President Trump, speaking at a rally in Tampa, Fla., resurrected the issue of photo ID at the polls, suggesting that all voters should be required to show ID when they vote for president, senator, governor, or congressman.
(Image via Wikipedia)
In my home state of Ohio, voters can show up at the polls with an old cell phone bill or cable bill and they’ll be cheerfully ushered into the voting booth. In 2012 I wrote at Ohio Conservative Review, reflecting, in part, on my experience as a poll worker:
Though poll workers have many tools at their disposal to ensure the integrity of elections, when a voter shows up with a cable TV bill or a 9-month-old paycheck for identification, election officials have no way to verify the identity of the person standing before them and no way to know if the ID the person is presenting is his own. Most poll workers will admit that it would be very easy to commit voter ID fraud and that we have no way to measure the scope of the problem in Ohio.
Yet our naïve Secretary of State can’t conceive of a situation where someone would cheat, saying in 2011, ”I believe that if you have a government-issued check, a utility bill in your name with your address on it, that no one made that up.” [Secretary of State Jon] Husted also reportedly believes in the Tooth Fairy and that all politicians can be trusted.
Husted, who is currently running for lieutenant governor, has done little during his tenure as secretary of state to secure the state’s elections. His decision to discourage the legislature from taking up the photo ID issue ensured that the status quo will continue.
In 2011 (Ohio) Republicans attempted moderate election reforms, including a photo ID requirement for in-person voting…
…But after threats of lawsuits from progressive groups, and opposition from Secretary of State Husted, Republicans backed down and removed the photo ID requirement.
Ohio Republicans now seem to be taking the “duck and govern approach,” that is, they avoid the photo ID issue like the plague, hoping their constituents won’t notice if they push it off for another year, even though three-quarters of Americans support such a measure. Most Ohio Republican legislators would likely privately support photo ID, but “duck and govern” means going to great lengths to avoid controversial legislation.
Husted and others have their heads in the sand if they think a handful of prosecutions has sent a strong message that “If you cheat, you will be caught and held accountable.” As long as Republicans are more afraid of Democrats than cheaters are of consequences for voter ID fraud, Ohioans will never be confident that we have secure and fair elections. The result of this in the short-term is depressed voter turnout and lack of confidence in our elected officials. In the long-term, the result is much more serious: a lack of confidence in the foundation of our representative republic.
That story has played out in state after state as lawmakers, fearing lawsuits or attacks from Democratic opponents, have kicked the can down the road, hoping for the best in elections. There’s no excuse for such cowardice, especially in a state like Ohio, where Republicans control all three branches of the government and have for several election cycles.
Let’s hope Trump’s comments today lit a fire under Republicans — including state Sen. Frank LaRose, who is running to replace Husted in November. Blue states like California are pushing hard to give everyone the right to vote — including illegal immigrants and felons. Republicans are going to need every vote they can muster in the midterms, so there’s no time to waste. There’s plenty of time between now and November for state legislatures to get off their duffs and pass photo ID laws in every state they control.
WATCH the video of Trump’s comments in Florida below: