” In the hope that it would help, I’m all for it. Lack of confidence in our elections is bad.
    But by the same token, there are a lot of people who believe there is a lot of voter suppression going on. It seems to me, as with the voter fraud myth, it would be useful to do something about that besides saying “snap out of it!” One thing that makes sense to me, and that ought to be unobjectionable, is to increase the number of polling places to eliminate the long lines in urban areas. From what I can tell, a lot of states have policies regarding polling places (e.g. no more than 2,000 registered voters per polling place), but those limits are rarely enforced. For example, Georgia has such a rule, but 90% of its polling places exceeded that limit. Atlanta’s Forsythe county was the most egregious with over 8,000 voters per polling place. Average wait time (2020) in Pa. (statewide) was 16.6 minutes, California 4.1 minutes, Georgia 23.2, South Carolina, 34.1 minutes. Nationwide, average wait time for African Americans was 23 minutes, Latinos 19 and whites, 12. [I’d give you the links, but every time I try to put a link in my comments here, my comment gets rejected]. A 2022 survey of Black voters found: “Black voters are also concerned about electoral integrity. While a large majority are at least somewhat confident that their own vote will be accurately counted in November, seven in ten are concerned about voter suppression interfering with a fair and accurate election in their state. Half say they have experienced waiting in long lines at their polling place in the past, and one in five have experienced potential voter suppression such as having their registration or identification questioned.” Get rid of the long lines, and it looks like most of this confidence problem is solved.

  7. In our country’s desire to make voting ‘fair,’ we have taken the simple process of voting and twisted it out of shape, until it has become unrecognizable. Now, the perception by many (too many) is the system is corrupt. When perception becomes reality, the battle is lost.

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