15 July 2013

Voter ID, the death of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the 19th Amendment

The Pennsylvania voter ID trial begins today. I still think voter ID laws are a 19th Amendment issue.

Who changes their names after marriages and divorces? Women.

Who has to run the paperwork gantlet to get a new driver license or passport, digging up marriage certificates, divorce decrees, and birth certificates or sending away to out-of-state agencies for proof that they're who they say they are, only to risk being turned down by a DMV functionary who orders them to transfer the title of their home into their maiden name (PDF)? Women.

Who are disproportionately represented in the Pennsylvania anti-voter ID case? Women (PDF).

And I'll go there. You think the prisoners fasting for Ramadan in Gitmo, or the 29,000 prisoners in California, are the first to go on hunger strikes for their cause? They're only the latest. Who was force-fed during their struggle for the right to vote? Women.

A hundred years ago, Emily Davison was about my age when she was killed attempting a theatrical gesture for women's suffrage. A 7-minute doc includes a film clip and calls her "a radicalized woman with nothing to lose" (4:10). Though she probably wasn't a suicide and never intended to be a martyr, she had a hero's funeral.

You can roll back the business end of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and implement anti-voting measures right away, but it can't end well. The little old ladies with no driver licenses will die off. Those of us born before all the birth records were digitized or originated on the computer will get our acts together and get the right ID. And people my daughter's age, who were in the computer from the get-go, won't have a problem getting their voter ID. Requiring state-issued ID and then making it hard to obtain is not a sustainable strategy. And it won't be too long now before that daughter of mine is voting.

Since, after all, your grandfathers and great-grandfathers were so gracious to vote for the 19th Amendment.

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