- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 9, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

As states jockey for influential positions in the 2012 presidential primaries, civil-rights advocates are shifting into high gear to fight new laws that require voters to show a government-issued photo ID at the polls.

Opponents should look no further than D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray, who recently learned a textbook lesson on how not to look stupid.

Mr. Gray appointed a woman named Andrea Pringle as his deputy chief of staff on Aug. 30, but a week later she resigned after news broke that she was a Maryland resident for more than a year but had voted in the District in September 2010.

The voter fraud, uncovered by Dorothy Brizill and exposed on her website D.C. Watch, occurred because D.C. voters do not have to produce identification to cast a vote.

Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

All you have to do is give a name and address and you are handed the requisite voting materials.

But are D.C. officials combating voter fraud? No.

Instead, they have positioned voters to lend an early voice in the presidential primaries, pushing up the date from September to April.

Theres plenty of time to take the leap and follow 34 states that introduced measures this year that mandate voters show government-issued photo ID cards at the polls and six states that already have passed such laws.

Like many of you, Im personally steeped enough in history to appreciate why blacks, Hispanics and other people of color are reluctant to take the photo-ID road. But American democracy is worth it, and we shouldn’t let anyone thumb their nose at it.

We’ve shed enough blood already.

Place your bets: The Internet gambling legislation that would give D.C. first-in-the-nation status is set for a monthlong round of hearings that begin this week.

On Thursday, residents will get to see, hear and query city officials on the iGaming law, which established online gambling rules.

The meeting will be held in Ward 5, where residents already are concerned about a potential red-light district.

It has come to pass: On Oct. 6, I urged D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown to beware of the excuses that would surface as he and his colleagues try to stop out-of-boundary students from getting a free ride in D.C. schools.

Lo and behold, we learned Thursday that youths who do not live in the city are getting that free ride because school officials are giving them a free pass.

The District’s chief of schools, John Davis, told council members that 83 nonresidents were students in D.C. schools last school year, and school officials cannot collect money from their cheating parents and guardians because the school system lacks “the capacity.”

Charter school violators also were enumerated — 24 families representing 35 children.

Educating 118 violators won’t likely drive the city’s budget into a red sinkhole, but council members must be emphatic about their legislative gauntlet on school residency.

A) Violators are breaking the law.

B) Each nonresident who violates the law is snatching a classroom seat from a deserving D.C. student.

C) By not collecting fines, D.C. school officials are thumbing their noses at taxpayers and children.

The point of the Oct. 6 hearing was to emphasize the need to beef up enforcement of the city’s school-residency laws, encourage whistle-blowers to lodge anonymous complaints and put school officials on notice about the chain of command, among other things, including quadrupling fines to $2,000.

But school authorities put lawmakers on notice.

Not only did Mr. Davis tell them it is “beyond the capacity” of school officials to collect tuition from cheating parents, he also said they would prefer instead to educate the children of cheating parents.

In other words, forget the law.

So I have a question for Mr. Brown and his colleagues: What are you going to do if D.C. parents bring a class-action lawsuit because students from Maryland and Virginia “bump” their children out of the classroom?

• Deborah Simmons can be reached dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.