IDs for a Vaccine Shot, but Not for Voting?

Recently, I went to get my first COVID-19 vaccination. I was impressed by how quickly and efficiently the process in New York City worked.

I also noticed that I had to present my ID twice, verify my address twice, and verify my phone number once. Anyone signing up for the vaccine is warned in advance that he will have to present identification that includes “a driver’s license, passport, or any legal proof of your date of birth and residency.”

Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary under President George W. Bush, also took note of that fact on Twitter: “Why is it ok to require ID to save someone’s life but not ok for voting? Asking for IDs is sensible, here and for voting.”

The vast majority of Americans agree. In a poll taken last month by Scott Rasmussen, adults opposed — by 64 percent to 30 percent — Democratic attempts in their H.R. 1 election bill to effectively nullify state laws requiring photo ID. Every key demographic group supported photo ID, including African Americans, who split 50 percent to 41 percent in favor. Other polls have shown margins in favor of ID that are equal to or greater than Rasmussen’s numbers.

Nonetheless, the “fact checking” website Snopes was all over Fleischer’s comment and accused him of “attempting to create an equivalency between two different issues when none exists.” It noted that New York required IDs for vaccines to ensure that people who showed up for appointments were indeed who they said they were and eligible.

“Voting, on the other hand, is a completely different issue,” Snopes claimed. “Voting is a constitutional right that forms the basis of the U.S. system of government.” It also cites an American Civil Liberties Union report that claimed that “many Americans do not have one of the forms of identification states [deem] acceptable for voting. These voters are disproportionately low-income, racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, and people with disabilities.”

Eric Holder, President Obama’s attorney general, went so far as to claim in 2012 that “recent studies indicate that 25 percent of African-American voting-age citizens, lack a government-issued photo ID.” He vowed that his department wouldn’t allow ID laws to “disenfranchise” voters.

It is both preposterous and patronizing to assert that one out of four African-Americans lacks a photo ID when such a document is essential for so many things in life — from signing up for Medicare to cashing a check to entering the federal building where Holder used to work.

“The claim that voter ID keeps people from voting, particularly minority voters, has been completely debunked. We have over ten years of turnout data that shows that nonsensical claim is a myth created by the Left to oppose commonsense election reforms overwhelmingly supported by the American people,” says Hans von Spakovsky, a scholar at the Heritage Foundation and a former member of the board of elections in Fairfax County, Va.

He’s right. A National Bureau of Economic Research report in 2019 looked at ten years of turnout data and concluded that voter-ID laws “have no negative effect on registration or turnout, overall or for any group defined by race, gender, age, or party affiliation.”

Also absurd are claims that vaccine access, unlike voting, is not a constitutional right and therefore different. The Supreme Court has ruled that buying a gun is a Second Amendment right, but you need a photo ID to do it. The Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriage is a constitutional civil right. But almost every jurisdiction in the country requires those seeking marriage — of whatever kind — to present a valid ID.

Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled on the constitutionality of requiring voter ID. In 2008, in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld, six to three, the constitutionality of state laws in Indiana requiring ID at the polls. Justice John Paul Stevens, one of the court’s most left-of-center justices at the time, wrote the opinion that the Court could not “conclude that the statute imposes ‘excessively burdensome requirements’ on any class of voters.”

Similarly, in 2005, the bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform, headed by former president Jimmy Carter and former secretary of state James Baker, voiced support for national voter ID: “The electoral system cannot inspire public confidence if no safeguards exist to deter or detect fraud or to confirm the identity of voters.” Eighteen of the 21 commission members called for voters to show a photo ID at the polls and for more security for absentee ballots.

A lot has changed since then, and voter ID has sadly become a fiercely fought partisan issue. Liberals routinely claim there is no voter fraud and therefore requiring an ID either at the polls or for absentee ballots is a solution in search of a problem.

But sometimes Democrats let what they really think slip. Project Veritas, the guerrilla filmmaking group headed by James O’Keefe, has routinely captured Democrats on camera admitting they know about extensive voter fraud.

In 2016, Veritas cameras caught Alan Schulkin, Manhattan’s Democratic election commissioner, saying, “They should ask for your ID. I think there is a lot of voter fraud.”

He explained, “They bus people around to vote. . . . They put them in a bus and go from poll site to poll site.” For his candor, Schulkin was promptly fired by New York City mayor Bill de Blasio.

My National Review colleague Dan McLaughlin recently noted the irony of liberal governments asking for an ID when they care about something — such as vaccines. But when it comes to voting, “we are endlessly told that asking for ID scares people away just as surely as turning fire hoses on them.”

As much as Democrats claim that Americans shouldn’t have to show ID as part of voting, reality and common sense keep intruding on their argument. I’m glad that something as valuable as getting a life-saving vaccine required me to show my ID. Why shouldn’t the valuable gold of democracy — ballots — receive at least as much protection?

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