"You can't vote unless you can prove that you are who you say you are. All you need is a picture ID."
That sounds sensible and reasonable, doesn't it? That's the Republican line for wanting to pass laws requiring picture identification for voters. They point out that if someone doesn't have photo identification, they can be provided one at no cost by the state. Again, that sounds sensible and reasonable. One such law was passed in Wisconsin in May of this year.
But the devil's always in the details, isn't it? Because earlier this month a high-ranking Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) executive sent out a memo which said,:
"While you should certainly help customers who come in asking for a free ID to check the appropriate box, you should refrain from offering the free version to customers who do not ask for it."
Now, I could understand it if this were a business enterprise that wanted to keep its employees from telling customers about this or that really good discount, but this isn't a business. This is government, and how anyone in government can honorably justify making it more difficult for someone to engage in the most basic of all actions of a citizen in a democracy, voting, I don't know. Oh, I know he'll justify it by saying "We're trying to cut costs," but the key word in my question is honorably, and honor has nothing to do with this particular policy.
Why? Because in a recent test run, nearly 20 percent of all voters did not bring photo identification to the polling place. Because those who lack photo identification are more likely to be minority members or students or who are poor, all of whom strongly tend to vote Democratic, all of whom would be less likely to be keeping up with the latest changes to state policy and who would be much less likely to fork over the money to pay for a photo identification since the government functionary is not allowed to inform them of the free voter identification card. It should never be a requirement that one must know all the recent changes to state voting law in order to be able to cast a vote! If anything, this is a back door poll tax.