Voters in Hobbs New Mexico today voted to approve a measure that would require identification to be presented in order to vote in municipal elections. The vote was decisive with 78% of voters in favor of the measure in spite of efforts by opposition, including the NAACP. B.J. Choice Sr., a member of the NAACP and Hobbs resident, said, “It’s an effort, in my opinion, to suppress people coming to the polls.” He said the legislation is like “the poll tax and the literacy test that minorities and poor whites had to go through.” Opponents, including Choice, have also compared it to the Jim Crow laws and say that groups like African Americans, Latinos and the elderly will have a harder time obtaining photo IDs in order to vote.
Just for the record, poll taxes were instituted by Democrats to require that voters pay in order to register to vote…unless their father or grandfather had been registered previously. This specifically targeted blacks, whose fathers and grandfathers had generally been slaves with no right to vote, while whites were much more likely to qualify to have the poll tax waived. The same thing with the literacy tests; they were designed to exclude blacks, who had a much higher rate of illiteracy than whites and could be disqualified even if they were literate. As an example, in Alabama, blacks were asked to answer questions such as: name all 67 county judges in the state, name the date when Oklahoma was admitted to the Union, and how many bubbles are in a bar of soap. Jim Crow laws, also passed by southern Democrats, established the concept of “separate but equal” and severely disenfranchised and limited the civil liberties of blacks.
By contrast, this voter ID law requires every voter to present an ID, proving that they are who they say they are. That’s all. Among other things, you must have a valid photo ID to:
- buy cigarettes, alcohol or an “M” rated video game
- open a bank account
- apply for a mortgage, Medicaid, Social Security, unemployment or government assistance including public health insurance (ie. Obamacare)
- drive, buy or rent a car
- get on an airplane
- get married
- adopt a pet
- rent a hotel room
- apply for a hunting or fishing license
- pick up prescriptions
- donate blood
- get a job
- cash a check
- or even get a library card.
While they haven’t been vocal about these requirements for ID, Civil rights groups like the NAACP argue that voter ID laws target blacks, latinos, senior citizens and the poor by unduly restricting voting and imposing unnecessary costs. However, anyone who can prove who they are and that they are legally authorized to vote, gets to vote. The new legislation also ads that, if voters don’t have identification, the city will provide it for no charge. So, apparently, the NAACP believes that blacks, latinos, seniors and the poor are either too stupid to go down and ask for an ID, pose for a picture, or follow the same rules as everyone else or they believe that they’re too poor to afford a free ID. Or it could just be that the they’re using this issue to further promote class warfare and racial division and score political points on an issue that has nothing to do with race or class. It’s not like they have a reputation for pulling those kinds of stunts, right?
Even at the state level right now, any citizen can acquire an ID by providing 1) a document of their identity (birth certificate, U.S. passport, military ID, etc.), 2) a document proving their identification number (Social Security card), 3) two documents proving New Mexico residency (rental or mortgage agreement, utility bills, bank statement, etc.) and 4) a thumbprint and signature. It then costs $10 for four years or $18 for eight years. Citizens who are 75 or older get the ID free. That’s not what I’d call restrictive requirements. It is nothing more than establishing the identity of those the state is providing proof of and I pay more for my gym membership than either $10 or $18 a year (not to mention what I pay for my drivers license).
Secretary of State Dianna Duran has called the Hobbs special election encouraging and said that she will again push state lawmakers to consider a voter ID law. If that were to happen, such legislation would very likely include making those state IDs available at no charge, as well.
Hobbs is also not the first city in New Mexico to pass a voter ID law. Albuquerque and Rio Rancho also require photo ID for local elections. We currently have 34 states with laws requiring voters to show identification at the polls. The Hobbs vote is not an isolated incident and these laws are not designed to keep anyone from the polls…other than those who are attempting to perpetrate fraud on our election process. The voting rights of those who actually have the right to vote will be protected through these laws. The ones who are not registered to vote, who have had their right to vote revoked through Due Process, who try to vote under someone else’s name or who are simply not residents or even citizens? They have no right to vote anyway, nor should they, so there are no rights there to protect.
Congratulations to Hobbs, New Mexico on passing a voter ID law and may the rest of us come to our senses and follow your example soon.