No Time to Waste

I haven’t posted in awhile because it’s been busy at work, attended a conference in Chicago, other stuff. I had lunch with a friend yesterday and we discussed race. He was curious about my experience as a white man with racial identity development. It reminded me that racism doesn’t stop because you’re busy, there was a conference in Chicago, or other stuff.

A mock up of the San Francisco municipal ID card featured in the LA Times

A mock up of the San Francisco municipal ID card featured in the LA Times

I’ve picked up the Economist again recently, mainly because the former tenant was receiving it and his subscription has yet to run out. They consistently have articles dealing with not just the economy, but also about race and equity. One article, Voting rights, voting wrongs from July 14th-20th talks about election laws in the US.


The bigger issue discussed was requiring a photo ID at the polling booth. Frankly, I always carry mine because it seems like anyone can come up and convince a volunteer that you are someone on the list that you know died 5 years ago because you saw the ambulance come get them.

Requiring a photo ID can inadvertently (or perhaps purposely for some of it’s supporters) exclude greater numbers of poor people, elderly, or racial minorities.  These groups are less likely to have a Driver’s License or government issued ID the article says.

I think this speaks to a larger issue though. Why are poor people, the elderly, and racial minorities less likely to have a photo ID? If TANF issued photo ID’s then poor people would have one. ID’s could be offered to every one receiving social security too which would provide them to the elderly. Our cities need to step up and find out why able-bodied racial minorities don’t have a driver’s license. I mean I BART to work most days but still why wouldn’t you want the option to drive, a huge freedom.

Government issued ID’s should be available on a Federal level too. There are advantages to this I won’t go into here. My point is I think it makes sense to require a photo ID nowadays until we make the leap to security-enabled online voting (of which I am a big fan and has been well-tested at universities across the country).

If a law proves to create inequality we can be agile and adjust. We shouldn’t run from a good idea because it makes invisible inequality more visible. That seems just as bad, because striking down a law requiring a photo ID at the poll doesn’t address the inequality we see with photo IDs. By taking up the cross and doing the hard work of finding out why our society doesn’t issue photo IDs to everyone, we can truly address the inequity. We aren’t helping anyone by confiscating laws that reveal this more significant truth.


About Daniel Roddick

Daniel has a B.A. in American History with minors in both Ethnic Studies and Sociology. He also has an M.Ed. in College Administration and Counseling. Daniel has worked in the financial aid industry for over a decade. He has presented all over the country on financial aid issues related to equity, inclusion, and access to education. He is also a writer of poetry, fiction, and this blog, all of which touch on identity.
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