Voter ID shouldn’t be a partisan issue

first_imgMoreover, it isn’t actually true. My own saintly, octogenarian mother-in-law recalls with pleasure the day she voted twice for FDR. Some reasonably believe that the Chicago cemetery vote swung the 1960 election for John F. Kennedy. More recently, in 2004, the New York Daily News reported that 46,000 people were registered to vote both in New York and Florida. Sixty-eight percent of the double-registered were Democrats. Last month Seattle prosecutors indicted a number of people working for the activist group Acorn in what Secretary of State Sam Reed called “the worst case of voter registration fraud in the history” of Washington state. Over 97 percent of the 1,805 names submitted by Acorn were fictitious. (In the 2004 Washington gubernatorial race, Democrat Christine Gregoire won by 131 votes.) There is no comparable recent voter fraud scandal in California. But it wouldn’t kill the Legislature to exercise some foresight. It’s foolish to refuse to deal with a problem because it isn’t yet a crisis. The other argument raised against voter ID is that there are people who don’t have photo IDs, and such people are likely to be elderly or members of minority groups. Look, the right to vote is important. So is the right to have one’s vote count, undiluted by fraudulent voting. Obtaining a photo ID just isn’t that tough. Let community groups spring up, dedicated to helping minorities and the elderly get their photo IDs. It is a reasonable requirement warranted by the compelling interest in combating voter fraud. The actual underlying concern appears to be that the left reckons the people most likely to affected by a photo ID requirement are also most likely to vote Democratic. But “whose ox is gored” is, by definition, an unprincipled argument. There is a danger that because of the left’s opposition to voter ID, the Democratic Party will get a reputation as the party that winks at voter fraud. This would not be good. We can’t depend on the electorate being either inattentive enough or cynical enough to overlook it. We need to change our tune, and we can start with AB 9. The bill is not perfect. For example, if people must have a state-issued photo ID to vote, that ID must be free. Otherwise, a legitimate electoral regulation can be damned as a poll tax. AB 9 didn’t address this issue. So fix the bill, don’t kill it. Bowen should endorse AB 9 in concept. Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez ought to bring the bill back for reconsideration. Senate President pro tem Don Perata should pledge the support of Senate Democrats for voter ID. They could stand next to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger when they do it. Voter ID ought to be a nonpartisan issue. Also, while we’re at it, let’s do the indelible-ink-on-the-finger-after-voting thing. Low tech, but extremely effective. Paul Kujawsky is a member of the California Democratic Party Central Committee. Write to him by e-mail at [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! `VOTE early and often.” We smile at the witticism, but of course it is no joke. Voter fraud poisons any liberal democracy. When persons not entitled to vote do so, or registered voters vote more than once, our votes aren’t recorded properly. Honest votes weigh less. Despair or cynicism can creep in – if the election is crooked, is this really a democracy? Thus, there was little serious criticism of California Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s recent decision to decertify three out of four voting machines she examined. Everyone understands that we have to get this right, because voter fraud is quite a serious matter. But there’s something funny going on. It seems that perhaps not all forms of voter fraud are equally serious. While Bowen protects us from unscrupulous software, we can still stroll into our polling places and vote without having to show any sort of identification whatsoever. Just claim to be somebody on the voter roll, and they hand you a ballot. That, to put it mildly, is odd. Yet Bowen, a Democrat, and the Democrats controlling the California Legislature are unconcerned. How else to explain what happened to AB 9, which would have required voters to show a photo ID before voting? The bill died last March in the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee. All seven Democrats voted against the bill; both Republicans voted for it. Why is voter ID a partisan issue? Every political party should gladly support a measure intended to suppress voter fraud. The left asserts two principal objections to voter ID. The first is that there is no need for it, because there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud. That argument is disingenuous: Since voter fraud is by nature secretive, inconclusive evidence can hardly settle the matter. last_img

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