Nevada might soon become the 35th state to pass a law requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls, and that’s a good thing.
If these proposals (Assembly Bill 253 or Assembly Bill 266) become law, voting would join many other activities for which you need to prove your identity in Nevada, such as buying a gun, opening a bank account, or getting married. Clark County Clerk Lynn Marie Goya currently requires similar documents for every couple seeking to get married. Nevada already requires first-time voters who registered by mail to prove their identity with photo ID.
Nobody complains about these requirements. So why not make sure voters are who they say they are and enact voter ID?
Voting is one of the most precious rights we have as citizens. Perhaps that is why Americans continue overwhelmingly to support voter ID requirements. A recent poll found that 70 percent of registered voters are in favor of identification laws. Support is not limited to Republicans; rather, it is present across all racial and political spectrums. A majority of black, Hispanic and Democrat respondents indicated support for voter ID.
Yet a small but vocal minority oppose voter ID and claim such laws disenfranchise voters.
Reality, however, has proved otherwise.
The Nevada proposal is modeled after an Indiana law upheld by the Supreme Court. A study by the University of Missouri in 2008 found that turnout actually increased in Indiana’s first election after its voter ID law was effective. Since then, Indiana has seen no significant decrease in Democratic voter turnout.
In 2008, Barack Obama won Indiana’s 11 electoral votes, becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson in 1964 to carry Indiana. And in 2012, Indiana elected Democrat Joe Donnelly to the U.S. Senate.
If someone was trying to scare Democrats from the polls with voter ID, it didn’t work.
Like Indiana, Nevada’s voter ID proposals will require the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles to create and distribute free voter cards to a person without another form of identification.
That means everybody will get to vote, and it will be harder to cheat.
Other states saw increased turnout after voter ID became law. Kansas, whose law went into effect in 2012, saw an increase in overall turnout between the 2010 and 2014 midterms. Georgia, whose law went into effect in 2008, even saw an increase in black voter turnout between the 2006 and 2010 midterms.
In 2012, for the first time in our nation’s history, the black voting rate surpassed the white voting rate, including in states with voter ID.
So much for voter ID targeting minorities.
Opponents of voter ID have had a terrible time finding a single person who could not obtain voter ID. Instead, they usually resort to scare tactics to oppose common-sense election integrity laws such voter ID, and it hasn’t been any different in Nevada.
With voter ID being free and easy to obtain, it makes you wonder why opponents of the proposal in Nevada are so desperate to stop it from becoming law before the next presidential election.
Voter ID enjoys overwhelming support because it restores integrity to our elections by restoring voter confidence that their votes will not be canceled out by someone who should not be voting. It’s time for Nevada to join the other states that have enacted this common-sense measure.
J. Christian Adams is president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation and former Department of Justice lawyer in the Voting Section. He writes about and litigates election issues across the United States.