Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Of course voter ID makes sense, says the person who was automatically handed one at age 16

If you're like me, you had driver's ed taught in high school, starting at 15, and eventually you got your license at 16.  From then on, having photo ID was a trivial matter, maybe a few hours at the DMV for a renewal or new license, but nothing more than a bit of wasted time.  No paperwork or hoops, just time.

From this perspective, voter ID seems simple enough.  We have state-issued IDs, so why not have us show them and magically we'll have fixed voter fraud.

The first problem is that this doesn't actually fix anything.  Vote fraud, when it happens, is not done in-person.

The second problem is that this would disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters, maybe more, who do not have driver's licenses.  Maybe they didn't need to drive.  Maybe it wasn't offered and the hurdles were too high.  Whichever way, the end result is that they were not handed their photo ID at age 16.

I've voted in three elections now; two for president and three for Congress.  At none of them have I been asked for any ID.  I'd registered ahead of time, again, without showing ID.


Sealskjaer said...

Why not just make voting compulsory like in other countries (such as Australia)? Everyone 18 and over must vote if you don't you pay a fine, simple as that.
I know the typical argument against compulsory voting is that it goes against freedom of expression or whatever but you can still excercise this right by not voting legitimately (ticking all or none of the boxes etc).

At least this way, every election won't be opened up for litigation by the losing side thanks to the looming spectre of fraud.
That's just my two cents anyway.

Coreus said...

As a person who neither travels overseas nor drives, I have a huge amount of resentment for any process that implies I'm not a real person if I'm unable to provide either a passport or a driver's licence.

As an Australian I personally think our voting system makes the US one look like it belongs in the stone age. I can preference the candidate I prefer even if they don't actually have any chance of winning, and still have my vote counted towards whichever "real" candidate is the lesser of two evils.

To slightly correct Sealskjaer, you're issued a fine if you don't vote. Whether you pay it is another matter. =P But still the idea that it is absolutely every citizen's legal obligation to vote is really important, even if it's not strictly true.

Plus we save so much money on ads pleading with people to vote.

Klepsacovic said...

@Sealskjaer: Mandatory voting might even make third parties viable, assuming the non-voters have some good reason for not voting for the two main parties.

@Coreus: Since 2000 I've wanted to see a preferential voting system. That too could give third parties a boost into the spotlight.

Reading wikipedia on Australian elections, I was amused by this line "Compulsory voting at referendums was considered when a referendum was proposed in 1915, but, as the referendum was never held, the idea was put on hold"