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.

More from Jason DeRusha
  • Scott Funk

    Why do legal immigrants have the right to vote? Shouldn’t it be citizens only that can vote in our elections?

  • Susan Lighon

    Only citizens who meet register, meet the age requirement and have not forfeited their right to vote due to a felony conviction, can vote. Legal immigrants may have the opportunity to become citizens, Once the become a citizen they can vote.

    • Scott Funk

      “Young adults often don’t have drivers’ licenses, nor do new, legal immigrants, according to research.” Then, this article’s statement is very misleading, and could (given the current political environment) prove to be inflammatory in the eyes of the right wing. I personally suggest this article be amended immediately!

  • Susan Lighon

    sorry for the typo should read: Only citizens who register

  • Skylar

    When voting last week I asked an election judge at my polling place this very question and was told that they only need to see ID if someone has a common name or looks “suspicious”.

    I have no idea what someone looks like who is committing voter fraud but maybe they do since they are on the look out for suspicious people. I must not have looked suspect, though, since I wasn’t even asked what my address was.

    I just think it’s odd that with all the voter fraud stories in the news (ACORN, anyone?) and Minnesota’s close votes (Franken wins by 300 votes), that there isn’t more concern taken to ensure an honest election. I mean, seriously, how hard is to look at someone’s ID?

  • Luke

    The law professor’s argument at the end that there isn’t an increase in Indiana in catching voter fraud and therefor showing an ID isn’t necessary is ridiculous. The idea behind having to show an ID is that it will help prevent/discourage voter fraud, not help catch it. Also, his argument that requiring an ID for voting isn’t ok because voting is a right is equally ridiculous, because proving who you are by pulling out your ID or a bill doesn’t prevent you from voting, it helps to ensure that some moron voting more than once doesn’t cancel you out.

  • Scott Funk

    See what I mean about right wing complaints, Susan? I’m an election judge, and I can assure every one of you loons that there is no way to vote multiple times, EVER. You have no idea just how anal retentive the head judge was when it came time to shut down!

    • Melissa

      You are the dumbest judge I’ve ever seen. Without I.D. I can drive there out of state and vote for YOUR governor. Hey maybe that’s a good idea. I think all Republicans need to take a road trip and vote in every state when its time for presidential elections.

  • John

    I believe it is possible to vote more than once, especially if someone had recently moved, they would still be on the old voter registration list and could bring a new utility bill to the new precinct that they just moved into to vote again. There have been instances of people voting across state lines as well. I dismiss Schultz’s arguements, as they are condescending and dismissive of voters’ concerns. I would gladly pay taxes to insure that seniors have a PROPER ID so they can vote. Most of us no longer live in towns where everybody knows everybody. If having to show an ID to get on a plane or cash a check or buy booze is a priviledge, then I sure want someone to show an ID to VOTE to protect the RIGHTS of all legal voters — even ONE fraudulent vote is ONE vote TOO MANY.

  • Lil Joe

    I hope people quit using the ACORN boogeyman. Also, let it be known that one of the alleged felons claimed he voted for Coleman. Just that I think it might be a good idea to let everyone have a Universal ID card. Again, Americans are afraid of Big Brother, Big Government, 666, etc. so implementing a bullet proof ID for employment and everything else is not happening. Meanwhile, the GOP-TEA are winning by spending huge amount of cash and appealing to the basic emoticon of hatred and fear, whilst disguising it as love for country.

  • Sigma47

    What you are not able to see from Indiana results are the people who would have voted under a pseudonym but stayed at home due to the ID requirement. Thus it would be really difficult to determine the efficacy of the ID rule.

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