By Sherry Pickett
Old habits die hard. The controversial “Voter ID” law was recently overturned here in Georgia. This law made it a requirement that a prospective voter have some sort of state issued identification or passport in order to be able to vote. A utility bill or paycheck stub will no longer be accepted as means to vote. Civil rights activists are against this law primarily because they believe it’s meant to disenfranchise and discourage poor, disabled, and minority voters. Some might say, well if you want to vote so bad just get an I.D., but the truth is there are people who can’t afford to spend the $35 (yes, $35 freaking dollars) for an I.D. They’re too busy trying to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads.
Of course the representatives behind this bill deny this is their intention. They cite past voter fraud as necessitating the voter ID bill. It’s funny to me when the political powers that be act as though Blacks simply suffer from some acute paranoia brought on by nothing in particular. I mean why wouldn’t we think these people would try to disenfranchise Black and poor voters? For years Blacks and the poor were denied the right to vote. And even when amendments to the Constitution were passed, those same people found other ways to keep them from exercising their civil rights. They managed to do it on the sly with little things like poll taxes and the grandfather clause. Poll taxes aren’t so far removed from us, they have been around in most of our parent’s lifetime. It hasn’t been that long since Poll taxes, so famous in the Jim Crow era, were repealed. The bottom line is blacks and the poor feel disenfranchised, because they have in fact been disenfranchised for so long. Blacks are skeptical about elections, because they’ve been shut out for so long. We’re no longer vested in this system. The “election” of our current president is ample proof of how easily our voting system can be corrupted, and how readily the votes we cast not even be considered.
I don’t expect white men to understand this and that’s fine. It’s hard to understand what its like to spend years being denied what by birth is a right. While I understand the distrust, I honestly believe that the Voter ID law is purely meant as a measure to preserve the sanctity of the election process (if there is any at this point. I don’t think it’s meant to purposely leave anyone out. At one time, the government even provided free IDs for anyone that could prove that they could not afford one. An injunction was then filed last year halting that the free IDs. The program was only recently revived in the past few months. According to the www.gaphotoid.com Web site driver’s licenses, even if they’re expired, are still acceptable means of ID, as well as a passport, military, or tribal photo ID’s also work.
My charge to the powers-that-be is this. If this law is on the up and up and only about preventing voter fraud, continue to provide the IDs for free. Make it easy for those who want to get one. Put ID sites back in the grocery stores and places that are easily accessible to the poor. Don’t make this harder than it already is. If someone is informed and interested enough to vote there should be no reason that they aren’t allowed to. This isn’t 1935. More info on the free IDs for the poor is available by calling 1-877-725-9797, or visiting www.GaPhotoID.com. Spread the word guys. Voting is our right, don’t let it be taken away.