In just a few days on Nov. 8, Americans will cast their votes for the next president of the United States – that is, those Americans who have registered to vote and bother to show up at the polls. Voting to choose our country’s leaders is a cherished gift handed down to us by the sacrifices of our founding fathers.
Each presidential election experiences allegations of fraud from conservatives and of discrimination from liberals. Historically, greater emphasis has been placed on increased participation of voters and less on proper eligibility to vote. Currently that emphasis has begun to shift more to eligibility, with federal courts considering whether voter identification cards with photos discriminate against poor people and minorities. Recently a Texas federal court ruled that the Texas 2011 law requiring voters to present official photo identification to be discriminatory and issued a new list of acceptable forms of ID. The new list includes a government check, current utility bill or an expired ID but no requirement of a photo. Texas law had already required as acceptable forms of voter ID a driver’s license, a military ID card, a U.S. citizenship certificate, a license to carry a handgun, a passport or an ID card issued by the state (at no cost to the applicant) or an ID card issued by the state Department of Public Safety.
A Washington Examiner reporter compiled a list three years ago of activities or transactions that require a photo ID. On that list: If you are 25 or younger, store signs say you must have a photo ID to buy cigarettes or alcohol. A photo ID is required to open a bank account; you must have a photo ID to apply for welfare, Medicaid and Social Security, unemployment benefits; to rent or buy a house or apply for a mortgage; drive, rent or buy a car. A photo ID is required to get married, get on an airplane, adopt a pet, rent a hotel room, apply for a hunting or fishing license or buy a cell phone. To pick up a prescription or buy restricted over the counter medications, you must present a photo ID. If you want to donate blood or apply for a license to hold a demonstration, be sure you have a photo ID with you. Likewise, you must have a photo ID to buy an M-rated video game.
Why is it that voting should not require a person to present a photo ID as proof of identity and residence? And why are so many on the political left determined to strike down election laws that require proof of citizenship and residence? To require proof of citizenship and residence with photo ID is sound logic. The right to vote for our country’s leaders is held sacred by American citizens, and to cheapen it by allowing just anyone who shows up to vote without proof of identity devalues the votes of eligible citizens.
To take the position that requiring a photo ID discriminates against poor people or minorities unfairly and incorrectly presumes incompetency on the part of those people. Those same people have daily business transactions with retailers, utilities and government agencies who require photo IDs. To forbid the same practical identification to match voters to registered voting rolls, as some federal judges are doing, unnecessarily increases the chances of voter fraud. A news report about voter fraud in the last presidential election highlighted voters who voted multiple times at different locations. We can do better.
The idea of representative government suffers when we begin counting the votes of dead people, illegal aliens and those people who vote multiple times in different locations. The old-time saying of “Vote early and vote often” is not the mentality we should follow. Rather, it is reminiscent of the era of strong mayors in Chicago when people claimed that city officials did not bother diving in to Lake Michigan to retrieve lost ballot boxes full of votes “unless they really needed them.”
Photo IDs help identify properly qualified voters and all Americans benefit by honest elections. We must do all that is necessary to ensure that every eligible voter can vote and that every vote cast is cast by eligible voters. ■