There is a great irony in arguments put forth against requiring photo ID at polling places.
Namely, it's that one often has to present legitimate ID to do things such as rent movies or open bank accounts. And yet, when it comes to the far more important activity of voting for those who will represent us in government, some say that no such ID should be necessary -- that it is somehow not important to be sure that the people who are selecting everyone from city council members to the president of the United States are who they claim to be.
Of course, that is exactly backward: It is plainly more important to verify the identity of voters -- and to protect legitimate voters from having their ballots negated by fraudulent voters -- than to confirm the identity of someone who wants to do something as trivial as rent movies.
But, say opponents of voter ID laws, there is little or no voter fraud, so why bother with such laws?
Well, because in fact there is a good deal of voter fraud, and photo ID laws can prevent some of it and enhance public confidence that elections are accurate representations of the will of legal voters.
A number of dead people in Memphis "voted" in a 2006 state Senate election that was so rife with fraud that the results ultimately had to be thrown out. Hundreds of ineligible felons have voted in the state, too.
Photo ID is valuable because it can stop someone from showing up at a polling place, falsely claiming the identity of someone who has died but is still on the rolls, and demanding a ballot. It is, after all, common for the dead or those who have moved away to remain on voter rolls.
An Illinois newspaper found that 14 counties in that state had more registered voters than their total number of adult residents! Some of those improperly registered may have died. Others may have moved. But all were still on the rolls without officials knowing they were no longer eligible to vote. And because Illinois requires no photo ID to vote, they were perfect targets for someone to go in and vote in their names. Tennessee, despite efforts to purge ineligible voters, still has some on its rolls, too.
Over in South Carolina -- whose new photo ID law has been blocked by the Obama administration -- the state attorney general has documented nearly 1,000 cases of dead people "voting."
And the danger of lax voter ID procedures was further highlighted recently by a sting in New Hampshire's primary. Project Veritas, which previously brought down the corrupt organization ACORN, sent investigators with hidden cameras into more than a dozen polling locations to test whether they could get ballots by giving the names of dead people who were still on voter rolls.
In virtually every case, the investigators were handed ballots. The one exception? A poll worker knew one of the dead individuals and declined to furnish a ballot under that person's name.
"Dead men tell no tales, but as Project Veritas found in New Hampshire, they can still vote," the organization stated on its website.
For the record, the investigators involved in the sting returned the ballots without voting. But rather than launch an investigation into how easy it is to vote illegally in New Hampshire, Democrat Gov. John Lynch -- who vetoed a voter ID bill there -- said the people who conducted the sting should be prosecuted!
Unfortunately, this sort of fraud is difficult to detect if there is no photo ID law. If a poll worker doesn't happen to know the person whose identity is being stolen, he has no reason to withhold a ballot from the fraudulent voter. But with a voter ID law, he has every reason for caution if a voter cannot present an ID to confirm who he is.
It's silly to claim that a particular crime must not be happening simply because it is hard to detect. A lot of voter fraud has taken place -- in Tennessee and elsewhere -- and a lot more may be stopped by photo ID laws, including the new one in Tennessee. That is good news for law-abiding voters.