Archive for April 13, 2014

Photos on Social Security Cards

Posted: April 13, 2014 by Marner in Politics
Tags: ,

Last week Andrew Young, a civil rights activist and former UN ambassador, advanced an idea to address the popular conservative complaint that people need to have photo ID to vote. When Young was at an event with President Obama and former President Clinton, he pitched them on the idea of adding a photo to the Social Security card. The card is already issued free of charge to anyone with a valid SSN and is already accepted by the federal government and most states as a valid secondary form of identification. I had never thought of this and the idea is growing on me. Every US citizen has a SSN and can already get a card. I don’t think it would be a huge burden to Social Security offices to add the capability to issue photo IDs just as driver’s license offices and military installations currently do.

I don’t object to a photo ID requirement for voting in and of itself. What I object to is people having to pay any money to obtain that ID. To me, that is poll tax and is blatantly unconstitutional. What we’ve seen from the right wing with regard to voter ID are attempts to only allow the types of ID that their voters hold, while refusing to accept comparable ID from groups that aren’t likely to vote for their candidates, such as accepting a concealed carry permit but denying a student ID. Both are issued by the same state government, but only one is approved as valid identification when voting.

I predict we will see Republicans vigorously oppose this idea. In fact, Rand Paul has already come out with ill-informed opposition:

“This is a really bad idea,” Paul said in a statement. “The Social Security card is only supposed to be used for Social Security benefits. This idea would make it easy for the federal government to convert the Social Security card into a national identification card.”

Now, I’m sure that Paul has received a driver’s license from his home state of Kentucky, so he should know that a Social Security card is accepted by the state as a secondary form of ID, making his first sentence false. His second sentence is meant to appeal to libertarians and Tea Party extremists who see a national ID as a step toward eliminating individual privacy rights or as the mark of the beast.

I would be willing to meet Paul halfway on this. Make the photo optional so a person can choose to get a social security card with or without it. When you think about it, a photo really isn’t necessary until a child hits their teenage years. At the same time, pass a law stating that a photo Social Security card MUST be accepted by the States as valid primary identification for the purpose of voting. With this proposal, we’ll see just who is actually concerned with voting integrity and who just wants the “right” people to vote.