Picture IDs

PICTURE IDs….Stephen Bainbridge is unhappy over Democratic opposition to voter ID requirements:

You can’t do anything in this country anymore without a photo ID. You can’t drive. You can’t fly. You can’t cash a check, except maybe at the sleaziest places. You can’t get a job. But you can vote, as long as the Democrats get their way. I guess voter fraud is a core part of the Democratic plan for victory.

But guess what? Outside of Westwood lots of people don’t do these things! And they overwhelmingly tend to be poor, non-white, elderly, and disabled. It’s funny that a Republican-backed bill in the closing days of an election would just happen to target these groups, isn’t it?

Now, as near as I can tell, the evidence is pretty overwhelming that requiring photo ID to vote would stop a very, very tiny amount of actual fraud, but would disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of poor, non-white, elderly, and disabled citizens. So: no actual serious problem solved, but lots of Democratic-leaning voters kept at home. Hard to believe that Democrats oppose this, isn’t it?

But we’re all about compromise and solution seeking here at Political Animal, so here’s an idea. I’m something of a privacy obsessive ? to the point that I refuse to even use loyalty cards at supermarkets ? but oddly enough, I’m really not opposed to the idea of a national ID card. The arguments against them seem to be mostly emotional, and plenty of other flourishing democracies use them without incident.

So here’s my proposal: implement a national ID and give one to everybody, free of charge. You get it when you turn 18 (or whatever), and you get a free update every five years (or whatever). Roving mobile vans would trek through rural areas periodically to make sure everyone has easy access to whichever federal agency is tasked with providing the cards. Instead of simply requiring people to have picture IDs, the federal government would do everything it could to make sure everyone actually has a picture ID, with as little hassle as possible.

Now, this would cost money. And it would create a (smallish) bureaucracy. And Michigan Militia types wouldn’t like the idea. But if Republicans are serious about this whole thing, it’s the fair and decent way to go about it. Any takers?

UPDATE: Bob Kuttner makes the case for a national ID care here. Among other things, it would allow more people to vote, not fewer.