On Thursday, the Wisconsin legislature sent a bill requiring photographic identification for voting to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk. This follows the enactment of an even stricter law in Kansas a few weeks ago.
Drafted by my office, Kansas’s Secure and Fair Elections Act combined three elements: (1) a requirement that voters present photo IDs when they vote in person; (2) a requirement that absentee voters present a full driver’s license number and have their signatures verified; and (3) a proof of citizenship requirement for all newly registered voters. Although a few states, including Georgia, Indiana and Arizona, have enacted one or two of these reforms, Kansas is the only state to enact all three.
Other states are moving in the same direction. The Texas legislature sent a photo-ID bill to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk last Monday. And next year Missouri voters will get a chance to vote on a photo-ID requirement.
Immediately after the Kansas law was signed in April, critics cried foul. They argued that voter fraud isn’t significant enough to warrant such steps, that large numbers of Americans don’t possess photo IDs, and that such laws will depress turnout among the poor and among minorities. They are wrong on all three counts.
[...]My office already has found 67 aliens illegally registered to vote in Kansas, but when the total number is calculated, it will likely be in the hundreds. In Colorado, the Secretary of State’s office recently identified 11,805 aliens illegally registered to vote in the state, of whom 4,947 cast a ballot in the 2010 elections.
[...]According to the 2010 census, there are 2,126,179 Kansans of voting age. According to the Kansas Department of Motor Vehicles, 2,156,446 Kansans already have a driver’s license or a non-driver ID. In other words, there are more photo IDs in circulation than there are eligible voters. The notion that there are hundreds of thousands of voters in Kansas (or any other state) without photo IDs is a myth.
Carrying a photo ID has become a part of American life. You can’t cash a check, board a plane, or even buy full-strength Sudafed over the counter without one. That’s why it’s not unreasonable to require one in order to protect our most important privilege of citizenship. But just in case any person lacks a photo ID, Kansas’s law provides a free state ID to anyone who needs one. Other states have included similar provisions in their photo-ID laws.
Some opponents of election security laws also declare that they are part of a sinister plot to depress voter registration and turnout, especially among minority voters who are more likely to vote Democrat. Here too the facts do not support the claim. Georgia’s photo ID requirement was in place for both the 2008 and 2010 elections, when turnout among minority voters was higher than average. Likewise, Arizona’s proof-of-citizenship requirement for registration has not impeded minority voters from registering.
This should pushed by Republicans right alongside a national right-to-work law and a national voucher program. I would love to see an opt-out of Social Security as well. We need that voter ID law to be in place before the 2012 presidential election.
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