I’m a little irritated with myself for forgetting to bring a bank statement with me this morning so that I could go straight to voting after work, but luckily the polling place is located just down the block from my apartment so it’s not actually that much of an inconvenience.
According to the Massachusetts Board of Elections, because I registered to vote by mail after 2003, I’ll have to bring proof of address with me tonight when I vote because it’s a federal election. What confuses me is that I didn’t have to bring this proof when I voted two months ago in the democratic primary. I was surprised, in fact, to find that I only had to say my name and address–I had to provide no proof of either.
Which is as it should be. I’m sure others have written more eloquently on the problems with requiring identification to vote–how expensive things like driver’s licenses are, the fact that a lot of people have perfectly valid government-issued identification that doesn’t have a current address–but I still have to stress how problematic these requirements are. They’re particularly problematic because they’re so inconsistent, from state to state and even from district to district. Check on your state requirements here.
I have to wonder why there’s no universal voter registration card. As in, why not provide notarized registration cards that can be presented at polling places? There would still have to be some kind of identity verification, of course, but it wouldn’t have to come in the form of proof of address. Date of birth, for example, or social security number, just to prevent card theft. The card itself would only have to include name and district, and possibly party affiliation.
To my knowledge, no homeless advocacy groups have spoken out on this issue, but the proof of address policy is also discriminatory. Everyone eligible to vote should be able to, regardless of current housing situation.