Thomas Knapp: Photo ID to Vote? Well, OK, But…

One perennial proposal in the ongoing “fight” (actually more a set of dueling theatrical productions a la professional wrestling) over “election integrity” is a requirement that voters produce official, government-issued identification documents, complete with photo, at polling places.

Anyone who’s ever worked door security at a nightclub (yes, I have) knows that possession of a card with a photo vaguely resembling the person possessing it is no guarantee of identity.  And polling places have a built-in advantage over nightclubs: EVERYONE has to be on the guest list to get in.

Having individuals pretend to be voters when they aren’t doesn’t seem to be a real problem, if for no other reason than that it’s an incredibly labor-intensive way to fraudulently swing an election outcome.

In reality, the photo ID requirement drives seem to be more about making sure that only the “right” people — those who have the time and money to sit around government offices waiting for those very special cards — get to vote.  There being, probably not coincidentally, a strong correlation between being one of those “right” people and possessing a skin tone that matches one of the lighter shades on the Pantone Matching System Color Chart.

But it seems to me that there’s room for a compromise here — a way to take the supposed concern seriously, and do something about it, in return for something that naturally follows from doing so.

Side A of this grand bargain proposal is simple: Give the “photo ID to vote” advocates what they want. You don’t get to vote without showing government-issued photo ID.

Side B is a little messier: Since photo ID is so important that it’s impossible to trust the results of an election not requiring it, all past elections not requiring it are deemed null, void, and of no effect. Every political official chosen in an election without photo ID requirements is automatically recalled, and every law passed by those officials — or by voters in a non-photo-ID election — is rescinded.

Yes, all of them, all the way back.

I have it on good authority that not a single member of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, or any of the legislators or convention delegates ratifying the Constitution, possessed government-issued photo identification documents.

How can we possibly know that the gentlemen purporting to be James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, et al. weren’t just  a gaggle of randos in borrowed wigs and waistcoats who fraudulently passed themselves off as the genuine personages?

If, as its advocates claim, photo ID is necessary to “election integrity,” we can’t trust that any past election was properly conducted or properly decided, and should therefore not consider ourselves bound by those elections’ results.

Your move, “election integrity” panic-mongers.


Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

18 thoughts on “Thomas Knapp: Photo ID to Vote? Well, OK, But…

  1. SocraticGadfly

    Re Side A, I present the State of Texas in earlier hypocrisy, when it refused to accept photo-inclusive college ID as a valid form of photo ID for voting.

  2. Tony From Long Island

    I have never needed a photo ID to vote, nor do I need one. I really don’t care if it is required, but it isn’t necessary. There is no voter fraud. No one is voting as someone else. Also don’t be captain literal man in your replies. 155 million people voted in 2020. If there was a handful of illegal votes that’s still none.

  3. Nathan Norman

    Fewer people should vote. If you’re not willing to put in the extra effort to prove you are who you claim to be then you shouldn’t have a vote. I support voter ID. I support raising the voting age to 25 (since human brains are not fully developed until at least this age). I also support voting only in-person (with clear and documentable exceptions for certain old people). I support voting only on Election Day. I support paper ballots only.

  4. Jared

    Knapp: “Having individuals pretend to be voters when they aren’t doesn’t seem to be a real problem, if for no other reason than that it’s an incredibly labor-intensive way to fraudulently swing an election outcome.”

    While this much is true, the unsubtle suggestion that voter ID laws are designed to disenfranchise non-white voters strikes me as a paternalistic progressive scare tactic to mobilize black Democrats.

    I’m probably more sensitive than most libertarians to the plight of the poor, certainly more sympathetic to the concerns of the Old Left, and I take offense at “poor people” being replaced at every opportunity with “people of color,” as though impoverished whites aren’t real because “white privilege” empowers them to free themselves from all poverty traps. So, for whites who are poor, it’s their own fault, but poverty and helplessness are just the natural condition of blacks in America, held down by a white supremacist system that makes it impossible for non-whites (excluding Asian Americans obviously because they’re “white-adjacent”) to thrive without a much richer, much smarter, pasty old vanguard protecting them from the racist majority and promising a second emancipation next election cycle. Democrats wonder why they lost the support of blue-collar whites.

    Legislation and regulation that disproportionately affect blacks don’t do so because they’re black, but because blacks are disproportionately poor. Why blacks are disproportionately poor is a separate discussion. Replace “racism” with “classism” in contemporary leftist discourse, and you end up with more honest conversations that deserve to be taken more seriously. “Voter ID laws are racist” is ridiculed, rightly, because it’s ridiculous on its face.

  5. Richard Winger

    Nathan Norman, not every citizen age 25 and above has a “mature brain.” Do you favor requiring voters to pass some objective test proving that they have a “mature brain” before they are allowed to register?

  6. Andy

    I think people should have to pass a test on what the Constitution says before they can vote. It would be good to throw in the Declaration of Independence as well.

  7. Tony From Long Island

    Andy: ” . . . . I think people should have to pass a test on what the Constitution says before they can vote. It would be good to throw in the Declaration of Independence as well . . . ”

    This is where I put the facepalm Gif of Captain Picard.

  8. Andy

    “Tony From Long Island
    January 23, 2022 at 20:24
    Andy: ‘ . . . . I think people should have to pass a test on what the Constitution says before they can vote. It would be good to throw in the Declaration of Independence as well . . . ‘

    This is where I put the facepalm Gif of Captain Picard.”

    So Tony thinks that it is a bad idea for people to have to know what this country’s founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution say in order to be able to vote. This means that Tony favors voting from people who have NO IDEA what this country is supposed to be about or how the government is supposed to operate. Given that Tony is a Democrat now, we should not be surprised.

  9. Jared

    I’m more of a small-d democrat than a small-r republican, so my inclination is that any permanent resident directly affected by laws, subject to their enforcement, should be able to participate in the political process. While I certainly sympathize with those who want voters to study our founding documents and understand the structure and ideal function of American government—I do, too—and lament the sad state of civics education in our country, I also have no faith in the federal bureaucracy to design and administer an ideologically neutral test that won’t attempt to bias voters.

    And if a basic grasp of the Declaration of Indepedence is required, then why not also the Federalist Papers or Supreme Court cases and opinions? At the federal level, there’s no non-arbitrary end point if you take it further than the U.S. Constitution.

  10. Tony From Long Island

    Andy, I don’t think you would qualify to vote by your own standards.

    Apparently, though, you only want the elite to have a say. Those who aren’t as awesomely smart as you should have no say at all in the course of their lives.

    I very rarely throw around words like “fascist” and “authoritarian” but you became their poster boy here.

    Also, Why would me being a democrat have anything to do with it? A huge majority of the uneducated voted for Trump, one of the most vile and despicable human beings on the planet (an opinion I have held since the 1980’s).

  11. Andy

    “Jared
    January 24, 2022 at 15:11
    I’m more of a small-d democrat than a small-r republican, so my inclination is that any permanent resident directly affected by laws, subject to their enforcement, should be able to participate in the political process. ”

    Democracy is two wolves and sheep voting on what’s for dinner. Democracy is the god that failed.

    Having more people vote is NOT necessarily a good thing. Lots of people are too ignorant and/or stupid to vote. Lots of people have a vested interest in government because they work for or contract with or are a recipients of some government program, which means that they have a conflict of interest. People with conflicts of interest in a court case are prevented from serving on juries, so they ought to be barred from voting or donating to political campaigns as well.

    Suggesting that non-citizens should be able to vote is a TERRIBLE idea. If non-citizens can vote, then what’s the point of becoming a citizen? If anything, it should be made more difficult to become a citizen. If a person has been here long enough to obtain permanent residency, and they have not bothered to go through the naturalization process to become a citizen, then it shows that they don’t really care about being a citizen, and they should not be able to vote in any government elections. Also, if they are not citizens, it is a sign that they still have loyalty to some other country, which is another reason they should not be able to vote.

    “While I certainly sympathize with those who want voters to study our founding documents and understand the structure and ideal function of American government—I do, too—and lament the sad state of civics education in our country, I also have no faith in the federal bureaucracy to design and administer an ideologically neutral test that won’t attempt to bias voters.”

    I agree that most of the people in today’s government cannot be trusted to implement this properly. This is something that should have been implemented back in the 1700’s as the country was being formed, or maybe in the 1800’s. This would not pass today, and if it did, the verson that would pass would almost certainly teach some twisted version of what these documents say and mean. They would probably claim that “promote the general welfare” authorizes Marxist wealth distribution and specific welfare, and that the commerce clause, which says, ““to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.” gives Congress the authority to regulate any activity, and that the “well regulated militia” mentioned in the 2nd amendment means that National Guard.

    I would want the legal language for this to say that the test can ONLY be on what these documents say, not some twisted version of it from some politician or judge well after it was written.

    “And if a basic grasp of the Declaration of Indepedence is required, then why not also the Federalist Papers or Supreme Court cases and opinions? At the federal level, there’s no non-arbitrary end point if you take it further than the U.S. Constitution.”

    The reason I threw in the Declaration of Independence with the US Constitution is because the Declaration of Independence is this country’s founding document. It tells why this county was formed and it lays down a philosophical framework for why this country was formed. The US Constitution is the rule book for how the government is SUPPOSED to operate, and what its limitations are SUPPOSED to be. Just requiring a test on what the US Constitution says would be a big improvement says in order to vote would be a big improvement over now, but including the Declaration of Independence as a part of the test along with the US Constitution would be even better.

  12. Andy

    “Tony From Long Island
    January 24, 2022 at 19:24
    Andy, I don’t think you would qualify to vote by your own standards.”

    I am already pretty familiar with these documents, so I think I would pass, but it is not like I have them both memorized, so if I needed to brush up on them I would study for the test.

    “Apparently, though, you only want the elite to have a say. Those who aren’t as awesomely smart as you should have no say at all in the course of their lives.”

    I would like to eliminate parasites *which is why I’d like to prevent government employees, government contractors, and welfare recipients, including the boards of corporations who receive corporate welfare, from voting or donating to political campains), and stupid people, and the ignorant from voting. One reason why the political system in this county tends to have such bad outcomes, and why things generally tend to get worse and worse, is because there are too many parasites, idiots, and ignoramuses voting.

    The only people who should be able to vote are people like Ron Paul, G. Edward Griffin, Michael Badnarik, and Tom Woods (for just a few examples of people would could be model voters).

    If people don’t like this, they should not receive government handouts, and don’t work or contract with the state, and also, study this country’s founding documents.

    It is really pathetic that there are people graduating from high school, and college, who hare clueless about what the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution say.

    “Also, Why would me being a democrat have anything to do with it? A huge majority of the uneducated voted for Trump, one of the most vile and despicable human beings on the planet (an opinion I have held since the 1980’s).”

    I agree that lots of stupid and/or ignorant people vote Republican as well. There are plenty of things wrong with the Republican Party, BUT, the Republican Party at least plays lip service to supporting smaller government, and the Constitution, and opposing socialism, and supporting gun rights, even if they don’t always mean it. The Republican Party also has at least a liberty movement within it, most notably with elected officials like Rand Paul and Tom Massie.

    The Democratic Party, on the other hand, does not even really pretend to not be socialist anymore. The Democratic Party at one time did a better job of PRETENDING to not be socialist, but not anymore. The mask has come off with the Democratic Party of today. Also, look at the standard bearers of the Democratic Party of today. There is senile old man, Joe Biden, and wicked witch Kamala Harris, who slept her was to the top (and neither of Kamala’s parents were American citizens at the time of her birth, which means that under the ORIGINAL and CORRECT interpretation of BIrthright citizenship, she is NOT a Natural Born Citizen, and should NOT even be holding the office of Vice President). This is probalby the most blatantly TERRIBLE presidential ticket in the history of this country, even worse than Barack Obama and Joe Biden (at least Barack could string sentences together in a coherent manner, and Joe was less senile when he was VP than he is now).

    I suspect that the Deep State stole the election in order to install puppet Joe Biden as President, because they did not think that Donald Trump was enough of a puppet.

    If the election was stolen, that is pretty disturbing, but it may be EVEN MORE DISTURBING in some ways if Joe Biden legitimately won the election, because if he legitimately one, it shows just how decayed and degraded our society has become. If Joe Biden legitimately won the election it would be another sign of the country become like the future America shown in the movie “Idiocracy”.

  13. Andy

    Tony From Long Island said: “I very rarely throw around words like ‘fascist; and ‘authoritarian’ but you became their poster boy here.”

    If the reforms I suggested above were implemented, this country would be a much freer and more prosperous, and happy, than it is now.

    The status quo which you support is what has brought us closer to fascism and authoritarianism.

  14. Jared

    HHH: “Democracy is two wolves and sheep voting on what’s for dinner. Democracy is the god that failed.”

    Hans, if you please. I was replying to Andy.

  15. Seebeck

    Let’s get real, folks:

    Voting is not a right. It’s a privilege that some organizations grant to some of its members to participate in its operations, if they so desire. In the case where that organization is Gooberment, the privilege is offered to citizens over age 18 who are not felons or otherwise have had the privilege denied, and also they must fill out a form provided by Gooberment, that must be approved by Gooberment, in order to participate. As such, the Gooberment can certainly require a potential participant to exhibit their Gooberment ID to participate.

    But keep in mind, the Gooberment can revoke or restrict that privilege any time it wants, and it has done so in the past with non-whites, women, and the under-21, just as it does today with felons, non-citizens, and the under-18.

    “But wait!” you cry. “The amendments to the Constitution that block poll taxes and restrictions on voting to women, non-whites, and the over-18 groups state that voting is a right!” Well, guess what? Those wordings are there because over the past 250 years the PTB have lost track of what a right is (inalienable, exists because we exist) vs. a privilege (granted and revocable by someone) to the point that the so-called “legal experts” and similar chowderheads in Congress and the courts conflate the two improperly in both law and common sense. Two different birds, but because one is a duck and the other a goose, they mistakenly apply the characteristics of the duck to the goose. After all, they both flying birds with webbed feet and long bills that swim and have similar diets.

    So frankly, the argument over Gooberment requiring its ID for the privilege of participation of its system of operations, it’s just ludicrous.

    Besides, if voting really mattered for Gooberment, they would want it restricted so it wouldn’t upset their apple cart. Ducks and geese love apples, after all.

  16. Dave

    Felons are not banned from voting in all states. In two states (Maine and Vermont) people can vote while in prison. In most other states there is some form of voting rights restoration for felons such as completing parole, paying fines, etc. In some states just being released from prison is enough.

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