Thursday, December 6, 2012

The authors of the opinion article “Voter ID laws are crucial to voter confidence” (Commentary, Nov. 27) are right that our election system is flawed, but wrong about the solutions needed.

As the piece notes, implementing voter ID laws requires significant work and has limited benefits. In fact, the cost of implementing a nationwide voter ID program that ensures all eligible voters have access to the polling place would cost hundreds of millions dollars. In Indiana alone, it cost $12.2 million to institute the state’s ID program. All of this money would be spent for what News 21 and several other reports have concluded were only nine cases of in-person voter fraud since 2000. With our economy still recovering from the recession, voter ID is an unnecessary expense we can ill afford.

Instead, our focus should be on improving the election process at its roots. This means modernizing our voter registration system so that, like other leading democracies across the world, voters are automatically registered when they turn 18 and the registration follows them when they move and expires when they die. This also includes standardizing voting rules and machines across the country so that citizens don’t have to stand in line for hours on Election Day as millions did this year, potentially losing wages for time away from their jobs.

This practical solution can be accomplished by fully carrying out and financing the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which was created by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to find solutions to election problems. While this will also require our nation to invest some capital, it would pay dividends in the long term by truly strengthening voter confidence that all citizens can have their voices heard in the electoral process.

Too many have given their time, money and lives to secure the right to vote. The flaws in our election system must be addressed with real solutions that offer lasting benefits for our democracy.


Voting rights director, NAACP


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