Support for Voter ID Among Secretaries of State

Published Thu, Jan 19 2012 7:57 AM


Current Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler and former Kentucky Secretary Trey Grayson (both RNLA members and speakers at the 2011 National Election Law Seminar) were quoted in a recent NPR piece.   The NPR article, entitled “Secretaries of State at Center of Election Battles,” only mentions three Republican Secretaries of State (from Colorado, Florida and Kentucky).  However, chief state elections officials, no matter what party they may belong to, are charged with ensuring that elections are open, fair and honest.  Voter ID is one method to pursue those goals by preventing vote fraud in elections.

Besides Gessler in Colorado, there are other Secretaries of State who support voter ID. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp recognizes the need for voter ID in states like his own, which has had a photo ID law for years.  According to the Associated Press, Kemp believes “stricter identification requirements enacted by Georgia and other states are needed to deal with attempts to commit voter fraud.”  In Tennessee, Secretary of State Tre Hargett is committed to fairly applying the new state voter ID law and does not believe voter ID discourages turnout saying, “I think that nothing could disenfranchise an eligible voter more than finding out that ineligible voters are voting.”  Then, there’s Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz who supported a new law in his state and said last August, “You have to show an ID before you get on an airplane, you have to show an ID before you open a checking account, and if you like beer you have to show ID before you buy a beer so why not when you vote?”  

But voter ID is not supported only by Secretaries of State who are Republicans.  Rhode Island Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis, a Democrat, said, “The perception that identity theft could occur at the polls weakens the public's faith in the fairness of our elections. Voting should be at least as secure as everyday tasks like renting a car or getting a library card that routinely require ID. Photo ID ensures that poll workers can match a face to the name that voters give them when they obtain their ballots at the polls. The simple act of asking for ID protects the rights of every voter.”  Then there’s New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner, also a Democrat, who favors photo identification requirements, because, as he explains, “Someone’s going to be less likely to commit voter fraud.”

Voter ID is a common-sense election reform; that’s why so many state legislatures considered it last year and so many Secretaries of State support it.


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