Re "Voter ID laws are good for democracy," Opinion, Aug. 12
So if I am determined to commit voter fraud, I would have to show up on election day and know a particular name on the rolls of a particular polling place. Then I would have to assume that the person I had chosen to impersonate hadn't already voted and been checked off the list. And for what personal benefit?
It's pretty obvious these new voter ID laws are just solutions in search of a problem. And the problem for the Republicans initiating these laws is that too many people might vote for Democrats in November. That is voter suppression, plain and simple.
As bizarre as it may seem to Stephan Thernstrom and Abigail Thernstrom, there are U.S. citizens who choose not to smoke cigarettes or drink beer, have no need to travel by air or by train and conduct their business in cash, eliminating the need for a checking account (all of which the writers cite as requiring government-issued IDs). If they are, in fact, second-class citizens, they are unaware of it.
None of this, by the way, has any effect on me. But they are still U.S. citizens who have a constitutional right to vote. And their vote may have a profound effect on me.
In light of the fact that verified incidents of voter fraud are more rare than African quaggas, I see no urgent need for voter ID laws.
The Thernstroms are correct to note that the usual things for which we use photo IDs are privileges, not rights. Where they are incorrect is that a government-issued ID is always easy to get.
Though many states offer free photo IDs, the difficult part is obtaining the requisite birth certificate, which is neither free nor convenient. Many people have names that are different from their birth certificates, primarily women who took their husbands' last names. This causes even more difficulty in getting a photo ID.
Voting is our most basic civil right, and ID laws are all too often designed to disenfranchise citizens.
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