Friday, July 13, 2012

The Trouble with College...IDs

Eric Holder, the upstanding man that he is, went before the NAACP a few days ago and had this to say about the Voter ID law in Texas:

25% of African-Americans, he says, do not have a valid government issued ID. Why the NAACP doesn't see that figure as a problem is beyond me, but I digress. What struck me is when he mentioned handgun licenses vs. college IDs. I don't know if he's playing the NAACP for fools or if they're just that dumb. Anyone lacking basic common sense would call a college ID being invalid at the polls wrong, but it's not. It made perfect sense to me when I heard it, but there are a lot people (particularly on twitter) who are up in arms about this, saying the law disenfranchises college students. So let's try and understand this.

In this day and age, most college students will get their first government issued ID with their picture on it when they turn fifteen or sixteen. It's called a Learner's Permit. Sometime after that they'll get their driver's license. In lieu of a driver's license many will get an ID card. If you honestly think most college students don't have a driver's license or some kind of valid ID card that doesn't have their name, picture, and (most importantly) their birth date, then you are extremely out of touch.

A college ID alone will not get you into the club or into a Rated-R movie. It will not get you cigarettes or a drink at the bar. First semester of my freshman year, a girl who lived down the hall from me didn't turn eighteen until January. Half of the students in the School of Business were on student visas from India, Egypt, and China and they had college IDs just like me, and I was born on a southern military base. A college ID says nothing about you other than what school you go to. It doesn't say if you're of legal age, if you're a citizen, and it doesn't verify your residency. My friend and I had the same college ID, but I was registered to vote in Greensboro, North Carolina and he was registered to vote in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. Most importantly, a college ID is not government issued. My school was a public university, but it's not an arm of the government or a government agency. I had friends at Wingate, Elon, Davidson, and Liberty and those are private universities that issue the same college IDs to their students. There are certain requirements that need to be met in order to register to vote, and a college ID does not back those up. One of those requirements is being a citizen and the only way to verify you are a citizen is through the government.

A handgun license in the state of Texas, on the other hand, is issued by...wait for it...THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY. Need I say more? 

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