Randy Evans: Photo IDs needed now more than ever
by Randy Evans
Columnist
April 18, 2012 12:01 AM | 1241 views | 7 7 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In November 2008, two separate elections for mayors in Royston and Franklin Springs, Ga., ended in ties. After recounts with an additional provisional ballot counted, just one vote decided each election.

The impact of a few votes extends well beyond local races. While everyone remembers Florida’s votes in the 2000 Presidential Election, it was actually New Mexico that was closer. Only 366 votes in New Mexico separated George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore.

The bottom line is that there is a long list of elections decided by just a handful of votes — in many cases less than 10. In each case, just a handful of votes made the difference between winning and losing, with each vote critically important.

As long as only voters cast ballots, this is how democracy works. The problem comes when that does not happen. In January, South Carolina’s attorney general estimated that between 600 and 900 ballots had been cast in recent elections by people listed as dead. In February 2012, the Pew Center on the States estimated that 1.8 million dead people are still registered to vote. Pew also found that 2.75 million voters are registered to vote in more than one state.

Of course, these voter fraud issues are separate and distinct from the challenges posed by illegal immigrants who have registered to vote, and in some cases cast ballots. Just one vote can decide the outcome. When the potential for hundreds or thousands of votes is possible, the risks are just too great.

Georgia is especially vulnerable to the risks of in-person voter fraud. Georgia uses electronic voting. Once a ballot is cast, there is no opportunity to isolate and cancel a ballot cast, even if it is later determined that the vote was fraudulent. As a result, the only real opportunity to address in-person voting fraud in Georgia occurs before the vote is cast. Basically, election officials have from the moment the voter arrives until the voter casts the ballot to detect and prevent in-person voter fraud.

The bi-partisan Commission on Federal Election Reform recommended, among other things, photo ID requirements as a solution to in-person voter fraud. By requiring a photo ID, election officials can determine immediately whether a voter is who they say they are. In a country where millions of dead people are still registered to vote, increased detection and prevention of in-person voter fraud is necessary and appropriate.

Without voter identification, voter fraud is just too easy, and much too risky. Just this month, James O’Keefe, a conservative activist, proved how easy it was in Washington, D.C. One of his team entered a poll and suggested that he was Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States. (Interestingly, Attorney General Holder opposes photo identification for voters.)

When the pretend Eric Holder voter indicated that he had forgotten his identification, the poll worker responded, “You don’t need it, it’s all right. ... As long as you’re in here, you’re on the list — and that’s who you say you are, you’re OK.” And that is how it happens.

Now multiply that risk by the stakes that will exist in the presidential election in 2012. With millions of errors in voter rolls and passions running high, both the motive and opportunity for voter fraud will be great — too great.

When Georgia enacted its voter identification law, different groups challenged the law as unconstitutional. Yet, after years of trying, these groups could not find one person who was actually denied the right to vote because they could not produce a valid government identification. Indeed, for anyone who does not have one, Georgia provides a free identification card. For anyone who does not have their identification available at the polling place, a provisional ballot is available. All a provisional voter need then do is promptly bring a photo identification after the election.

The courts have consistently found that voter identification requirements are constitutional, including specifically Georgia’s photo identification law.

Elections continue to be decided by a single vote or a handful of votes. Recently, in California, a city (Vernon) found widespread voter fraud with the Chamber of Commerce reporting that nearly 30 percent of the registered voters did not live in Vernon. In fact, in response to complaints, six votes were thrown out in a contested election — enough to change the outcome of the election.

Yet, the battle to protect the integrity of voting goes on. It is time that administration officials stand up for voter protection, not the opportunity for more voter fraud. There is actually one really easy way to protect Eric Holder’s vote — require voter identification. He should take the lead in doing that. The integrity of democracy — including the right to vote — depends on it.

Randy Evans of Atlanta is the former general counsel to the Georgia Republican Party.
Comments
(7)
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anonymous
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April 22, 2012
Do you think this explains why your best bud (Newt) never stood a shot?t
Maatf
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April 18, 2012
South Carolina's attorney general has an agenda and he makes "estimates" because he has no proof. The fact that dead people are on voter registration lists only means that people die and they just don't get around to telling officials to take their names off the voter registration list before they do. The fact that people are registered to vote in many states is reflective of the fact that people move. Shoot, I have lived in 7 states and I don't think I ever wrote them when I moved that they needed to take me off the voter registration lists. I am probably still listed as a "voter" in all 7 of them.

Some people don't have ids in part because they have transportation problems in getting to the places that issue them. Some don't have them because they just don't understand the rules. Did you hear about the 86 year old WWII vet in Ohio who was not allowed to vote because the polling place would not accept his Veterans Administration issued ID even though it did have a picture on it?

What really happens with voter id laws is that those who don't make a driver's license or passport part of their life are the ones who get left out. Guess who they usually are - the poor, rural rather than urban, and more African Americans rather than caucasian people. What I wonder is if we aren't disenfranchising more legitimate voters than we are preventing illegitimate voters?
why not
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April 19, 2012
These arbitrary Voter ID laws along with the Stand your Groung laws are a solution for a problem that does not exist. Both come from the right wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The voter ID laws are designed to diminish the votes among likely Democratic voters to allow Republicans to win if, in a close election, they can get 51%.
why not
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April 18, 2012
Voter fraud is a manufactured problem created by the Republican Party, in states they control, to diminish votes of voting blocks that do not vote their way. A far greater threat to democracy is election fraud. As Joseph Stalin said, "I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this, who will count the votes and how".
WestCobber
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April 18, 2012
So does this mean when I go to vote (and I am an old white woman) I can refuse to show my license, or registration card, ro any form of identification, and they still have to let me vote? I doubt it very much, since I have been asked each time I have gone to vote for my license, or ID. Think I might try it come July and then again in November. Anyone want to take bets on how my actions will be viewed and the end result? Doubt it
just sayin
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April 18, 2012
Sorry West Cobber in Georgia you must show state issued ID. Voters who are unable to show a photo ID at the polls are permitted to vote a provisional ballot, which is counted only if the voter returns to election officials within several days after the election to show photo ID. Studies show that as many as 11 percent of eligable voters do not have government issued photo ID. That percentage is higher for seniors, people of color, people with disabilities, low-income voters and students. Many people find it difficult to get government photo ID's because the underlying documentation like birth certificates (the ID one needs to get state ID) is often difficult or expensive to obtain. Some states have offices for voter ID's then conveniently close them. Texas will accept your gun license but not student ID.
Bill Millette
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April 18, 2012
The only reason to oppose Voter ID is a desire to leave illegal voting intact. The other reasons cited are contrived and are an attempt to leave our voting exposed to voter fraud.

Think of that when you check out where your candidate stands on this issue.
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