The Obvious Voting-Rights Solution That No Democrat Will Propose

AUGUST 30 – “Democrats in Congress are considering a policy that was long unthinkable: a federal requirement that every American show identification before casting a ballot. But as the party tries to pass voting-rights legislation before the next election, it is ignoring a companion proposal that could ensure that a voter-ID law leaves no one behind—an idea that is as obvious as it is historically controversial. What if the government simply gave an ID card to every voting-age citizen in the country?”

Originally published by The Atlantic

By Russell Berman

“Voter-ID requirements are the norm in many countries, as Republicans are fond of pointing out. But so are national ID cards. In places such as France and Germany, citizens pick up their identity card when they turn 16 and present it once they’re eligible to vote. Out of nearly 200 countries across the world, at least 170 have some form of national ID or are implementing one, according to the political scientist Magdalena Krajewska.

In the American psyche, however, a national ID card conjures images of an all-knowing government, its agents stopping people on the street and demanding to see their papers. Or at least that’s what leaders of both parties believe. The idea is presumed to be so toxic that not a single member of Congress is currently carrying its banner. Even those advocates who like the concept in theory will discuss its political prospects only with a knowing chuckle, the kind that signals that the questioner is a bit crazy. ‘There are only three problems with a national ID: Republicans hate it, Libertarians hate it, and Democrats hate it,’ says Kathleen Unger, the founder of VoteRiders, an organization devoted to helping people obtain ID.”