It’s almost accepted as pure fact that requiring ID would lower voter turnout. It’s gotten to the point where people don’t even question that assertion any more and yet when you ask them how they know, they just give you the same colloquial fact-less assertions.
I’m the kind of guy that likes empirical data and answers so before I make assumptions or statements, I make sure I have some data to back it up. In this particular case, I decided to do some research on voter turnout compared between the United States, in which ID is not required to vote, and Canada, where it is (for Federal elections). If the whiners and criers are to be believed, there should be a huge disparity between the US and Canada. Here’s the chart. Just for fun, I went back nearly 150 years.
As you can see, there is no correlation between requiring voter ID and voter turnout and in the modern era, even at its lowest, Canada is better than the US as far as voter turnout in spite of requiring citizens to bring ID to the polling place. Old and young, black and white, Canadian voter turnout eclipses the ID-less United States.
Well that’s unexpected, isn’t it? Actually it’s not.
Whiners and criers about voter ID will argue that it disproportionately affects poor and elderly voters. They don’t have any actual proof of this, you just have to trust them because they said so and you’re wrong if you don’t just take their word for it.
I always chuckle a little when I hear people make this complaint because, by extension, any place that requires ID for anything would be off-limits for the poor or the elderly. A few examples come screaming to mind, including, oddly, the official residence of the loudest opponent of voter ID laws, the President of the United States.
Were one to want a tour of said residence, one would have to sign up in advance for that tour. One would also need… Well… Let me let the official White House website explain…
So I guess the White House doesn’t really want poor or elderly visitors. Oddly, if you’ve seen the people on the tours, there seem to be plenty of elderly people, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say that not everyone taking a tour is rich. That level of hypocrisy could only be conceived by government officials: If ID keeps people out of the voting booth, then is the purpose of requiring ID at the White House to keep them out of the White House?
Or is it important to know who a visitor is? And if it’s important to know who someone walking around a government building is, why is it not important to know if that person actually is a legitimate voter and who they claim to be when they vote?
In the New York City public schools, a school system that serves some of the poorest people in the entire country there is a policy of requiring a valid state identification card from every single parent before they can enter the building, regardless of whether or not they’re there to pick up a student. Are the schools working to actively keep parents out of the schools their children attend? Or is that just hyperbole and silliness? I think we both know the answer to that at this point.
There are examples galore of this double-standard for ID, including a speech given by Eric Holder, another opponent of ID for voting, that you had to show ID to get into (ironically, at the same time, someone requested a ballot in his name and was given one that he could have filled out and used).
You can argue the utility of voting with me all day long. I’m all about not voting if that’s your thing. I have no interest in putting either party in office any longer and I’m not going to participate in a rigged system that shuts out people who aren’t the ones making the rules, but if you’re going to lecture me on the importance of voting and the importance of one man one vote and then tell me that something that increases the integrity of that vote is bad for democracy when such an assertion is demonstrably false, I can only assume that you have something to gain from a system whose integrity isn’t airtight.
And if you’re going to argue about the availability and prevalence of ID in certain communities, then you have to then explain to me how that applies to the examples I used above because they put gaping holes right in the middle of your poorly constructed lie.
(Header image via Vox Efx on flickr)