Donna Brazile: Voter Photo ID Not the Answer
The interim Democratic National Committee chair says that the GOP push for new voter-identification laws is a war on voting.
Donna Brazile: I believe that any time you attack the right of ordinary people to participate in the political process, you attack the foundation of democracy itself. This is a moment for us to think, "How did we get here?"
There are those in the Republican Party who believe that there's widespread voter fraud. The Brennan Center for Justice shows that you have a greater possibility of getting struck by lightning than seeing someone brought to criminal court for voter fraud. And yet this is all we hear about from Republicans.
TR: Well, they're pointing to cases of voter-registration fraud --
DB: Yes, we've seen some voter-registration fraud. We've seen people who were given stipends to recruit people to register, and who abused that system. But we haven't seen actual voter fraud with fictional names showing up at the polls, or people double voting, to the point where we should overturn laws. We can solve that problem by having regulations on how we conduct voter-registration drives.
Instead of focusing on the real crises that we have in cleaning up voter-registration rolls, or making sure that first-time voters know how to navigate the political process, what we're seeing is this massive overhaul of election codes to restrict people from participating in the electoral process.
TR: When we posted a story about this, many readers didn't see the big deal. People routinely use photo ID for bank transactions, buying beer or boarding a plane, so what explanation is there for so many African Americans who don't have it?
DB: In some cases it's a generational issue [because a significant percentage of voters under the age of 30 and over the age of 65 don't have state-issued IDs]. It's also the fact that getting a driver's license is an expense that many people choose not to have.
My parents did not own a car; therefore they had no driver's license -- they were able to cash checks with their Social Security cards. The bottom line is, if we're going to make this a new guideline for voting, then every eligible American should receive a photo ID upon turning 18.
These [voter ID] measures may seem proper on paper, but they are very restrictive and make voting a hurdle. I'm not opposed to showing photo ID. The problem is that we don't have uniform voting laws in this country. If we did, then we could have a national photo ID, or state photo IDs, that would be the appropriate form for everybody. But because every jurisdiction is different, what's good enough in one county may be ineligible in another. When people show up to vote, they don't know what form will be accepted.
TR: But is that just an excuse for people who don't stay up on what they need to do?