Voting & ID (Election Reform Part Two)

It just seems so obvious, doesn’t it?  I have to show ID to get on a plane or cash a check or any number of other day to day activities.  Why shouldn’t I have to show an ID to vote?  Actually, in many states, including my home state of Kansas, you do.  But why is it even an issue?

Well, while the US Constitution doesn’t have much to say about getting on a plane, it has quite a bit to say about voting.  Oddly enough, the original document says almost nothing about who should vote because, frankly, the founders weren’t at all fond of most anyone voting.  They pretty much left decisions about who should vote up to the states.  But, through the Amendment process, it is made clear that the right to vote cannot be abridged based on race, national origin, previous condition of servitude, sex, ability to pay a poll tax or age, as long as someone is eighteen.

The thing is, once an actvity enjoys any sort of Constitutional protection, laws regulating those activities are subject to the strict scrutiny of the courts.  Any unit of government passing a law that restricts voting in most any way is going to have to prove a compelling public interest in order for those laws to pass legal muster.

Sad as it is to say, voter registration laws, like I might add, marriage and drug laws, typically originated out of desire to discriminate against minority groups.  Oddly enough, the Constitution doesn’t even speak to whether a voter needs to be a citizen.  That would appear to be left to the individual states to decide.

The question that the Supreme Court will eventually have to decide is whether laws requiring some form of identification place to great a burden on potential voters or whether they represent a reasonable regulation that prevents fraud.

I am personally torn.  While a requirement to present some form of valid ID, as long as it can be obtained fairly easily and without cost, seems reasonable, I remain concerned that such regulations may be used to disenfranchise minority groups.

Interestingly enough, I don’t think that the biggest question about voting is who gets to vote but, rather, how we vote and how that affects the outcome.  Be prepared to have your mind blown if you read the next few blog posts.  I am preparing to show you the difficulty in translating the private act of voting into a public choice.

As always, thanks for following along.  This blog has been a great way for me to express my thoughts on a number of issues and I appreciate all of you who have joined me on this journey.  Goodnight and have a pleasant tomorrow.

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