The In August of 1965, President Johnson signed “The Voting Rights Act” into law. It was considered a continuation of his landmark “Civil Rights Act” signed the year before because it was obvious that simply “declaring” that minorities as “equal” to whites was meaningless so long as they could be discriminated against at the ballot box. Among the things made “illegal” by the Act were “poll taxes”, which were intended specifically to discourage poor… disproportionately black… people from voting. And now, 47 years later, Republicans claiming a need to “protect the integrity of the voting process”, have placed a series of obstacles and ID Requirements in the way that for all intents & purposes amount to an illegal “poll tax”… just what the 1965 law sought to end.

I actually read a Tweet from one angry Conservative months ago that exclaimed:

“If someone is too lazy to get to the DMV [for a free photo-ID], they don’t deserve to vote!”

I felt it necessary to point out that it is MUCH easier to “get to the DMV” IF YOU ALREADY HAVE A DRIVERS LICENSE and a car. If you’re working for Minimum Wage, take public transportation to get to work, and can’t afford to take a day off to get to your “local” DMV and wait in line all day for a “free” Voter-ID just to do what you’ve already done for years without incident, suddenly it’s not quite so effortless (of course, with a 140-character Twitter limit, my actual response was closer to: “Dumbass!”)

One Pennsylvania blogger conducted a little experiment to see just how much it would cost the 18% of Philadelphia’s registered black voters that currently do not posses an “acceptable” Photo-ID to obtain one:

  • First off, you’ll need your Social Security Card. If you don’t have one, you can order one for $8.00.
  • Grab your birth certificate with raised stamp, or certificate of citizenship or naturalization. Don’t have yours? That’s another $19.00
  • Two proofs of residency like lease agreements, utility bills, W-2 forms, etc. Unemployed & Homeless? Tough luck.
  • Head to the DMV! Of course, if you had a drivers license, you wouldn’t need a “Voter ID”. Since you can’t drive, you’ll probably be taking public transportation: Roughly $4 roundtrip (and let’s hope the bus drops you off nearby if you’re disabled or have trouble walking).
  • DMV’s are not open weekends. Taking time off from work? Go on your lunch-hour to minimize time lost, but the lines will be longer. Plan on Two & 1/2 hours lost (including travel time) at a minimum wage job: $18.12.

(And may I point out, you don’t need “a birth certificate” or prove citizenship to purchase a drivers license that allows you to vote, yet you need one to get a “free” Voter ID. You don’t even have to be a citizen to get a “drivers license”, so why do you need to prove “citizenship” for an equivalent government-issued photo ID?)

Minimum cost to obtain an ID if you are unemployed, have all necessary documentation and take public transportation: $4.00.
Cost if you need to obtain paperwork (in PA), take time off from work, and take public transportation: $49.12.
Cost for an unemployed/homeless person to vote: Priceless… literally. No bills? No W2? No ID. Number of homeless vets in this country: Approximately 75,000.

Of course, that upper-end cost could be MUCH higher if it takes you more than two hours away from work, make more than minimum wage, and/or need to take a cab because there is no bus stop near your home or the DMV (and double all that if you’re told you’re missing documentation and must make a second trip another day). But for some people, “time off from work” is not an option. I’ve worked temporary jobs where if you missed a day, you needent bother coming in tomorrow.

The solution to this nonsense is really quite simple: If the “Secure the Vote” crowd REALLY believes we need “Voter ID” and REALLY believe it’s not a burden to expect voters to jump through dozens of hoops just to get a “free” ID, then how about we pass a law promising “110% reimbursement” for any costs incurred obtaining a Voter ID? Cab/bus fare, time off from work, documentation, etc. They don’t want to pay people to go door-to-door distributing ID’s or send ID’s through the mail to people who apply by phone or online… which would be the ONLY ways to provide voters with an ID in a way that isn’t a burden (and not every person has a door to knock on, a mailbox to fill, or a phone to call from.) If they balk, it can ONLY be because they don’t want to reimburse anyone… an implicit acknowledgement that obtaining an ID isn’t “free” and may cost many people a lot of money… which makes it an illegal poll tax.

And just for fun…

Batman 1966: The Penguin sings his campaign song

…continuing from the earlier video found at this post: “Am I Supposed to be Impressed Both Ryan and Romney Paid Less Than 20% in Taxes?”

(As you may have noticed, M.R.S. is stepping up it’s reporting as we near election day, so be sure to check back often… or better yet, Register for instant email notification of updates! – Mugsy)

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