Last Week Tonight returned from its winter break officially in an election year, so John Oliver spent a large portion of his first episode back focusing on one pertinent issue: Voter ID laws, which make it more difficult for minority voters who tend to lean Democratic to have their voices heard. “Voting is a right. If you take it away, you ruin democracy,” Oliver warned.
While conservatives claim that possession of an ID is a normal requisite to cast a vote, Oliver provided evidence against it. “Studies have shown these restrictions tend to disproportionately impact African-American and Latino voters. In Texas, for instance, experts have found that African-American voters were almost twice as likely to lack voter ID, and Latinos were nearly two-and-a-half times as likely,” Oliver said. “It’s just one of those things that white people are more likely to have. Like a sunburn. Or an Oscar nomination.”
Oliver also dismantled the argument that requiring ID prevents voter fraud, since the punishment for casting one “probably not consequential” vote while claiming to be someone else is five years in prison. “In terms of pointless crimes, it’s up there with forging a Bed Bath & Beyond coupon,” Oliver says of voter fraud. “It’s a lot of trouble with low reward.”
Oliver then pointed out the hypocrisy of the politicians pushing forward stricter voting laws by showing video of them engaging in “ghost voting” – when they cast a vote for somebody else – in their own state legislatures.
“At this point, I would like to propose something: Any politician who has ever supported an unnecessary voter ID law should be forced to obtain a new ID every single time they want to pass a bill, just to make sure they are who they say they are,” the host said. “And yes, that might say, ‘But John, that’s ridiculous. There is no real reason to make us do that. And it’s so cumbersome, it may prevent us from engaging in the democratic process.’ To which I would say, ‘Welcome to the fucking club.'”