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January 18. 2012 10:51PM

Debating voter ID: Who is defending current law?

It is difficult to settle a serious public policy disagreement when one side makes the strategic decision to call names rather than debate.

That is what’s happening in the current furor over whether to adopt a voter ID law for New Hampshire. The left, lacking much in the way of a strong defense of the state’s existing voting requirements, plans to win with ad hominem attacks on the character and credibility of voter ID proponents.

Here is the issue. New Hampshire law does not require that voters prove their identity at any time in the process — from registration to voting. That’s right. Not only can people vote without showing a photo ID, they can register to vote without one, too. All they have to do is sign an affidavit stating that they are who they claim to be.

Does this result in elections being stolen? Voter ID opponents say no. Maybe they are right. There certainly is not a lot of evidence that fraud is rampant in New Hampshire. Maybe that’s because it rarely happens here. Or maybe that’s because there is no way to tell if it does.

If someone were to vote by claiming to be a friend or acquaintance, or a sick, disabled, vacationing or dead voter, how would state officials know? If someone were to register in another’s name, how would state officials know?

We do not verify that voters are who they claim to be. That makes it easy to commit voter fraud. And that is why a lot of people, including a majority in the Legislature, want to require that voters show a photo ID before being given a ballot.

Many voter ID opponents, however, ignore the flaw in the law and attack the effort to fix it as a sinister “vote suppression” plot. That is the strategy of the New Hampshire Democratic Party in particular. It is hardly convincing, especially considering that New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, a Democrat, has expressed qualified support for a voter ID law. But it is telling. The fact that opponents prefer personal attacks to defending the current law reveals just how weak they believe their own position is.


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