The Christian Science Monitor has an editorial today that addresses the many controversies surrounding the efforts to require ID when casting a ballot. They are unhappy with the fact that such actions are even needed, but they also recognize the huge amount of damage fraud can do to confidence in the electoral system.
Obviously, cleaning up the nation's electoral system to prevent another crisis like the Bush-Gore debacle is not going to be easy. And yet in many states where a red-blue political split can easily lead to a disputed election outcome, the need is great to prevent anyone from violating the process, all the way from voter registration to the final count.
The people's faith in the election system must be restored. And the nation that promotes democracy to the world can't allow the kind of legal eye-scratching that was on display for six weeks in 2000, when it was uncertain if the US would even have a president-elect come inauguration day.
The nation is faced with a difficult trade-off: Move toward zero tolerance of fraud that will help restore voter trust while also placing a burden, perhaps even a barrier, to a small percentage of potential voters.
As for accepting some fraud, the number of proven cases is small, but the damage to voter confidence from just a few cases can be huge, enough to keep many people from even voting. In St. Louis, for instance, hundreds of bogus address changes were discovered this month, forcing officials to ask voters to bring a polling-place notification card to the polls. Obviously, that state's high court erred in its assessment by citing a small risk of fraud. Can the Missouri election results now be trusted?
I've been pretty clear about my stance on this. Opposition to voter IDs is support for voter fraud. Period. The arguments that these requirements constitute some form of poll tax are easily negated by making the IDs free. But as so many have pointed out, if you can't produce ID, you can't cash a check or rent a car or a host of other things in this society. Why in the world should you be able to exercise the most fundamental right of a citizen without even proving you are a citizen? It makes no sense.
But the effects of even small amounts of fraud can be huge. That must be stopped.
UPDATE: The Achoress forwarded this link to me. It is about the voter registration fraud in St. Louis.