We always knew that once new voter ID laws were in place, some people were going to fail to qualify at their polling place and a predictable amount of sturm und drang would result. Well, it’s already taken place in Ohio on Super Tuesday. Had it been some person who lacked an ID card because he’d just gotten out of jail and had a long time to wait until his seventeen DWI suspensions cleared, he wouldn’t provide a very sympathetic case for opponents to trumpet. Unfortunately, the situation of Paul Carroll paints a very different media narrative.
AURORA, Ohio – A Portage County World War II veteran was turned away from a polling place this morning because his driver’s license had expired in January and his new Veterans Affairs ID did not include his home address.
“My beef is that I had to pay a driver to take me up there because I don’t walk so well and have to use this cane and now I can’t even vote,” said Paul Carroll, 86, who has lived in Aurora nearly 40 years, running his own business, Carroll Tire, until 1975.
“I had to stop driving, but I got the photo ID from the Veterans Affairs instead, just a month or so ago. You would think that would count for something. I went to war for this country, but now I can’t vote in this country.”
It doesn’t get much worse than this in terms of the MSM narrative. The guy isn’t just a law abiding senior citizen, but he’s a veteran of the second world war to boot. With a cane. And he had an ID card provided by Veterans Affairs. This is a dream come true for progressive opponents of voter ID laws to jump on for an end zone dance, and it’s already started.
Yes, Mr. Carroll could have filled out a provisional ballot, and he was offered one at his polling place. But – again – he provides the perfect response, saying the print was too small and he’d forgotten his glasses and wasn’t sure if they counted the provisional ballots anyway.
This case should be instructive for everyone, no matter which side of the debate you come down on. When enacting voter ID laws, there need to be a few basic hurdles which all of them should pass. If you’re going to accept any existing forms of ID above and beyond a drivers license, identify all of them out there and work to make sure they will pass muster before enacting the law. But even that won’t be enough in some instances. One suggestion I just heard recently was to make an offer of a free, valid photo ID part of the voter registration process. If the person doesn’t choose to take one, make them initial something on the registration form acknowledging that they passed on the chance. This would also remove the entire “poll tax” question from the process.
And finally, each state doing this should be working with other state and federal agencies to come up with some sort of minimum amount of information which will be displayed on the document. (This could apply to universities as well.) If the Veterans Administration had included a home address on their cards, today’s kerfuffle never would have happened. All of this adds up to one driving imperative, though. Before you can cleanly put laws like this in place, a lot of planning is required. Hopefully other states will learn from Ohio’s stumble.