Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that would require a voter, before voting, to show a valid, government-issued photo ID (for example, a driver’s license, Massachusetts photo ID, military ID with photo, or U.S. passport)?
Text of a non-binding question on the 2012 ballot in some locations in Massachusetts (First Bristol, Fourth Bristol, and Sixth Bristol House districts).
This question is getting very little publicity. It’s not mentioned in the voter information package mailed to every household in the state. It’s received only brief mentions in a few local papers. The Boston newspapers have not mentioned it at all.
The lack of publicity is unfortunate, because I predict the question will pass, and probably with ease. To people unfamiliar with the issue, who will step into the voting booth and read this question for the first time, it will seem very innocuous — Of course I want to eliminate voter fraud! Why shouldn’t someone need to show ID?
There are of course, many arguments against requiring voter ID, including the probable disenfranchisement of large segments of the population, and the fact that voter fraud is essentially non-existent. However, the problem with these arguments is that they likely will not occur to a voter unfamiliar with this issue who, upon reading this question for the first time, won’t take more than two seconds to consider the question before checking “yes”.
But what is the percentage of voters unfamiliar with this issue? I would wager the majority. Despite the fact that this is a currently a hot-button issue in several states, there has been very little coverage in the Massachusetts media. We’ve got enough on our hands without worrying about whether someone in another state has to show ID when voting. So when these uninformed voters are coupled with those familiar with the issue and firmly in its favor, the question should pass easily.
By why, you ask, is this such a big deal if the question is non-binding and limited to only a few communities? Momentum. Passage gives supporters of this issue the initiative to keep pushing to get voter ID passed into law. They will point to the results and say, “The people have spoken. They want voter ID. And furthermore, look at that margin: It’s a mandate!” Which would be bullshit, because the the majority of the people who voted for it weren’t familiar with the issue.
This thing needs to be nipped in the bud, but I fear that it’s going to sprout into something more.