Harriet E.: ‘I am tired of the phrase Rich Republicans. I am a registered Democrat…whoops just changed that to independent a few months back. However, all totaled up I am sure there are just as many Rich Democrats. It is not a crime to work hard and get rich. I also think that every voter in the nation should have to show a photo ID in order to vote. Nothing is checked when I vote. I just have never understood that. I have to show a photo ID to fly, at the library, now at nearly every doctor’s office or medical facility, often when I use my credit card and at other times. Certainly asking for an ID when you vote is not discriminatory. It seems logical and correct to me and possibly would limit fraud.”

☞ Rich Democrats mostly want to go back to the Clinton tax rates and protect the social safety net and see campaign finance contributions limited. Rich Republicans mostly do not. That’s the distinction I’m drawing – not that Republicans are rich and Democrats are poor. For the record, I totally agree it’s no crime to work hard and get rich! Thanks for eliciting the clarification.

Photo ID, meanwhile, is just one of many ways Republicans are trying to suppress the vote in Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, and elsewhere, as those clips I linked to yesterday suggest. I hope you might agree with me on the rest of them, if not on the photo ID requirement.

But as regards that one, my own view is that we should only put up fraud-prevention obstacles if/where there is fraud to prevent. Under George W. Bush, U.S. Attorneys nationwide were instructed to find such cases but could not. The truth is, it’s not easy to get people to go vote even once. America is noted for its poor voter turn-out among legal voters. (Illegal immigrants, I should think, would be loath to risk deportation by showing up to commit a felony at a polling place filled with official-looking people, poll watchers, and police.)*

If one agrees with what appears to be the factual premise that instances of voter fraud are exceedingly rare, then I think one has to look closely at the other side of this. Most Americans don’t have passports. Many don’t own cars. Of course, you don’t have to own a car to get a driver’s license. But you can’t just take half an hour to breeze into the Department of Motor Vehicles and get one. Chances are, just getting there and back via public transportation and waiting your turn in line could take half a day. And in most states, you need to pass a written test and a vision test and a driving test – which makes sense for driving, but not for voting. There may be other kinds of acceptable government-issued photo ID, but if I don’t know what they are or how to get them, I’ll bet a lot of folks without driver’s licenses or passports don’t know either. So – as fraud is not a problem – I’d rather err on the side of making it easy to register and vote.

*The problem of phony registrations, by the way, is quite different. People who are paid to register new voters have a monetary incentive to invent nonexistent voters and cash for each one they do. But that in no way affects the outcome of an election. Nonexistent voters don’t vote.

Bill Kistler: “Where are you on the movement to restore rights (including voting) to convicted felons who have served / fulfilled their obligations to society? I would guess the Republicans are not in favor of it. I’m not sure where I stand, but I’m sure it would be worth a discussion.”

☞ I’m for it and yes, you’re right, Republicans oppose it. It seems to me we want to rehabilitate felons and, insofar as they are interested in assuming the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, encourage that.


From my friend Zac Bissonnette, the most widely emailed Wall Street Journal article yesterday.


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