Today in Disingenuous Arguments for Voter ID

It really does feel like a daily occurrence.

Dan McLaughlin at NRO’s The Corner notes Oh, Now You Have to Show ID as it pertains to DC area vaccine distribution.

McLaughlin snarks:

Identification to prove that people are in the right jurisdiction? Funny how this works, when a liberal government is trying to control something it actually cares about. This comes just as congressional Democrats are trying to abolish state voter-identification requirements for in-person and absentee voting and progressives are calling it racist voter suppression to ask voters to cast ballots in their own precinct.

Let me start with the fact that it is untrue that Democrats are “trying to abolish state voter-identification.” Instead, HR1 would provide an alternative for those who lack ID at the polling place.

Via Newsweek:

HR-1 does not “ban” voter identification laws. Instead, it offers a workaround to state voter IDs for individuals who do not have the means to obtain identification. Voters may alternatively present a sworn, written statement to an election official under penalty of perjury that states the voter is eligible to vote.

Beyond that, let me note the following.

First, voter ID rules or no, a polling place has a list of eligible voters. A vaccination site does not. There, alone, this alleged gotcha! beaks down.

Second, no critic of voter ID rules is advocating for a free-for-all wherein anyone could show up to any polling place and vote willy-nilly. See, again, voter registration and checking the rolls at the polling place.

Third, the piece the McLaughlin cites notes those seeking vaccines “should bring verification like a work ID badge, letter from employer or paystub”–in other words, it is not a strict photo ID situation (as is in the case in many states that require ID).

Fourth, the reason that people, such as myself, criticize voter ID rules is not that we are opposed to the notion, on its face, of showing an ID to vote. No, it is that the evidence demonstrates that the chances that lack of specific kinds of ID could hamper a citizen from being able to exercise a fundamental right of citizenship is higher (quite a bit higher, in fact) than the chances of in-person voter fraud taking place (let alone in a way that would affect the outcome).

To restate: voter ID rules are more likely to cause citizens to be denied access to the ballot box than they are to lead to stopping fraudulent behavior.

When balancing the two issues, promoting citizens’ right should prevail.

And look, if we just made IDs easy to obtain, free, and universal, we could stop having this discussion. It would make automatic registration a breeze as well.

I would challenge any advocate of voter ID laws to join me in that solution. But if one wants to keep the current ad hoc system, count me out of requiring photo IDs because those rules have a far higher chance of leading to the denial of rights than they do to stopping significant fraud.

FILED UNDER: Democracy, US Politics, Voting
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Cheryl Rofer says:

    I suspect that the requirement for some kind of identification for the vaccine is also designed to keep people away who are not in the eligible categories. Big crowds will make everything more difficult and dangerous.

    Of course, keeping people away is theoretically not what we want for voting, although some are starting to admit out loud why they want id and all sorts of other things.

    A few states, like New Mexico, have an internet signup system, in which you register and then are contacted when it’s your turn. That’s not totally unlike voting registration, except for the personalized invitation.

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  2. Gustopher says:

    Second, no critic of voter ID rules is advocating for a free-for-all wherein anyone could show up to any polling place and vote willy-nilly. See, again, voter registration and checking the rolls at the polling place.

    With electronic voting machines… why not? The poll workers verify your precinct, hand you a slip of paper with a bar code, you walk to whichever machine, scan the bar code, and the machine presents you with the races for your precinct.

    Then we could organize busses of black voters out to white neighborhoods where the lines are shorter. Seems like a good idea to me.

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  3. Gustopher says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    I suspect that the requirement for some kind of identification for the vaccine is also designed to keep people away who are not in the eligible categories.

    A problem we are seeing is that vaccines are going to the folks who can navigate the scheduling system better — so whiter, more affluent people with better internet access are getting the vaccination slots in poorer, browner neighborhoods. This makes it unfair, but also makes it harder to have a healthcare policy that targets vaccine distribution to the most affected communities while there is a shortage.

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  4. LexinLA says:

    You are on fire today, Dr. T.!

    For the longest time, I was in the “well ya have to show an id for everything else… why not voting?” camp, but then, I started to understand how that could lead to a whole lot of disenfranchisement, especially to those with a lower socioeconomic status.

    But I don’t think I’ve ever seen the argument stated so succinctly as you did right here.

    “To restate: voter ID rules are more likely to cause citizens to be denied access to the ballot box than they are to lead to stopping fraudulent behavior.

    “When balancing the two issues, promoting citizens’ right should prevail.”

    BOOM! That says it all. It’s about a completely LOGICAL AND FACT BASED conclusion based on the available evidence. Can’t get much better than that.

    I will definitely be sharing that rationale in future “discussions” with people who love Democracy but only when all the voters agree with them.

    Thank you!

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  5. Sleeping Dog says:

    Without disingenuous arguments they’d have no arguments at all.

    Psst. check the spelling of disingenuous..

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  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: Then we could organize busses of black voters out to white neighborhoods where the lines are shorter. Seems like a good idea to me.

    Heh, I like this. Pure genius.

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  7. mattbernius says:

    It’s important to understand that the optimal amount of fraud/abuse in any system is not (and should not be) 0.

    FWIW, I think this quote from a Republican state rep in AZ is pretty telling:

    “There’s a fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans,” Kavanagh said in comments to the news outlet. “Democrats value as many people as possible voting, and they’re willing to risk fraud. Republicans are more concerned about fraud, so we don’t mind putting security measures in that won’t let everybody vote—but everybody shouldn’t be voting.”

    “Not everybody wants to vote, and if somebody is uninterested in voting, that probably means that they’re totally uninformed on the issues,” he continued, according to CNN. “Quantity is important, but we have to look at the quality of votes, as well.”

    https://www.newsweek.com/arizona-state-rep-says-quality-votes-should-matter-only-informed-should-cast-ballots-1575573

    Again there are shades of Jim Crow voting restrictions and the “if you want to vote badly enough, you will do whatever we tell you to do and if you can’t then that’s your fault” logic that was used to to justify then in the above statement.

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  8. Northerner says:

    And look, if we just made IDs easy to obtain, free, and universal, we could stop having this discussion. It would make automatic registration a breeze as well.

    That is the obvious solution. If the Republicans had spent even a tenth the energy that they spent worrying about voter fraud on this instead, then voter ID would already be in place. A cynic might suspect they’re more interested in keeping people from voting than about voter ID.

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  9. Loviatar says:

    Dr. Taylor has written three posts this morning, can anyone identify a throughline in all three posts?

    I have my thoughts, but I was wondering what others thought.

    —–
    P.S.

    I’ll post the same question in each thread.

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  10. Jax says:

    @Loviatar: I’m getting the distinct impression that Dr. T has had it with Republican idiocy/lies, and because going full Hulk Smash is frowned upon, he’s weaponizing his words, instead. 😛

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  11. Kurtz says:

    @Jax: @Loviatar:

    Yeah, I imagine that if I spent my life trying to understand something, it would irritate me quite a bit that public discourse is dominated by people who have not done the work and actively lie about the field.

    Then when he objects, people on one side imply he’s some sort of purveyor of Stalinism. But they’re just reading between the lines.

    Some people on the other side may question his understanding of people or demand that he don a cilice to atone for his previous votes for Republicans.

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  12. @LexinLA:

    For the longest time, I was in the “well ya have to show an id for everything else… why not voting?” camp,

    At one point I was in the same camp.

    But once you look at the evidence and cost it is impossible to be pro-voting rights and pro-ID iof the ID system is ad hoc (which ours is).

    Voter ID seems innocuous if you are a person who learned to drive as a kid because it seems like a universal experience if you are in a certain economic stratum.

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  13. @Sleeping Dog:

    Psst. check the spelling of disingenuous..

    Thanks!

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  14. mike says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: What if states require a Covid19 vaccination card to vote in person? You Okay with that?

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  15. @mike: I would not be in favor of that, no.

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  16. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Same.

    A lot of Republican ideas are that way — they sound great on paper, and if you are in the privileged groups with the blindness that comes with that, you will never know the difference between paper and reality.

    I remember Poppy Bush talking about “equality of opportunity, not a guarantee of success” when discussing why he was opposed to affirmative action, and it seemed so fair and reasonable. Still does.

    The Republicans haven’t done much about improving the equality of opportunity though. Poppy Bush wanted to be “the education president” but never looked at the causes of the disparity in education.

    But, here’s the thing: I think George H. W. Bush genuinely wanted to improve things with equality. I think we can see that with the ADA, which went after the problems easier than centuries of systemic racism.

    I do not think the modern GOP believes anything.

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  17. Loviatar says:

    Dr. Taylor has written three posts this morning, can anyone identify a throughline in all three posts?

    I have my thoughts, but I was wondering what others thought.

    The throughline for me is race.
    It is how America’s original sin (our treatment of our non-white citizens) has so corrupted our institutions that a certain percentage of our population will say or do anything in order to maintain their place at the head of the line.

    —–
    The racial throughline in this thread; depriving fellow citizens of the basic democratic right to vote.
    The Republican party’s usage of voter suppression is a homage to our past and an example of how the lessons learned during the Jim Crow era are not forgotten and can still be effective today.

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  18. Mimai says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I just want to say thank you for writing this.

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  19. @Mimai: Always good to know that something was of value. Thanks for letting me know.

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