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On yesterday’s edition of “All In with Chris Hayes” we were greeted with narrative creation at its finest as host Chris Hayes attempted to define the arguments in favor of Voter Identification laws in North Carolina as merely the spoils of victory as opposed to any type of actual reasoned position.
HAYES: If a skeptical person looks at what’s going on in north carolina and says, look, this is why we had elections, we had elections, the republicans won, they won the governorship, they haven’t had it since 1988, they’ve got all three branches of state government for the first time in over i believe a century and now you have to live with the consequences because that’s the way democracy works[.]
It’s always joyous when a host hides behind the “if someone were to ask” method of journalism. That someone is usually themselves or an imaginary two-dimensional stereotype that supports their belief that their ideological opponents are rubes and racists.
Hayes’ guests gratefully accepted his narrative and joined in the lighting of the straw men with enthusiasm.
Said Rev. William Barber, North Carolina’s NAACP President, “the reality is that’s not how government is supposed to work because even when you have a majority, you can not violate the constitution.” I’m not sure who would disagree with this statement, other than the imaginary racist that Rev. Barber wishes so badly to exist as his opponent.
“This group of legislators are acting like they’re the George Wallaces of the 21st century,” he added, just in case you forgot this was about racism. Considering the party lines in this debate, George Wallace, a Democrat, may not have been the most well thought-out choice.
Actually, the problems that make voter ID laws necessary are so straight forward that it’s no surprise demagoguery is the only recourse for opponents. To understand why, we must first observe the laws as they currently exist.
From the North Carolina State Board of Elections (all emphasis mine):
For most voters, no ID is required. If you are not a first time voter, or at the time of your initial voter registration, you provided your North Carolina driver license number or the last four digits of your social security number and that number was validated, you will not be required to show ID when you vote. Also, you are not required to show your voter card.
Did you catch that? You don’t need ID because you used ID to get your voter card but you also don’t have to show your voter card. It’s a problem. Especially considering that you don’t even have to show your ID to get the voter card in the first place. As long as you have the last four digits of the social security number of a voter, you can register in their name with absolutely no identification required.
The argument from opponents is that the cost of obtaining an ID amount to a poll tax for people that can’t afford it. Yet, as has been noted elsewhere, the ID cards would be readily available for free from the DMV who will then be reimbursed by the state government as a requirement of the proposed legislation. A point of negotiation could be centered around the need for people to take off of work in order to go to the DMV. Putting aside the fact that they’d have to do the same thing to vote, these are points that could easily be discussed and solutions provided for (such as offering Saturday hours or some other such solution) to ensure that everyone has access.
The status quo is similar to recent events in Colorado in which an activist from conservative blog Revealing Politics was able to waltz into a registration location and register to vote with nothing more than his name and knowledge of four numbers.
But Chris Hayes and Rev. William Barber weren’t interested in all of these facts. They were interested instead in painting a portrait of racist North Carolinians bent on suppressing minority votes so as to maintain a stranglehold on power in a state that has shifted from red to blue and back to red over the last 3 presidential elections and has seen a huge shift in the party makeup of the state legislature.
I’m sure life is simpler when you’re debating straw men and cartoon characters, but it’s a lot less honest.
You can view the Voter ID bill at the North Carolina General Assembly’s website.