Jersey polling places should not be in trouble for asking for ID
At polling places in Edison, New Brunswick, and Perth Amboy, voters were greeted by signs reading PLEASE HAVE YOUR ID READY FOR POLL WORKER. The problem is that's illegal here in Jersey. Well, sort of. It gets complicated. There are certain circumstances under which you can be asked to show ID to vote, one being if you had never voted before. For most of us it is not required. Across the country laws vary. 31 states enforce voter ID requirements and 16 specifically require a photo ID.
But back to the dirty Jerz. Here in these three Middlesex County towns there are large minority populations. Many people have limited and unclear English skills. This was the culprit according to Jim Vokral with the Middlesex County Board of Elections. Vokral said, "Most of the time when voters have limited English skills, it is hard to understand and hear their names." Apparently this may be how some poll workers ended up placing these signs, so that if need be due to a language barrier they could read the name off the ID and look it up in the register that way. To me it seems fairly innocent but the ACLU intervened and now complaints are under review by the U.S. Department of Justice.
I don't think it's racist or xenophobic to have a law that says you need to present photo ID at a polling place. Nor do I think it smacks of voter intimidation. For example, if you are not a citizen, you are not supposed to be voting and your name shouldn't be appearing in the register. Another example, if you are not the person who's name is found on the list of registered voters, you aren't supposed to be casting a ballot for your brother-in-law who couldn't get off work that day to do it himself. So who exactly are we protecting by NOT requiring photo ID to vote? We need to show photo ID to return a pair of shoes at some stores. I've always been kind of shocked that we don't need to show ID at the polls. I could just walk up and say I'm my brother or my neighbor and be let in after scribbling an indecipherable signature. Instead of reviewing complaints at the U.S. Department of Justice maybe we need to think about changing the law that seems to only protect people who shouldn't be voting in the first place.
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