Brits mock Texan’s whine of racism over voter ID


ID, PLEASE: Are voter ID laws cumbersome? Europeans don’t seem to think so.

By Jon Cassidy |

A columnist for the lefty Texas Observer got an op-ed into the U.K.’s favorite lefty rag, The Guardian, Tuesday decrying the state’s voter ID laws with all the rhetorical effect she could muster.

The result was hilarious. No doubt she was expecting a warm reception, but as anybody who’s spent time with international election observers could tell her, Europeans don’t find identification requirements at the polls unreasonable in the slightest.

They’re baffled that anyone would think otherwise.

To imagine the lack of effect Cindy Casares’s article had, just imagine a foreigner complaining in the Houston Chronicle about her home country’s Gestapo campaign to promote the brushing of teeth.

I just have one plea: will somebody please take Casares’ article and publish it at a prominent newspaper in one of the true towers of bureaucracy in this world — France, say, or Portugal — where the state is indistinguishable from the nation, and the records in your official file matter more than reality itself. The sure reception: prodigious incomprehension.

After rambling for a bit about abortion, gerrymandering, abortion, school funding and abortion, Casares came to her point: “We are reliving the Jim Crow era in the United States — and nowhere more so than here in Texas.”

“During the last two legislative sessions,” Casares writes, “seemingly every major law passed was created to disenfranchise people of color who, despite their numbers, are still two or three times as likely as white Texans to be unemployed, live below the poverty line, lack medical insurance and have low educational attainment.”

The “seemingly” is adorable. I’d almost contradict her by pointing out Democrats actually got more bills signed into law last session, or cite an example or two of nonracist legislation (I hope I can find some), but why? She said “seemingly,” the universal signal that not even the author believes the nonsense to follow.

I would invite her, though, to spend an entire column on that “despite their numbers.” Whatever the causes of persistent inequality, how would population size be among them?

In Casares’ mind, it’s all a big conspiracy to keep the underenfranchisees deprivileged. “It’s all” probably seems a bit vague to be the subject of a sentence, but I can’t find a clearer one in her piece. Even the day of the week on which the Supreme Court decided to allow Texas to proceed with voter ID requirements this election was part of the conspiracy.

“The justices broke that news on a Saturday morning, forcing voting rights advocates to compete with day-long televised coverage of Longhorn and Aggie football — the two real, political parties of Texas — to get the word out to voters a mere 48 hours before early voting began in a state known to be one of the worst for voter turnout in the US. (During the 2010 general elections, for example, Texas had the lowest turnout of any state with only 32% of registered voters showing up at the polls.)”

This raises an important question: if turnout were 38 percent in 2008, could the court make an announcement 24 hours before the Baylor game now?

The real hilarity, though, was the response from the Guardian’s readers, who were baffled, not just by the baffling argument, but by the premise: that voter ID is racist.

One wrote: “Just what is wrong with producing an ID? I confess, this is one of the times I don’t understand civil rights in the US. I thought that people should protest IF minorities are being deliberately prevented from getting ID’s. Yes, there may be low levels of voter fraud in the US…but that does not mean electoral authorities should suddenly be less vigilant (just as a low crime rate in a certain locality does not mean the local police force is not needed anymore.). Maybe i am racist (I am a black African BTW)…but I see nothing wrong with presenting an ID for voting….or indeed for anything in life.”

The most popular response was brief: “Shock horror, you have to prove who you are when you vote.”

Another popular comment: “Sorry I’m not American so unsure on the reasoning here but why is it hard for black Americans to have photo I’d and easy for whites to get it. I assume they fill in the correct forms and get one, so missing the point as to why it is racist against them. I don’t get why they don’t just get the id then.”

And: “Are you really allowed to vote in the US without proving your identity!?!? Wow!!!”

Plus: “Gosh, what a truly wicked imposition!”

Them: “It requires voters to present valid identification in order to cast a ballot? Goodness gracious me! How draconian! Why do 796,000 adults (and 600,000 to 800,000 registered voters) in Texas not have have the government-issued ID required? Are they so inept that they are unaware of such a basic obligation?”

Those numbers are the exaggerated ones the writer took from the federal lawsuit over voter ID, but few found them compelling.

“I can’t think of a single reason why someone shouldn’t have/get a gov’t issued ID (besides being illegal in which case they can’t vote anyways),” wrote another.

And finally: “I am all for this, because if it accomplishes anything at all, it will SHUT the mouths of all the whiners in the US, that scream election fraud every time they lose. And that my dear fellows makes it all worth it.”

Contact Jon Cassidy at or @jpcassidy000.