I believe changing one’s mind is a healthy sign of personal growth, and for years I’ve kept a small list of things I’ve changed my mind on. Writing is a great way to cement and expand on your thoughts so in that vein, here’s one thing I’ve changed my mind on.

Strong opinions weakly held

  • Someone said this at some point and I think it’s a good mantra to live by. It’s better to avoid attaching ourselves too much to our opinions.


The first subject I want to write about is Voting IDs. Throughout Europe, ID cards are ubiquitous and making one is a legal requirement for all citizens and permanent residents. Citizens are obliged to show them when voting.

Previous Arguments

A1. People must be identified when voting, otherwise this opens up room for electoral fraud.

A2. A free and fair democracy is worth the cost to privacy that ID cards present.

A3. In addition, the cost of obtaining an ID card is, or should be, funded via general taxation, and therefore doesn’t present a barrier to anyone.

Conclusion: Therefore, obligatory presentation of ID cards is a good thing for democracy.

What made me change my mind

Argument A1:

P1. In certain countries like the UK and USA, national ID cards don’t exist.

P2. These countries also have very strong democratic procedures and cultures.

P3. It is possible and realistic to conduct elections using other methods that guarantee one vote per person and near-zero fraud, such as by using an electoral register linked to home addresses.

A1 Conclusion: It stands to reason that IDs are not a necessary condition for free and fair elections.

Argument A2:

P1: If A1 is true, then the cost to privacy is not worth the benefit to democracy, since there is no benefit.

A2 Conclusion: ID cards pose an unnecesary violation of privacy rights, in this context.

Argument A3:

P1: Even if ID cards are obligatory, free at the point of payment, and paid for by taxation, a small subset of the population will remain disenfranchised, especially the most marginalised members of society, meaning they would be kept from voting.

P2: If A1 and A2 are true, then asking for ID cards is not worth the disenfranchisement, as small as it may be.

A3 Conclusion: ID cards should not be obligatory when voting since they disenfranchise a small percentage of the population, often a subset that needs the most support from society, and requiring ID cards does not present any benefits.

Having said that, requiring a centralised, state-held electoral register is still a barrier to enfranchisement and a violation of privacy, albeit a smaller one, and worth it.