I had a bit of a chuckle-worthy experience today with early voting. As a quick point of context for those unaware, in July of this year, a federal appeals court struck down the state’s voter ID law and there were heavy racial undertones around the decision, specifically accusations that the law was intended to reduce the number of black voters.
So with all of that as a backdrop, ol’ Ben E Lou wanders into a polling place this morning after dropping my youngest off at preschool. There are numerous signs declaring “No Photo ID Needed To Vote” both inside and outside of the location. I go inside, and it’s demographically pretty much what one would expect in a suburban voting location at 8:45 on a Friday morning: virtually every poll worker is a 70+-year-old white person. I interpret all those “voter IDs not required” signs to mean that an ID isn’t required, but I assume that showing something official with my picture, name, and address on it is going to be the fastest way to get validated, get on with it, and get back to work. So as I walk up to the sign-in table, I smile, nod at the sweet older lady sitting there, and start to reach for my wallet.
Y’all, it was like a moment out of a comedy sketch.
Her reaction was *priceless*. I don’t recall the exact words she used, but her tone, facial expression, and body language all communicated: “NO NO NO NO NO PUT YOUR WALLET AWAY NO VOTER ID PLEASE DON’T MAKE IT LOOK LIKE I AM ASKING FOR ONE FROM YOU MR. BLACK MAN OMG EVERYONE PLEASE LOOK AND SEE THAT I AM NOT SUPPRESSING THIS NEGRO’S VOTE !!!!!”
Seriously, it was akin to the movie/sitcom trope where someone goes to say/do something that no one wants them to do and like five people raise both hands outward toward them and with panicked faces say “NOOOOOOOO” in unison. There was a look of near-horror on her face and on that of the poll workers seated on either side of her. It felt like if I’d made another move toward my wallet, three old white people would have jumped out from under the table to grab it, put it back in my pocket, and then apologize profusely for making me think I needed to show an ID.