The Aug. 5 primary election was the largest conducted so far under new Michigan rules in which voters show photo identification before receiving a ballot. Based on local reports, the law is working as intended. Only a few people expressed dissatisfaction, according to election workers. Lenawee County clerk Roxann Holloway and Adrian city clerk Pat Baker both stated that the few who lacked ID were able to sign an affidavit confirming their identity, and received a ballot.
In other words, everyone who showed up at the polls did have their chance to vote.
Showing ID is a fact of life. Everyone already must present ID in order to board an airplane, purchase alcohol, cash a check, open a bank account, rent a car or dozens of other activities. In fact, to exercise someone's constitutional right and obtain a handgun in Michigan, residents not only must show photo ID but also are required to pay for their own fingerprinting.
According to people interviewed at several polling stations, a much bigger complaint was the state limitation that participants may vote only a partisan ballot. They could not switch back and forth between Democratic and Republican candidates depending on the race. That annoyed many voters since some, for example, wanted to vote for one of the five Democrats running for sheriff but also wanted to participate in races that featured all Republican candidates such as the county drain commissioner and county road commissioner. Lawmakers should either scrap that rule, or require parties to pay primary costs.
Opponents of photo ID have tried to argue that voting fraud is not a problem. In a losing Supreme Court challenge, they cited the low number of voting fraud convictions reported nationwide. However that logic is like looking at the relatively small number of curfew convictions as proof that teens don't stay out past 11 p.m. Illegal voting is at least as serious and far less likely to be prosecuted, in part because illegal ballots are far harder to identify. Yet, nationally, improper or fraudulent voter registration is reported every election year.
It's impossible to be certain that no voting fraud occurred on Aug. 5. But the new safeguard should improve faith in Michigan's system, while creating no more hassles than a supermarket checkout.
THE DAILY TELEGRAM (ADRIAN)