Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Photo ID, Current Address Not the Same

A Star Tribune letter writer in today's paper grumbled about members of "the left" calling voter ID laws racist. Mary McIntosh Linnihan of Minneapolis wrote:

It is virtually impossible to function in today's society without a photo ID -- from the bank to the grocery store to the doctor's office and beyond. Anyone who claims otherwise is not being honest.
Mary, I've got news for you -- you may need a photo ID to get by in the world, but it doesn't have to include your current address. It just needs to show your age and your face. Since businesses don't take checks anymore, no one asks to see if your address matches anything.

Sometimes I'm asked for an ID when I use my debit card, but they don't check my address. If I get proofed when I ask for a beer, they don't check my address.

But if I were required to show an ID to vote, they would be checking my address, right? Isn't that a big part of the point?

And who is most likely to have an ID that doesn't have a current address? In other words, who is it that moves a lot and hasn't updated their ID?

Young people and low-income people, that's who. And people of color are more likely to have low-incomes than white people, last time I checked. So that's a disproportionate burden, which sounds a bit racist to me.

Currently Minnesotans can register to vote by showing utility bills or government-issued checks that include name and address or by having a registered voter vouch for them. But neither of those methods would work under the proposed law.

And while the law provides "free" photo IDs, it doesn't cover the other costs associated with getting those IDs, including time off of work, travel, parking, or the need to get copies of original documents, such as birth certificates. In rural Minnesota, it means a trip to the county seat, in most cases, in order to get there during limited hours of operation. (Ironically, the birth certificate problem may be more likely to disenfranchise older voters -- who tend to vote more conservatively -- than younger voters.)

The law is also pretty vague on where the money is going to come from for the counties to pay for all of the additional requirements.

As the governor has said and many folks have demonstrated, the voter ID law is a solution in search of a problem. But that's putting it nicely, since the "problem" is perfectly clear: it's too many voters of the "wrong" kind.

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My past posts on voter ID laws

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