SIMMONS: Identity theft and need for voter IDs

Story Topics
Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

View results


Now that a Republican judge has poked the bear, it’s time for a frank discussion about voter-ID cards.

Sure, the U.S. Constitution grants U.S. citizens the right to vote, and the 1965 Voting Rights Act says that right cannot be denied “on account of race or color.” It also spells out other protections for nonwhites. And it’s certainly sad commentary that in 2012 we still need pokers to ensure that voters of various constituencies are protected classes.

Yet, here we are, forming coalitions and mustering offenses and defenses to battle over a honey pot: how to defend constitutional protections, deter voter fraud and detect violators and violations at the polls.

Activist James O’Keefe proved how easily it would have been to pass himself off as U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. at the polls during the D.C. primaries in April.

This is not the time for me to debate whether voter-ID laws are necessary or even constitutional. However, last week’s ruling by a Pennsylvania judge to uphold that state’s voter-ID law prods us to consider why some people need some form of government-issued photo identification in the first place.

I’m just a meat-and-potatoes gal, so it seems the most fundamental reasons are because we sometimes need to prove to authorities not only who we are, but who we are not.

There’s also the criminal element to consider. The Federal Trade Commission estimates as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. The commission says the problem is so acute that “you or someone you know may have experienced some form of identity theft.”

There’s another reality, too. The economy pushed a lot Americans down a flight of stairs, and just to steel themselves with their own two feet, many are applying for entitlements like food stamps. In the meantime, vulnerable populations like the elderly, severely disabled, rural poor and chronic substance abusers are unable to stand on their own.

Well, those are the very folks who really need those photo IDs to receive aid and to be identified when they are unable to speak for themselves.

But how do they do that when they “live” on the National Mall with dead presidents, reside on a rural route, or cannot stay clean and sober long enough to even remember that “Bubba” isn’t their real name?

Recently, I sat for hours and hours in the waiting area of an organization that provides treatment for mentally impaired people. A few of those in need understood where they were, and some appreciated why they were there. Many, however, could not prove who they were.

By the grace of God, the red tape began unraveling for all of them.

I’m certain, as you probably are, that such scenarios play out everywhere in America, where a birth certificate is no longer sufficient identification and a Social Security card merely refers to you as person 123-45-6789.

Neither ID is accompanied with a photo. It’s the same when it comes to voter-registration cards.

Story Continues →

View Entire Story

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
Deborah Simmons

Deborah Simmons

Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...

Latest Stories

Latest Blog Entries

blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks
You Might Also Like
  • The District of Columbia has decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana.  (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

    D.C. police quietly prepping for change in law on marijuana

  • D.C. Council member and mayoral candidate David Catania, at large independent, said that although he had some concerns with the city's fiscal 2015 budget, namely the 'yoga tax,' he said issues could be addressed in next year's budget discussions. (Associated Press)

    Council overrides mayor’s veto of fiscal 2015 budget

  • 3 killed, 4 wounded Sunday in three D.C. shootings

  • D.C. Councilmember Muriel Bowser, one of seven Democrats trying to unseat the incumbent District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray in next week's primary, campaigns on Capitol Hill neighborhood in Washington, Thursday, March 27, 2014. Loyalists are rallying around the mayor, and few are writing him off. But his troubles have provided an opening for one of his challengers, and D.C. Councilmember Muriel Bowser appears to be taking advantage. Two polls released a week before the primary showed Bowser in a statistical tie with Gray.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

    Crime hits close to home for D.C. mayoral candidate

  • Gray

    D.C. Council to vote on Gray’s budget veto