Not a Race Card
From the August 29, 2011, issue of NR


Hans A. von Spakovsky
Also, the Brennan Center survey didn’t ask whether people had IDs; it asked whether IDs were “readily available.” And the question about citizenship documentation asked whether respondents had access “in a place where you can quickly find it if you had to show it tomorrow,” even though elections are not scheduled on such a short-term basis. This was obviously intended to skew the results. The survey also failed to ask whether respondents had student IDs, which are acceptable under many state laws, or tribal IDs, which are acceptable in some states, including Georgia and Arizona. On one question, 14 percent of respondents were so confused that they said they had both a U.S. birth certificate and naturalization papers.
The weakness of the case against voter ID has been much in evidence in courtrooms. The Indiana and Georgia voter-ID laws were upheld by state and federal courts. In the Georgia case, the federal court pointed out that after two years of litigation, none of the plaintiffs, including the NAACP, could produce a single otherwise eligible voter who did not have a photo ID or could not easily obtain one. That failure was “particularly acute,” the court wrote, “in light of the Plaintiffs’ contention that a large number of Georgia voters lack acceptable photo ID.” Similarly, in the Indiana case, the federal court noted that “despite apocalyptic assertions of wholesale voter disen­franchisement, Plaintiffs have produced not a single piece of evidence of any identifiable registered voter who would be prevented from voting.”
The Georgia court said that the claim that voter ID is the same as a poll tax “represents a dramatic overstatement.” Imposing tangential burdens “does not transform a regulation into a poll tax” and “the cost of time and transportation” to obtain a free ID “cannot plausibly qualify as a prohibited poll tax because those same ‘costs’ also result from voter registration and in-person voting requirements, which one would not reasonably construe as a poll tax.” All of the states implementing voter ID have provided free IDs for anyone who does not already have one. As Rhode Island state senator Harold Metts said, “In this day and age, very few adults lack one of the forms of identification that will be accepted, and the rare person who does can get a free voter-ID card.”
With the courts against them, the public against them, and the turnout in actual elections against them, what do liberals have left? Only racial polemics and fear-mongering. Vitriolic rhetoric is a sign of desperation, since claims of “suppression” and “intimidation” have been shown to be completely untrue. Is the problem here that certain liberals want to be able to preserve what Chris Matthews says still goes on in the Democratic machines in places like Philadelphia? We can be grateful that even some Democrats at the local level are finally realizing that everyone who believes in our democratic system has an interest in ensuring the security and integrity of our election process. That’s why it was Democrats who passed the Rhode Island law, and Dem­ocrats in Kansas who signed on with their Republican colleagues to pass their voter-ID law.
 As Texas state representative Joe Pickett, a Democrat from El Paso, said, “If I really, truly thought that this would disenfranchise somebody, I would’ve voted against. In these days and times, it’s just not the case. . . . Having a basic identification is a function of everyday life.”
Nobody likes standing in line at the DMV, but elections come only every other year, and are scheduled well in advance. There is no reason for a voter to lack a photo ID, and every reason to require one.
— Mr. von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, is a former member of the Federal Election Commission and former counsel to the assistant attorney general. This article originally appeared in the August 29, 2011, issue of National Review.


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