OPINION

LETTER: Common sense solutions?

The Chronicle Express

On March 6, Congressman Tom Reed sent an email to constituents titled “Standing Up for Election Integrity, Voter ID.” (https://reed.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=3422) 

In it, he called for “common-sense solutions” to enhance election integrity. His solution: polling place voter ID requirements.

The biggest problem with the email is that the premise — that there is a need to improve election integrity — is false. In New York state and elsewhere, very few attempts at election fraud are successful. The New York voting fraud rate is the same as other states with broader polling place ID laws, exceedingly low, and therefore does not need enhancing.

He tries to be clever and point out that ID is required to open a bank account, the implication being that voting is important, so why not require ID for voting? 

Actually, the bank account analogy is a good one. To open a voting account, i.e., register to vote, prospective voters must produce a set of ID’s to show they are a citizen and resident of the locality where they are registering to vote. A new voter then provides a signature that the county holds on file, just as a new account holder provides a signature on file for the bank.

Once the signature is on file, the voter (or check writer’s) signature is compared to the file signature to verify identity. I work the polls and am always amazed on how interesting signatures are and how difficult it would be to forge them. A team, composed of one member from each major party, must agree that the voter signature matches the one on file. If not, then an ID is required or other procedures are invoked.  

The effort to traffic in election integrity falsehoods and restrict voting is damaging to the country. That said, the question for the Congressman is whether it is “common-sense” to spend time and energy trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist or whether his time and energy would be better spent serving his constituents’ needs.