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Back You are here: Home Opinion Opinion Section Editorials Editorial: Requiring Voter ID Protects Our Democracy

Editorial: Requiring Voter ID Protects Our Democracy

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

When you walk into a bank to set up a checking or savings account, you have to provide identification; either a driver's license or a state issued ID card. When you rent a car you have to provide a drivers license for proof of identity.
There are many situations in today's society where we are required to provide valid identification. Banks and businesses require it to protect them from fraud.
Why not when we go to vote? Isn't our right to vote as important as a business protecting their interests?
Legislation proposed last session by republicans in the NC General Assembly would have established the requirement that people provide valid identification before voting.
Nothing wrong with that.
Unless you're opposed to that idea, then the message is: Oh God, what about the elderly who don't have a driver's license; or; you can't make people pay to vote and getting identification costs money. There are other arguments, all of which are simple scare tactics based on various motivations ranging from politics to basic fear or the unknown.
The bottom line is, there are ways to author legislation that accounts for the elderly that don't have driver's licenses or any other of a number of scenarios where people may not possess valid identification.
For example, there's already an exemption on the books for homeless people to obtain a "non-operators" state issued identification card from the state for free. All they have to do is have the administrator of a homeless shelter sign a letter to that affect. There you have it. A simple solution.
Now opponents have in the past claimed there are about a million people in this state that don't have a driver's license.
That's a big number. But look closely at circumstances. People often don't have a driver's license if they lost it for something like driving drunk, having a physical or mental medical condition, blindness, and other various reasons. They can still get a photo identification card.
If that's the case, those individual cases can be addressed and it will likely initially cost money, but only upfront in the beginning. After that, the bulk will likely be addressed and as other people with similar cases move into this state, they can be made aware of the requirement and their exemption for free identification when they register to vote.
My brother doesn't have a NC Driver's License, yet the New Hanover County Board of Elections mailed him a card to his former New Hanover County address to verify his residence in 2011. He had not lived or driven in this state for a number of years prior to that. I bet he's one of those that were registered to vote in NC, moved away and thus doesn't have a North Carolina Driver's license. I wonder how many other people that moved out of this state fall into that same scenario?
Since voter registration records are usually only purged after someone misses two federal elections, there are probably a large number of people on the books that haven't lived in this state in a while. Another argument that perplexes intelligent people is that cases of voter fraud are "rare". Really? I agree, since no one is checking for valid identification.
The funniest part of this whole ID debate is that Democrats want us to buy into Obama Care forcing everyone to purchase some kind of health insurance. On the other hand, many will argue that requiring everyone to present a photo ID at the polls is a burden on the elderly and minorities.
So it's perfectly fine to force everyone to buy health insurance but it's not ok to require everyone to present a photo ID at the polls on Election Day?
A Pennsylvania Judge recently ruled he didn't believe a recently adopted state law requiring voter ID would present a barrier to people wishing to vote. That's outstanding. But it brings much comedy to the national debate. For example, there was a barrage of mainstream media seeking out elderly people to document their troubles in obtaining a state issued photo ID.
Ultimately the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story titled, " Help is plentiful for obtaining voter ID" reporting on how some organizations have started shuttle services to get people to state offices to obtain ID's. Also, Pennsylvania will issue ID's specifically for voter identification to those people who can't provide proper documentation to obtain a regular ID or driver's license.
Bottom line, there are ways to ensure our democracy is protected from voter fraud. As voters, anything we can do to support that mission is paramount to continually ensuring the freedoms we value so highly.
It also better secures our democracy from a wide range of documented voter fraud cases over the years.