Florida moving toward accepting concealed-carry permits as voter ID

The Florida Senate voted unanimously today to add concealed weapons permit holders to be able to use their ID cards as proof of identity when they vote. The bill would also add veteran health cards to the list of acceptable IDs. A sister bill will be taken up by the Florida House of Representatives shortly.

If and when the bill becomes law, concealed carry permits and veterans health cards will be added to the list of existing acceptable IDs, which include the following:

A message from North Carolina's government, via Shutterstock

A message from Florida’s government, via Shutterstock

  • Florida driver’s license
  • Florida identification card issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
  • United States passport
  • Debit or credit card
  • Military identification
  • Student identification
  • Retirement center identification
  • Neighborhood association identification
  • Public assistance identification

Florida requires photo identification in order to vote, which rules out most debit and credit cards despite their official inclusion on the state’s list. Additionally, the voter must present a photo ID that includes their signature; if their ID doesn’t have their signature, they must present another ID that does.

This may sound like a bit much, and it is, but as Republican-sponsored voter ID laws go, it’s actually not so bad. Tennessee, for instance, recently survived a court challenge to its photo ID law, which doesn’t include student IDs — not even from state universities. Additionally, since Florida provides at least some avenue by which voters who don’t have acceptable ID can cast a ballot that will count, the National Conference of State Legislatures has rated their law a “non-strict” version of photo ID requirements.

But that still doesn’t make this ad-hoc list of acceptable IDs okay.

That’s because the mere existence of voter ID laws is enough to discourage voter turnout — even among eligible voters who have the acceptable forms of ID. It doesn’t matter quite as much if you let voters without acceptable ID vote provisionally if you’ve discouraged an even larger portion of your eligible voter population from showing up in the first place.

And that’s to say nothing of the already restrictive and racially-discriminatory electoral system that presently exists in Florida. It shouldn’t be lost on us that most of the Florida Senators who just voted to make it slightly easier for the state’s 1.4 million concealed-carry permit holders to vote have no intention of doing anything to help the 1.5 million Floridians (including nearly one out of every four black adults in Florida) who are currently barred from even registering to vote due to past felony convictions. Florida’s electoral system betrays a clear pattern of making it easier for white conservatives to vote, while making it harder for low-income and non-white citizens to vote.

And Florida Republicans don’t seem to care all that much.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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