Good Question: Why Don’t We Need An ID To Vote?

By Jason DeRusha, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When Minnesota voters cast their ballots for governor, representative and state legislators, they did not need to show a photo ID to vote. Why not?

“I went to my polling place this morning and only had to give my name (not even my address). I could have gone in eight times and used another gals name from my neighborhood and voted for them,” said Nancy Mastous, a voter from Andover, Minn.

Most of us have to show some form of identification to register, but Minnesota law has a provision allowing a resident of our precinct to “vouch” for us, confirming an address with a signed oath.

“It’s a big issue,” said Hamline University election law professor David Schultz. “They’re convinced that there’s widespread voter fraud out there that’s affecting the outcome of elections.”

Schultz has written in the William Mitchell Law Review and in Harvard’s Law Review about voter ID, calling it “a solution in search of a problem.”

Schultz referenced an election in Washington state, where officials documented 25 cases of double voting or using a dead person’s name — with 2.8 million votes, that’s 0.0009 percent.

“We’re looking at infinitesimal numbers,” he said.

But Marcia on Jason’s DeBlog writes “Why wait until there is a problem with fraud?”

“I think showing ID is essential to take corruption out of our elections. You have to have a photo ID at the bank and to get on an airplane. Why shouldn’t you have to show a photo ID in order to vote?” wrote Julie Currin.

“Going to the bank and getting on an airplane isn’t a right,” said Schultz. “Voting is.”

But Schultz said, let’s go along with the theory that there is fraud out there. What would showing a photo ID at the polling place catch?

“It might catch some people on Election Day who are claiming to be someone else. That’s all it would catch,” he said.

Most election experts believe the largest potential for fraud is with absentee ballots, but photo ID does nothing about that.

During the Coleman-Franken recount there were issues raised about felons voting, again an ID doesn’t solve that.

“Nowhere on your license does it say, ‘ex-felon,'” said Schultz.

And there’s considerable research showing the potential that requiring a photo ID would keep people who are registered now away from voting.

Researchers in Wisconsin say about 1 in 4 senior citizens doesn’t have a license or state ID. Young adults often don’t have drivers’ licenses, nor do new, legal immigrants, according to research.

“We’re not looking at not an insignificant portion of the population,” said Schultz.

In Indiana, where photo ID is now required at the ballot box, Schultz said there has not been any increase in the detection of voter fraud, nor has there been a significant reduction in voter turnout.

So essentially, “it’s much ado about nothing,” he said.

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