Blue Byline

A cop's perspective of the news and South Sound matters

Voter ID legislation requires a carrot not a stick

Post by Brian O'Neill on Aug. 28, 2012 at 2:22 pm with 12 Comments »
August 30, 2012 3:36 pm

Chances are good that the first words most people will hear when meeting a police officer will be, “Identification, please.” There are many reasons for this requirement, including the need to protect the officer’s safety or to locate wanted subjects, to name but two. Likewise, there are also a number of reasons why proper credentials are essential for legitimate business and government functions.

One might think that legislation mandating proper identification would be a protective measure easily embraced by everyone. However, when said mandate has political strings attached, one would be wrong. The political strings attached to recent legislation in both Virginia and South Carolina require voters to have government issued identification.

I would normally support a law that increases the number of people with photo identification, but that doesn’t mean any law will do. This law actually imperils voters’ rights; the same rights the measure was allegedly designed to protect.

Courtesy of

The media controversy surrounding these two state laws has galvanized activists in both political parties. It has also immersed state legislators in a quicksand of presidential politicis, racial tension and federal prosecution. That result is due to the fact that the voter ID mandate will clearly benefit one political party (Republican) over another (Democrat) at the polls in November.

A recent Trib article (8/27) connected the dots by referencing the lopsided number of minorities who, for various socioeconomic reasons, are less likely to have acceptable government identification such as passports, military ID or state driver’s licenses. The loss of this demographic on election day would, according to the report, be a severe blow to the Democratic Party.

The media debate extends to the so-called intent of the measures: the prevention of voter fraud. Another round of media inquiry failed to uncover any significant examples of the fraud these laws were drafted to prevent.

One side effect of this discussion is the resurrection of the term gerrymandering, last seen by most people in multiple choice civics tests in high school. Gerrymander  - a word that references a voting district unfairly restructured to favor a particular party – has been the verb used to describe South Carolina’s voter ID mandate. Unlike Virginia, South Carolina’s voter ID mandate has incited the wrath of the U.S. Department of Justice, which has dispatched civil litigators there to argue on behalf of citizens who may be indirectly disenfranchised by the new law.

That brings us up to date, more or less, on a topic that is far more important than it may seem at first. To be blunt, a voter ID mandate will affect citizens who either don’t care enough about voting, or who lack the resources or will to obtain and maintain proper identification in order to do so.

Should we care about the voting rights of people who may have to choose between buying food and paying for ID? Should we care about the rights of people who don’t seem to care about their own?

South Carolina and Virginia said, “No” to these questions. That was the wrong answer. The right answer is “Yes” and here is why:

Our country was born into a world that knew nothing of civil rights, our continued existence as a free people is due to the sacrifice of brave men and women who fought, bled and died for the right to choose our own leaders up until this very day, and those hard earned rights should NEVER be legislated away.

The Department of Justice needs to deliver the message to South Carolina politicians, and our nation, that no state should be allowed to dangle the right to vote on a string.

Leave a comment Comments → 12
  1. scott0962 says:

    Or South Carolina could go to voting by mail and make the whole issue moot.

  2. normajean says:

    Voting by mail will not satisfy the Republicans because their goal is to reduce the # of dems who voted in previous elections. Historically speaking these minorities voted for the dems.

  3. NotPoliticallyCorrect says:

    Lets see, how many dead people and convicted felons (sitting in prison) will get a mail in ballot this year in washington. Then of course comes the recount after recount, and all those darned ballots lost by the usps.

    What guarantee is out there that your ballot or mine will ever be counted? Remember gregoire lost the first two vote counts in 2004 and mysteriously won the 3rd. Then of course it was taken to court and the judge rejected the case. Talk about manipulating the system, there you go and I will bet it will be taken to new levels this year.

    Suggestion, maybe we should do the same thing like the Iraqis and Afghans. Go in show your id, vote and dip your finger in a purple dye.

  4. NotPoliticallyCorrect says:

    Brian state above “That result is due to the fact that the voter ID mandate will clearly benefit one political party (Republican) over another (Democrat) at the polls in November.”

    And if there is NO voter ID mandate, it will clearly benefit one political party (Democrats) over another (Republicans) at the polls in November.

  5. APimpNamedSlickback says:

    How about this alternative: In order to satisfy the right, in addition to dirver licenses, passports & military IDs, permit a state-issued ID card to suffice for voting purposes. (I’m pretty sure that each of the above-mentioned laws include that option anyway.) Now, to satisfy the left, have the DMV issue those ID cards at no cost. It won’t inordinately increase the operating costs of the DMV, since relatively few people will get ID cards rather than driver licenses, and it gives the indigent a viable option to meet the ID requirement. Then the only cost to the person getting the ID is their bus fare to the DMV.

    I realize that some will say that there are people who can’t afford to take the bus, or time off from work. But if those people don’t have driver licenses, then they’re either walking everywhere or taking the bus anyway, which is what they would have to do to get to a polling place. If they vote by mail, then — in WA at least — they have to pay postage to vote, or else find a way to transport themselves to a ballot drop off box. So really, claiming that the nominal cost of a bus ride tot DMV impedes getting an ID, is illogical, as such a nominal fee is already required for them to vote in the first place.

    As for taking time off work, you have to do that anyway to vote at a polling place, and the DMV can cut one hour of operation per weekday in order to be open a half day on Saturdays. Same operating costs for the state, sufficient options for the indigent voter, and every person — indigent or otherwise — has the same access to voting as the next person.

  6. Chippert says:

    The main problem for many of the elderly and poor is not the mobility to go to the required agency to get an ID, but acquiring proper supporting documents in the first place. My guess is that the birth certificate you have had in your file for all these years would not be sufficient for you either. Most birth certificates are not certified and it can be a chore to track down the proper way to get a certified copy (not to mention fairly expensive in most states). Some of these states are requiring THREE supporting documents. My guess is that most of the readers here would have a hard time producing the three required.

    Yes, this is a ploy to limit franchise and is alarming in our society. It harks back to the days when only land owners could vote, or those who could pay the poll tax, or those who could pass the “literacy” test. I hope that most of these will be thrown out before the election. Barring that, I hope that the affected parties will organize “get out the vote” drives and do their best to make sure that those in danger of becoming disenfranchised by this have the assistance they need to acquire the ID.

    That being said, I do support a proper ID, just not under these circumstances. A National ID that could be used in all cases where a certified ID is required, such as crossing the Canadian border or voting, is something whose time has come and should be seriously considered. If such a thing comes to pass, I hope it is implemented carefully and properly.

  7. Brian O'Neill says:

    I think we can all agree that having proper ID is important.

    Since safeguarding our rights – such as voters’ rights – is the responsibility of the federal government, I do like the idea of a national ID card. It would be very useful when dealing with TSA or Immigration, and when accessing a voter’s card or social security benefits.

  8. harleyrider1 says:

    Chicago, Cook County: So many dead people voted JFK into office that even Mayor Daley laughed.

    Seattle, King County: Following the last two gubernatorial elections, both sides discovered dead people and dogs voting.

    People come up with all sorts of excuses of why we shouldn’t make photo identification mandatory to VOTE. If you want dead people, babies, illegals, non-Americans to dictate your taxes and regulate your lives, this would be your stance.

    But, buying Sudafed from the pharmacist more important that you throw your weight behind that? Really? Well, what if poor Jimmy can’t get to the pharmacy or doesn’t have the money to get photo I.D. – does he get it free?

    Look, voting in America has some responsibilities. We want you informed before you pull the lever or color in your ballot. Requiring you to have valid photo identification is not asking too much.

  9. Obama, Acorn, enough said.
    We can’t allow the crooks in Chicago to fake an election again.

  10. NotPoliticallyCorrect says:

    Question for anybody in here. Has anybody ever had to show ID when registering to vote here in washington?

  11. Chippert says:

    IQof88: according to studies (you can look them up), the incidence of voter fraud is less than .0002%. That would make 632 instances in the last Presidential election. There is no real way to determine which party benefited but with such an miniscule number, it really does not matter. Of course, the losing party in a close election will ALWAYS claim voter fraud.

    NotPoliticallyCorrect: yes, before the all-mail-in was forced on us here in Pierce County I always had to show my photo id at my local polling place.

  12. NotPoliticallyCorrect says:

    Chippert, yes I agree with the polling place. My question was when it came to registering to vote.

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