Forget the DMV! California Says Vote with Your Gym Membership!

The Image Party /
The Image Party /

It’s shocking but true in California: voters without government IDs can still vote with a gym membership, credit card, or utility bill. Yes, you heard that right.

When registering to vote in California, individuals are asked to provide a driver’s license identification number or the last four digits of their Social Security number on the secretary of state’s website. However, if someone lacks these forms of ID, they can simply check a box stating so.

According to the California Secretary of State’s office, if an applicant checks both boxes indicating they lack a driver’s license and an SSN, they will be prompted to provide alternative identification. And what kind of IDs are we talking about? Oh, just a credit card, a utility bill, or, unbelievably, a gym membership.

When further clarification was sought, the secretary of state’s office initially provided vague responses. When pressed, a representative eventually admitted that if an applicant cannot be validated using their driver’s license number or SSN, they must show ID the first time they vote. The acceptable ID list includes health club cards, student IDs, bank statements, insurance cards, and even sample ballots. Yes, you read that correctly—a gym membership card could be used to validate your identity.

This practice, enshrined in state statute, is designed to verify California residency, not citizenship. The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) requires states to check voter registration information against state DMV databases or Social Security records. But here’s the kicker: neither an SSN nor a driver’s license confirms citizenship since foreign nationals can obtain both.

Hans Von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, rightly called this policy absurd. He pointed out that the simplicity of creating a gym membership card with essential software highlights the flaw in using such low-security identification methods. States require government-issued photo IDs for numerous activities, from getting married to buying alcohol, precisely because they offer higher security and authenticity.

The DMV records verification HAVA requires aims to prevent voter fraud in ways that a gym card simply cannot. DMV databases across states are interconnected, ensuring that when someone moves and gets a new license, their old state is notified, and their previous license (and voter registration) can be canceled. This system helps maintain the integrity of voter rolls by preventing duplicate registrations across states.

In contrast, using gym memberships or utility bills as identification does not assure that a voter isn’t registered in multiple states. These documents don’t offer any connection to national verification systems, leaving the door wide open for potential voter fraud.

The lax ID requirements in California’s voter registration process raise serious questions about election security. It’s baffling that such low-security documents are deemed acceptable for something as crucial as voting. It’s high time we demand more robust voter ID laws to ensure the integrity of our elections. Shouldn’t we hold our voting system to at least the same standard if we require proper ID for everyday tasks?