Monday, April 9, 2012

The Republican Voter I.D. Con Game

My mother is 92. She has proudly voted in every election since she reached voting age. She and Dad moved a lot but no matter where they lived - Illinois, Colorado, California, Arizona, Pennsylvania and more - she made the effort to register and vote. She, like most of her generation, believed it was her duty and her responsibility as a citizen and she's always been one to take being a citizen very seriously. Too bad her representatives don't feel the same way about her.

Because she will not vote in this year's presidential election. Oh, she's still plenty bright enough. The problem is that she had a very bad wreck last March and we convinced her that it was time to give up the car keys. (It was her nine-plus-decade reflexes that were the problem). She finally agreed but it was a bitter pill for a woman who has always been self-sufficient and independent.

So what does driving have to do with voting, you ask? The answer is that here in Indiana (like many other states) the Republicans passed a voter i.d. law that requires an "official" government-issued picture identification. We forgot about that until Mom's license were already expired.

Oh, yes, she could get a State i.d. She could but she won't. She's embarrassed and ashamed of no longer being fit to drive a car. Can you understand how that feels for a woman who has had a license and been driving for 77 years without ever having an at fault accident until this last one?

"In a million years," she said adamantly, "I will not humiliate myself by going to the license bureau to petition for an I.D. like I'm a senile old crone!"

I try to convince her that the gals at the BMV wouldn't think a thing about it. They probably have lots of elderly people come for an i.d. when they no longer drive. But, she's not buying it. She sees it as a humiliation and a lack of respect on the part of her government....period.

We have lived in this house since 1991 and have voted in the same precinct in every election. The poll workers know us as soon as we walk through the door. They've already got their finger on our signature line by the time we get to the table.

Mom could produce 100 different pieces of identification - library cards and utility bills, Medicare cards and social security cards, credit cards and birth certificates and marriage licenses. None of that matters, of course. Because the Republicans, in their wisdom, decided that we have to have that government-issued official stamp of approval - the picture i.d.

You might think this happened because Indiana had a huge problem with voter fraud but you'd be wrong. In fact, our only recent case was perpetrated by our very own Secretary of State, Charlie White, who has been charged with seven felonies, including three counts of voter fraud. Charlie is a Republican as well as being our state's chief election officer! Seriously. You can't make this shit up.

Again, you might think, the Republicans would have been horrified that after they made such an issue of voter fraud, their very own Secretary of State was the one caught out committing this particular crime but again, you'd be wrong. In fact, what happened was that our governor, Mitch Daniels, (perennial potential presidential candidate) made an interim appointment hoping that the judge would reduce Charlie Smith's charges to misdemeanors so that he could instantly give Charlie his old job back. Alas, this didn't happen.

But, still, chalk one up for the Republicans because the voter i.d. law did exactly what it was intended to do. It denied a reliably Democratic voter like my Mom the right to vote. Hardest hit by voter i.d. laws are young people, old people, poor people and minorities. In other words, a large part of the Democratic base. Multiply Mom by thousands and it just might turn an election in favor of the Republicans - which is the point, of course.

It is all part of the Republican's stealth agenda. They campaign on jobs and deficits...bread and butter issues - but when it comes to governing, they switch gears and turn their attention to screwing labor, women and Democratic voters.