Mansfield Selectman Olivier Kozlowski wants voters to make the same effort to prove their identity when they go to the polls as they do at the airport or the checkout line. The attorney and first-term selectman has filed a statewide ballot initiative that would require every Massachusetts voter to bring government-issued photo identification with them when they head to the polls.
“In this day and age, you look at everything you need to show an ID for – everything from renting a car to getting on a plane,” Kozlowski said Wednesday. “We as a society have become accustomed to that. And something as important as voting, you have a right to say: ‘Are you really the person you claim to be?'”
Considered a common-sense precaution against fraud by supporters and an attempt to suppress low-income and minority turnout by opponents, voter identification laws have been debated and approved in several states this year.
Rhode Island passed a law last month requiring voters to bring photo identification with them to cast a ballot. Current Massachusetts law allows voters to identify themselves to poll workers with documents including a utility bill, bank statement, paycheck “or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter.” If Kozlowski’s petition is made law, only government-issued IDs, such as driver’s licenses, passports or non-driver’s state ID cards, would be accepted as proof of identity.
… Whether voter fraud is actually a significant problem in the state or nationally is a source of debate. Traditionally, Republicans have pushed for tighter voting security, while Democrats have promoted improving access to voting. Kozlowski said he was not aware of any specific voter fraud problems in Massachusetts, but worries that the system now is vulnerable.
… “The real issue isn’t fraud; it’s getting people to the polls to vote,” countered Eva Valentine, president of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts. Fifty-five percent of registered voters cast ballots in the November 2010 election. This requirement could be a barrier to voter participation, Valentine said.
Instead, Valentine said, training for poll workers and the state’s database system of registered voters should be improved to ensure fair, open elections.
Full Article: Putting voter ID on ballot – The Sun Chronicle Online – News.