Welcome again to Home of the Huntress where we’ve recently been talking about voter ID laws and voter fraud. I’m sorry that this is so late but I haven’t really felt like blogging lately so… yeah.
Let’s now move on to the often quoted counter of DMV availability. The argument is that DMVs are closing left, right, and center. The DMV is only open for very minute periods in the day. The DMV might be too far to travel to by foot (since the people that would go to the DMV for an ID likely do not own a car, nor license). The conspiracy theorists will tell you that the intent is to suppress minority vote by closing DMVs in minority areas. The claim is that minorities are less likely to own cars, so they’re less likely to require driver’s licenses and thus are less likely to have ID if it were required to vote. Even if they could get to the DMV, they’re always working two full-time jobs and can’t take time off to get an ID.
My initial reaction is that half of this argument is garbage. Transport is unfortunate but it’s not really an issue we should make the hurdle that we’re going to focus on. Apparently about 10% of the country doesn’t use the internet. Any millennial will tell you the hassle of applying for a job, as the day of the paper application is dying. However, I don’t see anyone making the argument that people can’t get jobs because they have no access to a computer with internet access. And it’s not like you can just move the DMV closer to people. Ideally, each DMV will serve a proportional number of people. Note that I said proportional, and not equal. If you want a DMVs to serve equal numbers of people, then a DMV in Middle Of Nowhere Iowa has to serve the entire state, while DMVs in NYC have to serve a small collection of city blocks. It’s preposterous. It also has baked in contradictions. Let’s suppose the person is working two full-time jobs. How are they getting to these jobs? I find it unlikely that they’re walking to both jobs. Which means that they’re getting rides from other people or using public transportation. This means that the DMV transport issue stated above is a non-factor. This last part is just a suspicion, but if you have a job, that means you probably have some form of positive ID anyway. Every job that I’ve ever attended has required that I bring two forms of ID (SS card, birth certificate, license, passport, etc.). So you wouldn’t need to go to the DMV to get ID because you already have it.
With my initial reaction out of the way, let’s address things piece by piece. First – poverty. People say that people can’t afford to take time off to go to the DMV to get their ID because they’re working two full-time jobs and can’t take any time off. Well, let’s look at that. Here are poverty statistics by race. Notice anything? There are more white people in poverty than there are black people in poverty. So if you want to say black people are too poor to afford cars or even to afford IDs, you are certainly welcome to do so. However, in saying so, you must also accept that more WHITE PEOPLE are affected in this way. So the poverty argument is unfounded. On top of that, 2.4% of people (same source) working full-time are in poverty. So I find it very difficult to buy the person in poverty ‘working two full-time jobs and can’t take time off to get an ID’.
“Okay, maybe they’re not in poverty… but what about transportation?” Let’s take a look at vehicles per household. It looks like there’s an average of close to two cars per household (1.9). Since you cannot have 0.9 of a car, let’s assume one car per household. What does this mean? It means that the ‘no vehicle’ argument is toast. There are more vehicles per household (on average) than there are drivers per household. Now we have to ask ourselves, “Are these people driving without a license?” I find that highly unlikely. Granted, I don’t doubt that there are households without a vehicle, but if we’re making laws, we should be considering the average household. “BUT WAIT!” I hear you cry. “What about wealthy people with many vehicles?”. I’m just going to just go with wealth by population. In order for the wealthy people to change the statistical mean from <1 to 1.9 they would require an obscene amount of vehicles.
So now we’ve countered the ‘full-time worker in poverty with no vehicle’ argument. Most of the people in poverty are unemployed (predictably). Despite being in poverty, it seems every household on average has at least vehicle. This only leaves the issue of the DMV. Are there enough DMVs for the people? Now, this is really large issue to tackle on the minute scale, so I’m going to tackle this issue based on a few choice cities in the United States. I should probably use many cities to build a stronger case but I’m a full-time teacher and this article is already going to be long enough so I’ll try to keep it short enough to build a case.
First, let’s use 3 of the highest populated cities in the United States.The selected cities are:
- New York City, New York
- Los Angeles, California
- Houston, Texas
And I’ll toss in Detroit, Michigan for its high minority population percentage (81%). Now, based on the hypothesis of DMVs are closing to hit minorities, we should see Detroit’s DMVs per person per square mile (henceforth called the ‘DPV rate’) be drastically lower than those of the other cities.
So, first. New York City has a population of 8.55 million people and an area of 304.8 sq. miles (landmass). How many DMVs does it have? Well, I had a hard time finding an exact number of DMVs in a source, so I’m using a Google search of “DMVs in [X]” and counting the DMVs in the list with ‘Department of Motor Vehicles’ as a “DMV”. For NYC, we see 8 DMVs. Which means it has a DPV rate of 0.00306979 DMVs per million people per square mile. I will not type the units out again.
Next, we look at Los Angeles. It has a population of 4.03 million people and an area of 469 sq. miles. It has… 16 DMVs? Seems unbelievable but I’m using very rudimentary methodology. Crunch the numbers, and it has a DPV rate of 0.00846529.
Houston has a (predicted) population of 2.489 million people and an area of 599.6 sq. miles. It has 8 DMVs, giving it a DPV of 0.00536048.
Last, we hit Detroit. It has a population of 0.677 million people and an area of 138.75 sq. miles. It has 4 DMVs, giving it a DPV rate of 0.0425832.
Sample size is quite small, but we see that Detroit has an immense number of DMVs per person per square mile. I predicted this because city population drops of exponentially after the first few cities which inflates the DPV rate. Give Detroit 10x its population and it stacks up nicely with the rest of the high population cities.
So what do we see at the end of the day? We see that people have vehicles, they’re not in poverty (unless they’re unemployed), and there (may) be a fair number of DMVs per city. The unemployment rate in the United States is around 5-6% in 2016. (around 8 million people). But over 1 in 5 Americans are receiving some form of welfare. Welfare is distributed more to lower income families (that’s the point of welfare) so it’s highly likely that almost all of those on welfare are unemployed. But you cannot collect welfare without an ID! So these people aren’t part of the argument. Houston, LA, and NYC all have comparable DPV rates, so I feel like cities may have comparable DPV rates with populations within their range.
In conclusion, this half of the argument is total bogus. While these cases may exist, the norm is that nearly everyone can and should have an ID. Anyway, regardless of what you come out of this believing, I hope I brought some new information to the table for you. Thanks for reading.