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Tuesday, April 05, 2016

A Better Way To Fight Voter ID Laws

Here's a piece I wrote four years ago that, unfortunately, is still highly relevant today.

There's been a lot of chatter again this election year about voter ID laws. Despite a complete lack of evidence of fraud at the ballot-box, Republican legislatures in several states have rammed through laws requiring that every voter show a state-issued photo ID before being allowed to vote. The Democrats have screamed bloody murder, claiming it will hurt their core voters who are poor, old, or don't have an ID for whatever reason, and called upon judges to declare those laws unconstitutional.

It's not working, so the Dems need a new strategy. It's not like they couldn't have seen this coming. Voter ID laws didn't just appear this year -- we went through this to a certain extent four and even eight years ago. Yet Democrats keep banging their heads against the losing wall.

Instead, they should undertake a national project to get every single person in America -- starting with their own likely voter base -- a state-issued photo ID. Start the project now and you'll have made considerable progress by the time the next elections roll around (you might even affect the midterm congressional races!). Sure, it will take money, so use your giant fundraising apparatus to bankroll it. Frame it so that Republicans so "concerned" about voter fraud have to play along, passing laws to have states issue free photo IDs to those with the proper documentation, and underwrite the cost for those who don't have it to get it.

Legislation like that would help a lot of people in other ways, too. While plenty of adults don't have a driver's license because they don't have a car, don't they need ID to cash a check or do other personal business? Having that ID would help. Democrats could easily turn this into a civil rights issue -- denying Americans the right to vote is bad enough, but denying them the right to get the very piece of plastic that confirms they are who they say they are? That's not even a battle.