You may have read my earlier view that everyone who is eligible to vote should do so. A debate has raged for years about what, if any, identification should be required at the polling place.
For the political right, it is seen as a method to prevent voter fraud. They see “no ID required” as a situation where anyone can state their name, be given a ballot on nothing more than their word, and cast a vote. Widespread fraud could happen, so some sort of ID makes sense. Requiring a government issued photo ID seems on the face of it reasonable, and I tend to agree.
The political left has objections. Their conviction is that many people – the poor, people of color, the handicapped, and the elderly who are eligible to vote – may not already have a government issued photo ID. They argue that many would find it extremely difficult to acquire one, due to the expenses involved in travel, acquiring supporting documents, and even paying for the ID itself. Some older documents might even be impossible to obtain. It is reasonable to believe there could be many instances.
With the above in mind, each side of the issue has valid points and neither has forwarded a possible solution I’ve had in mind. A legal birth certificate cannot be found for some people and a small percentage may have errors. Names may change due to marriage or adoption. Up until now, it has been the responsibility of the individual or parent of a minor to provide proof via documents establishing the ID of any individual. If identifying the person in front of them was up to the state, it could be the responsible party instead. A photo ID could be issued with biometrics such as a fingerprint, bringing an end to the debate.
In the case an elderly person or the handicapped, for whom travel would be onerous, a state representative could make a house call. Would anyone deny this as a sensible solution? What about the poor, for whom any extra expense is a burden? Even the homeless can usually acquire $10.00, but why should they have to? Why shouldn’t the state be required to prove you are who you say you are? A person who presents himself at a polling place should then be considered “innocent until proven guilty” since the burden of proof falls to the government.
An elderly person who denies themselves proper nutrition to pay for their medicine can’t afford ten more dollars for an ID. For those who say government responsibility would be yet another burden on the taxpayer, I will lay odds that few people would even take advantage of the free service. The cost might be negligible, compared to other programs for the same public.
I firmly believe that very few people that don’t already have a government issued photo ID will make the effort to get one by current methods, gathering the necessary documents at their own expense. Based on recent trends, many that do procure an ID, will likely not make the effort to vote, but use it only for employment or other reasons. Sad to say – in the end – it would probably not make a great deal of difference in numbers at the polling place.