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Show ID: Just Like Apartheid


This morning’s Philly Inquirer has a “story” about the doom, gloom and punishment that voters went through to show their ID’s during yesterday’s election.

One woman, described as a feisty Democrat in her late 80s, declined to show anything to poll workers, saying that “she purposely didn’t bring it, as a matter of protest,” said an election judge at Cathedral Village, a retirement community in Roxborough’s 21st ward. “We explained that we’d have to follow the law in November. She’ll be willing, she absolutely understands.”

Several women who showed up to vote at Cathedral Village expressed concern about older relatives living with them. “One woman said her mother is 101 years old. She can’t get her birth certificate and her only ID is an expired driver’s license,” said Kathryn Bagley, a majority inspector.

… and on and on.

To provide balance, one pro-ID voter was included.

Salimah Gainey, 25, of West Philadelphia, said she knew nothing about the new state law but thought it was already necessary to have ID. She had her driver’s license in hand when she showed up to vote at Lea Elementary School.

“I think it may be a good idea to keep people’s identity,” Gainey said. “I wouldn’t want somebody saying they’re me and they’re not.”

My wife, an Inspector of Election in Montgomery County regaled me with complainers. Nearly all of them were Democrats. (Though a few Republicans grumbled as well)

But nothing like this.

Wendell P. Bright, a judge of elections in Southwest Philadelphia’s 51st ward, said one woman came to his polling place at the Mitchell School with a protest sign, equating the new law with South African apartheid.

“That was ridiculous,” he said, “but I think it underscores how people feel. We already have a low turnout in this division, and I’m confident that this new requirement will cut the people willing to vote in half. There’s not a doubt in my mind that it’s going to discourage voters.”

Honestly, I do not understand how people function in society without any ID.

How do you buy alcohol? How can you smoke? Voting isn’t a vice, so how did these people drive? How do you rent a movie or buy medicine?

The state will give you ID if you are too poor to actually have any. But if you show up at the poll in November without, the best you can do is vote via a provisional ballot.

April 25, 2012 at 11:29 am
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