The Corner

Do Voter ID Laws ‘Disenfranchise’ People?

Glenn Loury isn’t having it.

Good on Loury for calling out his interlocutor, Mark Kleiman, on this loose talk about disenfranchisement. Leave aside whether Voter ID laws serve as a check against voter fraud. I’m generally in favor of nominal barriers to voting anyway. Nothing that would significantly impair the democratic process, mind you — no poll taxes or tests, but just enough to dissuade the apathetic from spoiling it for the rest of us. That’s why internet voting makes me nervous, and why compulsory voting in places like Australia actively disgusts me. Democracy ain’t a spectator sport, but we’re all better off when those who can’t even be bothered to sign up for the intramural softball league can’t just show up at the park on Saturday anyway, and ruin the game for everybody else.

Coincidentally, there is a Suffolk poll out today that shows people unlikely to vote in November favor Obama by a sizable plurality: 43 percent say they would vote Obama (if they could find a $&%! to give about actually voting), while 24 percent say they’d vote third party, and just 14 percent say they would vote Romney. (Interesting to note: Take a peek at the cross-tabs and you’ll find that whites say they are less likely to vote than blacks). Am I upset that all these potential Obama voters are probably going to stay home? Nope. But I can say with little worry over self-deception that I’d feel the same way about nominal barriers to voting even if the numbers were reversed.

You can watch the rest of the Loury-Kleiman exchange here.

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