Tuesday, April 26, 2005

What's wrong with showing ID?

OK, I just don't get it.

As you may know here in Washington we had an election around the same time everyone else did last November. Trouble is, that our Governor's race was too close and was decided by a hand recount under fairly suspicious circumstances, and was finally decided by a very narrow margin. An election contest lawsuit for mistakes and negligence is being raised now, and will actually go to trial next month.

So one of the issues raised by commentators and politicians was the way we here in Washington register to vote and cast our ballots.

Here, you are not required to show proof of citizenship to register to vote, you just need ID. You would think this is sufficient, but we also allow our resident non citizens to get Drivers Licenses. What is really neat, is the motor-voter program. This is a handy way to discourage and combat voter apathy by having people register to vote when they go to the DMV and renew their licenses or register cars. So naturally, the non citizens are asked to register to vote also. But please don't worry, we have a safe guard in place to prevent non citizens from registering: A nifty little check box that each person must check Asking if you are a citizen of the US and the stern warning that if you say no, you cannot register.

All that is fine I suppose, but what I don't get is how I can arrive at the polling station and vote without showing my ID. I mean what is to stop me from voting several times under different names? What stops me from going to a different polling station and reading off a friends name? When these issues were raised, our legislature took immediate action...on a whole load of crap that won't fix anything, and they studiously avoided an ID requirement.

Apparently asking for an ID is intrusive. How does that work? Since when is requiring me to prove I am me intrusive? I have to show ID to get my license, to get my Library card, to get a drink at a bar (ok...so what if I haven't been carded in 10 years...I don't tell you that you look old do I?), to get a job and even to rent a friggin DVD at Blockbuster. So why would you not want to eliminate one aspect of voter fraud by verifying that I am who I say I am?

Which leads us to the national news. The State and Homeland Security Departments proposed requiring passports to go to and from Canada and Mexico. Now lets consider this for a moment. Our borders offer no security whatsoever, and the administration has taken constant heat for that. So one minor measure to lock down a portion of it and people go bananas. But even the president, whom I normally support, has questioned this.

When I first read that in the newspaper about the need to have passports, particularly today's crossings that take place, about a million for instance in the state of Texas, I said, 'What's going on here?"' Bush said when asked about the rules at a meeting of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. "I thought there was a better way to expedite the legal flow of traffic and people," he said.

Maybe that is a valid consideration, but on the other hand other countries require this. Is it such a bad thing if we did? I am extremely disappointed in Bush on this issue in general. After 911 I expected our borders to be tighter. They aren't, and I don't feel our country is really all that safer.

All in all, I just don't understand the fuss. I have a social security card and a drivers license. My fingerprints are already on file with the FBI courtesy of the US Air Force. I don't feel any kind of dread or shadow slinking over me because Uncle Sam knows who I am. I traveled to Canada on a business trip a few years ago. I got and carried my passport. I didn't feel violated.

The whole issue is dramatically overplayed.

So as we wait here in Washington for the court to decide our election because there was so much error in the voting, in part because peoples identities can not be verified, I wonder when people will recognize that maybe there is a valid reason to want to know who someone is, whether they are a citizen or not and whether they are here legally or not. It might have prevented 911.

It sure would help in preventing accusations of election fraud like we have going on here. Look how well it keeps the library patrons in line.

So ask me for my ID, I'll show ya. I'm proud of who I am and happy to show anyone, even that insensitive bartender who thinks I look old.