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September 12, 2005
Gray Lady Shrieking Over ID Requirement

Leave it to the Gray Lady to start shrieking over a state requiring the same level of identification it takes to cash a check as it will to cast a vote. Georgia passed a law requiring that voters present a state ID in order to identify themselves at polling booths for elections, a common-sense manner of avoiding the kind of voter fraud that Milwaukee experienced in the last presidential election. Despite the fact that Georgia will offer the IDs for free to indigent citizens, the New York Times still finds itself screaming about "poll taxes":

In 1966, the Supreme Court held that the poll tax was unconstitutional. Nearly 40 years later, Georgia is still charging people to vote, this time with a new voter ID law that requires many people without driver's licenses - a group that is disproportionately poor, black and elderly - to pay $20 or more for a state ID card. Georgia went ahead with this even though there is not a single place in the entire city of Atlanta where the cards are sold. The law is a national disgrace.

Until recently, Georgia, like most states, accepted many forms of identification at the polls. But starting this month, it is accepting only government-issued photo ID's. People with driver's licenses are fine. But many people without them have to buy a state ID card to vote, at a cost of $20 for a five-year card or $35 for 10 years. The cards are sold in 58 locations, in a state with 159 counties. It is outrageous that Atlanta does not have a single location. (The state says it plans to open one soon.) But the burden is also great on people in rural parts of the state.

The Republicans who pushed the law through, and Gov. Sonny Perdue, also a Republican, who signed it, say that it is intended to prevent fraud. But it seems clear that it is about keeping certain people away from the polls, for political advantage. The vast majority of fraud complaints in Georgia, according to its secretary of state, Cathy Cox, involve absentee ballots, which are unaffected by the new law. Ms. Cox says she is unaware of a single documented case in recent years of fraud through impersonation of a voter at the polls.

Perhaps that is because the New York Times failed to cover the unusual appearance of almost 10,000 ballots in the city of Milwaukee in 2004. Wisconsin does not require any form of ID except having someone "vouch" for their legality at the polling station, and allows same-day registration on the same basis. The difference came to almost the amount of the gap between John Kerry and George Bush, who had been expected to win the state based on late polling data, but who lost by less than 0.5% thanks to the Milwaukee surge.

In an economic environment where consumers need a state-issued photo ID to cash a check, and where states require them to purchase alcohol and firearms, such an identification requirement for voting hardly appears onerous. The state has a compelling interest in ensuring that elections have safeguards to eliminate fraud and abuse. Georgia has allowed for those too poor to buy an ID to get one for free, which eliminates an insurmountable obstacle for voting. The people that the law keeps from the polls are those who aren't eligible to be there in the first place.

Every citizen in this country has the right to vote, absent felony convictions. That does not mean that states cannot put requirements for voters to demonstrate their eligibility in order to avoid fraud and the undermining of confidence in the electoral system it brings. Requiring a state ID has no relation to a "poll tax" but a common-sense and common-practice method of identification. Hopefully, the rest of the states will follow Georgia's lead and help eliminate the voter fraud that occurs through "vouching" and other useless requirements.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 12, 2005 6:07 AM

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» Georgia's New Poll Tax from Don Singleton
They wait until the 4th paragraph to admit that the cards are free to the indigent, and they never mention that these ID cars could be used for other purposes, like for example cashing a check. A citizen that only votes for President is certainly not... [Read More]

Tracked on September 12, 2005 11:46 AM

» Simple Solution? from CrosSwords
According to the Captain, the New York Times is complaining about Georgia's plan to force voters to show a state-issued picture ID when they vote. OK, the Captain accuses the NYT of shrieking. It appears that they think this will hurt the poor becaus... [Read More]

Tracked on September 12, 2005 10:32 PM

» Limited Tuesday from NIF
Today's dose of NIF - News, Interesting & Funny ... Time for another Kerry-180 Tuesday, when I get around to it that is. [Read More]

Tracked on September 13, 2005 5:26 PM

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