Last Week Tonight returned Sunday night after a nearly two month break and John Oliver wasted no time jumping into his election coverage. As is usual for Oliver, he’s not interested in parsing out the daily news of the election, but in diving deep into a specific issue. This week it is voting rights that needs a bit of exposure.
Voting is the cornerstone of American democracy, and “everyone should have a vote. Even idiots,” declares Oliver. While some states have tried to make voting easier with mail-in ballots and online registration, since 2011, seven states have curtailed early voting and begun requiring ID’s at the polls, calling them commonplace measures, but in Texas alone 500,000 voters do not have proper ID. This includes old people who have lost their driver’s licenses, but the laws mainly affect black and Latino citizens, who are at least twice as likely to not have proper identification.
Some legislators, like Wisconsin’s Joel Keelfisch suggest that if you need an ID to buy Sudafed, you should need one to vote. Oliver clarifies for him, “Voting is a right. If you take it away, you ruin democracy. If you take away someone’s Sudafed, the only thing you’ll ruin is their sleeve.”
The real hypocrisy Oliver discovered is that some of the most ardent supporters of voter ID laws are actually committing voter fraud in their own legislatures. Oliver shows footage of the Texas House of Representatives that shows four state representatives competing to steal the votes of their absent colleagues. In Tennessee, they have it down to a science, bringing in long sticks to reach over and flip “yea” or “nay” on their neighbor’s desk. This is called ghost voting, and Oliver has an idea for how to deal with those who commit it. Watch the clip to see what he has in mind.