Common sense and voter ID laws


One side of the political aisle claims that requiring American citizens to show a photo ID to elect other Americans to positions of power presents a hardship to "the poor," blacks, and Hispanics. The claim is absurd on its face and even more so when you consider that people have to show photo ID throughout their lives, including when cashing a check, boarding a plane, or even entering the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which opposes voter ID laws.

Voter fraud doesn't have to be rampant to pose serious problems. One fraudulent vote is one too many, especially in close contests. In a stunning and ironic display of potential fraud, James O'Keefe, who released undercover videos of ACORN employees advising operatives on how to break the law, released this week an undercover video that revealed how easy it is to commit voter fraud in the nation's capital.

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During the April 3 primary in the District of Columbia, an operative entered U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's polling place in northwest D.C. and gave Holder's name and address. The poll worker searched the records, found it, and asked the operative to sign "his" name. The operative said he left his ID in the car. The worker said he didn't need it. The operative said he'd feel more comfortable showing his ID and left.

The DOJ downplayed the sting. "It's no coincidence that these so-called examples of rampant voter fraud consistently turn out to be manufactured ones."

Manufactured or otherwise, doesn't the sting expose the potential for fraud? The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics thinks so. The agency has launched an investigation into the incident.

Columnist and author John Fund notes that absentee voting also is open to fraud. Most states don't require ID for absentee ballots. In Jamie Dean's WORLD cover story on voter ID laws, she paraphrased Fund on the issue. Absentee ballots tend to favor Republicans. Just as Democrats oppose voter ID laws because the people likely not to have photo IDs tend to vote for Democrats, Republicans "often downplay serious abuses of mail-in ballots."

The right to vote is guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, but it's not absolute. States are authorized to set voter qualifications. For example, they may require an age minimum and residency, but they may not require poll taxes or literacy tests. No laws prevent "the poor," the elderly, or racial and ethnic minorities from voting. Any citizen qualified to vote may vote. Even if one is poor in the true sense of the word, one can obtain a state-issued photo ID at no cost. All it takes is going down to the local DMV-which can be an equal opportunity nightmare.

The best way to prevent voter fraud is to require in-person and mail-in voters to verify their identity. Politics is contentious by design, and common-sense voter ID laws will help ensure the integrity of the voting process. Ask yourselves what sort of person would object to accuracy and honesty in choosing men and women to positions of power.

La Shawn Barber
La Shawn Barber

La Shawn writes about culture, faith, and politics. Her work has appeared in the Christian Research Journal, Christianity Today, the Washington Examiner, and other publications


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