I write to address the vacuous and condescending assertions about voter ID laws made by Attorney General Eric Holder in his recent speech to the NAACP convention and by Cokie and Steve Roberts in a guest editorial published in the Gazette.
They allege that laws requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls on Election Day constitute a “poll tax” and disenfranchise elderly, young, poor and minority voters because members of those groups are less likely to have an acceptable form of identification. They go on to accuse those who support such a law of racism and attempting to suppress the vote.
As former chief elections officer of Montana, I reject these baseless claims. Those who make them have proclaimed themselves the chosen occupiers of the moral high ground while simultaneously engaging in the bigotry of lowered expectations. The absurd accusations of premeditated voter suppression and discrimination are demeaning to the very people these liberal elites supposedly seek to protect.
Mr. Holder and the Roberts paint every elderly, young, poor and minority voter with the same broad brush. In fact, they would have us believe that every member of these demographic groups is fundamentally incapable of meeting even basic societal responsibilities and requirements. The height of their collective arrogance is truly stunning.
Additionally, these three clearly consider themselves much brighter than the vast majority of Americans, given the fact that 72 percent of respondents in a recent Rasmussen poll support having to show photo ID at the polls. And, 73 percent of those polled remain unconvinced that these laws are either a “poll tax” or discriminatory in nature.
The Supreme Court of the United States also agrees with the unwashed masses rather than with our elitist friends. Recently, the court upheld Indiana’s photo ID law in a 6-3 decision. In his opinion for the majority, the liberal Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that requiring photo identification at the polls “does not qualify as a substantial burden on most voters’ right to vote, or represent a significant increase over the usual burdens of voting.”
In addition, those opposing these laws conveniently ignore their provisions to assist voters who do not have the proper form of identification. The statutes in question all recognize driver’s licenses, passports, military identification cards, and other forms of government-issued ID as acceptable proof of identity. If a voter does not have an acceptable form of ID, the state will provide one free of charge.
Citizen concern is on the rise over increasing incidents of voter fraud coming to light across the country. It is time that we take a prudent and commonsense approach to preserving and enhancing the integrity of Montana’s elections. Montanans take the threat of election fraud very seriously. Our policy makers should do the same.
The goal of these laws is not to suppress the vote or to disenfranchise voters. The goal is to maintain, at the highest level possible, the faith and confidence the voters have in the outcome of our elections. Clearly, that confidence has been shaken when 64 percent of likely voters in the above mentioned Rasmussen poll believe that voter fraud is a serious or somewhat serious problem. The desire to provide Montanans a greater level of assurance that our elections are fair and secure is neither racist nor partisan. It is reasonable, rational and the right thing to do.