The purpose of guest columns in The Laurinburg Exchange is to generate discussion and debate on topics of the day.
One of our columnists, Mark Schenck, chairman of the Scotland County Republican Party, certainly manages to hit on lively themes and subjects.
While we will leave it up to you — the reader — to judge the arguments put forth by the chairman twice a month on this page, we do take issue with at least one assertion in Mr. Schenck’s Thursday column, “Poor, but not stupid.”
In arguing that voter ID laws are harmful to the poor and minorities, Schenck thinks that liberals must be saying that those groups are not smart enough to obtain a photo I.D. to vote.
“Now that’s a pretty darn offensive assumption yet that’s what the Socialist Democrats, liberals and the professional race exploiters are trying to convince the world,” Schenck wrote in his column.
A lot of conservative commentators have made similar comments that liberal Democrats are the real racists because they condescendingly think minorities or the poor don’t have sense enough to gain a photo ID.
It is true that vast majority of Americans do have government issued-IDs and people often wonder what the big deal is. That may also be why there is such strong support for voter ID laws. Most people just don’t see why there is a problem.
But for some people gaining that identification is a major issue.
For some people who need to secure a valid ID, tracking down documents — such as a birth certificate and Social Security card— can take time and money. People are often caught in a Catch-22 — You need a birth certificate or some other document to get the ID, but to get the document, you need an ID.
For those living in rural areas, finding a way to get to a DMV office can be difficult because of transportation or issues getting time off from work.
That said, it is not impossible to get the needed ID, but it is a lot harder than some realize.
The real argument made by liberals as well as opponents of voter IDs is that Republicans are trying to suppress the vote by making it more difficult to vote.
Studies have shown that those least likely to have a government-issued photo ID fall into one of four categories: the elderly, minorities, the poor and young adults aged 18 to 24. Odd how those are the same groups that vote heavily Democratic.
So why all the trouble, if not to suppress turnout for Democratic candidates? We hope it is not to prevent something almost nonexistent to begin with — voter fraud.
That argument would truly be poor and stupid.