Op-Ed on photo identification by JR Claeys, Republican candidate for Kansas Secretary of State

The following op-ed column is written by JR Claeys (below), who is running for the 2010 Republican nomination for Kansas Secretary of State, a position currently held by the retiring Ron Thornburgh.  To submit your own article, please send it to the following Email address, editor [at] kansasprogress dot com.

By J.R. Claeys:

Photo identification presented at the polling place when receiving a ballot is the best available procedure to ensure accuracy and security while protecting citizens’ right to vote.

Several states have implemented weaker forms of voter identification and I fear Kansas may follow. These weaker forms allow for utility bills or a piece of mail to serve as valid identification at a polling place. The requirements vary, but the national law allows for more than 15 forms, including cable bills and telephone bills.

What causes a problem at the polling place is the complexity of the current national law being applied to every voter during every election. Right now only first-time voters are required to show one of these weaker forms of “ID.” When all voters are required to present an ID, the ID’s must be uniform and free from interpretation, otherwise we risk reducing voter turnout by causing the elderly, the infirm and the disabled to leave long lines caused by reviews of varying forms of identification.

I’ve served as a certified international elections observer in several countries where photo voter ID is used and have witnessed the impact of varying forms of voter ID firsthand. Besides not being a secure form of identification, the weaker forms of ID cause confusion at the polling place.

Here’s a scenario to illustrate my point: If the national law were put into effect for every voter in Kansas the law would allow your telephone bill from AT&T as a form of identification, but not your cellular phone bill… also from AT&T. The poll worker is then in a position to decide whether your bill is eligible as a form of identification. This takes time. Time causes the line to grow, the voters grow weary, and some voters go home or back to work. I’ve seen it happen and it is a tragic sight to see those who are elderly, those who’ve sacrificed in battle for their country, those who simply can’t handle the elements any longer, walk out of a line and back to their homes because the heat of summer or the cold of winter is too much to bear.

Don’t let anyone fool you, the voters who are waiting in that line deserve to have their votes counted. Obtaining a photo ID for a one-time $14.00 fee at the DMV is no more burdensome than having cable TV or a landline phone in your name. It is a small price to pay to avoid the errors that lead to an inaccurate vote. Photo ID will also maintain the uniformity necessary to keep lines moving quickly. In some cases lines move faster when an ID is present as poll workers scan the voter rolls for a voter’s name.

The chief elections officer for the state will set the agenda for voter security procedures, including Voter ID, and will be responsible for accurate vote counts and accurate filings for small businesses and other entities.

There is no substitute for experience. I’ve served on the ground, overseeing and verifying vote counts, implementing procedures to eliminate error and prevent fraud, and I’ve personally participated in stopping a foreign national from voting illegally at a voting center. There is simply no room for mistakes when it comes to our vote. I’ve released a comprehensive plan to secure our vote from fraud, entitled Securing Our Vote, which is available on my web site at www.JoinJR.com.

The Kansas Secretary of State race may be the most important election on your ballot this year. It is an office that often goes unnoticed, but it plays an important role in defending our liberty.

If elected as your secretary of state, I’ll cut red tape for small business and run free and fair elections in Kansas  – where every vote is counted and mistakes are not tolerated.

Securing Our Votehttp://www.jrclaeys.com/content/issues/0022000.php

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