[Originally posted by Shawn Casey O’Brien in January 2014]
It recently occurred to the former brain trust of Disabled Citizens United that all these new voter ID laws are not only an effort to suppress Democratic voters, but were legally redundant and, thus, unnecessary.
Unnecessary because 49 of 50 states require new voters to fill out a voter registration form in order to vote. A voter registration form which is signed under penalty of perjury, making it, in actuality, a voter registration “affidavit” i.e. a legal document with the full weight of the law behind it, and one that, if filled out fraudulently could land a person in jail for anywhere from one to ten years and fined anywhere from $500 in Kentucky, to $50,000 in Idaho, to a very costly $125,000 in Oregon.
Considering those stiff sentences and hefty fines, we wonder why anybody would even consider, much less put any false information on a voter registration form anywhere in the United States.
The fact that you sign your voter registration form under penalty of perjury and face such draconian punishment really lays the lie to the alleged need for Voter ID laws — practically anywhere in the U.S.
First, Federal law mandates that all new registrants must show some form of ID when registering to vote in a Federal election. That being so, why does anyone need to show any ID whatsoever, once they’ve been placed on the voter rolls of their state and after truthfully affirming — again, under penalty of perjury — that they are who, in fact, they are. As we said, it is legally redundant and serves no other purpose then to set up obstacles for a variety of low-income, mostly Democratic voters, who, many times have neither the funds nor, the ability to travel to the appropriate government agency in order to procure proper ID.
The need to be registered in order to vote is a requirement in every state in the Union, except one. In other words, there is one state that actually has a reasonable need for voters with IDs. That is the great state of North Dakota, where we were surprised to find, they don’t require their voters to register before voting.
The good people of N.D. abolished voter registration in 1951.
According to their Secretary of State’s website: “North Dakota’s lack of voter registration is rooted in its rural character and relatively small precincts” and “where election boards know the voters who come to the polls to vote on Election Day and can easily detect those who should not be voting in the precinct.”
Bully for them, they really are the one state that has a legitimate rationale for Voter ID. But they are the only one. Every other state’s Voter ID laws are unnecessary, as the vast majority of voters in ALL states fill out their voter registration form truthfully and accurately.
And thus, when these voters show up at their polling place, they should be allowed to vote without producing a photo ID.
Demanding such is just rank voter suppression.
Shawn Casey O’Brien is the author of For The Love Of Long Shots…A Memoir on Democracy. Available online at Barnes and Noble, Amazon & IndieBound.