There are two distinct sides to the voter identification issue. Those who oppose voter ID legislation claim it will suppress the minority vote. Those in favor believe voter ID will eliminate voter fraud.
“Experts” make it seem like a complex issue, but from the voter’s point of view, it’s simple. Why would we not show ID to vote? We show ID for various tasks we as Americans do every day: buying cigarettes or alcohol, enrolling our children in public schools, cashing a check, boarding a plane and so on.
Opponents claim that requiring ID will suppress votes in our black and brown communities. Really? I am a Hispanic immigrant and, as a minority woman, I find that insulting! I know not a single minority friend who has no identification.
Documentary filmmaker Ami Horowitz published a YouTube video that I found fascinating. He questioned white people on college campuses about their thoughts on voter ID requirements. Their response? You guessed it; they are opposed. They said voter ID is racist. They said minorities may live where they cannot get an ID. They thought maybe minorities could not afford the fees or maybe they just do not understand how the system works. Horowitz then interviewed minorities in East Harlem to see if they have identification. Their response? Of course I have an ID! “Why would someone think I don’t have an ID?” When asked if they knew anyone without ID or anyone who could not afford to get ID, all answered no. Some thought it was rude and ignorant to assume they had no ID or that they were unable to figure out how to get one.
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As a grassroots activist, I am willing to go into our black and brown communities and ask who needs an ID. If indeed there are people who have no ID, let’s help them! Recent NC voter ID laws waive the fees for issuing an ID for those unable to pay. Remember, you must have ID to get a job, so we would do them a great service to help them get valid ID. If they need transportation, let’s bus them to the DMV. Activist groups already bus voters to the polls. Why not transport them to get an ID? It is common sense, but, as we have seen before, some just push their propaganda.
Voter ID opponents harken back to Jim Crow Laws as they claim disenfranchisement. These arguments are intellectually bankrupt. First and foremost, Jim Crow laws were not about identification. They completely disenfranchised black citizens by making it illegal for them to vote. The others centered on immoral segregation requirements. Comparing voter ID law to Jim Crow Laws is both a straw man argument and a red herring designed only to distract people from the critical issue of protecting the integrity of our elections.
A relative few of us will go to the polls on Nov. 6. I reference the few because mid-term voter turnout is traditionally low. We will go and make our voices heard at the ballot box in the hopes that common sense will prevail in North Carolina regarding voter ID.