Bad News for Humans Who Like Basic Freedoms

Bad News for Humans Who Like Basic Freedoms

When it comes to voter ID laws, the damage isn't collateral " it's fundamental

Written by Ben Resnik

Are you an adult American? Then there’s a good chance that voter ID laws across the country are undermining your vote and the democracy it’s based on.

It’s not a joke” voter identification laws, instituted barely a decade ago to combat the perceived threat of voter fraud, now constitute a fundamental threat to American democracy. Are you a college student or a senior citizen without a driver’s license or identification from an employer? If you live in Texas, Pennsylvania, or any of 15 other states, your trip to the polls and the wait in line that lasted up to seven hours was in vain. And if you’re a woman who had the gall to change her last name after a recent marriage or divorce (as 90% of women do) and don’t have your paperwork up to date, you’ll have to jump through a new string of bureaucratic hoops to get your vote counted.

And all that’s not even mentioning racial minorities; upward of 700,000 young African-Americans and Latinos stand to be turned away at the polls due to new restrictions.

In disenfranchising these Americans, the architects of voter ID have undermined the fundamental American principle of “equality for all” and rigged the system in favor of middle and upper-middle class Americans (predominately white) in stable households with ready access to drivers’ licenses or other government IDs.

There are enough discouraging numbers on voter ID laws to go on forever, but they all point to one simple truth: If you’re not in a position of privilege, then there’s a good chance your vote is endangered by these laws. And if you are, these laws are giving you an inflated say in government at the expense of your fellow citizens.

Plenty has been said and written already on this sad fact, but few have summed it up better than Gloria Gordon, an elderly Arkansan who stands to lose decades of unfettered voter access at the hands of overzealous politicians: “I understand that the purpose of this bill was something other than disenfranchising Arkansas seniors and people with disabilities,” Gordon says. “Nevertheless, I resent the fact that we may become the collateral damage of this thoughtless bill.”

When it comes to voter ID laws, the damage isn’t collateral — it’s fundamental. It’s not fair, it’s not right, and it’s not necessary. But it need not be permanent: If those whose opinions are silenced or cheapened by voter ID laws” that is to say, everybody” have the courage to stand up and demand action, these restrictions can be reduced to an awful, shared memory.