Virginia’s Democrats are up in arms over legislation that would require people to present photo ID in order to cast a ballot. Their rhetoric is all too familiar:
…Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, said the requiring photo IDs to cast a ballot is the equivalent of a poll tax.
Poll taxes were used throughout the South during the segregation era to keep blacks from voting and were outlawed under the federal 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Locke said people who don’t have other photo ID such as a driver’s license would have to take time off work and make travel arrangements to local voter registration offices during business hours, with the loss of wages and travel costs being a hidden fee.
“Those costs may as well be the modern-day poll tax,” Locke said. “We’ve never solved anything in this country with less democracy and we shouldn’t start now. “The fact of the matter is these measures are necessary to restore public confidence in our system of elections.”
While choosing (for now) not to wave a bloody shirt, Del. Jennifer McClellan framed her concerns over the photo ID requirement this way:
“There are people — mostly elderly, many of them but not all poor — who do not have any of these IDs that will be left, because they don’t drive anymore or because they don’t have a valid driver’s license,” McClellan said. “All they have is the voter registration card sent by the state.”
Getting a state-issued ID is hard. Even nefarious. We should not put such a burden on the poor, the elderly and such and such.
All of this makes me wonder where these concerns were hiding when both of Virginia’s political parties were in a head-long rush to mandate that before being allowed to purchase over the counter remedies like Sudafed for your cold or allergies, you had to produce a photo ID.
Back in 2006, the General Assembly overwhelmingly passed legislation that put such a requirement on the books:
Sale of methamphetamine precursor drugs ephedrine and pseudoephedrine; penalty. Provides that no more than 3.6 grams of either ephedrine or pseudoephedrine may be sold daily to an individual in a retail sale and that retail personnel shall be instructed in special procedures to be used in the sale of products containing such drugs. Effective September 30, 2006, when a substance containing such drugs is provided or sold it shall be displayed behind a sales counter or in a locked case and the purchaser must present a photo ID. If more than one package is purchased, the purchaser must sign a log maintained by the seller. The penalty for violation of these provisions is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
The bill passed the House 95-4, with Del. McClellan voting “yes.” The Senate version passed unanimously, meaning that even Sen. Locke was in favor, putting her right alongside then-Sen. Ken Cuccinelli on the matter.
Then-Gov. Tim Kaine signed the bill. And there’s a bit of history there, too:
Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, and others have made much of the fact that Kilgore, the Republican nominee, has reservations about mandatory restrictions on pseudoephedrine, an over-the-counter congestion remedy also used to make methamphetamine.
Gov. Mark R. Warner and the GOP House of Delegates leaders announced plans for such rules earlier this month.
Kaine has radio ads running in some markets charging that Kilgore’s support from the pharmaceutical industry, about $500,000 in the last published financial report, are behind his position.
Progressive Tim and radical centrist Mark were out to prevent cold and allergy sufferers from getting a bit of relief. It was done to fight meth production, which made it perfectly fine and not at all objectionable to treat everyone with the sniffles like a drug lord in the making.
But perhaps we should be grateful. The worthies could have gone much further and decided to apply the same photo ID requirements to anyone purchasing other meth ingredients, like brake fluid or rubbing alcohol. Maybe they will some day. And if they do, I suspect both Del. McClellan and Sen. Locke — and all their Democratic colleagues — will silently agree to it.