Government ID Needed to Buy Drain Cleaner in Illinois, But Not to Vote
Black Conservative Sees Hypocrisy in Legislative Opposition to Similar Safeguards for Electoral Process
Washington, D.C. - Project 21 spokesman Stacy Swimp is criticizing Illinois lawmakers for requiring people who purchase caustic substances such as drain cleaner to present government-issued ID after previously rejecting a similar ID requirement for polling places and allowing newly-proposed voter ID legislation to languish.
"The new law in Illinois tracking the sale of Drano was motivated by concern over a single incident. There are many instances of documented voter fraud all over the nation in just the past few years -- and voter fraud in Illinois in 1960 may have thrown the presidential election," said Project 21's Swimp. "If people must provide a government-issued ID to unclog their drains, they certainly should do the same for the very important task of selecting their elected leaders."
Passed by state lawmakers after drain cleaner was used as a weapon in an attack that left two Chicago women scarred, the new law, which went into effect January 1, requires the presentation of government-issued ID to retailers when purchasing certain household chemicals, such as drain cleaner. The retailer must log all of the information regarding the purchase and the purchaser. Retailers who fail to comply can be fined up to $1,500 per incident. A hardware store owner told CBS News the new law requires his staff to report on the purchases of dozens of products, and some stores are said to have removed covered items from their stores altogether to avoid any hassle.
But Illinois lawmakers have refused to consider less-stringent rules regarding showing proof of identity during the voting process. Legislation to require photo identification at polling places has been proposed, but a similar bill died in committee in 2008 on a partisan vote. As the legislative leadership in the Illinois statehouse has not changed hands since then, it can be expected that the current bill will continue to languish.
Opponents of the Illinois ballot protection measure in 2008 -- much like critics of similar measures today -- said requiring a valid ID would create a cumbersome burden. So, in Illinois, the hypothetical poor old woman that voter ID-opponents claim cannot get an ID cannot keep her bathtub from backing up without calling a plumber.
Project 21's Stacy Swimp, who had a certification in pesticide application, understands why lawmakers might want to further regulate certain acids and other dangerous chemicals, but says is hard to understand why the same people who want an ID to be used at the hardware store do not want the same vigilance applied to voting.
Swimp says: "Having been certified as a pesticide applicator in the past and knowing the harm they can inflict if used maliciously, I understand why some might want to have a means of identifying who obtains them and for what reasons. The same would apply to guns, fertilizers, over-the-counter medications that can make illicit drugs and -- in this case -- acids and other dangerous chemicals. So it's only logical that people who have these concerns would also want similar identification rules to prevent vote fraud."
Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives since 1992, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research (http://www.nationalcenter.org).