Farmer Column: Voting rights and photo ID
July 22, 2012
President Obama’s Justice Department seems to be doing everything within its power to block states from adopting reasonable voting requirements, including photo ID, and to stop states that want to purge dead people and noncitizens from their voter rolls. And I think I know why: our embattled president needs all the votes he can muster for November’s general election.
In a recent voting rights case, the Feds finally agreed to let Florida use a Homeland Security (DHS) database to challenge people’s right to vote if they’re suspected of not being American citizens. The agreement will permit Florida to access a list of resident noncitizens compiled by DHS for purposes of purging noncitizens from state voter rolls.
“Republicans count it (the agreement) as a victory,” the Associated Press reported, “especially in pivotal states such as Florida, Colorado, Nevada and North Carolina.” At first, DHS refused to share its list of resident noncitizens with states, but reversed itself after a federal judge ruled against Justice Department (DOJ) efforts to stop Florida’s aggressive voter list review.
Justice last March blocked Texas from enforcing a new law requiring voters to present photo ID at the polls on grounds that the law tends to discriminate against Hispanic voters. “Even using the data most favorable to the state, Hispanics disproportionately lack either a driver’s license or a personal ID card,” the DOJ argued. Yes, but what about ACORN-like voter registration schemes?
As a volunteer elections worker for 16 years, I don’t see voter ID as a major problem in Nevada, at least not in Carson City. Clerk/Treasurer Alan Glover and Elections Supervisor Sue Merriweather, each of whom has more than 30 years of elections experience, told me last week that although local voters don’t have to show photo ID at the polls, they do have to prove their identity when they register to vote.
“They must show official ID when they register,” Ms. Merriweather said. Her office accepts driver’s licenses, military ID, passports, or student ID cards as proof of identity. In addition, newly registered voters must declare under oath that they are U.S. citizens. “We can check voter rolls against DMV or Social Security records,” Glover added, “but not DHS records.” Not yet anyway.
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In an interesting twist, Glover and Ms. Merriweather noted that some local voters actually complain when they’re not asked for photo ID at the polls. Voter identities are confirmed, they explained, by matching voter signatures with those on file in the Clerk’s Office.
Back to the Justice Department, left-leaning Attorney Gen. Eric Holder seems to have a penchant for suing states that don’t agree with his interpretation of states’ rights. Even though the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution says that all powers not granted to the federal government are reserved to the states, Holder continues to sue states that try to impose reasonable voter requirements and/or those that attempt to help the Feds enforce our nation’s immigration laws.
I agree with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who called Holder’s actions “a pervasive federal overreach.” Enough already!
• Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, has been a volunteer elections worker since 1996.