{Empty title} | The Nation

Mr. Epps fails to note that there is a progressive argument for national photo ID. The argument begins with the acknowledgement that both citizen and government benefit from having contact with one another. Government being necessarily bureaucratic, we need to carefully choose the bureaucratic level at which contact requires photo ID. What is low-down and Rovian about the Indiana law and its cousins is that they require photo ID at a lousy bureaucratic level, at one that makes little sense unless you want to somehow manipulate voting.

It makes more sense to move the photo ID requirement up the bureaucracy, for example to a level that I call the citizen registration office. This is an office in which citizens could register their cars, renew their licenses and pay tax bills. By presenting a photo ID, for example a passport or a Social Security card with photo, or a national photo ID, citizens could also automatically register to vote. The office would notify eligible voters of where and when to vote in upcoming elections.

It makes little sense to counter the Indiana scheme by claiming that some people can't handle photo IDs. It is a reasonable requirement in any democracy. We need to apply it at the right bureaucratic level.