If You Want a Voter ID Law in the Name of Stopping Fraud, a Driver’s License is Not Enough

The main argument for requiring voter’s to show government-issued photo identification (usually driver’s licenses) is that it would enhance election security by preventing people from using a false identity to cast a ballot.   What is the percentage of people without ID that are attempting to commit voter fraud?  Even with the most generous speculative estimates, it’s not high enough to warrant the burden on the right to vote.  Requiring ID is like fighting Lyme disease by killing all the deer.

Even if such voter fraud was prevalent enough to justify the burden on some voters, getting a driver’s license is not enough of a barrier to stop these (allegedly common) determined fraudsters.   Pushing voters to show driver’s licenses, but not something more secure, like passports, proves how disingenuous the proponents of voter ID laws are being when they plead for ensuring election integrity.

Fake IDs are Still Widely Available

Despite the increasingly sophisticated looking design of modern licenses, fakes are still too easy to obtain.  For example, according to the Coalition for a Secure Drivers License,

hundreds of thousands of counterfeit driver’s licenses are presented for identification to businesses across the United States. Many times, these fake IDs are used to deceive banks and retails stores for financial fraud and scams, while other imposters use them to board airplanes and access secure areas. The huge scale of counterfeit ID sales presents a direct threat to public safety and our nation’s homeland security.

[M]ost of these documents are used by minors to purchase alcohol and enter nightclubs, but others are used by career criminals, leading to millions of dollars in financial losses incurred through imposter fraud. While these crimes are more frequent, no one should ignore the significant danger of terrorists using counterfeit IDs to buy explosives or guns to hide their trail. Each year, the courts address many instances of identity thieves who use counterfeit documents to hide their past criminal histories, such as drunk drivers and sex predators, and the terrorists who seek false driver’s licenses to carry out their attacks – one of the Boston Marathon bombers had a reading list full of how-to guides on ID counterfeiting.

Fakes are so common that it is not reasonable to expect the “integrity of our elections” to rest on the security of driver’s licenses.

Requiring ID is Not About Ending Fraud

Voter ID laws do not cure the disease supporters are claiming to be interested in fighting.   If enacting voter ID laws was really about providing airtight security to preserve the integrity of our elections, requiring driver’s licenses does not go far enough.  Yet we don’t hear proponents of voter ID laws asking that we be required to show passports, enact a new federal ID system, or (gasp) some kind of biometric identification (from basic fingerprinting to futuristic retina scans). [If you thought the lines were slow now; wait till you see how long it takes grandma poll worker to compare fingerprints.]  If there is a move toward retina scans, look for a behind-the-scenes lobbying push from whichever 2 or 3 companies that would make such a machine.

Voter ID proponents are not asking for more than a driver’s license because that would inconvenience a much larger group of people — a set of voters that would much more closely reflect the partisan leanings of the general public.

The real motivation behind the push for ID is purely political:  the group of people without ID are disproportionately Democratic voters.  It is an attempt to skew the electorate to make it easier for Republican candidates to win elections.   As I’ve said before, Election Skewing Schemes are Republic Rape.

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