The Price of Voting Rights

The fact that you need money to vote has always been democracy's dirty little secret, from the early experiments in England to the great experiment in these United States.

Over the centuries people with few means have had to pry concessions from those with many; the vote was extended from male landowners of a certain class, with a certain size of landholding, to all landowners, to all males regardless of wealth, to all men and women of a certain race, and so on.

Until yesterday's Supreme Court decision on Indiana's photo ID requirement, the direction was pretty much all one way, to encompass more and more members of society. Now it seems the tide is turning. Now you must be able to get your hands on enough money to obtain a photo ID or you can't vote.

The state of Indiana is providing free photo ID cards you say? But they are not making house calls. Read the Secretary of State's web site and you will see it is no easy matter to get one of these cards if you have no car and no phone (let alone access to the web site). There are people in every state for whom getting to the Bureau of Motor Vehicle is a major challenge. After all, why have neighborhood polling places if a precondition of voting is the ability to get out of the neighborhood? Any politician or Supreme Court judge who thinks getting a photo ID is no burden is out of touch.

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