Thursday, November 1, 2007

Bill would bar photo ID's at voting booth

Something like this had to happen to open the floodgates of democracy, I guess. And hopefully it'll pass.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) has introduced a federal bill to bar photo ID's from being required to vote in federal elections. Ellison is way ahead of the curve - and hopefully his idea (even if it doesn't pass this time) will be thrust into the spotlight so it can receive some serious consideration.

Ellison correctly points out that requiring photo ID's effectively disfranchises countless voters - hitting the poor, the oldest and the youngest voters, women, and minorities hard. In effect, the photos are a poll tax - which would actually make requiring photo ID's unconstitutional. (Remember the Constitution? It was a great little document, that Constitution was.)

If Keith Ellison is ahead of the curve, so is Minnesota. The congressman pointed out that Minnesota does not require a photo ID to vote - which gives the Gopher State one of the most inclusive and efficient voting systems as well as some of the best turnout rates.

I'm sure vote fraud can be fought in other ways besides requiring a photo identification - and photo ID's probably have little effect against fraud now. The more important point is that requiring the photos probably has a much bigger effect on elections than any fraud that the photos might prevent. In a democratic republic, the top priority should be that a person gets to vote.

Nobody but nobody doubts fraud runs rampant in the American electoral system. That many states require photos hasn't seemed to stem the problem. I think the biggest factor in election fraud in America is the media's own right-wing bias, and we need to investigate it thoroughly, and we need to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. At the very least, the media does too much to preselect not just the candidates in an election but also the winner. (Maybe I need to bring up how SurveyUSA put out a press release just before the 2003 Kentucky gubernatorial election saying Ernie Fletcher had already won - or when ABC's website had the results of the 1998 Texas gubernatorial election up before the polls even opened.) Not every act of vote fraud involves a 6-year-old felon voting with a phony ID.


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