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Bill King vs Your Right to Vote

» Chron: It’s time for Democrats to give in on voter ID bill (Bill King)

The latest bad idea to come down the pike ...

Of course, the debate over voter ID is completely disingenuous on both sides. Republicans speculate that their likely voters will have an easier time producing an ID than Democratic voters and thereby gain some infinitesimal electoral advantage. This, of course, is precisely the same reason Democrats oppose it. Neither side really gives two hoots and a holler about whether there is really any voter fraud going on or not, just whether the system (current or proposed) favors their side.

I would respectfully suggest to my Democratic friends that it is time to punt on this issue and get it behind us.

No thanks, Bill. You can respectfully ask me to give up as many rights as I'm warranted, but my answer won't change.

For starters, I'm not in the habit of taking partisan suggestions from Republicans (like Bill King) who think Democrats (like me) should just do what Republicans tell them to do. The level of pretentiousness involved in that approach is a bit offputting. Remember Bill, you're not David Broder - you're a Republican. Secondly, King starts off with his assertion that there probably hasn't been any voter fraud that has impacted an election in 100 years. Ergo, we need to do the one thing that rightwing crazies have been arguing we need to do in order to protect against this nonexistent threat.

Beyond that, there is a glaring omission in King's "punt" suggestion - same day voter registration. If you want to be taken seriously as a "non-/bi-partisan" thinker, then a lecture isn't sufficient. Instead, maybe an effort to be taken seriously might include the point that if people are to be asked to fork over a valid state ID that goes beyond the valid state ID we were using in the first place, why not add the ability to register to vote on the day of the election at the polling place? I mean, if Voter ID is going to make identification secure, what's to prevent allowing people to register to vote on Election Day? It's not enough to make me consider placing an additional hurdle in front of potential voters, but it at least demonstrates more seriousness than standard-issue rightwing talking points. Consider it a muffed punt on King's part.

The fact of the matter is that there's a principle involved here. It's called the right to vote. Increasing the number of impediments in front of that is not something I am willing to consider punting over. Regardless of polls, regardless of the fact that there are 99 GOP State Reps that their constituents can't name. Regardless of anything. My position is clear: let eligible voters vote. It seems that's not enough of a principle for Bill King.

Instead, after the biggest election watch program designed to identify all the illegal voting habits around Harris County, the King Street Patriots sure seem awfully silent on their findings from the previous election. Where, exactly, are those illegal votes? And where, exactly, is the problem that Bill King wants to rectify with this vitally necessary bill?

If, as King suggests, the state of Texas has so many larger problems to deal with (a point I agree with him on), then isn't the real problem that today's GOP seems to think that voter ID is the single biggest problem facing America today? It would seem to me that real leadership would involve calling out the real problem instead of asking the other side to give up while King's party addresses non-existent problems.

The path that today's Republican Party is on doesn't merely stop with Voter ID. I'd suggest that before King practice his own punting skills, he read the True the Vote screed on things that have undermined the vote in recent years: Motor Voter laws that offer the seemingly incredulous right of people to register to vote at the DMV, welfare offices, and other government agencies; registering to vote by mail; absentee voting; etc.... How often will Bill King ask voters to punt away their rights? As often as the rightwing spin machine keeps manufacturing phony crises, no doubt. Read King's op-ed and notice how there is no line in the sand right being proposed. Merely a request that you give up one of your rights so that the same people who want to strip that right can get on with the next item on their to-do list.

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  1. “My position is clear: let eligible voters vote.”

    If you only want eligible voters to vote, why are you insistent on taking away any way to make sure they are eligible in the first place. What is to stop “same day registration” by an individual in several districts on election day? What is to stop those without ID from voting several times under different names? What is to stop people from voting in others’ names on absentee ballots?
    If you refuse to guarantee the integrity of the system, then it has none. You are letting left vs. right skew your logic. How about assuming the side you are against are voting fraudulently, and think of what you might do to prevent it?

  2. Anonymous,

    Nothing I’ve stated prohibits the Voter Registrar from ensuring that someone who registers to vote is an eligible voter. If there are more measures that need to be taken, such as comparing databases of names to approve voter registration, I’m all in favor of it. That said, where is there evidence that what you allege is taking place? The King Street Patriots and local Republican Party devoted numerous man-hours to locating this very problem in Harris County and we haven’t heard word one about any such situation being attempted.

    As for my point re: same-day voter registration, I’ll clarify that if advocates of Voter ID are saying that a photo ID is as airtight as they suggest, then there would be no reason for prohibiting on-site registration. In fact, there would be no reason for a separate voter roll and state ID/driver’s license database. What would stop someone from registering in several districts would be that their ID would place them in one precinct. It’s pretty simple. Otherwise, you seem to be allowing for the possibility that a photo ID isn’t enough to secure the “integrity” of the voting process. So why advocate for a position that you admit – on the backside of your argument – will not succeed?

    Furthermore, I’d argue that anyone who tries to suggest that the voting process does not presently have integrity is already letting right vs. left skew their logic. I’m well on record as being against the doomsday crowd on my side of the aisle who thinks all electronic votes are being counted for George Bush in Ohio. A little background research might help before you try polemics on me.

  3. Hard as it is for some folks to believe, there are people in this country who do not have photo ID. Middle-class Houstonians tend to think that everyone drives everywhere, but that simply is not true. Requiring photo ID will disenfranchise elderly people, poor people, and others who do not have a driver’s license. For instance, when Indiana passed its voter ID law, there was a group of nuns—eligibie voters all—who were disenfranchised because they did not drive and had no drivers’ licenses. This is the real reason why the Republican Party pushes voter ID laws—they seek to disenfranchise people who they think won’t vote for them.

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