Photo IDs Will Help To Preserve Voter Integrity

Scott Martin, Lancaster County Commissioner
Lancaster Intelligencer Journal, New Era

As a county commissioner, one of my fundamental obligations to the constituents I serve is to ensure the integrity of the election process.

Twice a year, election workers tally their local vote counts and forward them to my office. As we certify the winners, we witness our great American democracy firsthand. The fundamental right of voting not only secures the peaceful transition of power, but ensures that government is, as Abraham Lincoln said, “of the people, for the people, and by the people.”

The importance of free and fair elections cannot be overstated. Therefore, it is critically important that we ensure the integrity of our voting system to protect the pure voice and intention of the people, without the distortions of fraud and abuse. Just one case of voter fraud could negate the ballot that you or I cast on Election Day.

One simple way to tighten ballot security and protect election integrity is by asking people to show photo identification at the polling place. Commonly referred to as “voter ID legislation,” this will help ensure that the true voice of the citizenry will be heard each and every Election Day.

Think about how frequently you show photo identification during your daily life. For everyone’s well-being, we ask citizens to provide photo ID when boarding a plane or driving a car, when filling a prescription or cashing a check. We ask citizens to provide ID when going to the movies or paying with a credit card. We use photo identification to verify our identity for even mundane activities to protect our constituents.

It’s irresponsible to think that voting isn’t worth protecting, too. Government has spent a lot of money in this country to make voting machines more secure and to ensure every vote is counted. Why wouldn’t we take this simple step to make the elections system more secure as well?

Fraud doesn’t have to happen on a large scale to create an impact, and it’s possible that even a few fraudulent votes could change the outcome of an election. What if one fraudulent vote was counted in each of Pennsylvania’s 9,284’s voting precincts? A 10,000 vote margin could easily change the outcome of an election. But margins don’t have to be that wide. In 2007, Susan Gantman won her bid for state Superior Court by just 28 votes.

All Pennsylvanians should be able to go to the polls knowing that they have an equal opportunity for their voices in government to be heard. It can even be done in a way that respects religious beliefs, as with the Amish — no different than the remedies put in place for passport photo issues.

This is not a partisan debate; this is an American right that needs a safeguard.

From the American Revolution to the Civil War to the women’s suffrage movement, voting is a right for which people have risked their lives. We cannot overestimate the importance and the dignity that accompanies each and every ballot cast.

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