EDITORIAL: Securing the ballot

Virginia and Arkansas latest to require photo ID

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Nothing is quite so implausible as a Democrat claiming he’s against something because it’s “too expensive.” Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe says he vetoed a prospective law requiring voters to show identification before casting a ballot because it would cost $300,000. “At a time when some argue for the reduction of unnecessary bureaucracy and for reduced government spending,” he says, “I find it ironic to be presented with a bill that increases government bureaucracy and increases government expenditures.”

Nearly three dozen other states are still solvent after adopting similar voter-ID laws. On Tuesday, Virginia became the latest, with Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell’s signature on a voter-ID bill that takes effect in November 2014. Would-be voters currently lacking a photo ID will have a year-and-a-half to get one. It’s not exactly clear how anyone could survive in today’s “your papers, please” society without such an ID, as they are required for dozens of other occasions, ranging from cashing a check to boarding an airplane. If there are any holdouts, they will be pleased to learn that the state will provide a card at no charge. Paul R.L. Shanks, a spokesman for Mr. McDonnell, says the governor recognizes that “almost all citizens already have acceptable forms of photo ID that would allow them to vote, and a majority of voters support this policy.”

Mr. Beebe’s veto notwithstanding, Arkansas is likely to follow Virginia. The Republican-controlled General Assembly has the power to override a veto with a simple majority vote. “In order to ensure the fairness and integrity of Arkansas elections, we look forward to overriding this veto,” says Doyle Webb, chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party.

Democrats in Arkansas, Virginia and elsewhere blithely dismiss the risks of voter fraud that photo-ID laws minimize, contending that it’s a not a problem. The facts argue otherwise. In Virginia, Patrick Moran, the son of Rep. James P. Moran and nephew of the state Democratic Party chairman at the time, was caught on tape describing the methods used to get away with voter fraud. Though he escaped charges, it’s obvious he was intimately familiar with the most effective techniques.

Unlike Arkansas, Virginia can’t strengthen its voting procedures without approval from the Justice Department under Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. won’t be cooperative. Fortunately, Ken Cuccinelli, the state’s attorney general, will take on the administration. Virginia’s right to safeguard the integrity of its elections through its new voter-ID law is yet another reason why the U.S. Supreme Court, which recently revisited the constitutionality of Section 5, should find the statute, nearly 50 years old, no longer necessary and consign it to a swamp with Jim Crow. We can’t afford to let obsolete statutes continue to undermine the integrity of our elections. We must move forward.

The Washington Times

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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