In a recent article on Reason.com, Steve Chapman attempts to poke a few holes in the case for Voter ID.
His claims are flawed and his conclusions are weak.
In his attempts to claim that many people don't have ID's, he trots out some statistics that hint darkly of racial bias:
Fifteen percent of white adults in Wisconsin, and half of blacks
and Hispanics, don't drive. Passport holders are a minority of the
population. A lot of people don't need a photo ID to board a plane
because they don't fly.
Disparate racial impact does not prove bias. If Voter ID laws are racist because they impact minorities more often, then traffic laws are racist because they impact white people more often. This is silly.
He then features a few anecdotes from people that have a hard time getting an ID. An elderly Puerto Rican, a homeless Veteran. These prove nothing -- we already know that there are people out there without an ID. And for every "no ID" story there are matching stories of voter fraud that have resulted in criminal convictions.
He then tries to discredit the list of activities that require an ID in everyday life:
In fact, the Transportation Security Administration doesn't bar
anyone who shows up without an ID. In that case, the TSA says,
"You'll be able to fly as long as you provide us with some
information that will help us determine you are who you say you
The fact that the TSA doesn't require government issued ID is irrelevant -- they still require you to prove your identity. The fact that they allow some flexibility does not change the fact that you cannot fly anonymously. You must prove who you are in order to fly.
His over reach in his attempts to discredit all the simple life activities that require ID gets him in trouble:
Opening a bank account? Larry Dupuis, a lawyer for the American
Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin Foundation, says he never had to
show an ID to open his account, which he did some two decades ago.
"It's really a post-9/11 thing," he says, for banks to require one.
But many poor people don't have bank accounts.
You did not need an ID 20 years ago?? So what? You need one now. This anecdote does not undermine the claim that ID is required for most every thing, it reinforces it. And again, the fact that poor people don't have bank accounts does not make ID laws racist. It just proves that poor people don't have money.
He then tries to claim that voter fraud doesn't matter anyway:
If a person forbidden to vote manages to cast a ballot by
pretending to be someone else, by contrast, the election result
will almost never be affected. Besides, the sort of fraud that an
ID would prevent is exceedingly rare. The court in Wisconsin found
the requirement would block vastly more legal voters than
The election will almost never be affected?? I seem to recall that Al Gore lost an election for President by a few hundred votes out of 55 million votes cast. And never mind that the election might not be affected, when you vote illegally you invalidate the vote of a legitimate voter. That alone is reason enough to protect the right to vote with some simple requirements for proving who you are.
This logic cuts two ways: If a fraudulent vote does not matter, then disenfranchising a legitimate voter who has no ID does not matter either. You can't claim that voting is an act so sacred we cannot place barriers around it and also claim that a fraudulent vote does not matter.
This entire article is un-reasonable.