OBENSHAIN ON VOTER ID

I am a little late posting this one. Here is what Senator Mark Obenshain has to say about the Voter ID law.

An ongoing Virginia State Police investigation has resulted in charges against thirty-eight people for voter fraud, to which opponents of modest voter identification requirements-opponents who repeatedly insisted that voter fraud does not exist-responded, essentially, “Oh, that voter fraud.” And then changed the subject.

In the face of this latest news of voter fraud, the Richmond Times-Dispatch-which editorialized against voter ID laws like Senate Bill 1, calling them unnecessary-issued a mea culpa. No such turnabout would seem to be forthcoming from the bill’s Democratic foes, however, who are clamoring for the veto of legislation that does one thing, and one thing only: makes it harder to vote fraudulently.

I’m sure you’ve heard the arguments of those who disparage any form of voter identification requirement as “voter suppression.” Senator John Edwards (D-Roanoke) slammed Virginia’s Voter ID bill as “undercounting the ballots” of “the young, the poor, the disabled, and minorities.” Senator Mamie Locke (D-Hampton) charges that the bill would “make it more difficult for older folks to vote, for lower-income Virginians to vote, for those with disabilities, and for African-Americans to vote.”

These are serious charges – but those making them never even try to back them up.

I would never support a bill that made it difficult for eligible voters to exercise their right to vote. As the co-patron of SB 1 (along with Senator Steve Martin, R-Chesterfield), I can state without reservation that this legislation does nothing of the sort – and I hope that it will be the Governor’s pleasure to sign it into law, despite the empty protestations of some on the left.

This past session, as the General Assembly considered the bill, Democratic press releases railed against its alleged photo identification requirement. There’s only one problem: the bill has no such requirement, and never did.

So what does SB 1 say? It says that, when you show up to vote, you have to show some form of identification, anything from a utility bill to a government check (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.) to a driver’s license to a work ID to the voter registration cards issued to every single registered voter in Virginia. Simply put, there’s not a single registered voter in the Commonwealth who lacks access to an acceptable form of identification, since every voter in Virginia is issued a voter registration card, and can request a new one if they lose it.

What’s more, the bill recognizes that sometimes, people simply forget. So if you show up at the polls without ID, all is not lost. You can still cast a provisional ballot, which will be counted so long as you send the registrar’s office a copy of your identification later. They call this “voter suppression”?

Legislation like SB 1 addresses a real problem. Earlier this year, South Carolina’s Attorney General reported 953 ballots “cast” by dead people. A Johns Hopkins University study identified 1,500 deceased Marylanders who had “voted” in recent elections, and a single county in New Mexico discovered seventy-five registrants at a single address. Right here in Virginia, campaign headquarters, vacant lots, and non-existent addresses have all been listed on many registration forms – sometimes on registrations for people who don’t actually exist.

And right now, there’s little anyone can do about it. Even if a registrar somehow discovered that a voter wasn’t who he claimed on Election Day, there’s nothing they could do. There is no way to find and remove a ballot even if it was later determined to be fraudulently cast.

The modest requirements of SB 1 will not prevent any eligible voter from exercising his or her right to vote. It will, however, provide a line of defense against those who would tamper with our elections. Because, make no mistake about it, votes are being suppressed right now – not by legislation like SB 1, but by fraudulent votes which dilute the impact of those cast lawfully.

Thirty-one states require some form of voter identification at the polling place, and many of them have far more stringent requirements than the ones proposed by SB 1. Virginia’s Voter ID bill is a fair solution, one that courts have routinely upheld and that the bipartisan Carter-Baker Commission, headed by former president Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker, have strongly endorsed.

It’s a bill that meets Carter’s standard, one that “makes it easy to vote but tough to cheat.” Isn’t that something we should all be able to get behind?

With best regards,

Mark D. Obenshain
Virginia State Senator

Through taxation we give the Virginia Commonwealth billions of dollars and the United States Government trillions of dollars, and we do not even make certain we honestly elect the people we charge with spending all that money? If that thought does not strike you as preposterous, you must not be paying any taxes.

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