Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Is an ID too much to ask?

Just when I think it's come to its collective senses, The Washington Post goes and disappoints me again. I told you I don't agree with them often. The Post today comes out against proposed voting reforms that would require voters to show a government-issued photo id before voting. Apparently, the post thinks this is grossly unfair, because people would have to--gasp--prove they were eligible to vote. Now, The Post cites an impressive statistic that 12 percent of individuals do not have a driver's license. The Post says those are mostly the poor, minorities, and the elderly. I don't know how true that is--I suspect some of those people are wealthy folks living in Manhattan who get around without cars by using taxis and the subway; I'd suspect there are people like that in other cities as well. Regardles, the lack of a driver's license does not mean you do not have a government-issued id.

I know Texas and Maryland both have state-issued identification cards. They are designed specifically for people who don't drive or who can't qualify for a license because of age, disability, or some other factor. They are available now for a small fee. If, as the commission on federal election reform suggested, those cards were available to voters in need of identification for free, how would that harm those who don't currently have a license? The Post seems to think that being required to gather up some documents to prove citizenship is too arduous. I disagree. I think that voting is an important right and one that must be protected. I don't think being asked to come up with a birth certificate, social security card, or some other documents to prove your right to vote is too much to ask.

The Post says that for absentee ballots, all the commission recommends is a signature verification. Well, that's all fine and dandy for absentee ballots that must be submitted prior to election day, so that there is time to review and cross check against signatures on file. The Post seems to think this prevents fraud. Of course, it doesn't keep people from registering multiple times under different names. Nor are most election judges handwriting experts capable of detecting anything more than the most rudimentary forgery. I think The Post blew it on this one. An id is not to much as to protect this precious right.