Voter Registration/ Absentee Ballot

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Clean Voter Rolls and Voter ID

by Staff Writer

The right to vote, and the exercise of that right, are fundamental, bedrock assurances of citizens in democracies and republics. Every constitution of every democracy or republic enshrines this right in unambiguous and direct language. The definition of an eligible voter has evolved over time, but always requires that a person be a citizen. Registering as a voter is an assertion of citizenship, and citizenship comes with benefits, as guaranteed by the constitution and laws of the country or state.

Those who are not citizens are not entitled to the protection of that country or states' laws in the same way. Those who commit crimes may likewise be deprived of those rights. Citizens who engage in certain behavior in other countries or states may be deprived of those rights as well. It follows, then, that the process of registering to vote and the assurance of that right necessitates all the same requirements as any other benefit of citizenship, and furthermore, must be carefully guarded and vetted by those in control of the voter rolls.

In order to receive benefits from citizenship in a state or country, a person must be identified as a citizen of that country. For example, in order to receive benefits from federal social security, one must produce two forms of state-issued identification, such as a birth certificate and a passport or drivers license. Or, when a person moves from one state to another in the U.S., and seeks to obtain a driver's license, they must surrender the license from their former state of residence. It is illegal in the U.S. to possess a driver's license in more than one state.

Registering to vote is a process that benefits from similar requirements. A voter is only allowed to vote once in one particular district. To ensure this, it is reasonable to ask that a voter present two forms of identification in order to register to vote, and that those voter rolls are then checked against a national database.

Similarly, when it comes time to vote, it is fair and reasonable to ask that a voter present identification at the polling location to be matched against the voter rolls. Every other function that benefits and involves registration of a citizen requires this type of identification and verification. Why, then, should voting, which is a far more consequential and fundamental right of citizenship than any other, be compromised in any way?

The absence of this process benefits only those who seek to commit fraud. To receive benefits from any system, one must prove he or she is a member of that system. If you want an insurance benefit, you must prove you have a policy. If you want to drive a car, it must be registered, licensed and insured, and you must have a valid driver's license. Finally, if you want to claim benefits from the government, you must prove citizenship.

Voting is the ultimate benefit of citizenship; with the right to vote comes the right to affect the entire system, and the right and opportunities to persuade others to vote along with you. This right belongs to citizens, and not to non-citizens, and it is rightfully restricted to one vote per issue or one candidate per citizen. This is the law, and always has been. Voter identification at registration and at polling is a reasonable and effective requirement of voters, just as it is for all other government benefits. Cross-checking the voter rolls nationally is a reasonable and effective method for creating clean voter rolls. Together, identification requirements and national cross-checking create the gold standard for the integrity of the voting process.

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