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Suppress, Suppress, Let’s Suppress This Mess

By Jesse Taylor
Friday, July 27, 2012 8:33 EDT
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If you haven’t been following the voter ID fight in Pennsylvania, let me fill you in: it’s stupid.

Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law is being litigated in court as we speak, but Pennsylvania never investigated whether voter fraud (the central rationale for ID laws) actually exists, so the state simply won’t argue the point. Instead, the argument seems to be that the state can impair a constitutional right because…well, because they can. It doesn’t really matter why, it just makes a kind of instinctual sense, like  how vaccines cause autism or how evolution can’t exist because I’ve never seen a thing evolve in front of my eyes despite staring at it and chanting “evolve” for hours on end.

Fuck you, lamp.

This is bothersome, though, because the state still has to say something on the stand when it’s asked why they want to enforce the law, and it’s gotta be better than electing Mitt Romney. So I went to Time’s 2004 blog of the year to figure out what Pennsylvania could possibly say, and Powerline’s John Hinderaker didn’t disappoint. (Okay, to be fair, they always disappoint, but in a deeper and more fundamental way than this. This, they did right. Time for juice and cookies, guys.)

 Voting illegally–that’s a “civil right!” But how about not having your vote canceled by the ballot of an illegal voter? Is that a civil right? Naahh.

That’s a really odd statement. How could you possibly know how an “illegal” voter (which people without IDs are not in the sense that Hinderaker means it) is going to vote? What happens if all those registered voters without IDs show up and support Mitt Romney’s tax plans, which will raise their taxes but create an economic nirvana that allows them to obtain a hundred billion IDs? How much egg will be on Hinderaker’s face then? Probably enough to make a quiche. And then he’ll be sad because he has no quiche and a black Muslim socialist president.

This line only makes sense if you believe that each and every person without requisite voter ID is a die-hard Democrat…which in turn makes the argument for voter ID a wholesale restraint on the franchise based on political beliefs. Which is kind of really, really illegal. No, seriously. It’s a better argument that voter ID is glorified Jim Crow than any number of statistics about the racial impact of these laws; it’s an explicit admission that we’re going to stop those people from voting.

The argument for voter ID, however, is incomplete without a series of largely inapposite comparisons to other things that also require ID.

The idea that a photo ID requirement constitutes a “voter suppression tactic” is ridiculous. I have to show an ID to buy beer at a liquor store. Is that a “beer suppression tactic?” Is it a “travel suppression tactic” when I have to produce identification to board an airplane? I am required to show ID to shoot a firearm at our local range; is that an insidious form of gun control? Should Eric Holder be investigating to see whether the Second Amendment is violated by such requirements?

You have no constitutional right to purchase or consume alcohol. And states do any number of things to prevent the consumption of beer, including open container laws, IDs, limiting sales to state-run liquor stores, preventing Sunday sales, and, oh, yes, dry cities and counties.

We do check ID at airports (along with scans, patdowns and the super-sexy line stripping we all engage in) in order to prevent certain people from traveling. Mainly prospective murderers that we can prove actually exist.

Your local shooting range is a private space into which you are bringing loaded weapons for the express purpose of using repeatedly. The Second Amendment isn’t implicated at all. In any way. Not even a little bit.

The rest of the post isn’t worth going over (the only readily identifiable cases of voter fraud Hinderaker can name were committed by James O’Keefe, which goes to show not that voter fraud is a problem, but that he’s a one-man crime spree). But the entire case for voter ID is based not on an actual problem that requires a solution, but instead on a series of insanely personal grievances against a faceless horde that receives “special treatment” that good, upstanding conservative white dudes don’t get.

The case for voter ID is the same case against welfare, against unemployment benefits, against progressive taxation – a particular brand of social and racial resentment that wants to be codified into law to justify its continued existence.

Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor is an attorney and blogger from the great state of Ohio. He founded Pandagon in July, 2002, and has also served on the campaign and in the administration of former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. He focuses on politics, race, law and pop culture, as well as the odd personal digression when the mood strikes.
 
 
 
 
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