Letters to the Editor

Douglas Johnston: Voter ID a form of contempt

Regarding the Jan. 31 news article “ Ruling on voter ID is weeks away”: Thomas A. Farr, defending voter IDs, offered a challenge to those without one: “Maybe now that they must have one to vote, they’ll figure out how to get one.” That says it all. It’s not about having an ID; it’s about getting one.

As long as voter confidence is safeguarded, courts have permitted ID requirements, despite lack of evidence that fraud, purportedly motivating the law, exists. However, today’s requirement of demonstrating the capability to get an ID shakes voter confidence by threatening the principle that the right to vote is something we have, not something we earn.

In 1898, ex-Confederate politicians, called Redeemers, wrestled control from a newly risen, black electorate. So-called literacy tests, they claimed, would save white voters from domination by ignorant, black voters. Reciting the Constitution’s preamble was their typical purposeless test.

Today, we are on dangerous ground when courts permit the misplaced fears of some to deprive others of their constitutional rights. Now, a new brand of Redeemers, having created voter anxiety about elections, contemptuously contrive to select who is worthy and deserving of voting with a test of ability to navigate the bureaucracy for a purposeless document. Thankfully, no lie can live forever.

Douglas Johnston