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The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.
By Craig Donovan
October 28, 2014
Thirty states are now requiring voter IDs in order for people to vote. Estimates show that as many as 21 million citizens do not have a government issued photo ID and are subject to being found ineligible to exercise this fundamental right. According to the U.S. Census, there are 207 million citizens in this country. The result of these new voter ID laws will be that over 10 percent of all citizens are at risk of being blocked from voting today. This is clearly a matter of security for our homeland. If ISIS, al-Qaida or any external power interfered with our democratic process and were able to keep 1 in 10 Americans from going to the polls, we would take swift and decisive action.
This issue affects not just local or state election outcomes, but also our federal elections and the management of our government through state redistricting. The federal government should and must step in. The Department of Justice, in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security, can and should immediately send out mobile units to register any eligible citizens to vote and issue federal voter ID cards to U.S. citizens who need them. As President Carter said, a free and fair election requires both ballot security and the fullest access to voting. These efforts could begin in those states that have expressed the greatest interest in ballot security and enacted specific voter identification requirements. Federal voter ID cards would not take the place of other government issued identification, such as driver’s licenses and passports. However, they would fill the gap for those citizens who otherwise lack access to such government identification. Anyone convicted of fraudulently trying to obtain such a card, including those trying to discredit or test or game the process, would be guilty of a felony.
With a defense budget of over $700 billion and a Homeland Security budget of $38 billion, we have already secured sufficient monies to provide for the common defense and to promote the general welfare. The right of the people to vote and have their say in their government is our most central tenet. This is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. That being said, the Republican Party came into existence during the middle of the 19th century, in part, to ensure in the words of Lincoln that ‘government of the people, by the people and for the people, should not perish from the earth.’
Ballot security is important, but no more or less so than ballot access. We must work to see that both are present for all Americans. Those who would seek to block voter security or voter access are working not for America interests, but against them. It is hard to imagine who would support a speaker arguing that America should be blocked from developing, adapting and adopting the latest upgrades and improvements to military technology, from whatever their source. We must lead the world in this regard. Thus should we support those who would block us from developing, adapting and adopting the latest processes and technologies that upgrade and improve our citizens’ rights and their access to vote?