Thursday, July 19, 2012

Voting and Voter Fraud

You need a photo identification to board a plane, to get a library card, and so forth and so on. Therefore, the argument goes, there's nothing wrong with requiring people to show a photo id when they vote. It will prevent voter fraud.

Well, I beg to differ. Voting is fundamental to our continued democracy. Although we don't want any voting by persons who are ineligible - non-citizens and the deceased are often mentioned - we do want everyone who is eligible to vote to be able to do so, and a purpose of government is to make voting as convenient as possible, not put obstacles in the path of anyone who wishes to exercise his or her right.

Nor does the fraud argument stand daytime scrutiny. Is there any credible evidence of significant voter fraud at any polling place around the country? If we're worried about chicanery among election officials, I'd say that's a legitimate concern, but requiring people to produce an identification the day they vote doesn't address this. It seems to me that voter photo id's is a solution in search of a problem.

Now I'll mention something that I think is real food for thought. Many states now have voting by mail. It's the way I've voted the last few years, to cite a personal example. It's supposed to be less expensive than buying voting machines and maintaining polling places is. But who's to say who is actually casting those ballots?

"Grandma's sick and doesn't know what's going on, so I'll just mail in her ballot with my selections," or "Our boy's away at college and his registration is still here, so we'll guess how he'd want to vote."

I'm sure readers can think of other scenarios.

 Voters are expected to sign their ballots under penalty of perjury, but I really really doubt that anyone scrutinizes signatures, or that city or county clerks keep samples of voters' signatures for comparison.

It strikes me there is a much greater potential for fraud by mail-in ballot than by polling place deceit.

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