By Robert Schlesinger |
All states should require photo ID both to vote in person and to vote by absentee ballot (by providing a copy of the ID). This is a basic requirement to help ensure the integrity of elections. All Americans who are eligible should have the opportunity to vote, but their ballots should not be stolen or diluted by fraudulent votes.
The vast majority of Americans of all racial and ethnic backgrounds support such common-sense election reform. Voter ID can significantly defeat and deter impersonation fraud at the polls, voting under fictitious names or in the names of dead voters, double-voting by individuals registered in more than one state, and voting by individuals who are in the United States illegally. The Supreme Court has upheld voter ID since "flagrant examples of [voter] fraud … have been documented throughout this nation's history."
No one claims that there is voter fraud in every election. But, as the Supreme Court said, "not only is the risk of voter fraud real," but "it could affect the outcome of a close election." And it wasn't too long ago that we had a presidential election decided by only about 500 votes. Voter ID also increases the public's confidence in election results, an essential element in a stable democracy.
Opponents are wrong that voter ID will depress turnout or prevent large number of individuals from voting. ID laws have been in place in Georgia and Indiana for more than five years, and there has been no decrease in the turnout of minority, poor, and elderly voters. That is because Americans of every background overwhelmingly have photo ID. And the few who do not can easily obtain a free one in the states that have implemented such laws.
Americans have to use photo ID constantly in everyday life—to drive a car, board a plane, buy a beer, check into a hotel, get into many government buildings, or see a doctor. They even need one to get into the Justice Department in Washington where Eric Holder is unjustly and unfairly fighting election integrity by trying to stop voter ID laws.
Voter ID is a perfectly reasonable and easily met requirement that protects the integrity of our democracy. That is why the American people support it.
About Hans A. Von Spakovsky Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation
Wendy Weiser Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law