Voting Rights & Photo IDs

Consider U.S. Constitutional rights:

  • Does an American citizen need to show a photo identity card to exercise his religion and go to a church, synagogue, temple, or mosque? Absolutely not.
  • Does an American citizen need to show a photo identity card to exercise free speech? Absolutely not.
  • Does an American citizen need to show a photo identity card to to exercise freedom of the press and to print or to broadcast what he wants? Absolutely not.
  • Does an American citizen need to show a photo identity card to sign a petition to the government asking it to redress grievances? Absolutely not.
  • Do American citizens need need to show their photo identity cards in order to assemble together? Absolutely not.

So if they don’t need to show photo identity cards in order to exercise those rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, why should they be prohibited from their Constitutionally-guaranteed right to vote if they don’t show a photo identity card?

If a voter has enrolled in the registry of voters and arrives at the polls to vote without a photo identity card or refuses to show such a card, then burden of proof must be upon whoever subsequently challenges that person’s right to vote? Just as the burden of proof is for anyone challenging any other Constitutionally-guaranteed right.

The most cases of voter fraud proven in the United States since the turn of the century is approximately 1,200, cited by the conservative Heritage Foundation which advocates laws requiring voters to produce photo identification cards. To people of low education, that number might sound like a lot. However, that is 1,200 proven case among 626,000,000 votes cast in the five presidential elections since 1999 (and that 626 million doesn’t include all the votes cast every second year in which there wasn’t a presidential election). Thus a 0.00019% rate. To put that minuscule percentage in context, National Geographic magazine calculates the odds of being struck by lightning during any year as 1-in-700,000, which is 0.00014%, a ridiculously small risk. If you add all the votes cast every second year in which there wasn’t a presidential election, the odds of someone fraudulently voting and you being struck by lightning are about the same. (Nothing to worry about: you’re more likely to be struck by a falling tree.)

So, voter fraud hasn’t proven to be a serious risk. Voter photo identification laws instead are a means to restrict who votes; have traditionally been aimed to reduce or prevent voting by racial minorities; and almost always defraud they and the poor of their Constitutionally guaranteed voting rights. Who advocates such laws? Political parties that want to denigrate, cheat, and otherwise control the poor and minorities.

By the way, these are the types of questions I like to ask political conservatives who back such proposals under the guise that the risks and problems have proven to be real. (which isn’t the case) or that there isn’t hypocrisy in demanding photo ID to exercise one Constitutionally guaranteed right but not when exercising another Constitutionally guaranteed right.

For example:

  • If a voter must be registered and production of a photo ID required every time he votes, why then must registration and proof by photo ID be required when he purchases a firearm? Each are Constitutionally guaranteed rights. Yet political conservatives who advocate voter registration oppose gun purchaser/owner registration and, in some states, oppose requirements for photo IDs when purchasing or trading firearms (such as at firearms shows, conferences, and ‘swaps’).

Or, outside of the realm of Constitutional guarantees:

  • If the United States is the beacon of freedom for the peoples of the world, why does the United States limit immigration according to national quotas, numbers which aren’t based upon any foreign nation’s proportion of the world’s population. I support limiting U.S. immigration to only qualified immigrants, such as those with educations, demonstrably desired trades or professions, or relatives of existing U.S. citizens or legal immigrants. However, if the U.S. is indeed the beacon of free for the peoples of the world, then its immigration should be open to any in the world who can meet the qualifications regardless of nationality, race, or ethnic background. If the world’s population is approximately one-fifth Chinese, one-fifth south Asian Indian, one-fifth African, and one-fifth Latin American, Middle-Eastern, or European, then that would be the ideal proportion for U.S. immigrants.

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