October 8, 2013
by Steve Levy
Published on Long Island Business News
Many in the media have labelled the efforts of legislators seeking Voter ID laws as racist attempts to disenfranchise the poor, people of color and immigrants.
But supporters countered that we have seen too many races decided by a handful of votes, as with the election of Senator Al Franken – who perhaps should never have won were voter irregularities enforced.
Opponents say showing ID is simply too burdensome. How dare the government require a poor person to have an ID! Yet we require an ID to obtain a library card, or to obtain social services.
Most ironic was the outrage expressed by some at the 2012 Democratic Convention. Delegates were required to show their IDs to get into the very building where they were complaining about IDs being too burdensome.
The irony was exemplified further when I went golfing last month at a county course, which requires a Green Key to gain access at resident rates. I told the Pro Shop monitor that I’d like to renew my card.
He politely informed me that I would need identification. I showed him my driver’s license, which he said was insufficient.
But why? You already have my Photo ID from my expired card, and a current ID on my license. Nevertheless, he claimed the rules required at least two pieces of identification.
“How about my bank account?”
“Sorry, that’s not on the list.”
“OK, I’ll come back with additional information.”
I later showed him my phone bill.
“Sorry, not acceptable.”
“Well how about this Suffolk County Bar letter showing my home address.”
“Nope. They are very strict about obtaining IDs on the list, such as a library card or hunter’s license,” Well, I’m not a hunter and didn’t have my library card.
What at first was somewhat humorous was quickly getting frustrating. Either the clerk was being overly rigid in his interpretation, or he was just following a policy that epitomized overkill. The policy probably even dated back to the days when I was county executive, though I wouldn’t have known it at my pay grade. Eventually, the administration office accepted my numerous pieces of identification.
My point here is not to complain about the process. (At least they were serious in weeding out potential fraud.) It is to show how far we will go to make sure a non-county resident can’t golf on our greens, yet, for some odd, politically correct reasons, we shy away from ensuring that a person not legally eligible is asked to show ID that he is able to vote. Go figure.
Steve Levy is President of Common Sense Strategies, a political and business consulting firm. He served as Suffolk County Executive 2004-2011, and as a NYS Assemblyman