By: Tom Duggan – January 2002
Originally published in Rumbo
Lawrence Mayor Mike Sullivan has always said that he believes voters should show identification before casting their ballot. As Interim Mayor, Marcos Devers believed in the concept of voter ID cards that he fought on behalf of the city in court to implement such a system.
With the public support of the council president and a majority of the city council, Mayor Sullivan is about to make good on his campaign promise “to make sure everyone who votes in Lawrence is a Lawrence resident.” Sullivan has formed a committee to examine exactly how the process is going to work.
While some Like local muckraker Willie Lantigua have objected to the notion of making voters prove their identity before taking a ballot at election time, the consensus among elected officials is that it is needed and can be done with out discriminating against anyone.
As each voter gives their name to a poll worker on election day, they will be required to prove with a picture ID that they are indeed the person registered at the address on the voting list and that they still live in the city. The committee will meet to determine which forms of identification will be acceptable and which will not.
With all of the fraud that has occurred in previous city elections, requiring people to provide identification will not only cut down on the number of improprieties but it will also cut down on the widespread accusations of fraud by candidates who lose each year.
The integrity of any free election is only as good as the process in place to protect it. Today, anyone can claim to be you with no identification, and vote in your place, no questions asked. It isn’t very difficult for someone to vote three or four times in one day if they know the loopholes in the system. Voter identification will close most of those loopholes.
For those who oppose voter identification I would question the motive for such opposition. Who wouldn’t want fair elections free from fraud and non-resident voters effecting the outcome of our ballot process? Who could object to asking people to show some sort of proof of identity before taking part of the most important duty any free democracy can have? It seems to me the only people who could possibly object to showing proof of identity at the poling booth are people who do not want to be identified, or those who want to commit fraud. Neither of which should have a voice in this debate.
Voter identification is a great idea, and if implemented properly will ensure the rights of eligible voters not to have their ballot offset by someone who should not be voting. Council President Marcos Devers, Mayor Mike Sullivan and the officials who support this idea are doing a great service to the community, but moreover they are doing a great service to democracy. Three cheers for progress!