Recently I stumbled across an old 2014 interview on Moyers & Company between Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP and Ari Berman of The Nation about the increasing attempts to suppress voting in many red states, through adding ever more onerous and complicated so-called “voter ID” laws. During the discussion they lay out all the details of why this disadvantages many people who have been voting using student IDs or other forms of ID for years. And with only 31 cases of in-person voter fraud ever documented in one billion of votes cast in all elections since 2000, it’s a solution in search of a problem. However it was this exchange near the end of the program that really stood out:
Ifill: ….The thing that is the coin of the realm for the common man, we’re coming for that too. we’re going to create this obstacle course that you have to go through in order to exercise this right that should come automatically with your citizenship.
Berman: We have a Supreme Court that wants to make it easier to buy an election than for everyday people to vote in one.
Right, and this is the point: it should be the duty of those state legislatures to ensure that they provide as many opportunities as possible for every citizen to vote, not the responsibility of citizens to run a bureaucratic gauntlet just to vote. This is true if even if it’s hard or expensive, because it’s the right of every citizen to vote. In fact, the ability to vote is one of the things that defines citizenship, if indeed citizenship is to have any meaning at all.
If these “voter ID” people want to show that they aren’t about disenfranchising people, they should be bending over backwards to get people on the rolls. They could do this by creating roving electoral-roll sign-up crews criss-crossing the country, helping people track down birth certificates and providing free “official government-issued” voter ID to all, especially in out of the way rural or poor areas. But isn’t this just crazy talk – we don’t have any kind of organization that could reach everybody like that? Well, in fact we do – the US Postal Service. Perhaps this new service could adopt some version of the US Postal Service Creed modified for the electoral system, something along the lines of:
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these poll workers from the swift completion of reaching every eligible voter
After all, it’s really more important in the long run to be able vote than to be able to receive a junk mail catalog. Watch the video…