Favorite

The voter I.D. law: Pure GOP meanness 

You can make a case for passing unconstitutional laws when the sponsors and supporters are driven by moral zealotry, even when it is misplaced, but what can you say for simple meanness?

In either case, the laws will be challenged in court and struck down, but if the unconstitutional acts would, for example, make early abortions a crime when the courts have consistently said they are legal, the sponsors are left with a feeling of righteousness. But what is rewarding about having tried to be mean to old and disabled people and the poor?

Meanness is the only explanation for Republican bills working their way through state legislatures, including Arkansas's, that would prevent people from voting unless they have a government-issued photo identification — well, meanness and giving your party a bigger advantage at the polls.

The party figured out a few years ago that if you could hold down voting in certain areas and among certain population groups — minorities, the disabled, the elderly and people who are likely to be very poor — you could reduce the votes for Democratic candidates and improve your chances of winning. The best way to do it is make voting so slow, owing to a paucity of voting machines and election workers at key precincts, that people will give up and go home. Thousands abandoned the polls in Florida's big cities in the 2012 election.

The other method is to require people to have a government photo ID, a daunting hurdle if you are not a driver or don't travel abroad or you are not a college student with student ID card.

Stopping voter fraud is the reason they give for demanding photo IDs. We still have some election fraud in Arkansas and in other states, but photo IDs will do nothing to stop it. Nearly all the voting skullduggery uncovered in Arkansas and elsewhere was committed by election officials who connive to get extra votes for their party or their candidates or to shave legitimate votes from the other side, most commonly through loose absentee-voting procedures. A photo ID won't stop them and it might even help them.

A photo ID is supposed to stop a person from finding a registered voter who is not voting and then going to the polls pretending to be that person. Individual voters are rarely motivated to go to such lengths and to such risk to get an extra vote for a candidate, even their brother. In a dozen years of chasing Arkansas vote thieves in Conway County and elsewhere, Tom Glaze identified thousands of illegal votes but none that would have been stopped by a photo ID. The thieves were election officials and their bosses, never individual voters, except the few cases where people registered and voted in several counties. They had driver IDs.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that an Indiana law similar to SB 2, passed last week by the Arkansas Senate on a party vote, did not violate the 24th Amendment (outlawing the poll tax) or equal protection under the 14th amendment. The majority said the state provided no evidence from Indiana or elsewhere of fraud that the photo ID would prevent but that the court had to defer to a state legislature if it thought the step might prevent some fraud.

But SB 2 violates the Arkansas Constitution. Amendment 51, which outlawed the poll tax and established a system of permanent voter registration, prevents the legislature or a local government from adding new requirements for voting beyond the lengthy procedures in the amendment.

Amendment 51 addresses the very problem that the bill claims to attack — people trying to cast someone else's vote.

Before you can get a ballot now, an election judge must determine that your name and signature or mark when you sign the voting form are identical to the signature on your registration affidavit. If you are somehow unable to sign the form, the election judge must make you give your date of birth and see that it matches the date on the original voter registration affidavit.

The voter ID bills, including SB 2, establish a way for you get a photo ID free (if the state charges for it, it would be like a poll tax and illegal under both federal and state constitutions). The secretary of state must buy photo ID equipment for all the county clerks in the state. People who don't have cars or otherwise do not have a government photo ID would have to go to the courthouse with a birth certificate or other government documents to prove they are registered legally and are who they claim to be, get their pictures taken and have a card issued to them. If they misplace it they can't vote.

The assumption, according to some Republican leaders who have admitted its political purpose, is that to many of the poor and elderly that is just too much trouble.

Oh, if you have-concealed -carry permit you won't have to have a driver's license, passport or an ID card from the county clerk. Shouldn't an NRA membership card do? If you go to vote without a photo ID card, the election judge must take your name and the county election commission is required by SB 2 to turn you in to the prosecuting attorney.

No intimidation is intended, of course.

Favorite

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by Ernest Dumas

  • Dollars and degrees

    Governor Hutchinson says a high graduation rate (ours is about the lowest) and a larger quotient of college graduates in the population are critical to economic development. Every few months there is another, but old, key to unlocking growth.
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Email gotchas

    Electronic mail was just being invented when President Richard Nixon resigned, so he at least escaped whatever humiliation the revelation of his private thoughts to Bebe Rebozo or Henry Kissinger might have heaped upon him.
    • Aug 17, 2016
  • No tax help for Trump

    The big conundrum is supposed to be why Donald Trump does so well among white working-class people, particularly men, who do not have a college education.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • More »

People who saved…

Readers also liked…

  • Cotton ploy result: Iran gets the bomb

    Sen. Tom Cotton's big grandstanding play against President Obama may not produce the war with Iran or some other Muslim country that he seems to want, but it might give us the next worst thing, a nuclear-armed Iran.
    • Mar 10, 2015
  • Jobs added, not lost, thanks to Obamacare

    Before suspending our fascination with Arkansas's rocky love affair with Obamacare and its "private option" for the rest of 2015, may we re-examine a couple of the great propaganda frauds that were perpetuated during the long battles in Arkansas and nationally?
    • Feb 12, 2015
  • Little Rock school troubles

    State takeover of the district has been discussed everywhere power congregates — the state board, the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Capital Hotel gatherings of the oligarchs: Walton, Stephens, Hussman clans — who power the school "reform" lobby.
    • Jan 8, 2015

Most Shared

Latest in Ernest Dumas

  • Dollars and degrees

    Governor Hutchinson says a high graduation rate (ours is about the lowest) and a larger quotient of college graduates in the population are critical to economic development. Every few months there is another, but old, key to unlocking growth.
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Email gotchas

    Electronic mail was just being invented when President Richard Nixon resigned, so he at least escaped whatever humiliation the revelation of his private thoughts to Bebe Rebozo or Henry Kissinger might have heaped upon him.
    • Aug 17, 2016
  • No tax help for Trump

    The big conundrum is supposed to be why Donald Trump does so well among white working-class people, particularly men, who do not have a college education.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

August

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Swing and miss

    It follows that baseball is both too important and too trivial to lie about. Even if your name is Hillary Clinton.
  • Pay to play. Really?

    The announcement that Bill Clinton will distance himself and foreign and corporate contributors from the Clinton Foundation if Hillary Clinton is elected president has, if anything, increased attention to the intersection of money and politics at the Foundation, along with the ongoing email controversy.
  • Dollars and degrees

    Governor Hutchinson says a high graduation rate (ours is about the lowest) and a larger quotient of college graduates in the population are critical to economic development. Every few months there is another, but old, key to unlocking growth.
  • The real targets in Trump's outreach to African Americans

    Political analysts have spent recent days asking whether Donald Trump's outreach for African-American support last week at consecutive night rallies in Michigan and Virginia will produce electoral benefit with voters who, according to a raft of surveys, are rejecting him at rates matched only by the poor showing of Barry Goldwater in 1964 after Goldwater's high-profile opposition to the Civil Rights Act.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Swing and miss

    • No, but I visit Chicago often and have many close friends there. It's without a…

    • on August 27, 2016
  • Re: Swing and miss

    • Sorry for going off on such a tangent - I have been kind of chained…

    • on August 27, 2016
  • Re: Swing and miss

    • I didn't miss your point at all. I'm not even arguing. The use of the…

    • on August 27, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation