The Supreme Court of the United States is creating a flurry of discussion around the court's acceptance of an appeal involving an Indiana law requiring photo ID for voters in the state.
This case arises out of the passage of a photo ID law by the Republican-controlled legislature in Indiana in 2005. It was signed by Indiana's governor, also a Republican. Comments from the press indicate the controversy surrounding the law is more of a Democrat-Republican issue than one of substance.
Todd Rokita, Indiana secretary of state, explained the passage of the photo ID law followed the recommendations of the Carter-Baker Commission, chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker. The Commission determined that all states were experiencing repeated acts of in-person voter fraud which should be addressed. In addition, the National Crime Prevention Council reported that "identity theft had become and continues to be the fastest growing crime in the nation."
The new law required a statewide voter registration including a reformed absentee ballot program requiring an oath of truthfulness under penalties of perjury.
Six successful elections were conducted after the passage of the law. Statistics showed that voter turnout increased across all demographics.
A poll in March 2005 showed 75 percent approval of the photo ID provision. A year later, 2006, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal nationwide poll revealed that 81 percent of Americans approved of the photo ID concept.
The right to vote in the United States is accepted as absolute.
The right to vote is considered as one of America's most sacred rights. Some have suggested that it ranks in the order of our natural or God-given rights.
The right to vote provides sanctuary for our natural rights of life, property, and liberty.
Both the natural rights of property and liberty would fall by the wayside absent the right to vote.
The right to vote protects, upholds and preserves the U.S. Constitution.
The right to vote provides a firewall of protection against the intrusion of totalitarianism into America.
The introduction of the photo ID for voters is a good start for the entire electoral system.
It could be very helpful in paving the way for the adoption of a national, tamper-proof, fool-proof photo identity card.
President George W. Bush again this week called for such a card.
Many candidates have also called for the same type of national identification.
Some months ago this column proposed such a card based on the premise of identifying all legal citizens in the nation. In response to that article, Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, has expressed interest in the idea. Problem solving dictates that the solution begins with an analysis of what is known. Once that is accomplished, the solution to the problem opens itself to resolution.
Having said that, one of America’s greatest problems today, and one that is ever more putting pressure on the nation’s electoral system, is illegal immigration.
At the present time, the nation is struggling to identify all those residents of the United States who are illegal. America has the wherewithal and the means of determining and identifying those who are legal.
Once all the legal citizens have been identified, all others living the the country can be readily identified as illegal. It is that simple.
A new bureaucracy is not required to furnish legal residents with fool-proof, tamper-proof ID cards. The expenditure of billions of dollars is unnecessary. All the infrastructure is in place.
The agency best suited for the job is the most trusted of all U.S. government administrations. It is an agency that desperately needs repair, especially from the rampant counterfeiting of its cards. It is the Social Security Administration.
A complete re-registry of all U.S. Social Security cards could be undertaken. New cards with photo ID on the front and a coded magnetic strip on the back, much like a credit card would be issued.
The coded magnetic strip would contain vital information such as birthday, parents' names, birth place, occupation and all other vital statistics. Encoded on the strip would be the fingerprint of the card holder. The card would be produced in such a manner that would render it counterfeit-proof and tamper-proof.
The registration process need not be an overwhelming, burdensome, costly procedure.
In Presidential elections, the nation is able to handle the ballots of more than 50 million people in a period of 12 hours. This is accomplished at approximately 33,000 precinct voting locations.
Everyone knows where he or she votes. Re-registration for new social security cards could be done at locations near those present voting precints with the assistance of local county and municipal boards of elections. Each precinct location would be re-registering less than 1,000 cardholders.
The Social Security cardholder would appear with either a valid birth certificate or proof of naturalization.
Every legal U.S. voter could be re-registered at the same time and provided a voter photo ID with the same information as on the new Social Security card encoded on the back of a tamper-proof instrument.
What is needed at this point is a Congress with the foresight and courage to enact such a plan.
Ralph Hostetter, a prominent businessman and agricultural publisher, also is a national and local award-winning columnist. He welcomes email comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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