The controversy over state photo ID laws for voting continues to heat up.

Liberals argue that the U.S. Constitution does not require a photo ID to vote. How short-sighted of our founding fathers. Photo: Associated Press

DOTHAN, Al, October 10, 2012 — I have a dirty little secret: I am legal to vote in two different states. Neither state requires photo identification. I can vote in either or both this year. How cool is that? What a great country! This came about because I moved from one state to another a few years ago, but the voter registration records in my previous location were apparently never updated to reflect my move. The government makes mistakes? There’s something I never would have guessed.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 7 million people move from state to state each year. If other state agencies are as efficient as the one where I used to live, that means up to 7 million people could be registered to vote in more than one state every year. Mix in some illegal aliens who want to be citizens, the illiterate and the clueless, some political corruption - and there goes the liberal theory that current voter registration laws are fine just as they are.

One of the leading opponents to photo ID voter laws is the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, which touts itself as a “non-partisan public policy and law institute.” Brennan uses rhetoric like “overly burdensome photo ID or redundant proof of citizenship requirements” when discussing voter registration, and their reports are picked up and cited as gospel by almost every liberal media outlet.

The Center also works to “remove barriers to voting,” which apparently includes barriers due to past criminal convictions, and it actively promotes electronic voting so people like me can actually vote in both states without the hassle of having to commit fraud in person. 

The “overly burdensome” cost involved in getting a photo ID can run as high as $25 in some states (the states passing voter ID laws often include a waiver of that fee for the poor), a bargain compared to the cost of a cell phone that no one goes without. The biggest obstacle to getting an ID card, though, is the difficulty obtaining copies of birth certificates and naturalization papers. If it can be problematic for the President of the United States to obtain an official copy of his birth certificate, imagine the difficulties facing the rest of us.

Birth certificates are readily available if you know how to order one and were born in the United States. The key phrase is “know how to order one.” According to Brennan’s legal experts, this is apparently beyond the ability of many people, most of them Democrats, so they need a hall pass for voting.

To be clear, Brennan is telling us that some people have no clue how to order a birth certificate, but they are good to read, analyze and make insightful choices on a sometimes complex election ballot. 

You have to give the media credit for tugging on heart strings for our attention and our sympathy. A recent NPR story tells of a 94-year-old woman named Bea Bookler who lives in Pennsylvania. Bookler says she can’t get a photo ID because the motor vehicle office is more than 10 miles from her home, and she has no way to get there.

The state has responded by offering Bookler not just a photo ID, but a renewed driver’s license. Yes, in Pennsylvania they would actually give a driver’s license to a 94-year-old who needs a walker. The Pennsylvania Secretary of State’s office announced that Bookler will not need to show a birth certificate to get her license renewed, even though it is long expired. The state’s generosity is beyond belief. 

My state (one of them) has approved a photo ID law that will go into effect in 2014 unless the U.S. Department of Justice interferes as it has in other states. The prevailing attitude here is that the federal government might better spend its time suing or pursuing criminals rather than states, but that may be less of an issue after this election year.

Currently, residents of Alabama can show almost any kind of documentation as legal ID to vote, ranging from government-issued photo ID cards to gun permits, college ID or even utility bills with the resident’s name on them. The state also accepts Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards, used for food stamps and other assistance programs, as legitimate ID for voting even though you don’t need any ID at all to get one of those. Go figure.

If you want to know more about what’s going on in your own state, or if you’re curious about voter registration requirements nationwide, you can find a wealth of details on a website provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures (www.ncsl.org). NCSL has compiled a detailed state-by-state list of current and proposed legislation along with an interactive map that shows voter registration laws for each state. This is also a good site for information about other legislative activity at the state level, and there are no stories of little old ladies, just straightforward facts.

As with every other issue these days, voter registration has become a hot topic with accusations and slurs being tossed back and forth between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives. Regardless of which party is in power however, it’s a sad fact that the federal government has a long history of making a mess of things and might do well to leave voter registration to the states.

Of course, for those of us who look to the Constitution for guidance, it would be a lot easier to interpret what the founding fathers might have done if they had just used cameras. 


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Rick Townley

Rick Townley was a bookseller before switching to electronic publishing with The New York Times, Reuters, Grolier and others. He is the author of a humor book, For Boomers Only – Exploring Life in the New Millennium, a supernatural novel, Stepping Out of Time, and numerous short stories. In addition to contributing to the Washington Times Communities, Rick is working on a fiction series called Stigma and resides in southern Alabama with his 7-year-old granddaughter, Chloe.

 

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