Voter ID and fraud questions

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 16, 2008

Fortunately, investigators from the state attorney general&8217;s office have not come into Dallas County and taken our ballot boxes.

That means our county runs fair and equitable elections according to law.

But a couple of counties near us, Perry and Lowdnes, have become targets of the attorney general after residents in those two areas complained of voter buying and selling.

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Of course, all this raises the issue of voter identification with photo IDs.

The federal Help America Vote Act mandates that all states require identification from first-time voters who registered to vote by mail and did not provide verification of their identification with their mail-in voter registration.

Twenty-five states have broader voter identification requirements than what HAVA mandates.

In these states, all voters are asked to show identification prior to voting.

Seven of those states &8212;

Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan and South Dakota &8212; require photo IDs.

Alabama requires some kind of voter identification. Acceptable forms include utility bills, bank statements, government check, pay check or the usual photo IDs.

The question remains how showing photo identification would prevent someone from selling his or her vote.

Basically, the selling of a vote takes place between two people outside the polling place. It appears the easiest way to secure a bought vote would rest in the absentee ballot. You get the ballot, collect the money and mark it

and return it as the individual watches.

Not much need for identification there.

The question of voter identification centers on voter fraud through impersonation at the polls.

A federally mandated study conducted earlier this year at The Century Foundation found fraud in the voting system, but not at the polling place.

So how does it happen?

Ballot box stuffing. Voting machine manipulation. Registration list manipulation. Absentee voting.

However, those who support the photo ID proposals adopted by those seven states claim the move raises confidence in the process. It&8217;s a deterrent to fraud, they claim.

Others posit this: If the voter fraud doesn&8217;t happen at the polls, why does a voter have to endure the hardship of producing a photo ID to vote?

There are no figures of how many eligible people do not have the photo identification needed to vote in the seven states.

But consider this, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates 11 percent of those people old enough to vote &8212; about 21 million people &8212; don&8217;t have any form of valid, government-issued photo identification. A lot of folks who live in big cities use public transportation. They don&8217;t have a driver&8217;s license. And there are some people to poor to own a car or those who are too old to drive.

Would the selling of votes in recent elections have occurred if Alabamians had to produce photo IDs?