The Worth of a Picture ID for Honest Voting

Posted: May 05, 2008 4:25 PM

Is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) ever on the right side of any issue? On one issue out of a bundle we might find ourselves in agreement. As for most, forget it.

For example, the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of an Indiana statute which requires a picture ID in order to vote. If voters can't afford to obtain a picture ID the State of Indiana will provide it for them. And if voters do not have a picture ID with them on election day they can cast a provisional ballot and then show up with a picture ID within ten days.

It was a 6-3 decision. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority. I cannot recall the last time I was in agreement with a controversial decision of his. Even one of the dissenters, Justice Stephen G. Breyer, said he did not object to the principle but believed the Indiana law was too strict. He indicated he would have preferred the law in effect in Georgia.

As soon as the decision was announced the ACLU was whining big time. If I didn't know better I would have thought real people would be deprived of the right to vote. I have yet to hear a cogent argument against having a picture ID in order to cast a vote. Numerous States now have some sort of law requiring same. I predict that many more will enact such laws.

In Washington State there was a very close gubernatorial election. The winner won by about 1,000 votes. One left-wing group took it upon itself to make up at least 1,500 names, evidently pulled from the telephone book, from obituaries or merely manufactured. Presumably they voted these people. Had a picture ID been required they most likely could not have gotten by with their scheme. The election unsuccessfully was challenged in court.

I note that more and more picture IDs are required to get into buildings, to cash checks, to make applications of all sorts. If picture IDs can be required for those activities, how much more so should they be mandated for our most precious right, the right to vote.

Some in Congress now want to enact a law overturning the Indiana decision. I doubt that will fly even with the present Congress. It would be a tough sell back home to tell constituents that requiring a picture ID was just too disruptive. Further, sound Federalism says let's leave it to the States.

There are those in the ACLU who are trying to suggest that requiring a picture ID is analogous to the Germans or the Soviets requiring an internal passport. Hardly. We do not compel people to vote. No one has the right to stop someone on the street demanding to see that person's papers.

The objections to picture IDs for voting are vastly overblown and sensational. They are rooted in neither in fact nor common sense.

Three cheers for Justice Stevens.