Voter ID laws

I’m mad about Voter ID laws. Wee Fierce Beastie and I bought a home, updated our drivers licenses and updated our voter registrations not all that long ago. Now, I also got shown this by Wee Fierce Beastie recently: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Voting

It’s true, and pretty funny, but it missed one thing that is really worth mentioning. Voter ID laws as presently formulated are arguably violations of the 24th Amendment and subsequent court rulings strengthening and extending it’s protection to state elections.

For those of us who don’t have the U.S. Constitution and its amendments memorized in its entirety (No shame. I’m included.):

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

As mentioned above, subsequent Supreme Court rulings (Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections), ruled poll taxes unconstitutional in state elections as well.

Are voter ID laws a form of poll tax? They’re certainly a barrier to voting. Doesn’t everyone have a drivers license? Well, no. Do you know anyone who doesn’t drive? They probably don’t. How about an elderly family member who, again likely for reasons of not driving, doesn’t have a valid, unexpired license? No big deal to get one? Well, for starters, have you been to the DMV (or DPS, whatever) lately? Waiting in line at the DMV is a cliche for a reason. Locations frequently aren’t open very often. As in, not 5 days a week, and frequently even less frequently.

That’s also covered by the video. The real issue is, aside from all the obstacles of complex and specific requirements as to what constitutes adequate proof of eligibility and identity to get ID required for voting, there is the issue of the fees required to obtain the documents required. If you lost your birth certificate, do you know what the fee is to get one?

It’s probably not a ton. In Oklahoma it’s $15, and actually Oklahoma just requires a social security number to register to vote, and you get a voter ID card that suffices to vote with, and even if you lose it, you can vote a provisional ballot. It’s weirdly…not as horrible as I expected. That isn’t true in a huge number of states, though.

$15 (or whatever it is in your state), big deal, right? I mean even if you had to pay it every year to vote, that’s not too bad, right? If you were going to vote before, you’d probably still pay that. But what if it were more? Just about everyone has a line at which they’d…well, they’d like to vote, but…it’s only one vote and it probably won’t make a difference and it’s a lot of hassle anyways and with the added expense…It might be $150, it might be $1,500, but for some people, it’ll be $15. If you feel entitled to look down on someone for not being able to justify $15 to vote, then you need to check your fucking privilege.

As presently formulated, our system is that all citizens of legal age, unless disqualified for various reasons (felony, for instance…and I have issues with that too. Another time.), are entitled to vote. There are lists of reasons you can’t be disqualified to vote, and not having enough money to pay the tax to vote is one of those banned reasons.

There should be NO financial barriers to being able to vote.

And while we’re at it, why don’t we cut most of the ‘having the leisure of being able to take time off work’ bureaucratic barriers? Make voter registration automatic wherever possible (if you meet the criteria and they have sufficient information (say, because you got a state ID/driver’s license), you can vote), and go ahead and fucking make election days holidays.



Krugman and Clinton

I’ve been getting frustrated reading Krugman lately. I don’t completely disagree with anything he’s said, but I don’t like it. He’s a supporter for single-payer healthcare, as am I, but he thinks it is completely politically unfeasible at the present time and not worth pursuing with the ACA. He doesn’t think Sanders is un-electable, but thinks Clinton is the stronger candidate, because she’s more pragmatic and gradual in her progressive policy, and has survived decades of attempted character assassination from the right.

I’m not really prepared to say he’s  wrong, but I don’t agree. I’m definitely a Sanders supporter at this point. I definitely will vote Clinton if she gets the nomination, of course. I know he’s more of a radical, and I know the Presidency is a tricky position, more one of influence than power.

I’d love to see single-payer healthcare, but I’m honestly not super optimistic Sanders will achieve it, and I recognize he may spend a lot of political capital trying to make it happen without a lot to show for it if he’s elected.

My worry is long trends and dealing with them now before the hole we have to dig ourselves out of as a society is even deeper. We have returned to historical norms for wealth inequality (and didn’t history mostly suck, for the man in the street? Or at least, hasn’t it gotten a lot better over the last 80 years or so?). We also have Citizens United and massively increased access to political power for those with large amounts of wealth at their disposal. The middle class is shrinking, and we’re becoming a working class nation. Women’s rights are under assault, the Supreme Court is under siege by conservatives, and several justices are well above average retirement age.

Clinton is a vote for gradual progress and a general maintenance of the status quo. Unfortunately, not all challenges we face are static, or gradual in nature. Things are getting worse and with the potential to rapidly accelerate. Accumulation of power isn’t linear, it’s multiplicative. The more ground we lose, the faster we lose the ground we have.

Krugman seems more comfortable with the predictable, and the certain. That doesn’t make him a bad person, but my conscience dictates supporting a needful dose of radicalism, and that means Sanders.


The Disability Gulag

The Disability Gulag

This one tugged on my heartstrings a bit.

It’s a piece written by a woman with neuromuscular disease discussing the way the American healthcare system strips disabled people of autonomy and the right to make decisions over their lives and their bodies. A woman’s struggle throughout her life to avoid ‘disability gulag’, ended up in a state-funded nursing home, where her nurses are chosen by others, treat her according to a nursing plan written by others, and basically render you trapped with no control over your daily life or your body (Eg, your hair will be cut short for their convenience. You’ll be seen naked by people you didn’t choose every time you have to use the bathroom. And on, and on.) It’s a never ending battle, trying to get the assistance you need out of private funds because Medicaid finds it easiest just to put people like her in those same nursing homes, but if her health deteriorates, or she can’t manage the resources necessary to pay for the help she has to have to live, that’s where she’ll end up. Every day of her life, from childhood onward.

I had a moment of visceral fear, when reading about her going to consult with administrators at a state-run institution, and then having lunch with some friends she knew as a child in school who ended up there at the facility…where a staff member mistakes her for a new patient, and she flatly panics, a panic reaction urge to scream, but knowing if she throws a fit things will get so much worse, and so she just freezes, until one of her friends, a gentleman with cerebral palsy, comes to her aid, and convinces the nurse that she can’t be a patient, look, she has long hair, she’s wearing jewelry.

Harriet McBryde Johnson was an American author, attorney, and disability rights activist.

Johnson died at home on June 4, 2008.


And so it begins.

First post of the new blog. Welcome! So the about page says it all, but I’m a liberal living in the conservative heartland of America, working for, by and large, conservatives, working among, in significant numbers, conservatives. I read voraciously, news, blogs of various people I respect, everything I can get my hands on that strikes my fancy, and I want to talk about it. This is my outlet for doing so, at a comfortable remove from my personal and professional life.

For those who know me reading, please exercise thoughtfulness in respecting my privacy.

For those who know me and are wondering about the name of the blog, well, I’ve been wanting to move away from online handles I picked when I was a child, and this is a play on one of my newer handles.