Photo voter ID strong first step for fighting fraud

Published 12:50 pm Monday, March 15, 2010

With many predicting passage of a voter identificationinitiative bound for the November 2011 ballot, proponents can claima victory in their long-fought efforts to combat election fraud inMississippi.

Other political pundits and opponents of the measure, however,point out that voter ID will not cure all election ills in thisstate. Unfortunately, they are right.

Absentee voting, with its mail-out ballot allowances, remains apotentially fertile ground for fraud and other electionshenanigans. And no doubt those who are intent on ‘fixing’elections will stay up at nights trying to devise ways around photovoter ID.

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That is why a provision that died in a failed voter ID legislativeeffort last year needs to be revisited. That issue is earlyvoting.

Early voting and absentee voting serve essentially the samepurpose: to allow those who will be out of town on Election Day tocast a ballot. Early voting, though, is more focused on in-personballot-casting while absentee ballots may be cast in-person at thecircuit clerk’s office or can be requested through the mail andsent back in the mail.

The problem with last year’s voter ID effort, which represented acompromise between the warring factions over the contentious issue,was that it tried to do too much.

While early voting provisions had merit, that combined with ameasure to allow voter registration up to three days before anelection would be greatly problematic. Timely verification of aperson’s eligibility to be able to register to vote comes to mindas a chief concern.

Regulations regarding voter registration, which must be done 30days before an election, do not need to be changed.

Early voting, however, could replace absentee balloting asMississippi’s primary method for allowing voting in advance of anelection. Photo voter ID and the requirement to appear in person ata designated place within the allowed number of early voting dayswould go a long way toward ensuring only those eligible to vote aredoing so.

Absentee voting could still be allowed for military personneloverseas, workers who are required to be offshore for extendedperiods, and in other extremely limited circumstances. Reasonableminds, and that phrase is used loosely when it comes toelection-related issues, should be able to determine under whatexceptions absentee voting would be allowed.

There is no denying that no election system is perfect and thatthere will always be some fraud to some extent. While not thepanacea that some supporters may want to claim, approval next yearof a photo voter ID measure will be an important step in curbingwhatever fraud and other abuses that do exist.