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More Bump

The Washington Post Company building in Washington, D.C. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Philip Bump, writing in the Washington Post:

“We expect people, including poor and struggling people, to pay their taxes — why shouldn’t we also expect them to keep their drivers’ licenses up-to-date?” he writes. “If voting really is the sacred duty that we’re always being told it is, shouldn’t we treat it at least as seriously as filing a 1040EZ?”

This is a conflation of requirement and ease, and an ironic one. You have to pay taxes, and the 1040EZ exists specifically to make it as easy as possible, hence the name of the form.

So, giving poor people administrative burdens that allow them to vote is a wicked, unworthy plot, but giving poor people administrative burdens that allow us to use the threat of federal criminal charges to take money from them is just government at work. Indeed, taxes are not optional, and failure to do the required paperwork entails serious consequences — that was my point.

I don’t think this argument lands quite the way he intended it to.

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