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Opinion: Photo ID requirements uselessly disenfranchise voters
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Voters come out to Gainesville Exploration Academy Friday, May 22, 2020, to cast their ballot for the June 9 primary. - photo by Scott Rogers

I was required to present a photo ID while voting early. However, no one asked me to remove my mask to prove I was the person indicated by that photo ID. Curious, I inquired and was told by a poll worker that none of them had been specifically trained to compare my face with the photo ID I presented to verify my identity.  

Since implementation of the photo ID requirement, the government has apparently not spent any money to train poll workers to confirm the identity of voters using the photo on that ID. The related skill is called biometrics. Without training in a standardized, uniform procedure to verify a voter’s identity using the photograph, each voter is subject to the arbitrary and unique discretion of their poll worker.  

The failure to unmask voters this year could be excused due to virus concerns, but lack of biometrics training and failure to allocate funds for training indicates this isn’t about stopping election fraud related to voter impersonation. 

So why do Republicans insist a photo ID is necessary to vote? In letters published Dec. 2, 2018, and Jan. 10, 2019, I offered examples suggesting the apparent reason is to oppress Black and minority voter turnout at the polls. This allegation is supported by the fact voters are not required to provide a photo ID if they vote an absentee ballot by mail. 

Since the Supreme Court struck down special provisions of the Voting Rights Act, which blocked state and local barriers intended to prevent Blacks from voting, at least 1,000 polling places have been closed, with many closed locations in predominantly African American communities. There were also cuts to early voting, imposition of strict voter ID laws and massive purges of registered voter rolls.  

Virtually all new restrictions on voting were enacted by Republicans. 

The right to vote means an opportunity to change our laws and change how they are enforced, which could directly impact institutional racism, police brutality and White privilege. 

Republicans have filed suit in the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day from being counted in North Carolina if they arrive after the original (non-COVID) cutoff date. This year the number of mail-in ballots will be a hundred times larger than average, and Republicans have attempted to defund the postal service in several states to delay the timely delivery of those mail-in ballots. It’s a shameless attempt to cheat by preventing valid votes from being counted. 

Our traditional vision of democracy is any person or party whose policies best serve the needs of citizens and the public interest gets elected. That dream is broken. 

In reality, the winner of an election will be the person or party who is skilled at strategies and tactics designed to cause the opposition to lose. The tragic consequence is voters won’t get the benefit of electing a representative who is experienced and skilled at solving their problems. Instead, voters get a representative who is skilled at knee-capping his enemies. 

Bruce Vandiver 


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