The Norman Transcript

September 20, 2005

Voter photo ID system doesn't seem onerous


The election-day problems experienced by many states in 2000 seems light years ago. Hanging chads, pregnant chads and late-night legal briefs aimed at choosing the next president are only memories for some.

Out of that confusion came a commission seeking to restore confidence in the nation's electoral process. The private Commission on Federal Election Reform was chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker. It didn't rule on the chad family but the commission did recommend all states adopt a national requirement that voters show photo identification at the polling place.

Such a requirement is already in place in 24 states. A dozen others are considering it, according to the Associated Press.

But some lawmakers who will consider the legislation see it as a "21st century poll tax." Such a requirement could be an obstacle for minorities, the elderly and the poor. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., and Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., have challenged the requirement, one of 87 recommended by the commission.

It sounds like a common-sense requirement that would not be prohibitive to voters. Photo IDs are standard these days for everything from airline boarding to cold medicine purchases. Our schools have them for students, faculty and staff. Credit card purchases at restaurants often require photo identification. Voting in federal elections is no less important.

Congress should make such a change soon in order to give voters without a photo ID plenty of time before the 2008 presidential election.