Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Words Matter: ‘Legitimate Rape’ Equals ‘Voter ID’

Please get it straight: the concern is about “polling place Photo ID restrictions” not “Voter ID”.

I’ve tried to warn progressives about this for years, to little avail, but discussing concerns about “Voter ID” is akin (pun intended?) to talking about “Legitimate Rape”.

After all, everyone is against “legitimate rape”! But using that phrase, as most instinctively seem to understand, allows for the misleading subconscious notion idea that there is some other kind of rape that is less “legitimate”.

In the same way, “Voter ID” is quite reasonable sounding — after all, who could be against the reasonable sounding idea of identifying oneself before voting? — but Republican-enacted polling place Photo ID restrictions are a different matter all together. Republicans know that very well, even if Democrats still can’t seem to get it.

Both phrases, “Legitimate Rape” and “Voter ID”, each reasonable sounding enough, miss the point and are tremendously misleading. Republican vote suppressors know that, so they love it when Democrats and progressives and voting rights advocates use the phrase “Voter ID” instead of “polling place Photo ID restrictions.”

The fact is, the majority of states already require some form of reasonable identification of voters before voting, at least at the polling place. For that matter,federal law — the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 — already requires“Voter ID” in all 50 states when voting for the first time at the polling place, if the voter did not register in person and present ID at that time…

So long as there are plenty of ways to identify oneself — bank statement, utility bill, paycheck stub, driver’s license, signature matching, even a signed affidavit (or, if the vote suppressors weren’t just pulling a scam here, they’d suggest a cell phone photo taken of voters who can’t present any ID at the time of voting) etc. — “Voter ID” in and of itself isn’t really a problem.

It is the restrictive, narrowly tailored state-issued Photo ID requirement restrictions at the polling place which are a problem, since some 22 million — disproportionately Democratic-leaning — legal voters in America, simply do not possess the type of ID required to vote under these new, GOP-enacted disenfranchising restrictions. And Republicans know it.

Here’s just one example. In South Carolina, it has already been the law, for years, that voters present Voter ID before voting at the polling place. The state’s already very strict law had required one of three types of ID be presented: 1) A state-issued drivers license, 2) A state-issued photo ID card, or 3) A voter registration card as sent to each voter by the county. The state’s new Republican-enacted polling place Photo ID restriction law simply attempted to take away that third option, the voter registration card. (And, thankfully, that new restriction has been blocked, for now, as it was found to violate the federal Voting Rights Act, since it disproportionately disenfranchises African-American voters, according to the state’s own data.)