But I digress. Since I have little respect for our attorney general ever since he let some New Black Panthers skate on some voter-intimidation charges a few years ago, I find his concerns to be laughable. I'm particularly tickled by the notion that voter fraud doesn't exist, including here in the City of Brotherly Identity Theft. This is, after all, the town where you don't need to be breathing anymore to cast your vote. It is also, according to the report issued this week by City Commissioner Al Schmidt, the city where individuals vote more than once, individuals impersonate others and vote under their names, individuals vote in the incorrect legislative districts, and noncitizens have voted. Are you listening, Attorney General Holder?
Democrats have an interesting way of disagreeing with a proposition. They don't attack it on the merits, as one would expect of legitimate debaters. No, they start wagging a finger in your face and pull out the racist-sexist-homophobic card. We saw the homophobic ace when they attacked anyone who opposed same-sex marriage as bigots. The sexist queen was pulled out of the deck when the Catholic Church challenged as unconstitutional the birth-control mandate under the Affordable Care Act. And the racist joker is waved on too many occasions to count, including the suggestion that Arizona's so-called "show me your papers" law is a way to harass Latinos and anyone with darker-than-average skin.
But they really go all out when it comes to voter-ID laws. There is this idea that forcing us to prove who we are with a valid photo ID is a human-rights violation on par with what's happening in Syria, because voting is a "right." Yes, it's called the "Voting Rights Act" and we all like to think of the franchise as an inalienable attribute of our humanity, but only citizens can vote. Therefore, it's completely legitimate to ask someone to prove his identity, part of which includes proving he's eligible to vote. And by the way, just because you have a voter-registration card doesn't mean you are who you say you are. Photos, even retouched ones, don't lie. Identity thieves do.
I spent a few hours this week accompanying some of my immigration clients to their naturalization interviews. These are the people for whom voting is a "right" they had to actually fight for, unlike those of us who lucked into our passports by being in the right womb at the right time. Not only did they need photo IDs to sit for the test, but they needed to have fingerprints taken, biometrics done, and all sorts of screenings that assured Uncle Sam they deserved the privilege of citizenship. None of them complained, none of them talked about profiling and none of them agreed with Eric Holder that forcing someone to present a photo was bigotry.
My father spent some time in Mississippi during the very hot summer of 1967 registering voters. In those days, being black was an Everest-like mountain to overcome if you wanted to be heard at the polling places, and many people died so those voices could be freely raised. But despite what Eric Holder might believe, times have changed, and he diminishes the sacrifices of people like my own father when he talks about "poll taxes" and uses language designed to inflame tempers and score political points for his boss.
We each have the right, the privilege, and the obligation, to vote. But only one to a verified customer. Preferably one with a pulse.
Christine Flowers is a lawyer. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org and read her blog at philly.com/FlowersShow