Voter Identification: A Politically Hot Tater-Tot
Part of the ecosystem of next generation voting technology certainly concerns voter registration. And then along the procees chain comes the "check in" of voters to vote (regardless of where or how they vote …absentee by mail, in person, or apparently over the Internet for some over-seas, etc.) …in other words, verifying the person is the person they claim as listed on the Register and entitled to a ballot.
Time and again we’ve steadfastly stated we have NO interest in political posturing or positioning, and this issue of voter-ID will be no different. That re-emphasized however, the issue of Voter-ID remains and we will proceed to design and develop as if voter identification in a digital democracy is managed by some sort of Voter-ID service.
With that, may I turn your attention to yet another timely article, an Op-Ed contributed article in last Sunday’s NY Times. I provide the link here, and make some short comments below.
In this essay, co-authored in a bi-partisan manner by our 39th President, James Carter and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III in the George H. W. Bush administration, the authors state that "A free and fair election requires both ballot security and full access
to voting." There can be in my mind no dispute over that.
In their bi-partisan commission on election reform in 2005, they offered a proposal to bridge the partisan divide by
suggesting a uniform voter photo ID, based on the federal Real ID Act
of 2005, to be phased in over five years.
Carter and Baker explain that under the Commission’s proposal, to help with the transition,
states would provide free voter photo ID cards for eligible citizens;
mobile units would be sent out to provide the IDs and register voters.
(Notably, of the 21 Commission members, only 3 dissented on the
requirement for an ID.)
However, no state has yet accepted the Commission’s proposal. But as to voter ID laws, there is a patchwork of law and policy across the country. And now, there is a case before the Supreme Court in effort to settle the question of whether it is constitutional to require voter (photo) identification as part of the "check-in" process to vote.
The OSDV Foundation will refrain from expressing an official opinion on the case, but I personally will go on record to the extent that I completely concur with the Carter-Baker recommendation. I see no real problem with requiring a US citizen to verify who they are to vote in a US election. The question for me, is HOW best (and easiest) to do so without disenfranchising any citizen in the process.
In summary, the Supreme Court can lead the way by supporting voter ID laws that make it easy to vote
but difficult to beat. The question is, will the Court do so?
And a better question for us: How can technology best handle the challenges of free, fair, and simple voter identification verification?