Voter ID bill passes the smell test

Gov. Doug Burgum should have no qualms about signing off on a bill approved by the Legislature to enact more liberal standards when it comes to voter identification.

The bill provides for voters to complete a ballot even without complete ID, have the ballot set aside and then processed when one returns with adequate documentation. Appropriate ID would include a driver’s license, state-issued ID or tribal-related ID. If a form of ID lacks the required information, it can be supplemented with a variety of types of documentation, such as utility bills or government-issued check.

The change is a result of a lawsuit asserting that previous ND voter identification laws disenfranchised some – namely Native Americans.

Proponents of the new law claim it addresses the issues brought forth in the lawsuit; opponents claim it does not.

Arguments in favor of open elections with virtually no check on eligibility are specious with a stench of paternalistic racism. How is it not racist to claim that voter ID laws discriminate against minorities? Are we to believe that law-abiding members of minority groups are afraid of poll workers; that they are so poor that they can’t afford IDs; that they are incapable of preparing to vote by grabbing their wallet? One has to have a pretty dim view of a class of minorities to blanket assert that they are incapable of functioning in society without the benevolent non-minority state making it easier for them. It’s paternalism at its worse, a tiny variation on the enlightened teacher who goes into an inner city school and says to students, “I know you aren’t able to achieve like other children, so we’re going to keep things simple.”

Furthermore, elected officials who rail against the need for ID to vote have no problem passing legislation mandating citizens show ID to buy cold medicine, board an airplane… or visit those same officials in their gilded halls of power.

One would think that preserving the integrity of our election processes would be paramount. It isn’t. Partisan pandering is paramount – and that’s what complaints about voter ID laws usually originate from.

Lawmakers have done a solid job of addressing this issue. The issue should be closed.

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