In this question about voting rights in the US, I noticed the often repeated argument that requiring a photo ID to vote places a burden on minorities. But I wondered whether it is the difficulty in obtaining the ID that is the actual discrimination, not the requirement to have an ID when voting.

I got the impression that, instead of addressing a serious problem, the problem itself is used as an excuse to make difficult the prevention of voting fraud which might become another serious problem. And it's not just about voting, an ID might be needed for a lot of other reasons, where I live you can't even open a bank account without a photo ID.

Although the US is the origin of the concern, this question is not restricted to the US, because in many countries it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain an ID. In my country of origin in smaller cities an ID can be obtained in few days, but in the big cities it might require months to get an appointment and long queues afterwards.

  • 8
    What exactly is your question here? This question reads more like political meta-commentary on the voting id debate in the US with a rhetorical question on top rather than an actual constructive question which helps anyone to learn more about politics and political processes.
    – Philipp
    Jan 15 at 15:57

If the difficulty falls selectively on certain protected groups, yes.

If the difficulty is universal inefficiency of the administrative system, no.

As you describe it, it would be discrimination against urban populations. But there are many more differences in the living conditions of urban and rural populations. Access to public transport, access to healthcare specialists, traffic noise, smell from lifestock, and so on. It differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but usually discrimination is only prohibited if it is discrimination based on protected categories like religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, and others.

I won't get a place on the national Olympic team. They're discriminating against be based on insufficient athletic ability. That is legitimate. My current employer hired me and not other candidates based, in part, on my academic credentials. That is also legitimate. When I was younger, I had to report to the draft board, and people with a different gender did not. Back then it was considered acceptable, even if a difference was made based on gender.

  • You changed the argument from discrimination towards social and economic status and towards place of residence to a discrimination towards ethnic origin, sexual orientation, and others, which was never part of the debate and has never been the problem. This post is off topic.
    – FluidCode
    22 hours ago
  • @FluidCode, the point I'm trying to make is that not all discrimination is bad. Some discrimination is just a normal part of living, and not usually labeled discrimination for that reason.
    – o.m.
    20 hours ago
  • I asked about discrimination in general. Not about discrimination against which there are current laws.
    – FluidCode
    20 hours ago
  • @FluidCode, if you mean "treating different things differently" by discrimination, the question becomes meaningless. I discriminate when I decide if I want coffee or tea for breakfast, based on my taste preferences. Calling that discrimination turns language into a pretzel.
    – o.m.
    19 hours ago

There are two ways to think about this issue, and people often conflate them (intentionally or not):

  1. Intentional discrimination: The overt effort to inhibit or suppress a group merely because they are different.
  2. De facto discrimination: The objective fact that a given situation unfairly disadvantages one group more than another group, without regard to intention.

The Tiki-Torch marchers in Charlottesville were advocating for the first: it was clearly their expressed intuition that Jews, minorities, and immigrants should be suppressed. The fact that a white-skinned person can generally walk through a store or drive down a street without a thought of being surveilled or stopped by authorities (something a black person cannot generally afford to do) is de facto discrimination: no one is intending to discriminate, really, but the disadvantage is clear and obvious.

With respect to the Voting ID issue, I can make a good argument that his is intentional discrimination, because the same group of people:

  1. Stirs up trouble about essentially non-existent voting fraud
  2. Passes laws that make voting more difficult by requiring IDS (etc) using #1 as an excuse
  3. Imposes policies that make obtaining IDS (etc) more onerous and difficult for blacks and minorities than for whites

That is a pattern of behavior that appears to be a systematic effort to disenfranchise blacks and minorities on purpose.

On the other hand, the fact that such discriminatory outcomes exist as de facto differential treatment is largely accepted by everyone. Conservatives and GOP members usually deny that there is an intention of discrimination, but not one of them denies there is an actual discriminatory outcome. They just shrug and insist that it isn't their fault that it happens.

Of course, that is merely more evidence that many conservative and GOP leaders are engaged in intentional discrimination; their refusal to accept that patently differential treatment is unfair or inappropriate speaks to deep and conscious bias. But we don't need them to admit their intention to discriminate; we merely need to observe the actuality of differential treatment to to see there is de facto discrimination.

  • 1
    This answer assumes discriminatory intent with no proof whatsoever. I'd believe it if you brought clear proof that that is so.
    – user27954
    2 days ago
  • @user27954: All your comment proves is that you did not read (or at least did not understand) my answer at all. Even a superficial reading/understanding shows how off-base the comment is. 2 days ago
  • 1
    It is possible that I misunderstood; I definitely wouldn't comment without reading the answer. However, I stand by what I said because, to my understanding, you write that '...I can make a good argument that [t]his is intentional discriminations...' and then give three reasons, the first of which is that republicans made up voter fraud (non-existent? Please include proof), and the other two about difficulty that disproportionately affects minorities, which you believe republicans do on purpose. The second point of contention is the fact that minorities have a harder time getting ID.
    – user27954
    2 days ago
  • 1
    If you claim that minorities have a harder time getting ID, it would help if you included proof of such. Otherwise, I don't think it's fair to say that there's any discrimination. Although I must say, I never thought of discrimination in this way. I learned something new, but I can't say it answers the question, because even difficulty in obtaining ID in general doesn't prove that it's more difficult for one group than another. If it isn't harder for some more than others, there's no de facto discrimination. I probably should've explained myself in the first comment.
    – user27954
    2 days ago
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    – CDJB
    18 hours ago

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