Since 2010 there has been a lot of noise about voters having to show ID to vote. Citing urban myths about dead people voting and rampant in-person voting by aliens, one small, fearful segment of the population has tried to convince the rest us of a problem that only voter-ID laws will solve.
The noise prompted the nonpartisan Pew Charitable Trust to look into incidents of election fraud. Their 2012 report, available at www.pewstates.org, studied documented cases of election fraud between 2000 and 2012 in every state and the District of Columbia. Not just allegations and anecdotal accounts, but instances in which there were actual charges and investigations. You know, facts. Of 2,068 cases, they found only 11 cases involving voter impersonation. In 12 years. In the whole country.
In-person voter fraud is rare and difficult to pull off in any numbers that could swing an election. It’s also a felony. More common were absentee ballot fraud and fraud perpetrated by third-party registrars. Neither of those would be prevented by showing ID.
In my experience as a Carson City poll worker, the most common problems are voters at the wrong polling place (sometimes the wrong county) and voters who moved and neglected to change their address with the registrar. Voter error is a much bigger problem than voter fraud, so let’s clear up a couple of things.
First, responsible voting begins with registering to vote and keeping your registration up to date. The Nevada Secretary of State’s website, www.registertovotenv.gov, makes it easy. Input your DMV photo ID or driver’s license number to get started. Or Carson City residents can go to the Clerk-Recorder’s office at the Courthouse, at 885 E. Musser St., Carson City. The information you provide will be cross-referenced with a variety of databases including the DMV and Social Security to authenticate your identity.
Second, Carson City’s new state-of-the-art electronic poll books will expedite the process of voting. A poll worker can scan the barcode on your sample ballot or the back of your driver’s license. He or she will confirm your address and have you sign your name on a signature pad. Not a match? You’ll be asked for ID.
Most Nevada voters need not show ID to vote. Two exceptions: first-time voters who didn’t show ID when they registered and voters whose sample ballot was returned because of a bad address. A poll worker will verify your identity and residence before you vote.
Requiring ID for every voter is based on unfounded fears, not on facts. Let’s not create unnecessary obstacles for American citizens who simply want to exercise their most precious right, their right to vote.
Lorie Schaefer is retired, mostly. She reminds Carson City voters that early voting is at the Courthouse May 24-June 6 and all primary voting will be at the Community Center on June 10.