2018-02-01 / Editorial

Is it time for Maine to enact Voter ID?

The Right Side
by Mike Coleman

Every two years at least one lawmaker introduces a bill in the Maine Legislature to require voters to show identification when they cast their ballots. Is this voter suppression or a common sense means to prevent fraud in our elections?

The right to vote in our state is a franchise that belongs equally to all adult citizens who are residents of our state. My vote is no more important than that of the newly naturalized citizen voting for the first time. Your vote at the ballot box is no less powerful than a vote cast by our governor. We each have one vote, no more for the rich person, no less for the poor one. The elites are not entitled to any more votes due to their wealth or connections than any other citizen.

Our state has very simple qualifications for voters. We must be citizens of the United States, either by birth or by naturalization. We must have attained the age of 18 by Election Day and we must be residents of our state. There’s no waiting period, we allow people to register just moments before they may cast their ballot. To register to vote in Maine a person must show positive ID and proof of residency.

It has been argued that enacting Voter ID is not just a reasonable precaution but will merely impede the ability of some Maine citizens to cast their ballots. Nothing could be further from the truth. I lock my car when I leave it even though I have no evidence that someone will break into it. I do so even though our local police regularly patrol the streets in our town. Am I taking a reasonable precaution or merely impeding my own access to my car?

It has also been argued that this is a way to disenfranchise the poor or minorities. Again, this does not reflect the truth of the matter. The most recent Voter ID bills specifically provided for a photographic identification card to be issued at no charge to a person who requests it for the purpose of voting.

In Canada identification is required in all federal elections. Voters in Quebec are required to show a form of government identification or a certificate of Indian status in provincial elections. In Mexico a voter must show a Credencial Para Votar (Credential to Vote) which is a secure identification card issued by the Mexican government in order to vote in any Mexican election. Even in India, the world’s largest democracy, the Election Commission of India has made voter identification mandatory at the time of voting. Across Europe many of the western democracies utilize a mandatory national identification card as a tool to ensure the integrity of their elections.

The argument that voter identification laws are antidemocratic or just a tool to disenfranchise others doesn’t match reality.

If an unqualified person casts a ballot, that person is stealing our franchise from us. That person may be a non-citizen who has not yet completed the qualifications for citizenship like so many legal immigrants who have become citizens enriching our country and our state by their presence. That unqualified person may be an illegal alien whose very presence in our country defies the rule of law.

In short, a bill requiring identification to vote does not place an undue burden on a legal voter in order to exercise the right to vote. Contact your State Representative and State Senator and tell them to support securing our elections by voting to enact Voter ID.

Mike Coleman is a former town councilor in Old Orchard Beach and was a member of the Maine Republican State Committee from 2010 through 2017 where he served as budget chairman under three separate state chairmen. He represented Maine at the Republican National Convention as an alternate in 2012. He recently left the Republican Party and became an Independent.

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