No question: State in great need of voter ID

Published 6:00 am Monday, January 19, 2009

Mississippi lawmakers are once again weighing the merits ofvoter ID and whether it is needed in the state. Undeniably, theanswer is yes – and the identification card also needs to have aphoto of the voter.

Some voter ID bills floating around the Mississippi Legislaturethis year would require a photo and some would not. A bill with anumber of photo voter ID provisions passed the Senate last week,but any voter ID bill – with photo or without – still faces longodds in the Democrat-controlled House.

That Mississippi does not have voter ID seems unfathomable tomany in this state.

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Try boarding a plane, conducting any kind of meaningful businessor even signing up for a card to rent a movie and see how far onegets without valid identification. And with very few exceptions,all those activities will require a photo of the person seeking toobtain the privilege.

Should not voting, which is far more than a privilege – indeed aright and responsibility of citizenship, be held to the samestandard?

As the 2009 session goes on, proponents and opponents will trotout the same, tired arguments of years past over why voter IDshould or should not be passed here. Some of those arguments havemerit while others merely play on people’s fears for politicalgain.

Other arguments aside, the bottom line is that having to showidentification has become a common practice in nearly all facets ofeveryday life. People must be able to prove they are who they saythey are when conducting their activities.

Why should access to the voting booth – one of the mostcherished and important places in a democracy – be anydifferent?