I sometimes make the mistake of reading the editorials in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch when I scan the letters to the editor. I made that mistake last month and it cost me the time to write a letter (OK, email) about one of many on Missouri’s inching towards requiring a government issued photo ID in order to vote, which strikes me as an eminently sane idea. You have to have a photo ID to do a lot of things these days – although if you are willing to have a more thorough physical exam than any medical doctor will perform, you can fly on a commercial flight which I happen to know from personal experience. The paper ran the letter, and edited it as usual. I’m providing the original, in all its glory:
I keep reading Post editorials about how discriminatory requiring photo ID for voting is. The latest one notes that not every one can get a drivers license, which while true is meaningless. Several years ago my father passed away and I took my mother to their bank to square away the accounts. The bank would have nothing to do with her because she had no photo ID – she hadn’t driven in years and had no drivers license. So we returned to her house, picked up the necessary documents, went to the nearby Dept. of Revenue office and obtained a government issued photo ID, and returned to the bank where she was cordially welcomed – all in the same afternoon. It actually isn’t that hard.
Backing up my anecdote with data, several studies of voter turnout in Indiana in Georgia show that after voter photo ID laws were passed, minority turnout increased, not decreased. Lawsuits against the Indiana and Georgia laws could not find a single person in either state who was stopped from voting because of photo ID laws. So the idea that photo ID laws are burdensome and suppress minority voter turnout is just another groundless fear of the Post editorial board.
The other argument is that requiring photo ID for voting is a solution in search of a problem – no such fraud occurs I’m told. The undetectable crime doesn’t go undetected, it goes uncommitted according to this argument. Oddly enough, this very paper is filled with stories everyday of lawbreaking of every sort. Why even that paragon of virtue and good government, Professor Jeff Smith, was convicted of violating election law and sentenced to a year in prison. Yet I am to believe lesser men don’t commit voter fraud despite the clear advantage it provides and the complete lack of risk they would run. I don’t even admire such faith in my fellow man, let alone share it.
Not unexpectedly one of the edits was to remove my citation of Jeff Smith. (State) Senator Smith really was a good guy – wanted to improve schools even if it meant crossing teachers unions, worked well with Republicans, and clearly was a bright guy with a bright future in front of him. My point wasn’t to take a swipe at him, but an honest assessment that if you couldn’t trust him, you shouldn’t trust anyone – so verify!