On Saturday, at 5 a.m, the U.S Supreme Court issued a ruling, saying that Texas can implement its new, strict voter I.D law in the election coming up in two weeks. This law requires that people show a government-provided photo identification, such as a driver’s license or an U.S passport, in order to cast a ballot. It was argued that thousands of people, especially those in minority and poor communities, often don’t have such documentation and are likely not able to get them by Election Day.
This was only the latest battle in a war over these voter I.D laws being passed in a bunch of states, with rulings coming out every week or so. Many also ban or limit same-day voter registration and early voting. Some are upheld, others are ruled unconstitutional. Proponents say that these laws are needed to prevent fraud, although there have been very little evidence of such, while opponents state that they disenfranchise the poor, the disabled and minority groups who can have a hard time obtaining these documents and have difficulty getting to the polls. It is also noted that these people tend to vote Democratic.
All this has reminded me of the first time I voted. I think I was 18, and I had registered as a Democrat. My mother took me to our polling place right by the high school, where she would assist me in marking my ballot. There was an older man in charge, and he was clearly not happy to see us. Later, when I may have asked her why the man had been so grumpy, my mom said that he was probably a Republican and thought my mom, a registered Democrat, was using me to be able to vote twice, assuming, as many did, that I was retarded.
I have no idea if the man really thought this, but the experience showed me right off the bat that voting is something to argue, if not fight, over. Is it any wonder – really, and as silly as it is – that we’re seeing these voter I.D laws being bandied about? (For years now, I have been a permanent absentee voter, marking my ballot at home, but I always drop off my ballot at a polling station in person.)