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Voter ID: Fraud Prevention or Partisan Scam?

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 13: Lawyer's' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Executive Director Barbara Arnwine (2nd R) speaks during a news conference to voice opposition to state photo identification voter laws with the Rev. Jesse Jackson (C) and members of Congress at the U.S. Capitol July 13, 2011 in Washington, DC. In what the the committee calls 'vote supression legislation,' eight states require photo identification for people to vote and 22 others are considering similar legislation. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

On last Thursday’s morning show I brought up the topic of voter ID. This has been a hot topic, as Election Day looms ever closer. Both parties are very entrenched in their beliefs as to the value, or lack of positive identification, of voters at the polls.

Cons Of Voter ID’s From The Left

The liberal factions feel that requiring voters to produce identification to vote infringes on their electoral base. Namely, the poor and disabled, who traditionally vote democratic, Their position states that many poor and disabled do not currently have photo ID’s such as a driver’s license or state issued ID card and acquiring one would present an undo hardship on those potential voters.

Pros of Voter ID’s From The Right

The other side of the aisle is fearful that without voter ID there is an opportunity for people to either vote in someone else’s name or vote in multiple locations. The conservative belief is that it’s a simple process to obtain a photo ID and does not produce a hardship because people need ID to open bank accounts, enter federal buildings, take out loans, buy or rent property.

Is Voter I.D. a Reality in the US?

Is voter fraud a valid argument to require the use of voter ID cards? Have there been widespread examples of voter fraud that would concern the average citizen? It depends on whom you listen to. In the world of instant information it’s not too hard to find confirmation of any position you want to hold. That’s doesn’t always mean the site or source is credible. So there is ample information from both camps to make their case.

What Exactly Is Voter Fraud?

When most people think of voter fraud, they have a vision of someone walking into a polling place and voting illegally. In a recent New York Times article by Richard Hasen, a political science professor, claims the following,

“Does voter fraud sometimes happen in the U.S.”? You bet. But after extensively studying voter fraud, I can tell you that voter ID laws would have no impact on the kind of fraud that can actually affect elections. The biggest source of fraud in recent years has been absentee ballots.”

“It doesn’t happen often, but partisan election officials have been caught throwing away thousands of ballots they’d rather not count. Republicans, however, do not want to rein in absentee ballots, because most are cast by the military and the elderly — who tend to vote Republican. Instead, they focus on voter ID laws that would prevent individuals voting while pretending to be someone else.”

Hasen goes on to say; “All evidence indicates that “impersonation fraud” is very rare, and that voter ID laws would mostly suppress legal votes by minorities who lack a photo ID. To avoid contested elections, we need sensible national voting standards — not a politically motivated hodgepodge of state laws. Sadly, it looks like “things will have to get even worse before they get better.”

Some Final Thoughts on Voter ID

The vast majority of us carry some from of ID with us at all times. I have to show my ID to pay with a check at Wal-Mart. I can’t make any changes or withdraw money from my accounts without showing ID. I have to have an ID when I move investments or buy property.

It’s very hard to operate in today’s America without some form of identification. From my own investigation I found that there are more people, in every state, with driver’s licenses, than there are registered voters in that state.

If a state is going to require voters to produce a photo ID at the polling place, then it should be up to the state to provide photo ID’s to anyone who requests one, either free, or at an affordable price, depending on the person’s ability to pay. This requirement would not only make it easier to vote, but would also make it much easier for the average person to do business within our borders. Sounds like a win-win to me.

Where do you come down on the topic of Voter ID? Do we need it, or is it much ado about nothing? Let us know your opinion.

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