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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Election reform panel called for voter ID

Letter to the Editor

The Commission on Federal Election Reform, co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker, offered 87 recommendations to improve elections in 2005.

Regarding voter ID, it said:

“A good registration list will ensure that citizens are only registered in one place, but election officials still need to make sure that the person arriving at a polling site is the same one that is named on the registration list. In the old days and in small towns where everyone knows each other, voters did not need to identify themselves. But in the United States, where 40 million people move each year, and in urban areas where some people do not even know the people living in their own apartment building let alone their precinct, some form of identification is needed.

“There is no evidence of extensive fraud in U.S. elections or of multiple voting, but both occur, and it could affect the outcome of a close election. The electoral system cannot inspire public confidence if no safeguards exist to deter or detect fraud or to confirm the identity of voters. Photo IDs currently are needed to board a plane, enter federal buildings, and cash a check. Voting is equally important.”

The conclusion was that fraud, while not extensive, does indeed occur and could affect the outcome of a close election. Photo IDs were recommended.

The state Legislature has an opportunity to take a further measure to protect against the potential for voter fraud. It should act before, rather than after, a close election is compromised.

Chuck Hafemann