Voter ID to be decided on the ballot instead of in the courts?

Voter ID has been an up-and-down saga for the past two years in Georgia, with the legislature passing the measure, and courts striking it down, in repeated fashion.

The issue is headed to the Georgia Supreme Court, and, according to Macon.com, Voter ID “ultimately could be decided by the voters themselves.” From today’s Telegraph:

If the state’s high court doesn’t reinstate the law, Senate President Pro-tem Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, vows to propose a constitutional amendment requiring photo IDs at the polls, which would eventually put the issue before voters.”Americans want to know that their vote counts, that nobody else is undermining it, stealing it, or canceling it with fraud,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he hopes the issue does not come to a ballot referendum, since such a measure would take two years to get on a ballot, meaning the law could not go into effect until 2009 and most voters wouldn’t have to deal with it until the next round of statewide elections in 2010.

Supporters of the voter photo ID law, primarily Republicans including Gov. Sonny Perdue, have said it is needed to protect against voter fraud – despite an absence of proof of in-person voter fraud and no attempt to legally address absentee ballot fraud, which has been documented, yet wasn’t covered by the photo ID requirement approved the Legislature.

“It would pass overwhelmingly,” Johnson said of a referendum. “This is a simple issue and voters understand it and they are for it.”

Whether the Legislature would support such a constitutional amendment is another issue.

The two-thirds support necessary in the General Assembly to put Voter ID on the ballot will require some crossover voting, as the original numbers (32-22 in the Senate, 111-60 in the House) are well short of the total necessary to pass the measure on to the voters.

National Voter ID, or the “Federal Election Integrity Act of 2006” (HR 4844), has the potential to make this issue moot. The national bill has made some corrections to alleviate the fears of the opponents of VID out there, including providing free IDs to those who cannot afford them (“the State may not charge a fee to any individual who provides an attestation that the individual is unable to afford the fee.”). It has even been proposed that IDs be delivered to the househlds of those who cannot go to an issuing location.

With this, one of the biggest points against VID will have been negated. So, what coherent opposition — besides the desire to allow easier voter fraud — can there be to a Voter ID law?

Also, as Senator Eric Johnson is a reader and contributor to these pages, it’d be great if he took the opportunity to comment on this, if he sees that something has not been adequately covered here.

[UPDATE] From Senator Johnson, via the comments:

I remain hopeful that we will win both appeals (federal and state). If not, then we should certainly try to pass a constitutional amendment. The proposed federal law, if passed, may also face challenges from those who want dead people and illegal aliens to vote.As it turns out, my opponent is registered in Georgia AND South Carolina. A state-issued photo ID would clarify which one is legal and not permit he (or anybody else) to vote twice.

Thanks for the input, Senator.

6 comments

  1. Senator Eric Johnson says:

    I remain hopeful that we will win both appeals (federal and state). If not, then we should certainly try to pass a constitutional amendment. The proposed federal law, if passed, may also face challenges from those who want dead people and illegal aliens to vote.

    As it turns out, my opponent is registered in Georgia AND South Carolina. A state-issued photo ID would clarify which one is legal and not permit he (or anybody else) to vote twice.

  2. Rusty says:

    This is rich. Republicans want to “fix” a voting system supposedly rife with ID fraud with… a popular vote?

    I propose a constitutional amendment to require all Republican legislators to take a class in irony comprehension.

  3. Uh, Senator Johnson, I hate to break it to you, but a state issued photo ID would not clarify Mell’s situation.

    The answer to your dillema regarding your opponent would actually be a national voter registration database. In Georgia, when you move and update your voter registration (from say Chatham to Fulton) the state master list is updated to remove you from the Chatham roles and insert you into the Fulton ones.

    However, on the state level it is up to the state to reverify registration. So if Traylor appears on South Carolina voter lists that could be because he still maintains an address there (even if not his official address) and the mail doesn’t bounce back. Or South Carolina officials could just be really bad about updating their lists and checking for change of address and other such things.

    Once again, Republicans offer up a “problem” that their proposed voter ID bill doesn’t fix. I mean, to put it another way, are you claiming that Mell doesn’t have a Georgia drivers license that says he’s registered where he isn’t.

    If that’s the case, maybe you should present it. But I’m pretty sure Mell’s DL is the same as his place of registration, so again your proposed law does nothing to stop your alleged fraud.

    Goodness, imagine if I just made crap up all day and then pretended that other crap I made up previously was the solution the world needed to continue turning. I guess I could be one of the most powerful guys in the state. Maybe I should start talking out of my ass more.

  4. Warrior says:

    The irony is that Democrats act like there isn’t a problem. Their voters understand, but the elected folks pander to media and emotion. Back to Traylor, if he had state-issued photo ID (in his case, a drivers license), we would know where he lived and he couldn’t vote in both states. As it stands today, he can vote in both states simply by showing up. He is the new poster child for the need for this law!

  5. Demonbeck says:

    Chris,

    I didn’t know that our voter id law allowed South Carolina drivers’ licenses to vote in Georgia.

Comments are closed.