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STATE HOUSE MEMO

No need for fear-mongering

Voter ID bill is just common sense

A vote is the ultimate equalizer in American politics. The idea that every citizen regardless of race, gender or background is awarded the same power of choice and influence in the voting booth is the backbone of the American electoral system. Yet here in New Hampshire we have no tangible way of ensuring this basic concept.

Voter fraud has unfortunately tarnished elections throughout American history. To witness some of these cases, one doesn't have to go to far. Just look at this presidential election season.

During the New Hampshire primary our law allowed for the 'dead' to be offered numerous ballots throughout the state. Although Project Veritas and James O'Keefe did not actually vote in the election, their project certainly helped expose a glaring hole in our election law. Anyone off the street can read last week's obituaries and then go to the polls armed with another name to vote under.

It was reported that over 950 ballots cast in South Carolina's presidential primary were also from the 'non-living.' In Florida, a local TV station compared jury excusals due to not being a citizen with the registered voter list in two counties. They were shocked to find that nearly 100 unqualified voters in these counties had not only voted but had been doing so for multiple years.

After just a few votes decided the winner of the Iowa caucuses, it is important more important than ever to realize that voter fraud is indeed real. To ignore this problem any longer is a disservice to the voters.

Opponents of voter ID have fallen back on weak conspiracy theories surrounding minority voter disenfranchisement. These misguided claims seek to racialize and make partisan an issue that is simply responsible government.

Opponents of voter ID seek to associate the disgusting claims of 'Jim Crow' against supporters in an effort to sway public opinion. These claims use the baffling logic that some voters are unable to obtain a picture ID - the same action required to drive, cash a check, rent an apartment, purchase alcohol or cigarettes, or even apply for welfare and food stamps.

These claims held little water for the Democrat-controlled legislature of Rhode Island. Last year the Democratic majority passed its own voter ID law. State Rep. Jon Brien, a Democrat sponsor, called it 'good government.' Rhode Island joined 30 other states that require some form of ID to vote, 15 of which require a photo ID.

Polling and research has also not done the opponents of voter ID too many favors. Recent polling has shown that nearly 75 percent of Americans support showing photo ID at the polls. Other polling that has shown that voter ID is very popular within the Hispanic community.

Research compiled from multiple states from 2000 to 2006 by the University of Delaware and the University of Nebraska has also concluded that voter ID does not negatively affect turnout. The study went on to state that 'concerns about voter-identification laws affecting turnout are much ado about nothing.' The real tragedy here has been that the far Left has tried to cajole this issue into partisan terms. With the public against them and their own Democratic colleagues against them, all the far Left has is race-baiting and fear-mongering.

Perhaps if the opponents of voter ID cared as much about the equality of every vote as they do the voting dead, we wouldn't have this problem.

Voters in New Hampshire want and deserve a photo ID requirement. We must pass a strong and meaningful bill to bring validity to our elections now and in the future.

(D.J. Bettencourt of Salem is majority leader of the New Hampshire House. Shawn Jasper of Hudson is the House majority whip. Shaun Doherty of Pelham is a member of the House Committee on Election Law.)

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