There is a common phrase employed in legislative debates: This is a solution looking for a problem.
Cliches become clichés precisely because there’s a kernel of truth at their center. In this case, a voter ID measure -- LR1CA offered by Sen. John Murante of Gretna, requiring a photo ID to participate in Nebraska elections -- is a solution looking for a problem.
Secretary of State John Gale has stated plainly that there’s been no evidence of voter fraud being a problem in Nebraska. An earlier Local View from Kristie Pfabe noted that impersonation, the type of fraud an ID plan aims to stop, is the least efficient way possible to sway a race. It comes with a high cost criminally, and that high potential cost yields but one vote.
Murante argues that the bill is necessary to restore Americans’ confidence in the voting process.
But the plan creates more problems than it solves and does more harm to our democracy than it helps.
The mere act of obtaining a photo ID creates a hurdle to voting at a time that we can’t afford to disenfranchise anyone. Just over 71 percent of registered voters turned out in November to vote, with a hotly contested presidential race and Referendum No. 426, the repeal of the Legislature’s elimination of the death penalty, highlighting the ticket. That’s a huge turnout. More routine elections deliver more lackluster numbers.
While Murante worries about the perception of a lack of integrity in the process without a voter ID system, others might be just as worried about the perception of exclusivity that a voter ID process creates. The elderly, the young and minorities are disproportionately deterred by the likely travel, money and time that can need to be invested in obtaining the photo ID necessary to vote.
There’s an often unspoken assumption that those more likely to be disenfranchised by a voter ID law are the same folks who are more likely to vote Democrat. If Murante is concerned with perceptions, shouldn’t that perception be a little worrisome, too?
In opposition, Lincoln Sen. Adam Morfeld has offered LR15CA, which would prohibit voter ID mandates.
Either or both constitutional amendments could end up on voters’ ballots in 2018. If that were to happen, we hope voters would elect to keep our participatory government as inclusive as possible and reject any further voter ID requirements.