No problem getting photo ID in Alabama
Published 11:09 pm Wednesday, October 21, 2015
The numbers speak for themselves. The state of Alabama has more picture IDs out there than voters. Something might be keeping some Alabama residents from registering to vote but it isn’t for lack of government photo IDs.
In a guest commentary published in The Tuscaloosa News Sunday, Secretary of State John Merrill noted that there are almost 3 million registered voters in a state with 4.8 million residents, of which 1.1 million are too young to vote.
When you add up all the various kinds of government photo IDs that have been issued, 4.3 million Alabama residents have their picture on some kind of plastic card that would pass for identification at a polling place. That’s 33 percent more state residents than are registered to vote. Case closed.
The argument that requiring a photo ID to vote is voter suppression was raised again after the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency closed 31 driver license offices around the state. We have an issue with that move but not the same one.
We have noticed that when government agencies don’t get the money they believe they’re entitled to, their response is to cut a part of their operations that negatively impact taxpayers while leaving employees’ benefits and salaries intact. It’s always better to inconvenience – and rile – the public, rather than government employees.
Closing the offices, no doubt, inconveniences people. But inconveniencing people is far different from a malicious act to disenfranchise them. Opponents of the state’s photo voter ID law, enacted to help prevent voter fraud, would have you believe that for some state residents getting a picture ID is a task as insurmountable as climbing Mount Everest in nothing but a pair of boxer shorts or swimming the Atlantic. We have absolutely no idea how someone so buffaloed by obtaining a photo ID could ever solve the conundrum of getting to the polls on Election Day.
Certainly, anyone thwarted by the Herculean undertaking of making his or her way to a county seat on any business day, entering a county office and asking for a photo ID could never master the vast complexities of getting to the polls on a specific day not of one’s own choosing during which the polls are only open for 12 of the day’s 24 hours. Even if a voter should be able to get to the polls, the whole voting process, the overwhelming tedium of marking a ballot and feeding it into the counter would be too much.
Despite that, the secretary of state’s office, local probate offices and boards of registrars have done their best to make photo voter IDs as simple to obtain as possible. And IDs are a reasonable safeguard against voter fraud, which, despite propaganda to the contrary, does exist and sometimes in epidemic proportions in West Alabama.
Given the ready availability of photo IDs and the number of people who possess them, the only reason we can see for opposing voter ID laws is to make voter fraud easier to commit.