Be on the watch for the spin. The Georgia State Supreme Court will be deciding an issue that has been bouncing around the courts since 2005. At stake is the state's attempt to reduce election fraud by requiring that all voters show a government sanctioned picture ID in order to vote.
Seems simple, right? Wrong.
The typical detractors, the ones who usually cry voter fraud whenever their favorite pet candidates lose at the polls, are the same groups that are upset over the ID requirement! They argue that the ID requirement is a poll tax that disenfranchises poor people by requiring that they pay to vote. The illogic being applied here is that ids cost money and that poor people are being disenfranchised because they can't afford the expense.
Here is an example of how the issue has been twisted by your typical activists in the mainstream media:
Washington Post Oct. 2005 article that came with the moronic subtitle and obvious distortion: "Georgia Can No Longer Charge For Access to Nov. 8 Election"
The ruling allows thousands of Georgians who do not have government-issued identification, such as driver's licenses and passports, to vote in the Nov. 8 municipal elections without obtaining a special digital identification card, which costs $20 for five years. In prior elections, Georgians could use any one of 17 types of identification that show the person's name and address, including a driver's license, utility bill, bank statement or a paycheck, to gain access to a voting booth.
Last week, when issuing the injunction, U.S. District Judge Harold L. Murphy likened the law to a Jim Crow-era poll tax that required residents, most of them black, to pay back taxes before voting. He said the law appeared to violate the Constitution for that reason. In the 2004 election, about 150,000 Georgians voted without producing government-issued identification.
"Obviously, we're very pleased with the decision," said Daniel Levitas of the American Civil Liberties Union, which joined the NAACP and other groups in a federal lawsuit against the Georgia law. "It's especially timely to see the federal courts step in to protect the precious rights of voters. This decision confirms our contention that the Georgia ID law poses a constitutional hurdle to the right to vote."
Note the WaPo characterization of the law as if Georgia actually set up a register or required a receipt before you would be eligible to vote.
I am not a legal expert but I believe the left is once again twisting the facts on what constitutes a poll tax. The digital ID they speak of serves the specific purpose of being an ID to vote. If that was the only acceptable ID then they would be correct; it would be a pay to vote scheme that would not pass constitutional muster.
But in this case the government-issued digital ID is an added option that people can acquire if they don't have other acceptable forms of identification. They key here is in the fact that the other acceptable ids are not specifically limited or created for the purpose of voting and that the new ID is actually a convenience when voters do not have the other required forms.
But why should we stop there? Isn't it a fact that utility bills can only be obtained if the recipient pays to have the service? Nothing really comes for free and having an ID will incur an expense somewhere along the way. This is what I term lifting the bar, moving the line, fanning the flames. It is an intentional distortion that is intended to spark outrage.
Thus I contend that the fuss over the Georgia state's new ID requirements is a red herring. The real problem is the picture requirement for some; others are simply using the issue as a wedge to stir emotion based on false pretense.
As for the activism it doesn't take a brain surgeon to understand why many who oppose voter identification are upset. They stand to lose a potential voting bloc that can only be counted on the hands of illegals, dead people and various false ballots; all cases that would truly disenfranchise legitimate voters.
An October, 2006 Washington Post article pretty much sums the problem as well as the reason that some object to more strict Voter ID requirements.
Like the Georgia law, the federal legislation would almost certainly be challenged in court. A coalition of interest and civil rights groups, including the NAACP, AARP, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, denounced the bill yesterday, saying it would disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of minority and elderly voters.
Georgia's law was challenged by Rosalind Lake, an elderly black woman who was left partially blind after being nearly electrocuted in her home, is unable to drive and could not easily obtain a voter ID, her attorney said.
The lawyer, former governor Roy Barnes, argued that even though the state offered to deliver an ID to Lake's home, it could not do the same for everyone who is similarly challenged.
"We have a low voter participation," said Barnes, a Democrat. "We're going to make it more difficult?"
In previous elections, Georgians could present any one of 17 types of identification with their names and addresses, including a driver's license, utility bill, bank statement or paycheck.
Perdue and other proponents of the law said it is needed to curtail fraud. They cited an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article that said 5,000 dead people were listed as having voted in the eight elections preceding 2000.
If previous U.S. Supreme Court decisions are any indication, voter ID advocates have hope for a favorable outcome. Even Justice Stevens concurred with the majority in a Supreme Court decision that vacated the very liberal Ninth Circuit's order that had enjoined Arizona's Voter ID law on the similar grounds as the case in Georgia.
Voter disenfranchisement is a big deal. Lax voter ID requirements leave the door open for fraud; a problem that far outweighs the hysterical rants of activists who twist the facts and create contrived controversy for the express purpose of expanding their support base. Keep your eyes out for this case and the way it is presented by the media.
Terry Trippany is the editor at Webloggin.