SoluProb™: Banning Same-Sex Marriage

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Presumed Problem

If gays are allowed to marry, that will destroy the whole institution of marriage.

Conservative writer Phyllis Scholarly saw the threat of same-sex marriage as a threat to Western Civilization.

Knowing how at odds same-sex marriage is with our legal and cultural traditions, we should not be surprised that some homosexual activists are trying to get rid of marriage all together. Same-sex marriage isn’t about granting equality of human rights. Gays are not denied any human rights. Same-sex marriage is about getting rid of the traditional values and institutions that have guided the Western world, including America.

In the same vein, Kansas Representative Tim Huelskamp said the ultimate goal of same-sex marriage was  to “destroy the institution of marriage altogether by diminishing it to whatever type of contract people sign on to. . .”


Limit marriage to heterosexual couples.



I’ve been unable to find state laws limiting marriage to monogamous heterosexual couples; it would seem that gays knew better than to ask. However, in the mid-1990s, there was a flurry of state Constitutional Amendments that limited marriage to opposite-sex couples.

Then, in 1996, the U. S. Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as a federal prohibition of same-sex marriage. There was more than a little irony in the naming of the law. Certainly the institution of marriage has threats it might be defended against–divorce, adultery,capitol
incest, desertion, and spousal abuse to name a few–but DOMA was not intended to address any of those marital problems. Representative Bob Barr (R-GA) was the author and primary manager of DOMA in the Congress. At the time, Barr was on his third marriage, and Washington insiders joked about which marriage the Congressman was defending.

DOMA, like the state amendments that preceded and followed it, had one intention: to guard against the specter of same-sex marriage.

The wide-spread prohibition of gay marriage began to unravel in 2000. Vermont broke the ice by instituting a new institution: the “civil union,” which would grant gay couples many of the same rights as heterosexual couples; it just wouldn’t be called marriage. In 2004, Massachusetts broke the ice further by legalizing same-sex marriage. Period. Other states followed suit. There were limits to how much individual state laws could achieve, however, since a marriage performed in one jurisdiction might very well not be recognized in others.

lesbians-petalsThe federal restriction, DOMA, was increasingly challenged in court. In 2011, the Obama administration announced that they regarded DOMA as unconstitutional and said they would not defend it in court.

This all came to a head in 2013, when the U. S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of United States v. Windsor. Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer had married in Canada in 2007 and subsequently lived in New York state. When Spyer died in 2009, her estate went to Windsor, her spouse. Had they been a heterosexual, married couple, Windsor would have enjoyed the federal tax exemption libertygranted to a surviving spouse. Since they were not of different sexes and thus were not regarded as “married” by the U. S. federal government, Windsor was charged hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal tax. Two federal courts ruled in Windsor’s favor, and the Supremes finally agreed as well. More specifically, five of the justices favored Windsor’s case and that was enough to overthrow the Defense of Marriage Act.

By the time of the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision in 2013, more and more states had legalized same-sex marriages, as legally no different from opposite-sex marriages.  Eventually, 37 states, the District of Columbia, and an assortment of counties welcomed same-sex marriages. It was difficult to calculate how many same-sex marriages have been formed, due to differences in the way the fifty states compile and report marriage statistics. However, in June 2013, the Pew Research Center gave a conservative estimate of over 70,000. It is certainly well beyond that number today.

SCOTUSThis pattern of gradual change was dramatically altered on June 26, 2015, when the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that states could not ban same-sex marriage, and gay marriage became legal +, letting the USA join 20 other nations in that respect. To be precise, again, five of the nine justices ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, while the other four dissented with varying degrees of outrage.

Was the Problem Real?

We began with the expressed fear that legalizing same-sex marriage would destroy the institution of marriage altogether. gay-guys-loveBy now, there have so many legal, gay marriages that we are in a position to assess the damages wrought by this dramatic social experiment with equality.

The most direct threat to the institution of marriage, ironically, has come from politicians and county clerks who were so deeply opposed to same sex marriage that they attempted to bring a halt to the issuance of any marriage licenses, regardless of the applicants’ sexual orientation. Thus far, those attempts have failed, and couples, both straight and gay, are still tying the knots.

My research allows me to provide the following list of heterosexual marriages that have been tragically destroyed by the legalization of same-sex marriage:

1. ______________________?
gay-wedding-cakeI should acknowledge the rumor about a baker who had to work so many late nights to meet the expanded demand for wedding cakes that his wife left him. I cannot confirm that story, however.

I think the best diagnosis of the perceived threat appeared on a web poster: “If your marriage is threatened by marriage equality, then one of you is gay.”


Negative Consequences

I’ve already touched on some of the negative consequences of the ban on gay marriage above. Loving couples committed to each other were denied the many benefits of marriage. Once they began requesting permission to formalize their relationships in marriage, the refusal was often served up with insults, hatred, and humiliation.

Even when gay identity became more common and marginally more acceptable, the citadel of marriage remained unavailable. Gay couples sad-lesbianslived together and sometimes formed life-long commitments, but they were “significant others,” “partners,” “longtime companions,” or “special friends”—not spouses. Some degree of embarrassment over second-class citizenship was inevitable.

While same-sex couples could have public “commitment ceremonies” in front of family and friends to declare their lifelong devotion to each other,
they typically were denied benefits accruing to “married” couples. Such benefits included inheritance, coverage on a spouse’s health plan,
receiving death benefits, and other economic entitlements. In a medical emergency, they might be denied the right to visit an ailing partner in the hospital.

Although same-sex marriage is now the law of the land in America and many other countries, legality does not necessarily imply acceptance. Anti-homosexual prejudice is not susceptible to a Supreme Court ruling, but the Court’s action helps to erode the remaining disapproval and hate. Those couples first seeking same-sex marriages, ironically, were reminiscent of couples in earlier times who sought approval for mixed-religion or mixed-race marriages. One can only guess at what the exclusionary urge will forbid next.


© Earl Babbie 2016, all rights reserved  Terms of Service/Privacy



Artwork from

“Schlafly: Gay Marriage Will Ruin Western Civilization,” Right Wing Watch, October 15, 2014 — — accessed July 31, 2015
Lauretta Brown, “Huelskamp: Final Goal of Gay ‘Marriage’ is to Destroy the Institution of Marriage,”, June 20, 2014 — — accessed July 31, 2015




SoluProb™: Invasion of Iraq, 2003

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Presumed Problem

Following the 9/11 terrorist attack on New York and Washington, some feared that Saddam Hussein of Iraq was preparing to attack the US mainland with weapons of mass destruction (WMD).


Invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein.


Remember the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center? No, not that one, the one in 1993. Explosives planted in a parking basement of the

Arial view of WTC in March of 2001
Arial view of WTC in March of 2001

north tower blew a hole through five stories of the building, with extensive damage to its infrastructure: electrical, sewage, etc. Six people were killed in the attack and about a thousands were injured. Tens of thousands were evacuated from the building.

The Clinton administration treated this attack as a crime and promised appropriate action. The FBI investigated, and eventually all but one of the criminals responsible were identified, arrested, tried, and sentenced to multiple life sentences. Without necessarily putting it in these words, President Bill Clinton chose the metaphor of crime to characterize the attack. It was dealt with as we deal with crimes. In the terms of this project, the problem was a crime in the World Trade Center; normal law enforcement procedures were the appropriate solution, and the solution worked.

Eight years later, a new set of attackers struck a more devastating blow to osama-posterthe World Trade Center towers, destroying them, with much more loss of
life. As we know, the 2001 attack was masterminded by a wealthy Saudi—Osama bin Laden—and the suicide flyers were 15 Saudis, one Egyptian, two from the United Arab Emirates, and one from Lebanon.

Unlike President Clinton in 1993, President George W. Bush chose the metaphor of war instead of crime. That difference in metaphor laid the groundwork for a disastrous solution without a problem. As the “problem” evolved over the months and years following 9/11/01, it was framed as an act of war against the United States, demanding a warlike response. Law enforcement need not apply.

So the problem was not just the attack on 9/11 but the imminent threat of an even worse attack, such as a nuclear attack on American soil. However, if Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda cohorts had possessed nukes, why didn’t they use them on 9/11? Moreover, wars are fought between nations, and no one regarded Osama or even al Qaeda as being an actual nation. While 15 of the 19 hijackers were, like Osama, from Saudi Arabia, no one suggested we had been attacked by the House of Saud.

Through a politically masterful legerdemain, it was argued that Iraq was really responsible for the 9/11 attack, despite no Iraqis being on the saddam-postage
attacking planes. Nor did it matter that Saddam Hussein had refused to let al Qaeda operate in Iraq, and al Qaeda, in turn, viewed Saddam as a “secular Satan.” Close enough, as opinion polls soon found the American public blaming Saddam and Iraq for the attacks on 9/11.

Over time, the 9/11 dimension faded a bit and was simply replaced by the “problem” of Saddam planning an imminent, nuclear attack on America. All Americans became familiar with the abbreviation WMD—Weapons of Mass Destruction—and an argument ensued over whether Saddam and Iraq had any. Some cynics pointed out a proof in the matter: the Reagan administration had given Saddam WMDs in the 1980s for his war against Iran. So he had WMDs at one point. He used some against Iran and used some against dissidents in his own country.

The administration assumed that he still had a WMD arsenal that he was preparing to use on the USA.

Was the Problem Real?

When some in Congress questioned the reality of Condoleezza_Rice_croppedSaddam’s threat, they asked, “Where’s the smoking gun?” NSA Director Condoleezza Rice replied “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” That seemed a  sufficient answer for some.

Nevertheless, American and international inspectors were granted access to Iraq and searched for evidence of nuclear, chemical, or biological WMDs. They found none. The U. S. invaded Iraq anyway and the search for WMDs continued until eventually President Bush would joke about it, looking beneath his podium before speaking and reporting, “No WMDs there.”bush-head-scratch-300x193

Few people thought highly of Saddam Hussein, who was eventually captured and executed, but there was never any evidence of a plan or preparations to attack America. The invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddam was clearly a “solution” without a problem. But it was also a “solution” that caused real problems.

Negative Consequences

Let’s focus on some of the problems this solution created for the United States. As of July 13, 2015, the Defense Department reported 4,424 American casualties in Operation Iraqi Freedom—roughly double the number killed on 9/11. The number of non-Americans, coffinsespecially Iraqis, killed is vastly larger, though the estimates vary widely, from tens of thousands to over a million. The same Defense Department report counted 31,951 Americans wounded in action, creating an as-yet insoluble problem for the Veterans Administration and civilian health care facilities. Many feel the nation has effectively turned its back on the returning wounded—except on Memorial Day, when politicians and others proclaim gratitude and respect all around.

At this writing, the economic cost of the war is estimated at around three to four trillion dollars. Since the Bush administration chose not to raise taxes to pay for the war, the cost has been met through an escalation of the national debt and cutbacks in domestic programs such as transportion, education, and health care.

Perhaps the worst problem is that the unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Iraq by the United States, with the immense death and suffering by Iraqis, fueled the view that America was at war with Islam, at war with all Muslims everywhere. While that was surely not the administration’s d3dce__ISIS-militantsintention, a compelling case could and was made for it. The disruption of order in Iraq has spread through the area, most notably to Syria. Today, the Daesh (aka ISIL) have little trouble convincing young Muslims that America is set on destroying Islam, while, ironically, most of Daesh’s victims are fellow Muslims.

The refugee crisis caused by civilians fleeing Syria and neighboring areas has provided an opportunity for “Christian charity,” but the answer to that request has found many Americans arguing loudly against aiding any of Daesh’s victims. Several leading political figures, most notably, Donald Trump, have urged that we refuse entry to any Muslims and possibly crack down on native-born Americas who happen to be Muslims. Daesh finds it easier and easier to claim that America is at war with Islam.


© Earl Babbie 2016, all rights reserved  Terms of Service/Privacy


Artwork from ShutterStock, accessed July 14, 2015, accessed July 14, 2015, accessed July 14, 2015, accessed July 14, 2015

SoluProb™: Anti-Sodomy Laws

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(Revised September 20, 2016)

Presumed Problem

Some believe that the acceptance of homosexuals as worthy members of society will spell the downfall of Western Civilization, Culture and Values.


Anti-sodomy laws, outlawing oral and anal sex, have been intended as an indirect method of outlawing homosexuality.


Technically, sodomy refers to oral sex, anal sex, and bestiality–all of which are outlawed by anti-sodomy laws. The first of the trio would apply to gays, lesbians, and heterosexual couples. The second pretty much exempts lesbians, and the third doesn’t usually figure into the attempt to prohibit homosexuality.

Some have feared that the open acceptance of homosexuality will lead to its spread, especially through the indoctrination of youth, and will destroy “everything we hold dear.” However, the problem has often been expressed in terms of sexual practices rather than sexual orientation. Those defending Louisiana’s anti-sodomy law called sodomy “dangerous, unhealthy, and immoral,” illustrating the mixture of concerns.

While many opponents of same-sex relations often claim a Christian basis for their actions and concerns, the specific justifications are elusive. Jesus had nothing to say about homosexuality as far as we know, and the few Old Testament condemnations of homosexuality are outnumbered by the justifications of slavery, polygamy, and the gay-guysmistreatment of women. In the New Testament, we find the Apostle Paul speaking against homosexuality at times, but he was equally concerned with wives surrendering to the authority of their husbands. In other words, while it is possible to find Biblical injunctions against homosexuality, it’s not a major theme. It didn’t make the Ten Commandments, for example, though adultery did.

In pursuing this issue, it is useful to distinguish between having homosexual sex and identification as being a homosexual. The former has been reasonably common throughout history. In both Greek and Roman societies, for example, wealthy men could claim the right to have sex with young boys to augment the sex they had with their wives and their concubines. No one called them names or questioned their masculinity.

In some societies, same-sex sexual encounters have been ritualized as lesbian-couplerites of passage. Some societies mark passage to male adulthood with a ritual deflowering of boys by older men. When I was a university professor, one of my female students introduced me to the term, LUG: Lesbian Until Graduation. The number of people having same-sex sexual encounters has always exceeded the number being identified or self-identifying as solely homosexual or even bisexual.

All states in the United States have had anti-sodomy laws in the past, but
in 2003, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled such laws unconstitutional. Today, 12 states still have anti-sodomy laws on the books, but they are rarely, if ever, enforced. As of this writing, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Kansas have anti-sodomy laws prohibiting oral sex, but necrophilia—sex with a corpse—is legal. (Between consenting adults, presumably.)

Was the Problem Real?     

Let’s examine some of the “problems” that led to the “solution” of anti-sodomy laws. First, let’s consider oral sex.

In December 2013 the National Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyle (NATSAL) gay-men-champagne
survey announced that in all age groups except the over-65s, the majority of people now say that they have oral sex sometimes.

For instance, 71 per cent of young adults (age 16 to 24) reported that they’d had oral sex in the last year. And 80 per cent of 25 to 34 year olds said the same thing.

So this is hardly the behavior of a tiny, perverted minority. It’s certainly
not limited to gays. As to being “unhealthy,” experts do not completely agree, but the general conclusion is that oral sex is safer than vaginal or anal sex when it comes to the transmission of disease. Moreover, the risk of pregnancy is, well, pretty slim.

lesbians-petalsMost would regard vaginal and anal sex as more disease-risky, particularly when tissue lesions occur. (The same would be true of oral sex, but it’s much less likely.) And in all cases, the risks of disease are radically reduced by the use of condoms. There is no agreement that anal sex is more dangerous than vaginal sex.

Since morality is in the eye of the condemner, I’ll leave the question of whether oral and anal sex are “immoral” to the moralists. However, I think we can gauge the danger of homosexuality taking over in America. Not really. If it seems as though there are more gays than there used to be, that is probably because it is safer for them to “come out.”

But has the growing acceptance of homosexuality in America produced the feared breakdown of Western Civilization, Culture, and Values? To answer, we need to specify what is meant by that august phrase. Here’s one statement:

The great ideas of the West—rationalism, self-criticism, the disinterested search for truth, the separation of church and state, the rule of law, equality before the law, freedom of conscience and expression, human rights, liberal democracy—together constitute quite an achievement, surely, for any civilization. This set of principles remains the best and perhaps the only means for all people, no matter what race or creed, to live in freedom and reach their full potential.

The above quotation is from Ibn Warraq, a self-described “Muslim Apostate,” challenged in a London debate to describe Western Values in no more than eight minutes. This excerpt is how he began. It is worth noting that his full presentation largely contrasted Western Values with those of other societies around the world, including those operating under Sharia Law.

Warraq’s description would fit well with the American Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights in the U. S. Constitution. Whether we reflect on the development of “Western Civilization” broadly or limit our view to the United States, I would suggest the civilizing process rests fundamentally on (1) replacing brutality with civility in social relations and (2) broadening the definition of who is a worthy member of society.

When the American Founders declared that “all men were created equal,” they actually meant men. It was too obvious. perhaps, for them to specify that they meant all white men. Over time, however, we have seen the definition of equal Americans to include people of color and women. The process has often been slow and sometimes violent, but the direction of change has been steadily toward inclusiveness.

Ironically, the exclusion of homosexuals from full membership in American society is a reflection of the older exclusivity that once barred women and racial minorities. The anti-sodomy laws were actually a challenge to our fundamental values rather than a protection. The greater acceptance of homosexuals represents a further realization of those fundamental values.


Negative Consequences

Gays and lesbians have suffered everything from humiliation and discrimination to arrest and imprisonment and even violence and death. The early Commonwealth of Virginia prescribed death as the maximum penalty for homosexuality. Thomas Jefferson, evidently thinking that too harsh, proposed in 1779 that the maximum punishment be changed to castration. However, the state legislature refused that bleeding-heart, liberal proposal, preferring to keep death on the table.

While the official sanctioning of death for homosexuality is a thing of the past in the USA, things are grimmer for gays elsewhere in the world. Homosexual acts can be punished by death in:

Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates

You may notice a pattern in this list of countries: they are all African or Middle Eastern and predominantly Muslim. In several cases, outlawing homosexual relations is a part of that country’s version of sharia law. There is a special irony in this, since I would assert (without hard data) that those Americans most opposed to homosexuality are also the most worried about the prospects for sharia law in the USA, a topic addressed elsewhere in this website.

As we’ve seen, there are still places in the world where people can be executed simply because they are gay. They have not stolen from or assaulted anyone. They haven’t revealed state secrets or yelled “fire” in a crowded theater. They can be officially executed for no ‘crime’ but their sexual orientation.

Matthew_ShepardEven where homosexuals are not being executed by the government, even today, they may be killed by extra-legal actions. Matthew Shephard is a name that should never be forgotten. On October 6, 1998, the young University of Wyoming student was at the Fireside Lounge in Laramie, when two other young men pretended to be gay and lured him outside with the intention of robbing him. Once outside, their greed turned to rage and they began beating and torturing Shephard. Eventually, they tied their comatose victim crucifixion-style to a fence and left him there to die. He was discovered 18 hours after his beating and was taken to a hospital where he died six days later.

Matthew Shephard’s brutal murder was so ugly that it attracted wide attention from the media and the public. Almost everyone who learned of the murder was horrified, though some celebrated it as God’s will. And Matthew Shepard was not the first nor the last gay to be killed by homophobic thugs in America.

On June 11, 2016, the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, was the filled with merriment as a gathering of over 300 predominantly Hispanic gays and lesbians enjoyed each others’ company. Then, in the early morning hours of the 12th, a lone gunman, armed with a semi-automatic rifle and semi-automatic pistol, entered the club and opened fire. By the time he finished, 49 were dead and another 53 wounded. Wikipedia summed it up thusly:

It was the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter, the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in United States history, and the deadliest terrorist attack in the United States since the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Death is perhaps the most dramatic negative consequence of the sad-gay-guys“solution” of stamping out homosexuality. Gays have been and still are discriminated against in a variety of ways: in employment, commercial service, and just about anywhere people interact with one another in society. The persisting reflection of the anti-sodomy mentality still treats gays as second-class citizens, somewhat similar to the treatment of racial and ethnic minorities.

© Earl Babbie 2016, all rights reserved  Terms of Service/Privacy



Leviticus 18:22 says it’s an abomination for a man to lie with another man, as with a woman. He is silent with regard to lesbians, though women are not to have sex with animals.

For example, Romans 1:26-28. Paul prescribes death for such acts, but he prescribes the same for slanderers, gossips, and many other miscreants.   I Corinthians 7:2-16.

Terri Ruper, “Here are the 10 countries where homosexuality may be punished by death,” Washington Post, February 24, 2014 — — accessed August 1, 2015.

Wikipedia, “Sodomy laws in the United States,” — — accessed August 1, 2015

Adam Weinstein, “Here Are the States Where Blowjobs Are Illegal But Necrophilia’s Cool,” Gawker, April 16, 2014 — — Accessed August 5, 2015.

Ibn Warraq, The Superiority of Western Values in Eight Minutes

SoluProb™: Voter ID Laws

Let me know what you think 


Presumed Problem

People who are not eligible to vote are casting votes by pretending to be people who are eligible.


Require all voters to present specified photo identification at the polling place.


“This simple action … will appropriately help maintain the integrity and fairness of our electoral systemhere in the Lone Star State,”
then-Governor Rick Perry said at the signing ceremony. The law requires voters to present a state or federal photo identification, like a driver’s license, military ID card, passport, texasconcealed handgun license or a voter card provided by the state. It does not include student IDs as a valid form of photo identification. It also requires voters who were forced to cast a provisional ballot to produce a valid piece of identification within six days of the election in which they hope to vote.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the first Voter ID law was passed in South Carolina in 1950. It was another 20 years before Hawaii enacted a similar law, and the practice grew from there. At this writing, some 37 states have such laws, varying in requirements, but all requiring some form of identification to be presented at polling places.


In April, 2012, Fox News reported a poll in which, “Overall, 70 percent of Americans say voter ID laws are needed to stop illegal voting.” They noted more Republicans (87%) supported voter ID laws than Democrats, but even a majority of the latter (52%) agreed. Obviously, concern for fair and honest elections is not a trivial matter.

Was the Problem Real?

There have been a number of studies seeking to estimate the extent of this problem. Recently Justin Levitt, a Loyola Law School professor specializing in elections, took on the task of identifying “credible allegations” of in-person voter fraud in the USA between 2000 and 2014. He was careful to point out that he was not limiting the search to convictions or even indictments, but he included any allegation of fraud that he judged reasonably likely to have occurred. In that 15-year period, he identified 31 credible allegations—out of around one billion ballots cast. He judged that these 31 cases would have been prevented by Vote ID laws.

In another study, Brad Friedman reported 10 cases of in-person voter fraud since 2000. The website provides a context for judging the size of the problem. Examining government crime statistics, they contrasted the 9 possible cases of voter impersonation between 2002 and 2005 with 352 cases of death due to lightning and 32,299 reports of UFO sightings.

News21 did an independent assessment of voter fraud, sending “thousands of requests to election officers” and they, also, concluded that while election fraud might be a problem, in-person fraud was rare.

“The fraud that matters is the fraud that is organized. That’s why voter impersonation is practically non-existent because it is difficult to do and it is difficult to pull people into conspiracies to do it,” said Lorraine Minnite, professor of public policy and administration at Rutgers University.

In short, in-person voter frauds to be the smallest crime category in America. It is hardly worth any effort to prevent it–and “solutions” to this mini-problem causes huge problems of its own.

It could be argued, in fact, that the drive to implement Voter ID Laws is a fraud in and of itself, that it is intended to suppress the voting by specific
demographic groups, such as minorities. In 2015, in Alabama, for example, a Voter ID Law was introduced and citizens were assured they could easily obtain an official ID at anblack-votersy Department of Motor Vehicle office. Shortly thereafter, the Republican governor announced plans to shut down all the DMV offices in eight of ten counties with predominantly African American residents–known as Alabama’s Black Belt–also known  for a strong tendency to vote Democratic. The governor rescinded his plan in response to strong negative publicity.

In Pennsylvania, with a Voter ID Law instituted prior to the 2012 Presidential Election, a Republican Party official proclaimed that the new law would guarantee a Pennsylvania victory for Republican candidate Mitt Romney.By the same token, Wisconsin Congressman Glenn Gotham, a Ted Cruz supporter in the 2016 presidential race, said:

I think Hillary Clinton is about the weakest candidate the Democrats have ever put up. And now we have photo ID, and I think photo ID is going to make a little bit of a difference as well…

You don’t need to be cynical to suspect that honest elections have not been the real reason for Voter ID Laws. Rather than eliminating fraud, the Voter ID Laws are an example of election fraud.

Negative Consequences

Where a driver’s license would suffice, non-drivers are disadvantaged. If a concealed weapons permit would qualify people to vote, those not packing heat are at a disadvantage. Where voters must obtain the necessary ID from a state office, it is likely that elderly, poor, disabled, and rural citizens will have special difficulties getting to the designated office within official hours of operation. Whatever the nature of the requirements, it is easy to see that some eligible voters will experience more of a hardship than others. When Pennsylvania passed their 2012 Voter ID law, the Pennsylvania Secretary of Commonwealth estimated that some three-quarters of a million eligible voters lacked the required identification.

A judge blocked enforcement of Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law just prior to the 2012 election but not before the state had mailed 758,000 letters to eligible voters, warning that they lacked the necessary identification to vote. Despite the judge’s action, a post-election study by the AFL-CIO empty-voting-boothsconcluded that 35,000 eligible voters were deterred from voting by the warning anyway. They were convinced they would be turned away from the polls.

Looking at the issue more broadly, the Brennan Center for Justice concluded: “Studies show that as many as 11 percent of eligible voters do not have government-issued photo ID. That percentage is even higher for seniors, people of color, people with disabilities, low-income voters, and students. Many citizens find it hard to get government photo IDs, because the underlying documentation like birth certificates (the ID one often needs to get a government ID) is often difficult or expensive to come by.”
The difficulties in complying with state’s Voter ID laws have often produced dramatic stories. Consider the 90-year-old Texan, who had let jim-wrighthis driver’s license lapse and found his identification card as a Texas Christian University faculty member would no longer legitimize him as a legal citizen-voter in the Lone Star state. Ironically, the suspicious would-be voter was Jim Wright, who served 34 years as a U. S. Congressman from Texas, and from 1987 to 1989, was the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. Still, you can’t be too careful.

The negative side-effects of Voter ID requirements not only weigh on the voting public, however. Such laws can be very expensive for the jurisdictions requiring such identification.

When Georgia enacted its Voter ID in 2005, they initially required voters to pay a fee for the government ID, but that was thrown out by the courts as constituting a poll tax. The consequence of that ruling was that the state moneywould have to bear the cost of providing the IDs without charge. Other states have experienced similar costs.

Karen Shanton and Wendy Underhill report that between 2007 and 2010, Indiana spent over $10 million on the production of the free Voter ID
cards. In 2010 alone, Indiana spent $600,000 on voter education and outreach to insure that voters understood the new requirements.

There is more fraud in absentee ballots and voter registration than any other categories. The analysis shows 491 cases of absentee ballot fraud absentee-ballot

Ironically, then, Voter ID laws may cause more people to seek absentee ballots—which makes cheating much easier. Imagine if you and I went to a polling place, and I explained to the poll workers that you had paid for the privilege of casting my ballot. Chances are, I’d still be in jail. On the other hand, there would be nothingabsentee2 to stop me from selling you my blank absentee ballot. Or you could hold a gun to my head while dictating how I should vote—a practice frowned on in most polling places. Or maybe you are just voting the way someone tells you to.

The various studies of in-person voter fraud indicate two things. First, we will never know the exact number of times it occurs, due to differences in definitions and data collection methods. Second, however you measure it, in-person voter fraud is a minuscule problem. Voter ID laws represent a clear case of a solution without a problem. It is a “solution” with disastrous consequences, moreover. It is a source of real problems rather than the solution to a make-believe problem. There should be no more phony “solutions” and we should undo the existing ones.

© Earl Babbie 2016, all rights reserved  Terms of Service/Privacy


Artwork from ShutterStock

Samantha Lachman, “Four Years Later, Texas Is Still Defending Its Voter ID Law,” Huffington Post, April 24, 2015 accessed July22, 2015

National Conference of Legislatures, 2014, “History of Voter ID,” 10/16/2014, accessed 4/14/2015 at

Dana Blanton, “Fox News Poll: Most think voter ID laws are necessary,” April 18, 2012,  accessed July 18, 2015

PR Newswire, “Department of State and PennDOT Confirm Most Registered Voters Have Photo ID, accessed July 22, 2015

Saki Knafo, 2013, “Pennsylvania Voter ID Confusion Disenfranchised Over 35,000, AFL-CIO Report Finds,” Huffington Post, July 30, 2013, accessed April 18, 2015 at

Brennan Center for Justice, 2012, “Voter ID,” October 15, 2012, accessed April 16, 2015 at
Heavy Mettle, “90 Year Old Legendary Speaker of the House Jim Wright Denied Texas Voter ID Card,” DailyKos, November 3, 2013 accessed July 27, 2015.

Justin Levitt, 2014, “A comprehensive investigation of voter impersonation finds 31 credible incidents out of one billion ballots cast,” Washington Post, August 6, 2014, accessed 4/14/15 at

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