Herald Journal Columns
July 24, 2006, Herald Journal

We need photo ID cards to vote

By ROZ KOHLS

Every American has the right not to have their ballot canceled out by someone who shouldn’t be voting, is voting twice or has long since died.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found in April that 80 percent of Americans agree. They favored a photo identification requirement for voting, according to John Fund of the Wall Street Journal July 10.

People need to show photo ID to write a check, buy motor oil in bulk and often when they rent a video, buy liquor or cigarettes. So what’s the fuss about needing one to vote?

Photo ID laws are considered one of the most basic election safeguards by a host of countries, Mexico, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Britain, India and South Africa. Opponents in the US, though, continue to claim photo IDs are discriminatory. Why?

During the US Senate debate on immigration reform, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Republican, pointed out that there are 12 million illegal immigrants in the country. He proposed an amendment to the immigration bill that would provide money to states for a free photo ID to anyone who needed one. Requiring someone to show a photo ID would cut down on potential fraud and misrepresentation at the polls, Fund said.

Sen. Ted Kennedy, a Democrat, claimed a photo ID requirement to vote was equivalent to a poll tax.

“How can it be a poll tax, if anyone can get the ID for free?” shot back McConnell.

Nevertheless, every Democratic senator lined up in opposition to the McConnell amendment.

It’s unbelievable.

According to Fund, this is a clear sign that liberals feel threatened by the idea of ballot security.

In Mexico this summer, voters had to have a valid voter ID card with a photo. The card also was imbedded with security codes. After they cast their ballots, they dipped a finger or thumb in indelible purple ink, just like the voters in Iraq did, to prevent them from voting again, Fund said.

Michael Barone, co-author of the Almanac of American Politics, spent a week in Mexico reporting on the election and the safeguards taken to protect the accuracy of the vote.

“I have more confidence in Mexico’s election procedures than I do in much of the United States,” he concluded.

The United States is considerably richer and has a longer democratic tradition. We should be leading Mexico, not the other way around.


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