Columbia’s The State recently offered a story about South Carolina’s new Voter ID law that has been passed, explaining why some people are so vehemently opposed to the requirement that photo identification be presented before one can vote.
The story focuses on a 59-year-old Charleston man who will not be able to vote if the new law is upheld because he has misplaced his driver’s license.
If you misplace your driver’s license, you pay $10, get another one and you get on with your life. Yes, you’ll have to wait in line at the DMV, but you’d have to do that, anyway if you’re planning on driving, since you’re supposed to have your license with you.
But there’s a catch in this case.
The man in question can’t get a replacement driver’s license for $10. In his case, he’s have to pay $160. It’s money he owes the DMV, the article explains, because he failed to turn in a license plate on time.
And apparently, since his driver’s license is still valid even though he can’t find it, he can’t circumvent the fine by getting a simple government-issued ID.
Opponents to the Voter ID bill say it’s “no more than an attempt to rekindle Jim Crow through a modern-day poll tax.”
Well, let’s look at this scenario, one of about 40 on display at a recent NAACP meeting.
If the guy hadn’t misplaced his driver’s license, an important legal document, there would be no problem.
If he had returned the license plates to the DMV when the law says he should have, he could pay the $10 for the replacement license and there would be no problem.
If he paid the fine from “years ago” that the DMV says he legitimately owes for failing to do what he was supposed to do when he was supposed to do it, he could now pay that $10 for the replacement license and there would be no problem.
But by losing his license and continuing to not pay a fine the DMV says he owes, it is he, not the Voter ID bill, who is causing this particular problem.
And then there’s this point: the next “big” election is in November of 2012. By my count, that’s 15 full months away. If he were to set aside $10.66 per month for those 15 months, he’d not only be able to get his license back, but he’d get square with the DMV, something any civic-minded citizen who’s this concerned about being able to vote ought to want to do.
If the folks who are putting so much energy in complaining about deep, dark conspiracies would put this same effort over the next year and a half into acquiring the documentation they should already have, they wouldn’t be turned away at the polls, and would therefore have no reason to be “disenfranchised.”
We all must follow rules, even when voting is involved. Ignore the speed limit, for example, and then try getting away with it when you tell the officer who pulls you that your right to vote is more important than any other rule, including those inconvenient little speed limits. Good luck with that.
There are some crimes that one can commit that will result in his right to vote being taken away indefinitely.
Not paying a license plate fine should never be one of those crimes.
On the other hand, maybe the failure to pay fines owed to the government should be. Maybe those who owe back property or income taxes shouldn’t be able to vote until their bills are paid. (Or, at the very least, until payment arrangements are made.)
And then there’s that final, lingering conspiracy issue. If this really is some ominous plan designed to keep a certain segment of people from voting (under a guise of requiring ID to prevent fraud), and this plan is defeated, what is there to then stop these same “conspirators” from hiring people to portray those same “disenfranchised” voters, vote straight-party for the right, and thereby prevent the real voter from being able to vote their way?
The lack of proof of one’s identity could just as easily cut the other way if no ID is really required. Why can’t the people who are so unwilling to see this as anything other than racism see that?