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Why Do Voters Back ID? Common Sense

Liberals have spent most of the year trying to convince Americans that voter ID laws are a false front for racist voter suppression. They argue there’s no such thing as voter fraud and that legislation aimed at combating election cheating is merely a Republican plot to steal the election. But, as a new Washington Post poll on the subject demonstrates, the majority aren’t buying it. Almost three quarters — 74 percent — believe voters should be required to show official, government-issued identification when they vote. A clear majority of those polled also think, contrary to liberal allegations, that voter ID laws are rooted in concern about a genuine problem.

These numbers have to concern Democrats who are hoping to whip up a backlash against voter ID legislation by falsely claiming they are a new form of “Jim Crow” laws intended to foster discrimination. Indeed, given the drumbeat of incitement against voter ID laws in the mainstream media, you have to wonder why there is so much resistance to the liberal line on this topic. The answer, however, is quite simple. The public knows that claims that voter fraud is nonexistent run counter to everything they know about politicians, elections and human nature.

The huge numbers supporting voter ID isn’t hard to figure out. Anyone who travels or has to conduct any sort of transaction with a bank or the government know they are going to be asked to identify themselves in this manner. The notion that something as important as voting should be exempt from such a requirement makes no sense to most people.

And though a not insignificant number worry about voters being discouraged or wrongly having their franchise denied, far more understand it is more likely that politicians and parties are looking to find a way to cook the books and steal a close election than their right to vote will somehow be taken away.

After all, the vast majority of Americans already have a state-issued card with a photo, and states that have passed voter ID laws have made provisions for those without them to get one free of charge. They also know it is no harder to get one of these free ID cards than it is to register to vote in the first place. They rightly wonder why it is some think there is something sinister in having a voter prove they are eligible to vote, because it appears as if opponents of voter ID seem to be taking the position that citizens should never be asked to produce proof of residence in a state, city or district or even that they are actually American citizens. Interestingly enough, as the Post notes in their own analysis of the poll, a solid majority of both the elderly and the poor — groups it is believed will be impacted by such laws — also support voter ID.

The problem for liberals is their repeated claim that voter fraud never happens is given the lie by the controversies that bubble up every time there is a close election. Neither Republicans nor Democrats trust each other not to cheat, as the debacle of Florida in 2000 and the fight about paperless touch screen voting machines showed.

Inclusion is important, which is why states and the parties should promote voter registration drives to ensure that every qualified citizen who wishes to vote has the opportunity. But it is no less important than the need to ensure that our elections are fair and honest. The Post poll demonstrates that when it comes to fraud, most people weren’t born yesterday. They realize that protecting democracy requires vigilance against both exclusion and cheating.