Here we go again. Another of those political disputes accompanied by excess drama about voting eligibility looms.
This drama surrounds a bill passed Tuesday by the Georgia State Senate requiring proof of U.S. citizenship — birth certificates, passports, naturalization document or driver’s license — when first registering to vote. Now new registrants simply swear they’re citizens.
As with the photo ID law, which was resisted by advocacy groups like the League of Women Voters, the hand-wringers are in high dudgeon, insisting that somewhere there’s an elderly would-be voter so intimidated by having to prove eligibility that he’ll just not register.
At issue here is the one that played out with ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) in states with close contests, including Minnesota, which has a still-undecided U.S. Senate race. The activist group sweeps the streets for potential voters, eligible or not, and submits registration forms, many of them bogus. One man in Ohio said last year that he registered with ACORN 72 times in exchange for cash and cigarettes, In Lake County, Indiana, registration officials stopped processing 5,000 last-minute ACORN-submitted forms after the first 2,000 were found to be bogus.
Republicans believe their candidates are disadvantaged by fraudulent voting and have begun to tighten the law. Democrats prefer universal eligibility for adults and same-day registration and voting. That would permit them to rent a fleet of vans on election day and sweep the streets for potential voters.
In the Georgia Senate, the debate followed predictable lines. “This is about the poor, the elderly, the infirmed who have a hard time getting out to vote,” said State Sen. Steve Thompson (D-Marietta). Added Sen. Gail Buckner (D-Morrow), “the elderly see this as an affront to their honesty.”
Surprise. Some aren’t honest, young and old. That’s why photo ID and proof-of-citizenship laws are necessary.