Americans, like the Irish, should have to provide photo ID to vote


Irish election officials checking voters' registration details

When considering American politics, Irish people almost universally side with the Democrats over the Republicans. However, when it comes to the requirements for actually voting in an election, the Irish demand the sort of proof of identity that would make America's Republicans envious.

Irish people are voting today for a new President. Anyone intending to vote must (a) be on the register, (b) bring the Polling Information Card mailed to them and (c) bring an additional form of photo ID with them.

Registration involves filling in a form and submitting that to the local election officials. Annually someone from that office comes to the door to make sure that the register matches what they find at each household. (This is not tricky. It consists of "Is this you?" and "Does this other person live here?"}

Anyone properly registered will receive a Polling Information Card in the weeks before a vote. A voter must bring that card with him to the polling station along with a photo ID - driver's license, passport, student card,  etc. In some cases bank statements and birth certificates can be used.
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I've never heard anyone complain that these requirements are too steep a hill to climb for any voters. So, what exactly is the problem with implementing similar measures for American elections?

Yet, across America people object when a photo ID is required for voting. That there is little evidence of voter fraud doesn't mean a thing. Until you actually demand that a voter verify they are who they say they are how do you know they're not committing a fraud?

If voter fraud is a non-issue what's the concern with demanding ID? Last time I was home in New York I was asked for proof of age when I wanted to buy a bottle of wine. I was told it was mandatory. I thought it was a little strange because it was the first time I was asked for ID in over 20 years. That's all it was, though. Strange. Nothing more. Not even inconvenient.

It's not just buying alcohol either. These days you're always asked to provide photo ID. Want to enter your workplace, you're likely to be asked to produce a photo ID card. You want to cash a check? Photo ID. You want to buy an Amtrak ticket? Photo ID.

It seems so minor an imposition that the only conclusion I can come to is that those who oppose it do so because they know it's a bigger problem than they're letting on. Get over it. Photo ID for voting should be mandatory.

{Photo from UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office.}


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