Monday, April 16, 2012

Seriously, who doesn't need an ID?

Started out my Monday morning with a call from my occasional conscience tweaker, Mr. D, a rural businessman.
"Jimmy, can you tell me something? What groups actually need IDs?"
His dander was up on the constitutional amendment coming up for a November vote that require a government-issued ID be presented to cast a ballot in elections. My dander was up, too, because I don't like being called Jimmy.
I thought for a moment. "You mean actually have to live without them? I'm not sure."
"Well, you need an ID to cash a check, to collect Social Security, to buy a house..." He went on about military service, getting food stamps, boarding a plane, buying a drink, driving a car, getting a loan.
He surmised that it would be someone who is below the age of 62, homeless, self-employed, used cash and didn't drive a car. "And so the requirement would hardly affect a lot of people."
"What about the Amish," I asked?
"Well, that's another group I suppose."
"And what about those who live off the land, you know, shunning all the conveniences of modern life?"
"Yeah, there are those self-sustainers who probably ride a horse into town."
But even so, his argument went, are we really inconveniencing a large number of people to get an ID - and a free one at that - to vote.
"Look at the problems now. You have students who, if they wanted to, can vote twice - once where they're going to school and again at their hometown or even from another state because no one is checking. Or nursing home residents who are there temporarily." And, he went on, "I just never liked the idea that anyone could walk in and have a buddy vouch for him" as being a resident of the precinct.
Well, actually he can vouch for up to 15 people and if it's a residential home, one person can vouch for an unlimited number of residents staying there.
"You're making my case for me," he said.
"I'll tell you what I'll do," I offered. "I'll post this column and see if there are any other groups of people who would be left out if IDs were required and didn't already have them."
And there we have it. So, any suggestions?


  1. I'm not clear why you are trying to put voters without current government-issued ID into specific groups, rather than just treating them as an aggregate quantity.

    Here's another one, though: those who have lost there wallets or had them stolen and have not yet gotten a replacement ID. The Secretary of State has testified that on a typical election day, somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 Minnesota voters fall into this category.

  2. Here is the Supreme Court's finding upholding Indiana's voter ID law