Voter ID – Sometimes Even Politicians Get It Right

By W.D. Reasoner on June 12, 2012

I went to my local big-box home improvement store yesterday. At checkout, I paid with plastic because I rarely have much real money with me at all these days: Who needs it, and why risk a lot of cash in the event you're mugged? Such is the state of affairs today, for better or worse.

After I'd finished swiping my card, the cashier asked for my identification — even though I'd made no major purchases, just a few things needed to finish a project I was working on (the bill was $32 and change). Being asked never makes me angry; in fact I'm usually rather pleased given the proliferation of identity theft in our society. But I do admit to being a bit puzzled because I go to this particular store and others in the chain often and, at least as far as I can discern, there seems to be no consistency in clerks asking for the identification, whether by amount or type of purchase or anything else.

Walking out the door with my purchases, my thoughts moved from retail purchases to voter identification. How is it that in our modern society can take it in stride to be asked to prove who we are for a $32 purchase and get so irate if asked to prove our identity when registering to vote? Yes, I get that we have an ignoble past with Jim Crow laws and a struggle by minorities and women to obtain their inalienable right to vote. And yes, there may still be parts of society that, given their druthers, would throw us back to that dark past. But in the main, I think not. The right to vote is so important that, though many of our citizens undervalue it and opt out of the electoral process, even they should take umbrage at the fact that someone else may be delighted to exercise that right and privilege on their behalf.

I was pleased to see recently that I'm not the only one who thinks along these lines.

According to CNN, "During a campaign stop last month with [Mitt] Romney in Pennsylvania, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a Cuban-American Republican, blew off what he sees as overhyped concerns about showing photo IDs. People have to show IDs for everything from boarding a flight to renting sports equipment, Rubio reasoned, so why not voting. 'What's the big deal? What is the big deal?' Rubio asked." Kudos to the senator.

Harkening back to my experiences at the big box store, it seems to me that consistency is the key: universal, well-understood protocols, routinely enforced and fairly administered. With identification fraud rampant in America today, can we afford to do less?