Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be
In states around the country, Tea Party-backed xenophobes and racists are launching legislation to make it harder for the poor and for people of color to vote. The GOP does not want convenience, because it tends not to favor them.
If that’s the way that they want to play ball, fine. I have a solution.
These new laws require that certified birth certificates be shown by someone registering, along with the usual identification. The problem is that most people don’t carry around their birth certificate with them to the mall, the grocery store or to the other places where organizations who register previously unregistered voters usually make contact. Some older people do not have a birth certificate as they were optional in some states in the earlier part of the 20th century.
Some states have motor-voter, where you can register to vote when you get a driver’s license or state ID card. It’s a handy idea, but many of those laws were struck down for the same reason that these new bills are being introduced.
The purpose of these GOP-induced voter suppression bills is to discourage minority voters and the poor. Most usually register as a Democrat or Independent 3 to 1.
This means that, for many unregistered voters, they will have to appear at a state office, the DMV or a county assessor’s office, and present a birth certificate along with their Social Security cards to identify themselves. The wait could be hours, as it will be mixed in with other business of that office. The effect on voter registration is obvious.
You, or your parents, had to present a birth certificate to get a social security card. It has, in past years, sufficed as proof of citizenship exactly because most states recognize that the birth certificate had to be cleared to obtain a Social Security card. So why not just update the card so that you effectively carry around a verified copy of your birth certificate with you?
The current card is an antique. Printed on cheap paper, it can be easily forged. Cards also get washed, rained on, and otherwise degraded.
What if the Social Security Administration modernized the card? Using the same card systems that states use for driver’s licenses. Plastic cards with tamper-resistant watermarks and the like. Computer chip with a verification code that could be given to state governments and sold to others needing verification at a profit.
On the new card they can put a phrase “BIRTH CERT. VERIFIED.” Heck, for the truly xenophobic states, perhaps even placing an image file of the birth record on an encoded mag stripe just so those Klan-lite types who insist on repressing voters have no reason to invalidate their use.
It is time that the Social Security Administration entered the 21st century. Paper cards are out. Plastic cards with birth certificate verification are in.
Should we have to restate the obvious that anyone with a brain in their head knows about a Social Security card? Your birth certificate is verified by the agency, after all. Birthers and the rest of their racist cohorts who want to disenfranchise people don’t seem to be very quick on the uptake. Birth certificate verification and adding modern anti-fraud elements to the Social Security card should allow people to register as they always have, where they will, and keep the crazies and the cynical Republican operatives trying to stack the deck at bay.
Keeping efforts to get out the vote alive keeps democracy alive, even when totalitarian forces like the ones that have hijacked the Republican Party try to stack the vote in such baldfaced, obvious ways.
Hey, there’s upside for the President too: If Mr. Obama gets one, maybe 29% of Republicans might start believing that he’s actually from this country, up from the low 20% range now.
My shiny two.