Voter ID to play larger role in 2012
The debate over voter ID has raged for years but this time around we’ll be seeing more state-level voter ID laws enacted than any previous election. States such as Virginia and Pennsylvania, among others, have implemented voter ID laws which could create new scenarios in vote counting.
Report from the Dallas Morning News:
The presidential election is Nov. 6, but it could take days to figure out the winner if the vote is close. New voting laws are likely to increase the number of people who have to cast provisional ballots in key states.
Tight races for Congress, governor and local offices also could be stuck in limbo while election officials scrutinize ballots, a scenario that would surely attract legions of campaign lawyers from both parties.
“It’s a possibility of a complete meltdown for the election,” said Daniel Smith, a political scientist at the University of Florida.
Voters cast provisional ballots for a variety of reasons: They don’t bring proper ID to the polls; they fail to update their voter registration after moving; they try to vote at the wrong precinct; or their right to vote is challenged by someone.
These voters may have their votes counted, but only if election officials can verify that they were eligible to vote, a process that can take days or weeks. Adding to the potential for chaos: Many states won’t even know how many provisional ballots have been cast until sometime after Election Day.
Voters cast nearly 2.1 million provisional ballots in the 2008 presidential election. About 69 percent were eventually counted, according to election results compiled by The Associated Press.
New election laws in competitive states like Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin will probably increase the number of provisional ballots in those states this year, according to voting experts, although the new laws in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are being challenged in court.
New voter ID laws in states like Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee could affect state or local elections, though some of those laws also are being challenged.
The argument in favor of tighter voter ID laws have to do with electoral integrity. You must provide ID to rent a car, visit your doctor or any number of other things. Therefore, is it too much to ask that you prove you’re legally able to vote in the district in which you’re attempting to vote?
On the other hand, do voter ID requirements disenfranchise the most vulnerable in society by placing an undue burden on them prior to visiting the polling place? Does a voter ID requirement amount to a “poll tax” of sorts by requiring an individual provide some form of ID prior to being counted?
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