Let's Require All Voters to Show Their ID Cards
Dueling Party Chiefs
This is the fourth of a series in which Moore County’s Republican and Democratic party chairmen will address various political issues. The issue discussed is elections. Jim Heim is chairman of the Moore County Democratic Party. Robert M. Levy is chairman of the Moore County Republican Party. For Heim's take, click here.
When horses were tied to hitching posts on Broad Street in Southern Pines, and when a trolley rolled down Midland Road, Moore County voted much the same way it votes today.
Those citizens who could take the time off work went to their precinct between sunrise and sunset to cast a ballot and participate in democracy. There was no need for identification. Everyone knew everyone else or knew of them within one degree of separation. It was a system that worked well for the 19th century, but it is woefully antiquated in 21st century North Carolina.
All citizens have a right to vote. Yet there is in our country within the concept of "ordered liberty" both the right to vote and the right not to vote. This writer would never require voting by persons so disinterested in government that their ballot would be influenced by random guessing.
That is perhaps why we should not be "alarmed" by low voter turnouts. It can be argued that "voter self-selection" actually strengthens self-government by making sure that voters are self-motivated to be well informed. But this cannot be our policy until and unless we tear down every obstacle that keeps legitimate citizen voters away from the ballot box.
Democracy depends upon participation, but it must be bolstered by the popular perception that ballots are cast and accurately counted on behalf of those citizens entitled to do so. Yet Democrats block election reform and erode this confidence by insisting that voters casting ballots not show the same identification that they must show to buy a pack of cigarettes or a beer.
Republicans, too, may block greater access to polls by favoring restrictions on poll hours and days. It is clear that lack of confidence in the validity of the electoral process leads to apathy and the erosion of faith in self government.
This writer, for one, believes that greater access to polls by working men and women will boost the conservative Republican vote totals. Workers, black and white (and any color combination), realize that higher taxes on modest homes and incomes infringe on economic freedom.
Ordering a free people to buy only government-approved products and listen to government-approved messages from unelected czars destroys personal freedom. And no one, not even a Hispanic citizen, would object to flashing the same identification to a poll worker that the voter must show to pay for tortillas with a check.
It's time to eliminate the baloney that keeps our election system mired in yesterday. It's time to make a secure democracy work for everyone. And this will require compromise.
Every citizen in North Carolina ought to receive a single tamper-proof card that functions as an identification card, a driver's license for those privileged to drive and a voter identification card. The cost of the driving endorsement would cover the cost of issuing free identification and voting cards for those who, for whatever reason, do not, cannot or should not drive.
The single card would contain on its magnetic strip necessary age, residence and citizenship information similar to that which is placed on a credit card. Voting would occur for two weeks prior to "Election Day" at all DMV offices, saving county elections boards both money and time.
The DMV office computer would swipe the card and issue an appropriate ballot. The scanned ballot information would then be sent to county or state talliers. On "Election Day," voters could vote, not just at "home," but at any precinct in the state. The swipe of a voter card would trigger the precinct computer to issue a ballot appropriate for the voter.
Confusion about where to vote on a busy business Tuesday would be gone. A construction worker living in Raleigh could vote near his job in Durham. Voting at the "firehouse precinct" over a cup of coffee with your friends and neighbors would still be available, but the voting process would also become "tech-friendly" for the generation beyond ours.
Of course, there will be problems implementing any system of electronic voting. Computer "geeks" smarter than I am will have to work out the details, including the availability of -provisional ballots for those whose identification cards have become "magnetically challenged."
But the political necessity of both greater voter access and acceptable ballot security is clear. Democracy depends upon citizen participation. Democrats cannot encourage noncitizens to vote by blocking measures to require positive voter identification. Republicans cannot insist upon restricting poll access by opposing expansion of early voting.
Both parties must work to bring the voter process into modern times, encouraging compromise for the sake of democracy.
So, with this article, this Republican Party chair will issue a challenge to his Democratic counterpart: Let us both join in a project to require positive identification of citizen voters. Let us increase polling hours for those entitled to vote. Let us both advocate full citizen participation in secure balloting.
Increased voter participation without positive voter identification will only lead to cynicism. Positive voter identification without poll access will likewise be ineffective. But compromise to preserve democracy for all citizens is that on which our constitutional democracy depends. The future of democracy depends on us.
Robert M. Levy is chairman of the Moore County Republican party. Contact him at Law52@prodigy.net.
More like this story