I made the mistake of watching a bit of Joe "I am not a racist" Scarborough this morning. So is he naive? uninformed? deliberately ignorant? or consciously racist?
In a very reasonable tone of voice, he asked, over and over: Why is it such a big deal to ask for a photo ID to vote? After all, you have to have photo ID to board a plane.
Think about it Joe, what segments of our society are less likely than you to ever board a plane?
The driver's license is the most readily available form of photo ID. Who is most likely to have a driver's license?
Easy -- someone who has enough money to own a car and, in most states, to buy mandatory insurance. Certainly people in suburban and rural areas are more likely to drive. They are also more likely to be white.
Who is less likely than Joe Scarborough to have a driver's license?
Old people (like my late mother-in-law, who followed politics closely and voted twice for Obama while she was in a nursing home)
Disabled people and the chronically ill and homebound
Folks in big cities, especially the urban poor (which means, of course, people who are more likely than Joe to be black or brown)
But, as Joe would point out, there are other forms of ID available.
Many of these voter ID laws not only require a photo ID, but also an ID with a birthdate and an expiration date. That leaves out most workplace IDs, student IDs, library cards, etc.
States also issue photo IDs that are not driver's licenses. All you need to get one is a certified copy of your birth certificate. How hard can that be?
Well, it costs money -- money that may be desperately needed to by food or medicine, or to pay the rent.
And if a person does not live in the county where he or she was born, it requires the knowledge and ability to contact the proper office and pay the fee.
When I needed a certified BC several years ago for another purpose, a phone call to the county clerk where I was born was not sufficient. I had to either request it in person (requiring that I take time off work during the clerk's regular office hours and pay for gas to drive there -- but if I could drive there, I would already have a photo ID!), or send a notarized letter requesting the BC, along with a money order for the fee (so there was a fee for the notary, and a fee for the money order, and the postage).
Gee, who would that discourage? Who would find that so burdensome that they might just give up in frustration? Let's see -- the elderly, the disabled, and the poor.
Anyone who denies that these voter ID laws are calculated to suppress voter turnout and that these laws disproportionately affect people of color is either lying or deluding themselves.
I know that I am preaching to the choir here, but doubt that Morning Joe would get my point if I tried to contact him. As long as he ignores real world facts, he can salve his conscience by telling himself he is not a racist, just because he does not overtly want to harm people of color. By that calculus, Paula Deen is not a racist either.