by Jim Tynen
You’ve been hearing about vote suppression. Well, recently I underwent medical suppression.
Political activists have been claiming that the state’s new voter ID requirement is voter suppression. They say that many people lack a driver license, or other forms of identification. So, the complaint goes, those folks won’t be able to vote.
I know exactly what they mean. Only my experience took place at medical offices. Last week I had my blood tested and underwent a CT scan.
In both places, I was required to show a driver's license — or, I assume, some equivalent form of identification — just as North Caroline voters will have to do in 2016.
Fortunately, I was able to do so. But that got me to thinking about how often I, or almost anyone, has to show identification in today’s world.
On a recent vacation, I had to show ID to rent a car and board an airplane. And I’d need ID if I decided to take Amtrak instead.
I’ve had to show ID to buy beer, when it is obvious and undeniable I am way, way over 21 years of age.
Twice here in the Triangle I’ve had to show a driver license just to look around at fitness centers. Not to use the equipment, mind you, but just to look around and see if I might want to join.
It’s hard to imagine someone without ID.
A quick Google search will quickly list many other activities that require some form of identification.
This includes using the social safety net.
To get a Social Security card, you must provide ID. Then to collect benefits, a new law mandates that you receive your payments electronically.
But the Patriot Act requires you to show identification to open a bank account, which is what you need to get electronic deposits.
State authorities say that to apply for Medicaid you need to bring an array of documents, including but not limited to:
•identity documents for each individual applying for Medicaid/NCHC,
•certified birth certificates or other proof of citizenship/alien status for each individual applying for Medicaid/NCHC,
•social security cards, social security numbers, or proof that you have made an application for a number from the Social Security Office, for each individual applying for Medicaid or NCHC and
•the most recent bank statements.
In short, people need ID to take part in society.
People without identification are hampered from getting medical care, social services and other basic amenities of life.
Someone who can’t produce basic ID is, therefore, far outside the mainstream of society. If there are such people, they really need help.
If our friends on the Left really cared about the truly needy, they would welcome the chance to provide these essential documents to those who need them.
And they have about three years to do so. That shouldn’t be too hard.
But the Left doesn’t talk about helping the needy get ID. That offers two possibilities:
•There are no such people, or
•the Left doesn’t really care about helping the needy, but only about using them to play political games.
Let’s just keep that in mind.
Providing proof of identity is something doctors’ offices and pharmacies and airlines and welfare offices and many other places demand; it’s not too much to ask it of voters.
And if activists really care, they need to mobilize a drive to make sure everyone in North Carolina has an identification card.
—Jim Tynen is communications director of the Civitas Institute in Raleigh.