DREAMing Voter ID and Presidential Evolution

DREAMing Voter ID and Presidential Evolution


Between sanctuary cities, the Department of Justice’s lawsuit concerning SB 1070, and the president’s “evolution” on immigration reform, voter validity measures are more important than ever moving forward.

“Just fill in your information and just sign here. I’ll transfer your information myself and we’ll mail you a voter registration card.”

These noteworthy words above come on the heels of President Obama’s recently-announced (and oft-interrupted) plans to change the deportation policies. They were recently spoken by a genteel, non-threatening older woman with a clipboard on the south side of Chicago.

“If you just put in your information and your address, we’ll transfer your information to this other form and we’ll mail you your voting card for this year.”

In a sanctuary city such as Chicago, and coming right after the president’s announcement, this template for “change” is one that should give Americans pause – and validate concerns that some conservatives have in support of Voter ID laws.

In one casual encounter we find the combination of on-going haphazard and mish-mashed immigration policies and the dearth of serious (but fair) voting validation requirements.  It leaves the door open for a blurring of lines between the lists of what legal residents can do in this nation and what they are disallowed from participating in.

Namely (regarding that disallowed list): voting, and particularly, voting for president in 2012.

For those who argue that legal residents who work here and pay taxes here should be able to vote in these elections, a quick glance at the Constitution will address that question. For those that argue that voter ID laws and similar measures currently in place ensure that voting will be valid and exclusively available to all American citizens by way of said Constitution, the social justice conversation has shifted drastically with President Obama’s Rose Garden Friday Surprise.

It is impractical for the same set of progressives that commend the president’s move with illegal immigration on Friday and champion the continued practice of sanctuary city status around the nation – often in defiance of federal law.  We can’t ignore the heightening need to get a handle on voter validity issues as soon as possible.

Presidential pandering too far to the left on this key voting bloc issue will, in turn, have far reaching ramifications.  It will include a stoking of conservative efforts to ensure that the new group of 800,000 or so illegal residents are not blended into the fold of Latino-Americans that actively enjoy the right to vote.

This does not mean that voter rolls should be exclusively purged of ethnic names and brown-skinned people living in urban-driven states as part of a political ruse under the guise of “doing what’s right.”

Overreaction on either side only continues the hot mess of rhetoric parading around the nation today as political business as usual.

It does mean, however, that just as we ensure that poor American citizens have the necessary tools needed to vote in this fall’s election, we should be weary that the continued squishiness of policy towards illegal immigrants and their rights as American residents jeopardize the constitutional line that delineates them as residents, not citizens with full civil rights – including voting.

In essence, in an attempt to augment a precious voting bloc into the fold, President Obama has found a way to rouse tensions and divisiveness on two major 2012 issues simultaneously. The president’s “evolution” (i.e., political necessary) from master deporter to “friend of the DREAM” in a hard-fought election year will make the process harder for massive immigration reform.  His latest move will likely have devolved the conversation (and overall battle) on consistent, fair, and non-discriminatory voter validity laws, as well.

LENNY MCALLISTER is a senior contributor to Politic 365 featured on CNN Newsroom, CNN’s “Early Start”, and “CNN Saturday Morning”. Hear “The McAllister Minute” on the American Urban Radio Network each week. Lenny will be featured on “Our World with Black Enterprise”on Sunday, June 17, 2012 (check local listings).


  1. I repeatedly see proponents of photo ID laws arguing that they are necessary to prevent non-citizens from voting, but most states allow non-citizens to obtain drivers' licenses. So laws requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls will not prevent non-citizens from voting.