In what may be the first of many big decisions announced this week, the Supreme Court rejected Arizona’s (racist) voter ID law. Hopefully, this will set a precedent for all the voter ID laws that have been passed around the country. More than half of all states have some form of voter identification requirement.
So, what’s the big deal?
While proponents claim ID laws are to ferret out voter fraud, in fact, they don’t do that. It turns out, UFO sightings are more common than voter fraud. Even some well-meaning Republicans can see that. What voter ID laws do is disenfranchise voters who do not have access to forms of legal IDs. And, as it turns out, it’s the poor, the homeless, and the people of color who are most likely to NOT have access to IDs (even if they are really and truly legal citizens of these fine United States). Gee, it’s like Republicans have systematically targeted populations who tend to vote Democrat!
Here’s the deal: IDs cost money. So do other things, like birth certificates. Poor women who deliver babies at home (because they do not have access or funds to deliver in hospitals) may not ever get a birth certificate for their baby, for instance. And, as anyone who has ever navigated the difficult world of replacing lost identification and papers can tell you, it’s not some simple thing to just walk in and get a legal ID out of thin air.
Voter ID laws reinforce institutionalized racism and systems of oppression that disenfranchise and not-so-indirectly denigrate entire groups of people. Just look at it this way: What’s the difference between requiring different forms of identification (when no federal law requires it) and a so-called Jim Crow “poll tax”? Should we be asking people trivia questions, giving people literacy tests, and demanding they solve algebraic equations before they can vote, too?
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
In other news related to systemic racism (when you use laws to oppress specific classes of people…), check out this ad featuring Nevadans for comprehensive immigration reform: