The Edmond Sun


October 10, 2012

Getting the runaround to the polling place

WIRE — A judge in Pennsylvania last week put a hold on the state’s new voter ID law. Citizens will not be required to produce government-issued photo identification in order to have their vote count on Nov. 6.

That must be a disappointment to the Republican state legislative leader who had exulted upon the law’s passage that “this is gonna allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”

And, in fact, polls showed that a majority of voters in the Keystone State generally support the notion of producing a photo ID at the polls.

But I was in Pennsylvania just a week ago, and found a much different sentiment in my small focus group — that being my mom and her pals in her senior residence.

Particularly aggrieved, with good reason, was my mother’s neighbor, Mary Edith Knox.

Her task was to renew her non-driver’s ID. So she phoned the proper state office and inquired as to how to do that. She was told to report to the commonwealth auto tag office near her residence.

Knox’s daughter-in-law took time off work to drive her there. Knox filled out an application, and then was instructed to report to the driver’s license bureau in another town, about 20 miles away, to get her photo taken.

Brilliant. Here is a lady in her 80s who doesn’t drive, and the state makes her travel to two locations to obtain an ID card to be able to vote.

Between the two offices, Knox paid $29.

After a little investigating, we deduced Knox was wrongly directed to the auto tag office. Also, if she had known how to go about it, she should have been able to obtain the non-driver’s license free of charge. But how would she have known? The worker I talked to sounded confused herself.

If a state is going to place requirements on voting, it had darned well better make it easy and convenient for people to meet those requirements. Why not a mobile van to make the rounds of senior housing and get people fixed up with ID cards on the spot?

Then again, why require photo ID at all?

Instances of people voting under false identities are minuscule. One study found 10 cases since 2000. Another found fewer than one case of fraud per state per year, and that included offenses such as using the wrong address.

Perhaps so, proponents say. But we need a photo ID to purchase liquor. We need one to cash a check and to fly. Why shouldn’t we demand one for voting?

Well, you can find someone else to buy you a six-pack. You can endorse a check and have a friend cash it for you. If you really have to get somewhere, you can find a way.

But there’s no way to make your vote count except by voting. And only you can cast your ballot.

By requiring people to navigate layers of bureaucracy to obtain documents, states are impeding a basic right of citizenship.

In Missouri, we have a Republican candidate for secretary of state who is basing much of his campaign on a pledge to making voting more difficult. Kansas already has one of the nation’s most draconian voter ID laws, the full effect of which won’t be seen until next year.

States don’t have enough money to run their schools or care for developmentally disabled citizens. Yet they’re keen to pass voter ID laws, which will require a huge investment of staff time, equipment upgrades and other expenses if they’re to work at all. No wonder courts in many states are putting holds on these laws or striking them down.

I believe the underlying rationale for voter ID laws is to discourage voting in immigrant and minority communities. But in their rush to do so, lawmakers are hurting America’s most revered demographic, its seniors.

“I am being charged $29 for the right to vote,” Knox said. She describes herself as a political junkie, who hasn’t missed an election in decades.

“The basic idea of having photo ID is sound, but it’s not workable,” Knox said.

Or necessary, I would add.

BARBARA SHELLY is a columnist for the Kansas City Star. Readers may write to her at: Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 64108-1413, or by email at This column was distributed by MCT Information Services.

Text Only
  • Is English getting dissed?

    Is the English language being massacred by the young, the linguistically untidy and anyone who uses the Internet? Absolutely.
    Is that anything new? Hardly.
    Many words and expressions in common parlance today would have raised the hackles of language scolds in the not-so-distant past. For evidence, let’s look at some examples from recent newspaper articles.

    July 31, 2014

  • 'Too big to fail' equals 'too eager to borrow'

    Four years ago this month, President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act into law, promising that the 848-page financial law would “put a stop to taxpayer bailouts once and for all,” he said. But recently, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren told a Detroit crowd that “the biggest banks are even bigger than they were when they got too big to fail in 2008.”
    Who’s right?

    July 30, 2014

  • Sheltons travel for better life for family

    Some time around 1865 a mixed-race African American couple, William and Mary Shelton, made their way from Mississippi to east Texas. Nothing is known for certain of their origins in he Magnolia state, or the circumstances under which they began their new lives in Texas.

    July 29, 2014

  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014


The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
     View Results