The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Voter identification laws

Let me begin this post by going back to something that happened to me in 1964 — yes, if you're younger than 48 years old (which I suspect the majority of readers are), before you were born! But I'm certain of the year because I was working at a job which I began in February, 1964, and left the following September. This job was located in Philadelphia, and it was my habit to spend the week there from Monday to Friday, and go back to New York City, my real home, Friday afternoon after work, returning Monday morning to Philadelphia. It was only an hour and a half — though if you added the subway trip from where I lived in Marble Hill (the northern tip of Manhattan) to Penn Station, that made it somewhat more than two hours, too long for a daily commute, but reasonable to do on this one-round-trip-a-week schedule. Now, I found myself leaving work on this particular Friday without enough money in my wallet for a round-trip train fare to New York, and in those days there were not ATMs at all the banks, as there are now. And it was Good Friday, which is in Pennsylvania a bank holiday (or at least was in 1964; I don't know if this is still the case), a fact I was not aware of because in New York it is not. The Penn Central ticket agent (this was before Amtrak) would not accept a check, so I went to the Greyhound station — and was told that only if I had a driver's license would Greyhound accept a check — shucks, if I had a driver's license, why would I be taking Greyhound?! (And this was before State-issued non-driver's IDs!) I was forced to buy a one-way ticket; the next day, since I had a bank account in New York City at a place that was open Saturdays (not all were, in those days!) I could go to that bank and get some money. (Again, those days were different — I had one account at a New York bank and one at a Philadelphia bank, because in those pre-ATM days that was the only way I could be sure of having some way to get money 6 days a week!)

Now fast-forward to 2011. I had a State-issued non-driver's ID card — with an expiration date of July 13, 2011. But I tried to use it to get into a Federal building on August 6, less than a month after it had expired — and was refused entry! One would think that a card which would have proved I was who I claimed to be, if I had presented it twenty-five days earlier, would still be acceptable on that date, but it was not.

The Greyhound Company would not let me cash a check for less than $10 without an ID in 1964. (Yes, fares were that low back then!) The Federal Government would not even let me enter a building with an ID 24 days after the expiration date last summer. Yet that same Federal Government is claiming it would be an undue burden for a State to require identification of a voter! There's some sort of a disconnect there. Certainly it is important enough to make certain that someone is a registered voter before allowing him to cast a vote that such a requirement is reasonable — and if the Federal Government thinks that even an ID that had been valid less than a month previously is not good enough to get into a building, how can they insist that no identification can be required to vote?

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