Voter ID should be manda­tory

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OPINION - Chris Freind Colum­nist

De­spite not be­ing wealthy, I have ac­quired 22 domi­ciles through­out Philadel­phia. And that real es­tate prow­ess has af­forded me the op­por­tu­nity to make a dif­fer­ence in the lives of all ci­ti­zens. I can vote 22 times.

Un­fath­omably, with the ex­cep­tion of first-time vot­ers, Penn­syl­va­ni­ans aren’t re­quired to show any voter iden­ti­fi­ca­tion what­so­ever at the polls. Don’t be­lieve it? Here’s the ex­act word­ing from the Depart­ment of State’s Voter Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Re­quire­ments page: “Vot­ers do not need to show photo iden­ti­fi­ca­tion at the polling place. Poll work­ers should not ask ev­ery voter for photo iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.”

But don’t worry. Ev­ery­thing is just peaches be­cause of the mam­moth safe­guard in place to pre­vent fraud with first-timers: Their Her­culean task is “prov­ing” who they are by fur­nish­ing a non-photo ID — yes, no photo re­quired — such as a util­ity bill, pay­check or bank state­ment. And even that’s a stretch, since some poll work­ers al­low peo­ple who have never pro­duced any ID to vote. So vot­ers whose “ad­dress” is a park bench or con­demned house are reg­u­larly pulling the lever.

This sys­tem has made “vot­ing-early-and-of­ten” re­mark­ably easy, af­ford­ing a vote to the un­reg­is­tered as well as some il­le­gal im­mi­grants, since most states aren’t check­ing cit­i­zen­ship sta­tus ei­ther. That’s cour­tesy of a fed­eral gov­ern­ment that rou­tinely re­fuses to com­ply with states’ re­quests for cit­i­zen­ship ver­i­fi­ca­tion. What a coun­try.

On his swing through Pennsylvania, Don­ald Trump re­it­er­ated his claim that the sys­tem is rigged while stat­ing there was “no way” he was be­hind in Pennsylvania.

The en­tire elec­tion sys­tem needs an over­haul. Early vot­ing, al­ready well un­der­way in nu­mer­ous states, should be elim­i­nated, as should the dis­en­fran­chis­ing sys­tem of “su­per-del­e­gates.” Same for straight-ticket vot­ing. Amer­i­cans have be­come far too com­pla­cent when it comes to vot­ing and, as a re­sult, we are reap­ing the con­se­quences of our cor­rupted sys­tem. Good pol­icy should never come down to just a “Demo­crat” or “Repub­li­can” one-sec­ond pull of a lever. In­stead, mak­ing ci­ti­zens vote for in­di­vid­u­als over party may yet in­spire them to take a more avid in­ter­est in who will rep­re­sent them. The Elec­toral Col­lege sys­tem should re­main, but the elec­tors them­selves should be dumped. Only half the states re­quire elec­tors to vote the way of their re­spec­tive state, al­low­ing in­di­vid­u­als to ig­nore the will of the peo­ple and, po­ten­tially sin­gle­hand­edly, de­cide the pres­i­dency. Ad­di­tion­ally, with all due re­spect to states’ rights, fed­eral elec­tions should fall un­der fed­eral law. In­stead, we have 50 states with 50 dif­fer­ent sets of rules.

But above all, we need to bet­ter se­cure Amer­i­cans’ right to cast their bal­lot in cor­rup­tion-free elec­tions. Ev­ery per­son vot­ing il­le­gally nul­li­fies the vote of a law-abid­ing cit­i­zen. Yet the fraud con­tin­ues, and our fail­ure to act is a slap in the face to the count­less Amer­i­cans who fought for the right to choose our own des­tiny.

Make no mis­take: Un­reg­is­tered ci­ti­zens and il­le­gal im­mi­grants are vot­ing in sig­nif­i­cant num­bers. Put another way, ci­ti­zens from other coun­tries are quite pos­si­bly de­cid­ing the out­comes of Amer­i­can elec­tions.

Just look at Florida in the 2000 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Ge­orge W. Bush won by a mere 537 votes out of 5.8 mil­lion. Given that Florida has a large il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion pop­u­la­tion, and Bush was a Span­ish-speak­ing politi­cian pop­u­lar with Lati­nos, it is not un­rea­son­able to think that at least 537 il­le­gals voted for Bush over Al Gore — the dif­fer­ence in de­ter­min­ing the pres­i­dency. But since there were so many “sanc­tu­ary cities” — places where it is pro­hib­ited to ask one’s im­mi­gra­tion/cit­i­zen­ship sta­tus — there was no way to de­ter­mine who was an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen, let alone who was validly reg­is­tered.

A 2014 re­port, uti­liz­ing data from the Co­op­er­a­tive Con­gres­sional Elec­tion Study, es­ti­mated that 6.4 per­cent (that’s over 700,000) of non-ci­ti­zens voted il­le­gally in the 2008 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and that 2.2 per­cent voted in the 2010 midterm con­gres­sional elec­tions – more than enough to swing a close con­gres­sional race or hotly con­tested state Leg­is­la­ture bat­tle. And a trip down mem­ory lane re­minds us that the 1960 elec­tion was, in fact, stolen from Richard Nixon due to voter fraud in Illi­nois and Texas. Bot­tom line: While voter fraud can­not be en­tirely elim­i­nated, tech­nol­ogy has given us the tools to min­i­mize it. So look­ing the other way — sanc­tion­ing a sys­tem that en­cour­ages such cor­rup­tion — is in­ex­cus­able in a so­ci­ety built on the rule of law.

In a so­ci­ety where one must show ID to en­ter of­fice build­ings, air­planes, trains or even buy an­ti­his­tamine, it’s time to give the same level of im­por­tance to vot­ing.

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