Counterpoint: Rights Require Authentication

Counterpoint: Rights Require Authentication

Asking people to show identification to vote fits with the application of constitutional rights.

A few years ago I wrote an article for the Atlanta Jewish Times regarding a day in the life of my driver’s license. The point was to demonstrate how often we are required to use a driver’s license during the course of daily life.

From getting on a plane to buying a shirt at a retailer with a credit card to purchasing a bottle of wine at Costco, I pull out my driver’s license on average one to four times a day.

So why should it be any different for voting? If we have to show government ID for things we consider mundane or a privilege, shouldn’t we care enough about this right to require the same level of verification?

I was curious whether this tension between protecting an American citizen’s rights in the Constitution and the ability to make sure people are entitled to those rights came up. While I do not claim to be a constitutional scholar or any kind of expert on the law, I read the Constitution to see whether the requirement of a government-issued ID applied.

Cartoon by Gary McCoy, Shiloh, Ill.

Here’s what I found:

  • First Amendment — To organize a protest, you must get a permit, be it in Atlanta or Washington. Part of that process is for the organizer to produce a government-issued ID for registration purposes.
  • Second Amendment — Whether you are for or against the Second Amendment, one needs to show a government-issued ID to get a gun.
  • Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Amendments — In my view, these relate to protecting the people from excesses of the government. As such, to advocate for the government to usurp an American’s rights, property, etc., someone (a lawyer) has to go in front of a judge. And if you are going to do so, someone will need to possess a government-issued ID to file a petition and/or appear before that judge.
  • Ninth Amendment — This relates to rights not explicitly stated in the Bill of Rights that are protected. But who is covered by these rights? American citizens. And how do you prove that you are entitled to those rights? Show a government-issued ID.
  • 10th Amendment — This pertains to what powers are delegated to states vs. the federal government. Like earlier amendments, a lawyer will be involved, and the individual has to show a government-issued ID to make arguments.
  • 11th Amendment — This amendment clearly demonstrates that states cannot be sued by those who are not citizens. To prove you are a citizen, you have to produce a government-issued ID.
  • 14th Amendment — One of the most important amendments we have, it states what qualifies someone as a citizen. To memorialize that citizenship, you need a government-issued ID.
  • 15th Amendment — Clearly stating that no person can be denied the right to vote based on race, color or previous condition of servitude, it also implies you are an American citizen entitled to vote. And how do you prove you are an American citizen? Use a government-issued ID.
  • 21st Amendment — To buy alcohol anywhere, you have to prove you are of age, and that requires a government-issued ID.
  • 23rd Amendment — For the District of Columbia electors to cast their ballots in the Electoral College, they have to use government-issued IDs.
  • 24th Amendment — No taxes of any sort may be imposed on people at the polling station. No mention is made about not proving you are a U.S. citizen.
  • 26th Amendment — Giving anyone the right to vote above age 18 is a right. You also have to demonstrate you are a U.S. citizen. And, again, this requires a government-issued ID.
  • 12th, 13th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 22nd, 25th and 27th Amendments — They are not relevant to this article (the VP no longer being the electoral runner-up, the abolishment of slavery, the levy of the income tax, direct election of senators, banishment of alcohol, women’s right to vote, the start dates of the presidency and Congress, term limits on the president, VP succession and congressional salaries).

In my simple review of the Constitution, it seems clear that these rights are guaranteed to American citizens. And to be privy to these rights, you must furnish a government-issued ID.

You’ve read the Counterpoint; be sure to read Scott Sherris’ Point.

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