Towards More Burdensome Voting
The AP reports on the legal challenges to Georgia's shiny new photo voter ID requirement.
The new law requires that every voter who casts a ballot in person produce a valid, government-issued photo ID. Elections officials had already distributed several dozen of the new voter photo IDs to people, primarily seniors, who don't have a driver's license, passport or other qualifying photo ID.
The [state] seeks to stay the temporary restraining order issued Friday by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Melvin Westmoreland. In his sharply worded ruling, Westmoreland said the voter ID law "unduly burdens the fundamental right to vote rather than regulate it" and would cause "irreparable harm."
Maybe, maybe not. I'm willing to accept that obtaining a new ID can be "a burden" -- I recently moved to Wisconsin and had to get a new driver's license, after all. I'm not willing to accept that requiring a photo ID is an "undue burden", however. We're not talking about the right to play bingo, check out library books, or eat at Chinese buffets. We're talking about the right to cast a vote. The right to decide the current and future direction of our various governments. This is, or should be, a serious responsibility.
Most responsibilities come with their own built-in burdens. That tends to be a central element of of having responsibilities and privileges -- something my parents continually warned me about with each new privilege they gave me. Owning a car, owning a house, having children, managing business projects, managing money, even owning a dog -- all of these responsibilities come with their own unique burdens. I can't understand why voting should be any different.
Theoretically a voter has spent (at least) the month or two leading up to the election contemplating the various issues and candidates at hand. Is it unreasonable to expect that sometime during that period the responsible voter also ensures that he or she meets the requirements necessary to vote? The State of Georgia is asking that each prospective voter register beforehand and obtain a photo identification. Both of these goals can be accomplished with one visit to a government office. Does Georgia really have a significant population of people that are both committed to voting and completely unable to visit a government office sometime prior to an election? Does any state?
Here's my opinion: if you can't muster up the ability to register to vote and obtain a photo ID, you're not serious enough about voting to participate in the election. If you're one of the rare people that has absolutely no means of getting to a voter registration office, drop me an e-mail -- I'll be happy to give you a lift. Just don't try to tell me that democracy isn't worth the effort.