Making voting easy and secure our ultimate goal

Elections should be won on the basis of superior ideas, not by throwing pointless stumbling blocks in front of honest voters.

Mainers showed resounding support for that belief in November when they rejected a legislative attempt to outlaw Election Day voter registration.

Republicans in the Legislature had overwhelmingly approved a bill killing the practice based upon unsubstantiated charges that out-of-state college students were voting improperly.

State Republican Chairman Charlie Webster said he had experienced this in Farmington when, he alleged, busloads of students were driven to the polls. Webster usually neglected to mention that he had twice won legislative races in the district that includes Farmington.

Mysteriously, Republican legislative leaders who had sponsored the voter-suppression bill did nothing to support it during the campaign and the measure was easily overturned in November.

But the New York University School of Law has warned that Republicans in 19 states have gone forward with laws designed to keep groups that are most closely aligned with Democrats from casting votes.

The new restrictions, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, will "fall most heavily" on the young people, minorities, poor people and the disabled.

"This wave of changes may sharply tilt the political terrain for the 2012 election," the center said. And that, we suspect, is exactly the reason for the sudden Republican interest in vote security.

Of the 12 likely battleground states, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of Gallup poll results, "six have either cut back on voting rights already or are currently considering new restrictions."

Florida and Texas, for instance, have passed laws restricting voter registration drives. In 2008, 8.24 percent of new voters registered through such drives.

"Sadly, Florida's anti-voter law creates impassable roadblocks for our volunteers, who are simply trying to bring fellow citizens into our democratic process," Florida League of Women Voters President Deirdre Macnab said.

The League contends that administrative requirements are burdensome and fines of up to $1,000 for the slightest delay or mistake are too harsh.

Republicans should abandon such efforts and focus instead on the one restriction most Americans might support: requiring a photo ID at the polls.

A bill that died in the Senate during the last legislative session would have required two things: a photo ID or an official ID card issued by the Secretary of State's Office to those who do not drive.

The state must issue the cards for free to avoid the appearance of a poll tax. Out-of-state driver's licenses must also suffice so college students attending school here can still vote, as the Supreme Court requires.

A photo ID is required to drive, to cash a check or even buy alcohol in Maine. It would establish a minimal level of security to ensure that the person is the person they say they are.

Our goal as a state and a nation should remain as it has been — making it as easy as possible for people to participate in the democratic process.

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and editorial board.

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Comments

Jonathan McKane's picture

the voter-suppression bill?

No, it wasn't a "voter-suppression" bill. If you believe that anyone - no matter where they come from - who happens to be in Maine on Election Day should be able to vote in Maine municipal, state and in the federal elections, than yes, it would suppress the vote of those who are not residents. Other states don't allow non-residents to vote - why should Maine?

Steve  Dosh's picture

Making voting easy and secure our ultimate goal

Yes ? 12.01.02 20:48
 " Mainers showed resounding support for that belief in November when they rejected a legislative attempt to outlaw Election Day voter registration."
We do not believe is a National ID either . This is not France where people are presumed guilty until proven innocent . Our younger citizens do not posess photo ID's or drivers' licences but they are quite legal citizens ( at least my kids are :)
Democracy isn't cheap , efficient , easy nor free . Dictatorships are quite efficient and co$t saving institutions . How has North Korea exosted for all these years ? ( rhetorical question )
" It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried." -- Sir Winston Churchill British politician (1874 - 1965) and 1/2 American ( by birth - his Mom was from these U S A :) h t h , /s, Steve Dosh

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Voter fraud

It's interesting that for all the Republican concern over voter fraud, there is no advance registration, nor voter ID required to participate in the Iowa primary. In fact they can register on the same day pretty much at the same time they vote. If this is how they hold their own elections why the concern when the rest of us vote?

Steve  Dosh's picture

. .Claire , 12.01.02 9 pm hst

. .Claire , 12.01.02 9 pm hst •
We're all keeping a close eye on Alabama . ....
h t h /s, Steve ~ Happy New Year 2 0 1 2 - Year of the Dragon ~

Jim Cyr's picture

Voter fraud ?

Iowa = Caucus
New Hampshire = Primary

Mark Wrenn's picture

focus

Our GOP controlled legislature and rocket surgeon Governor can't be distracted by restricting voting rights with legislation and campaigns financed by out state corporate interests. Their laser-like focus has been on job creation. Why, just look at all the bills they passed to encourage job growth. There's ........ And there's ...... Wait, none? Nevermind.

Terry Donald's picture

Just look to Charlie Webster

Just look to Charlie Webster to learn what is really being the voter ID law here in Maine. He will be right back on his mythical soap box, complaining about the busloads of college students flooding our polling places, he'll probably even add that they don't have a stake in Maine so shouldn't be allowed to vote, our secretary of state will join in complaining how those students haven't followed the law by registering their cars here or getting drivers licenses, even though that has nothing to do with voting requirements.
How would a college student, who is from out of state, be able to do as the law allows, vote here if they don't have a Maine drivers license or state issued ID? Students who come here in cars owned by their parents, have insurance issued in their home states, so the car is registered and they are licensed in their home states. There are a myriad of requirements for getting the state ID or Maine drivers license, requirements that will have to be changed before any type of voter ID law cam be legally implemented.
It's all about some of our elected and appointed officials wanteing to steal the right to vote away from some of us.
Remember where the money came from to fight Issue one, Charlie Summers and Charlie Webster wouldn't admit it, but they knew, a Michigan group, funded by a Florida group, funded by a multi national corporate family with no interest in Maine gave the hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for last minute TV ads.

 's picture

Sorry to see you toe the

Sorry to see you toe the republican line, Rex, but driving, cashing checks and drinking are not constitutional rights, but privileges. Republicans are still trying to restrict voting. Period. The need for these obstacles for voting have NEVER been proven, just a fantasy. It is sad when some people are so afraid of what the public might want, that they try to prevent people from expressing it. Voting is the only way left for people to set the agenda, and any attempt to restrict it is wrong.

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