But that argument is also wrong, for what it’s worth.
Strict photo-ID requirements—that is, requirements without reasonable workarounds for those who lack said identification—are relatively rare in American society. Even alcohol and cigarette purchases—which could charitably count as “groceries”—aren’t as tightly and universally bound by photo ID as proponents of the election measures suggest. Aside from the few states, like Tennessee and Indiana, that have implemented “universal carding,” most states allow people who look to be well older than 21 to purchase alcohol and tobacco without the hassle. (Most Americans would probably consider it pretty weird if great-grandmothers got carded on beer runs.)
Trump abandons the secret code of ‘voter fraud’
Their sale isn’t really analogous to voting, though—alcohol and tobacco are vices. Photo ID in that context is mostly used to avoid fines related to underage sales, not matters of security and fraud prevention.
It might seem that commercial flying, an act that is regulated through the national-security apparatus, would be a better example, since driver’s licenses and passports are such integral parts of the check-in process. But that’s not right either: People don’t actually need a government-issued photo ID to fly. In fact, the Transportation Security Administration’s website states that travelers without ID are asked “to complete an identity verification process which includes collecting information such as your name, current address, and other personal information to confirm your identity.” Barring criminal warrants or other red flags, most passengers without ID are allowed to fly after a pat-down and a bag inspection. I’m one of them: Speaking from experience, the process is a hassle, but one designed specifically to accommodate people who’ve lost or don’t have a driver’s license. (From that experience, I can say that the hassle is well worth it to avoid being trapped in Las Vegas forever.)
Defenders of voter ID often see parallels between other areas of daily life where the federal bureaucracy extends: The Patriot Act and related laws pertaining to the Department of Homeland Security have created much tougher identification requirements for a number of tasks, including opening bank accounts, buying houses, buying regulated behind-the-counter drugs, and seeking employment.
But for each, again, there are some reasonable loopholes for the few citizens without the required documents. All bank transactions and new accounts—including home mortgages—are governed by a Patriot Act–enhanced version of the Bank Secrecy Act. That requires financial institutions to run a Customer Identification Program (CIP), an effort to crack down on suspicious financial activity on behalf of terrorist groups and organized crime. But the CIP allows banks to use different tiers of verification for customers who lack photo ID for specific reasons; allows employee discretion in verifying the identification of customers they know; and also, in some cases, might allow a combination of Social Security cards and voter-registration cards to serve as acceptable ID. Some local banks specifically account for people without photo ID in their written procedures. For example, the Callaway Bank, which serves mid-Missouri cities, says that people opening new accounts “can bring in 2 forms of ID,” including a Social Security card, a birth certificate, a Medicare card, or an insurance card.