Photo ID laws on the march!

Denise Green displays her "Independence Card," which is issued by the state of Maryland and holds federal SNAP benefits, at her home in Silver Spring, Md., June 19. (CNS photo /Bob Roller)

NPR reports that a state judge has struck down Pennsylvania’s voter ID law, ruling that it imposes a “substantial threat” to the rights of hundreds of thousands of voters. The law had been challenged by a 93-year-old who didn’t have a driver’s license and lacked access to a birth certificate or any other documents that would allow her to get a state-approved photo ID. Opponents of voter ID laws say that they present special difficulties to low-income, minority and urban voters who are less likely to have driver’s licenses. Last fall, for example, (Un) Conventional Wisdom noted the difficulties in getting the right voter ID in another state. (See “Voting while married gets a bit trickier in Texas.”)

While debate continues on the fairness and cost-effectiveness of voter ID laws (given that voter fraud is virtually nonexistent), Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana thinks it’s time to expand the concept. ThinkProgress’s Alan Pyke reports that Vitter wants to add a bit of red tape to the food stamps program:

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Food stamp recipients will have their grocery store humiliation compounded by having to show a photo ID in order to buy food if Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) gets his way.

Under a bill Vitter introduced Wednesday, beneficiaries of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) would be denied their food if they are unable to show a photographic identification card at the register. For millions of low-income Americans who don’t have an official photo ID and can’t necessarily afford to buy one, Vitter’s bill would mean being cut off from their primary food source.

Vitter claims that the doubling of costs since 2008 for the food stamp program (officially, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) suggests widespread fraud, but advocates for the poor say the economic crash and sluggish recovery are responsible for the higher number of aid recipients. Vitter may want to review the efforts of Maine Gov. Paul LePage to root out welfare fraud. The Portland Press-Heraldeditorializes, “So far, the investigators have identified 77 suspects, at the cost of $1.4 million over two years.”

Operators of soup kitchens and homeless shelters can at least be relieved that Vitter has not yet proposed a requirement that they inspect photo IDs before giving aid to clients. You know, for national security reasons.

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J Cabaniss
4 years 7 months ago
You asserted that "voter fraud is virtually non-existent" and I would like to ask: how do you know? You began your article by noting that the Pennsylvania voter ID law was overturned so it is relevant to bring up questions about voting in Philadelphia. This is only one of a number of locales where serious charges of voter fraud have been made; have you even entertained the possibility that some of those charges might be valid? Did you investigate them? Here is a sample of what is out there: "According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, there were 59 voting divisions in the city of Philadelphia where Mitt Romney did not receive a single vote. In those voting divisions, the combined vote total was 19,605 for Barack Obama and 0 for Mitt Romney." Is the charge accurate? I don't know, but I would certainly want to know before I made an assertion about the non-existence of voter fraud.
Stanley Kopacz
4 years 7 months ago
The type of voter fraud you are alleging is not caused by people ineligible to vote voting. It is election tampering. This type of tampering has been found to be more likely in favor of Republicans, as the growth of disparity between election results and exit polls show. It is more likely with the growth in the use of electronic voting machines which are eminently susceptible to tampering. Going back to mechanical or paper ballots will more likely insure that elections are honest. Photo ID rules are just a Republican scam to shore up against their declining support.

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