Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Voter ID Laws

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns Voter ID. Although the U.S. Constitution itself does not strictly guarantee the right to vote, four Amendments guarantee that the right will not be denied on account of race, color, previous condition of slavery, sex, failure to pay taxes, or age.

                Amendment 15, states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

                Amendment 19 states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

                Amendment 24 states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.”

                Amendment 26 states, “The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.”

                The right to vote is protected in various places, but there are no guarantees against voter fraud. Several states have tried to enact laws to protect against voter fraud, but most of the laws – or at least parts of them – have been deemed as unconstitutional by liberal judges and courts of appeal.

                Democrats are quick to state that there is no voter fraud, but a case in Alabama proves otherwise. “The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals upheld a conviction of a Dothan woman who was found guilty of 24 counts of absentee ballot fraud on Friday….”  The woman was one of three “who were involved in a fraud during the 2013 Dothan municipal election.” 

                The attempts of several states to write laws to protect voter integrity are discussed by Josh Siegel at The Daily Signal. He writes that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a 2005 Indiana voter ID law, but other laws have not passed so easily. A federal judge blocked North Dakota’s voter ID law. Another federal judge struck down parts of Wisconsin’s 2011 laws for voter ID and early voting. A federal appeals court overturned North Carolina’s 2013 laws for voter ID and other election provisions. Another federal appeals court weakened Texas’s 2011 voter ID law.

                The Indiana voter ID law was written more than a decade ago and previous to a mass effort to protect voter ID. Connie Lawson, then a state legislator and now Indiana’s Secretary of State, told The Daily Signal, “When we wrote the legislation, we did everything we could do to make elections honest and make sure everyone can participate in the election process…. So we added protections [against disenfranchisement] that maybe some of the other laws don’t have. And now, our law has stood the test of time. It passed the test with the U.S. Supreme Court, and it’s been in place for over a decade now.”

                As for the other court cases in other states, Hans von Spakovsky, a fellow at The Heritage Foundation, said that this “is probably about the best deal Texas could expect to get given the circumstances and personalities in the case.” He further explained, “[T]he parties have agreed that Texas voters who don’t have one of the acceptable photo IDs under the statute will still be able to vote if they: `present a valid voter registration certificate, a certified birth certificate, a current utility bill, a bank statement, a government check, a paycheck, or any other government document that displays the voter’s name and an address and complete and sign a reasonable impediment declaration.’ … Texas actually managed to get better terms than either North or South Carolina since, in addition to completing a `reasonable impediment’ declaration, the voter will have to show some kind of document such as a utility bill or bank statement with his name and address.”

                The Texas compromise should eliminate dead voters and possibly voters who really live somewhere else. It sounds to me that other states should study the Indiana voter ID law and the compromise in Texas. There are ways to eliminate most voter fraud and still not stifle the right of any American to vote.

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