Protecting ballot integrity and voting rights

Protecting ballot integrity and voting rights

December 20th, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

Staff File Photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press - Area residents enter the Hamilton County Election Commission building for early voting.

Staff File Photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free...

Everyone would agree that it is unjust if the government denies a legitimate voter the right to cast a ballot.

But it is equally unjust if fraudulent voters are permitted to cast ballots, negating the votes of lawful voters.

It is for that reason that a number of states, including Tennessee, have enacted laws putting in place a commonsense requirement that voters present valid photo identification when they go to their polling places.

Such laws have not caused the widespread voting difficulties predicted by opponents. For instance, the Georgia Supreme Court upheld that state's voter ID law after finding that the law had not disenfranchised anybody even after it had been in effect for years.

Court cases around the country have yielded similar findings. Hans A. von Spakovsky, a former civil rights staff member at the U.S. Justice Department, notes the common thread running through those cases: that the plaintiffs arguing against voter ID laws couldn't produce voters who had actually been unable to vote on account of the laws.

That excellent track record is a reason for celebration, because it shows that states can protect their legitimate voters' rights while also heading off possible fraudulent voting.

And yet, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder suggests that voter ID laws amount to "suppression" of the vote, and he bizarrely likened them to literacy tests and poll taxes.

He is, moreover, threatening to have the Justice Department act against states that require voters to present photo ID.

That is a misguided attack on states that are protecting the integrity of the ballot box -- and that are doing so in a responsible manner that does not place undue burdens on voters.

States have good reason to insist on clean elections, and voter ID is a sensible part of that.