Elections free of fraud

Published 11:02 pm Friday, October 17, 2014

November will be here before you know it, and that means another Election Day.

This one will be notably different not just because of the candidates and issues, but also because of a new law that will require voters to show photo identification at the polls.

Last year, the Virginia General Assembly voted to require all registered voters to present photo identification when they cast their ballots. That’s hardly a complication to most Virginians who have a driver’s license, a veteran’s ID card or even an employee photo badge.

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Photo identification is needed for many of the things people do on a regular basis — everything from banking to travel to buying behind-the-counter allergy medication. Frankly, it’s hard for most folks to imagine how others can go through their lives without having photo identification.

But the opponents of the new law have made much of the few people who have somehow avoided getting such identification cards throughout their lives, claiming the requirement will prove an unnecessary hindrance to voting.

Photo identification can go a long way toward reducing the occurrence of voter fraud, and that’s a legitimate concern, even in Virginia, so legislators wisely ignored the shrill and shallow claims of disenfranchisement and did what the commonwealth needed done to protect against the true disenfranchisement of voter fraud.

Fortunately, the commonwealth also has provided a free and easy solution for all those who lack photo identification. It’s as simple as going to the nearest voter registrar and having a free card made. That’s right: free. Delivery of the cards can take two to four weeks — potentially putting delivery beyond the election date — but the registrars can cover that eventuality, as well, since the law allows them to print a Temporary Identification Document for any registered voter who applies for identification documents too late for the next election.

In short, despite the claims of those who have opposed the law, there really is no good reason for voter identification to be a hindrance to any voter in 2014. And there’s no good reason for the commonwealth to leave the security of its elections unprotected. Since the General Assembly took smart, proactive action on the matter last year, voters this year can go to the polls confident that they will not be disenfranchised by voter fraud this year.

And an election free of the fear of fraud will be better for everyone.