The subject of “Why did Hillary lose” has become the 21st century replacement for Why Can’t Johnny Read, and there will likely be even more books written about it before this issue ever settles into the dustbin of history. Everyone seems to have their own convenient version of the story, but at least some liberals in Wisconsin have settled on a favorite old stalking horse… voter ID laws. In a rather one sided analysis (to put it mildly), Christina Cassidy and Ivan Moreno have an Associated Press piece which seeks to explain why Clinton’s narrow defeat in the Badger State may have come down to the simple fact that some unknown (and unknowable) number of voters wound up being “unable” to cast a vote last November due to voter identification requirements.
By one estimate, 300,000 eligible voters in the state lacked valid photo IDs heading into the election; it is unknown how many people did not vote because they didn’t have proper identification. But it is not hard to find the Navy veteran whose out-of-state driver’s license did not suffice, or the dying woman whose license had expired, or the recent graduate whose student ID was deficient — or Harris, who at 66 made her way to her polling place despite chronic lung disease and a torn ligament in her knee.
She had lost her driver’s license just before Election Day. Aware of the new law, she brought her Social Security and Medicare cards as well as a county-issued bus pass that displayed her photo.
Not good enough. She was turned away.
In the end, Wisconsin’s 10 Electoral College votes went to Republican Donald Trump, who defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton by roughly 22,000 votes. But the battle over voter ID laws continues.
As with all of these stories, the authors pick out a handful of the most gut wrenching, tug at your heartstrings stories they can find to show how voter ID laws must be “disenfranchising” select groups of people (generally the most politically useful ones) and tipping the election. Despite the fact that they freely admit that it is unknown how many people tried to vote but lacked the proper documentation, the implication is clear: it could easily have been more than Clinton’s 22K losing margin and of course they all would have voted for Hillary, right?
What’s unreported is the fact that behind virtually every one of those heartbreaking tales is a person who could have taken steps to be in compliance with the law and still managed to vote had they wanted to. Granted, there may be a few cases where it would have been significantly more challenging such as the person who lost their driver’s license “just before the election.” But even in that scenario the headline is misleading. Nobody gets pulled over by the cops and simply loses their license on the spot. You are ticketed, summoned to court and there, if found guilty, may lose your license. You have some advance warning. And if you were worried about that happening you have other options. Perhaps you have a passport. Or you might have a student ID with a photo good for at least two years.
But let’s say you don’t have any of those things. The article also fails to mention that anyone without a valid driver’s license can go down to the DMV and obtain a free voter ID using any number of common documents to establish your identity. Heck, you can even get one through a separate process even if you don’t have a birth certificate. And the only reason you can’t get the free one if you have a valid drivers license is to cut down on costs and because the drivers license is already sufficient to use at your polling place. (You also have the option of surrendering your drivers license and taking the free voter ID which you could then trade back in when your privileges are restored.)
Even if you fail at all of those steps along the path, you can show up at your polling place and cast a provisional ballot with no ID whatsoever, and come back a few days later after you obtain one and have your vote counted. How many other excuses do people need to not be in compliance with a law which applies equally to everyone? Let’s face it folks… Hillary lost Wisconsin because she didn’t put in the work and turn out enough voters. This isn’t long division. And using her loss as an excuse to continue railing against voter fraud protection measures isn’t going to magically put her into office.