Editorial: First, ID the real problem

Voter identification debate can't advance unless real motives revealed

In a nation chock full of disingenuous political dialogue, it doesn’t get much more egregious than liberal assertions about voter ID laws.


According to the left’s well-worn songbook, such laws “disenfranchise” minorities and “suppress” the poor, as if the notion of asking someone to prove who they say they are is equivalent to Jim Crow-era literacy tests and poll taxes.

Anyone with the slightest interest in eliminating voter fraud – and protecting the one-man, one-vote principle this republic was founded on – should speak up and stop the music to this tired old tune.

Today, where proof of identity is required for everything from driving a car to opening a bank account, it’s silly to assume vast numbers of poor or minority voters are without a photo ID. And for those who are, it’s simply an insult to insinuate they are incapable of obtaining one.

How many times does that have to be said?

The left’s ham-fisted argument that ID laws violate individuals’ “voting rights” is subterfuge to mask their real intent: allowing rampant election fraud to continue in heavily Democratic districts nationwide.

Voter ID laws, such as those in Georgia and a handful of other states, have been back in the news since a Pennsylvania state court judge struck its law down earlier this month, saying it “unreasonably burdens the right to vote.”

Gov. Tom Corbett disagreed with the ruling but has not said whether proponents will seek an appeal to the full commonwealth or state supreme courts.

ID laws have popped up in the proposed Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014, which seeks to establish a new formula that requires states with a history of voting discrimination to seek federal approval for any voting changes they make. The previous formula in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was struck down last year by the Supreme Court.

The new system would include Georgia, Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana but exclude Alabama, Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Florida. However, voter ID laws would be exempted as a violation, largely a measure to win Republican support for the mostly Democrat-backed bill.

Such laws “are essential to protecting the integrity of our electoral process, and when properly drafted do not have a discriminatory intent or effect,’” said James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., the bill’s sole Republican sponsor.

Voter ID laws are not yet widespread, but voter fraud is. To date, 46 states have reported prosecuting voter fraud cases.

Research commissioned in 2012 by the Pew Center on the States showed approximately 24 million – or one of every eight – voter registrations in the United States are invalid or significantly inaccurate, with nearly 3 million people having registrations in more than one state and nearly 2 million deceased people still on voter rolls.

Why would anyone purporting to favor free and fair elections resist attempts to clear up these errors with a simple ID card?

Georgia accepts six forms of photo ID as proof of identity, ranging from expired drivers’ licenses and student ID cards to government employee ID badges and military IDs. Anyone without such an ID can receive a special “voter ID” card for free.

The left’s puffery that each state has potentially hundreds of thousands of ID-less voters (the Brennan Center for Justice claims as many as many as one in 10 U.S. citizens is without a photo ID) is deflated by the facts.

The Georgia Secretary of State reported the average number of people requesting a free voter ID each year since the law went into effect in 2007 was 0.05 percent of registered voters. The largest single-year figure was 2008 – a presidential election year – in which 12,332 people, or 0.23 percent, of registered voters, asked for a free ID. Survey data collected by American University in Maryland, Indiana and Mississippi show similar data.

Where, then, are these vast populations of people without photo IDs? Answer: in the heads of liberal politicos.

If Georgia, with one of the nation’s strictest ID laws, is oppressing minority voters, how did the total number of black votes increase by 44.2 percent from 2006 to 2010? How did Latino voting during the same period increase 66.5 percent? Both figures are well above the 11.7 percent gain in votes cast by whites.

One must present proof of identity to purchase cigarettes or alcohol, apply for public housing or Medicaid, open a bank account, cash a check or board an airplane. Yet asking the same of someone engaging in a sovereign nation’s most civically important duty is somehow a violation of their rights?

Can we have some honesty for a change?