Voter photo IDs

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The issue of whether or not to require photo IDs for voters in Missouri was making news again earlier this month. In testimony before the Rules Committee in the U.S. Senate, the state's senior senator, Christopher Bond, and Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan were on opposite sides.

Carnahan contends that the kind of voter fraud that would be stymied by requiring photo IDs is so rare in Missouri that there is little reason for requiring the IDs. In addition, she worries that some voters who would find it difficult to obtain photo IDs wouldn't be able to vote. In striking down a legislature-approved photo-ID requirement in 2006, the Missouri Supreme Court estimated that as many as 240,000 Missourians might be disenfranchised.

The assertion that some voters wouldn't be able to get photo IDS and wouldn't be able to vote has some holes. Voters are required to register before they can vote. Some might argue that it's just as difficult to register as it is to get a photo ID to vote. Also, Missourians, like motorists everyone in the U.S., must pass driving exams and obtain a driver's license before they can legally operate motor vehicles. Some might argue that it's just as difficult to get a driver's license as it is to get a photo ID to vote.

Those arguments aside, no one can refute the fact that voter fraud occurs in Missouri, particularly in urban areas where record-keeping sometimes leaves something to be desired. Voter IDs would help keep dead Missourians from registering and voting, as has happened in some precincts in St. Louis.

There may be no perfect solution for guaranteeing fair and honest elections, but requiring photo IDs for voters is a step that removes some of the opportunity for fraud.

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