Supreme Court considers voters rights’ case

Matthew White

The Supreme Court has the opportunity to prescribe an integrity shot for our nation’s elections in the form of voter identification requirements. And, like good doctors, our nation’s justices shouldn’t delay the treatment.

According to the Washington Post, seven states require a photo ID to vote, and another 17 states require identification without photos. That means, out of our nation’s 50 states, 24 require voters to identify themselves before casting a ballot, a perfectly reasonable restriction.

In order to gain employment, government benefits, bank loans, a library card and many other things, Americans are asked to identify themselves, and this proves no significant barrier to those activities. Consider this: Asking people to prove their identity before selling them cigarettes or alcohol is at least as reasonable as asking them to prove their identify before handing them a ballot.

But, Democrats largely refuse to see the issue in this way. Instead, the Indiana Democratic Party has fought Indiana’s voter identification requirement all the way to our nation’s highest court. It seems Indiana Democrats are more concerned with protecting the opportunity for ballot-shopping (cruising the polls with multiple identities) than protecting the integrity of our nation’s elections.

Anyone who believes in the principle of one vote per person should understand that some type of enforcement is necessary. And that enforcement is verifying a person’s identity before recording his or her vote. While this won’t completely eliminate fraud (no measure can), it will provide some assurance of integrity.

The Indiana Democrats argue that voter identification requirements will cause poor and minority candidates to be disenfranchised. However, in all but two states (Indiana and Georgia), voters lacking identification can cast a ballot and then return to their local board of elections within the next 10 days to verify their identity. In many states, verifying their identity can be as simple as providing a utility bill with their current address.

There’s another protection yet for poor and minority citizens, and that is voting absentee, or sending in a ballot request (which can be picked up in any library) to their board of elections and voting early through the mail. So long as they are registered, it will not matter whether they can produce identification.

In reviewing the case at the appellate level, Judge Richard Posner held: Assertions that many people will be disenfranchised, or that there is no significant voter-fraud problem in Indiana, are based on unreliable data and “may reflect nothing more than the vagaries of journalists’ and other investigators’ choice of scandals to investigate.”

In essence, people who argue that large amounts of minorities will be disenfranchised are making a logical fallacy – a weak argument – because they’re arguing something is true only because it hasn’t yet been proven false. There is no data to suggest that anyone will be disenfranchised just as there is no data to prove election fraud hasn’t been taking place.

Our system of elections should make it easy for those registered to vote but should make it decidedly uneasy for those who seek to commit identity and election fraud.

With all the identity fraud taking place in our nation, asking people to verify their identity in the most important civic task is not too much to ask. In fact, it’s just what the doctor should prescribe.

Matthew White is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].