Sue Stenhouse Solves the Nation’s Voter ID Quandry
The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that Arizona may enforce a new state law requiring voters to show a photo identification card at the polls on Election Day this year….In its unanimous five-page ruling, the court did not decide whether the Arizona law was constitutional. Rather, it overturned a federal appeals court in San Francisco that would have blocked enforcement of the law until the opponents’ suit could be decided.Not everybody is happy with the Supreme Court’s decision…
Arizona, which borders Mexico and has seen a surge in migration in recent years, is one of several states that have recently enacted a photo-ID requirement in response to reports that illegal immigrants and other ineligible voters have been casting ballots.
Opponents say that the ID requirement imposes an extra burden on minorities, the poor and the elderly, who are less likely than other citizens to have a driver’s license, the most common form of state-issued photo ID. Opponents say that because states charge fees for photo IDs, requiring one to vote is tantamount to an unconstitutional poll tax.Fortunately, there is a solution to the dilemma of using photo-IDs to discourage fraudulent voting that should be acceptable to reasonable people — the solution proposed by Rhode Island Secretary of State candidate Sue Stenhouse.
Ms. Stenhouse proposes issuing every voter a photo-ID at the time he or she registers to vote, pointing out that many municipalities already issue photo-ID library cards. She believes that it wouldn’t be difficult to apply the same technology to the voter registration process. If elected Secretary of State, Ms. Stenhouse would first test a voter photo-ID program in one community, then take it statewide…
The City of Warwick would serve as a test pilot site for the use of voters’ credential cards. Currently, Warwick provides photo identification cards with barcodes for library patrons. Stenhouse is proposing that a similar card be issued to all qualified voters in Warwick to be used in the general election in 2010. Stenhouse would explore ways to expand upon voting standards mandated in the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) that have begun to be implemented in the Secretary of State’s Office. Legislation will be proposed in the 2007 General Assembly session establishing Warwick as a pilot site, and federal funds allocated through HAVA will be sought to pay for the equipment to be used.Unless progressives want to start making the argument that the process of voter registration itself constitutes an undue burden, the Stenhouse solution should satisfy the concerns of all sides of the voter-ID debate.
Occasionally, even in politics, an idea just makes sense.