Rethinking Voter IDs

Jonathan Haidt has a warning.

A new poll has some good news for election reformers — and a strong cautionary note for progressives.

This week’s UMass Amherst/ WCBV poll shows broad support for many of the reforms that Democrats are pushing: “57% favor making it a permanent option to vote by mail, 61% want Election Day to be a national holiday and 60% favor allowing former felons to vote after serving time.”

But, it turns out that voters also like the idea of requiring voter IDs. A lot. And support for the ID requirement is remarkably demographically diverse.

“To the chagrin of Democratic officials, the most popular reform is to require all voters to show ID to vote, with 67% of voters supporting this, and roughly a majority saying they strongly support it. It is most popular with Republicans, with an overwhelming 94% supporting it, compared to 71% of Independents and 45% of Democrats. …

“Requiring photo ID in order to vote is quite popular with the public, enjoying majority support across age, education, income and racial groups,” says Jesse Rhodes, professor of political science at UMass Amherst and associate director of the poll. 

In fact, even though critics often point out that young people and members of minority groups are hardest hit by the ID requirement, the poll found that both groups “overwhelmingly favor requiring that voters show government issued identification in order to vote on Election Day.”

So, perhaps, reformers might want to rethink the way they approach the issue. For many voters, the ID requirement dosn’t sound like voter suppression at all. It sounds like simple common sense.

Jonathan Haidt, whose books include the indispensible “The Righteous Mind,” has some thoughts about the politics of IDs, and he graciously gave me permission to share an email he wrote to friends and colleagues on the subject.

I'm no expert on voting issues, but I can contribute one thought from moral psychology.

People are very sensitive to procedural fairness. They really hate processes that are being gamed or tricked.  They want those people to be punished. I think people see the requirement to show ID as something really basic to prevent cheating. It's not a big deal at all. You have to show your ID to buy beer, rent a car, get on an airplane, or do anything official.

Please check out this video, sent to me by a conservative friend, showing that white liberals think the requirement to show an ID is racist, but black people are like "um, of course I have an ID, everyone does."

So maybe this voter ID requirement is the wrong tree to bark up, the wrong hill to die on. It actually seems kind of weird to me that you can vote in some places without showing a photo ID. 

I think what we REALLY care about is that we want to make voting easy and more frequent. Having to stand in a long line on one single tuesday seems about 100 times more important as a deterrent to voting than is having to show a photo ID. 

If any state is changing rules to make it HARDER for some people to vote, and if those people are an identifiable group (Black, young, urban, or whatever), then that will strike most people as a violation of procedural fairness. That's a kind of cheating--changing the rules to gain an advantage while harming others.  Just think how much easier it is to level that charge of cheating than to say "What? You want to make people show a photo ID? You're cheating!!"


That sounds right.

Unfortunately though, the issue of voter IDs has become a sticking point in the debate, despite the fact that the IDs play only a minor role in the current fight over voting.

Defining the requirement is also complicated, because state laws vary widely — from the permissive requirements in Virginia to more draconian proposals in places like Texas. But, generally speaking, the issue has become a distraction.

”The whole issue of voter ID is, right now, a red herring,” says Michael Waldman, the president of the Brennan Center for Justice. “The reason the issue has suddenly arisen is, I suspect, that ‘voter ID’ does in fact poll very well. It conveys values in basic ways. But it's important to know that it is not actually what's being debated right now.”

H.R. 1 addresses the issue, but contrary to the talking points on the right, it does not ban voter ID laws. Fact Check. org explains:

The House bill would allow those who don’t have an ID to present a statement “signed by the individual under penalty of perjury, attesting to the individual’s identity and attesting that the individual is eligible to vote in the election.” This option would apply only for federal elections. …

So, there’s no blanket “ban” on voter ID laws in the bill, but there is an option for those who don’t have ID to offer a signed statement instead during federal elections.

Exit take: IDs are not a magic bullet to prevent faud, but they are also not the bogeymen of suppression that some folks on the left seem to imagine. And they are definitely not the hill to die on.

Rudy and Ronjon were warned. Breaking news from the Wapo:

The FBI warned Rudolph W. Giuliani in late 2019 that he was the target of a Russian influence operation aimed at circulating falsehoods intended to damage President Biden politically ahead of last year’s election, according to people familiar with the matter.

The warning was part of an extensive effort by the bureau to alert members of Congress and at least one conservative media outlet, One America News, that they faced a risk of being used to further Russia’s attempt to influence the election’s outcome, said several current and former U.S. officials….

The FBI last summer also gave what is known as a defensive briefing to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who ahead of the election used his perch as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to investigate Biden’s dealings with Ukraine while he was vice president and his son Hunter Biden held a lucrative seat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

Johnson, a staunch Trump ally, recalled receiving a vague warning from FBI briefers in August, but he said Thursday that there was no substance to their cautionary message and that he did not view the meeting as a “defensive briefing” on his oversight of the Biden family’s foreign business ventures.

Pence goes down the memory hole. Via the NYT:

In his first political speech since leaving office, former Vice President Mike Pence made clear that despite his grim falling out with former President Donald J. Trump, his days of trying to ingratiate himself to his former boss are far from over as he plots his political future.

Addressing the Palmetto Family Council, a social conservative group in South Carolina, on Thursday night, Mr. Pence made no mention of the scathing criticism Mr. Trump leveled at him for his refusal to try to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. He did not mention the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, which included agitated Trump supporters chanting “Hang Mike Pence” while the president did nothing for hours to stop them….

Instead, Mr. Pence made his political calculation clear: any possible future in the party for him still depends on staying closely aligned to Mr. Trump, despite the accompanying indignities. Mr. Pence said he had the “privilege of serving alongside President Donald Trump,” and reminisced about the good times they had together on the 2016 campaign trail.

Here comes the boom.

Economic activity boomed to start 2021, as widespread vaccinations and more fuel from government spending helped get the U.S. closer to where it was before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

Gross domestic product, the sum of all goods and services produced in the economy, jumped 6.4% for the first three months of the year on an annualized basis. Outside of the reopening-fueled third-quarter surge last year, it was the best period for GDP since the third quarter of 2003.

ICYMI: Tim Miller is out with a new episode of Not My Party — “The GOP War for 2024.”

All y’all ready for the next presidential election?

All right, while you guys have been “Levitating,” binging “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” and prepping for hot Joe summer, the politicians—they’ve been plotting.

I may seem ridiculous, but as soon as Joe Biden was inaugurated, the Republican presidential race for 2024 was on.

But this race is a little different than in years past. Usually a losing presidential candidate grows a beard or goes for a few long walks in the woods. But that’s not Trump’s style. He’s down at Redneck Versailles, shouting at the TV and keeping the door open to another presidential run. That way people have to pay attention to the little guy.

Mitch goes to war. Via Politico Playbook:

MCCONNELL LEANS INTO THE CULTURE WARS — Senate Minority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL and 37 GOP senators will call on the Education Department today to stop a proposed rule that invokes the 1619 Project — the latest turn in the culture wars.

Interesting read from Daniel Gullotta: “What can Never Trump learn from the nineteenth century’s Free Soilers?”

With Trump’s defeat in 2020, the question is whether or not Never Trumpers will formally join the Democratic Party, or try and reform the Republican Party, or embrace an exile from party politics. All three have risks and rewards. Naturally, appeals to conservative voters will not score points for Biden with the online left and party progressives. Likewise, if Never Trump Republicans like The Atlantic’s David Frum, CNN’s S.E. Cupp, and The Bulwark’s Sarah Longwell do formally join the Democratic Party, it will likely be greeted by Trumpsters as confirmation of their ‘fake’ conservative credentials. There is also the possibility that Never Trumpers will lose their identity in becoming Democrats. Free Soil Democrats faced similar questions and the lessons they offer are complex though poignant.

Quick Hits

1. Ted Cruz’s Accidental Confession

Mona Charen writes that Cruz’s anti-woke-CEO rant reveals a cynical GOP calculation.

 Cruz is saying that, all this time when Republicans were claiming that corporations were “job creators,” it was really just code for “they send me cash.” And it seems we are to conclude that Republicans knew all about Coke owing back taxes and winked at it in the name of political compatibility and campaign contributions. Remember all those GOP defenses of the Export-Import Bank as a pillar of U.S. competitiveness when libertarians and good-government types called for its abolition? Cruz is now telling the world that it was a sham. It was all a quid pro quo.

What a great look.

2. Takeaways from the FBI’s Giuliani Raids

In today’s Bulwark, Kim Wehle notes that Rudy’s Ukraine machinations are finally getting serious scrutiny, after Trump’s DOJ reportedly stalled the investigation.

Giuliani is reportedly under investigation for potential crimes under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which makes it illegal to act as an “agent of a foreign principal” without registering with DOJ. As the DOJ explains on its website, the purpose of FARA is “to identify foreign influence in the United States and address threats to national security” by promoting “transparency” and “ensuring that the United States government and the public know the source of certain information from foreign agents intended to influence American public opinion, policy, and laws.”

Cheap Shots

The MTG/Matt Gaetz Show.

Looking forward to the day when we can ignore this retromingent doofus.


That's now.