July 30, 2012 6 Comments
Ezra Klein Jamelle Bouie** says You Can’t Beat Voter ID With Just Facts. This must be why non-facts play such a prominent role in the argument against voter ID. (Hey, he said it, not me.)
Here’s his main non-fact, i.e. how he intends ‘engage voters on the plane of ideals and principles’:
Simply put, voter-ID laws place a limit on the number of voters who are able to vote. Unless you have loose laws for identification, there will be some people who won’t have the paperwork or resources to prove their identity at the ballot box (registration is no longer adequate). If you see voting as an important act of citizenship, then this is unacceptable; we should be more concerned with maximizing the franchise, not restricting it.
Every time I hear this sort of argument I marvel. I don’t know if there is a lapse in logic or basic innumeracy going on here, but this argument of ‘ideals and principles’ fails even on its own terms. Namely: to someone who genuinely believes that voting is an ‘important act of citizenship’, of solemn importance and meaning, ensuring that only those eligible to vote (for starters, citizens) do vote should be paramount. If you don’t think it’s paramount, I have to question whether you’re living up to the ideals and principles you purport to hold.
This is because – and I can’t believe this needs to be said – every ineligible vote completely cancels out the vote of someone who was solemnly and sincerely carrying out that ‘important act of citizenship’
Ezra Klein Bouie pretends to care about so much. Letting that cancellation occur is, logically and mathematically, the same thing as throwing the eligible voter’s vote in the trash. So you tell me Ezra Klein: Why is that ok? It can’t be, not if you really care about voting on principle.
Thus it’s clear that ‘maximizing the franchise’ is just the wrong metric for caring about voting as an ideal. It’s the metric for something, just not voting as an ideal. People who care about voting in the abstract, in the plane of ideals and principles, would consider a limit on the number able to vote a feature, not a bug. What is the opposite of a limit? No limit at all. What principle exactly does that maximize?
It’s not hard to figure out. It’s entirely transparent in fact, and you really have to try dang hard to pretend otherwise. The Ezra Kleins of the world seek to ‘maximize the franchise’ because they believe – probably correctly – that the fraudulent portion of the vote will disproportionately break the way they favor. Mathematically, as long as this is predictable and systematic (and I think that it is, and I think
Ezra Klein Bouie thinks that it is), that is the exact same thing as giving their votes some extra weight.
So no, it’s not hard at all to understand why
Ezra Klein would favor multiplying the votes of Ezra Klein and other eligible voters who agree with Ezra Klein by, say, 1.1 before every tally. But for him to pretend it is required out of some ‘normative’ deep principle or ideal is a bit rich. Unless of course that principle is just that the votes of folks who agree with Ezra Klein about stuff should count for a little bit more. Which, deep down, is probably what they think.
**Argh. I had the author wrong. The reason is that these articles show up in an RSS feed based on ‘Ezra Klein’. But that is no excuse for my mistake. My points above stand, of course, but the lazy snark would need major revisions. Thanks to Josh Hedlund for pointing out my error(s).