Identification may become required to vote in Utah

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    By Sara Lenz

    Next time you go to vote in Utah, you may want to check your pocket.

    In light of a bill being debated in the legislature, voters may now have to show some form of identification in order to cast their vote.

    ?It is our duty as a government to ensure the integrity of our elections,? said Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, the bill?s sponsor.

    Daw said the bill will prevent mistakes from occurring and said an ID check is a reasonable caution to take to ensure veracity.

    Rep. Steven Mascero, R-West Jordan, agreed saying that showing an ID is not an unreasonable request. People have to show ID all the time even at Costco, he said.

    But the representative from the League of Women Votes for Utah did not agree with his conclusion. ?Democracy is not a club,? Alice Steiner said. ?Democracy is a wide open process where we want to encourage everyone to participate.?

    She said the bill is basically saying Utah government does not trust its people to tell the truth.

    Andrew Reigle, representative from the disabled community, was also against the bill. He said 10 percent of disabled people do not have a license and are already 16 percent less likely to vote than the general population.

    Reigle said the government should not be putting additional barriers in the way of voting. But, Mascero, who often works with people with disabilities, said most do have two other forms of identification which are accepted under this bill.

    Additional accepted forms of identification are a Social Security card, check from the government, court records, Medicaid proof, college or university identification card and birth certificate.

    ?Unless you don?t exist, you are going to have one or two of those forms of ID,? Daw said.

    But others disagreed, including Rep. Christine Watkins, D-Price. She was concerned that the bill would negatively affect other parts of the population including the American Indians and the elderly. She cited the fact that her own mother no longer drives and does not have a license. She said these people are less likely to have forms of identification that are required.

    Rep. David Litvack, D-Salt Lake, said he had a different reason for voting against the bill. ?We shouldn?t be passing policy on what could possibly be a problem.?

    Litvack quoted a study conducted by Newsweek in 2007, which showed there was no literal evidence of voters? fraud. He said the bill is a solution to a nonexistent problem, and until there is real evidence that this is a problem, he did not believe it should pass.

    Litvack also said Utah?s voting percentage is already low without enforcing another restriction on voters, but Rep. William Dawson, R-Salt Lake, said this number fluctuates from year to year.

    Dawson recognized that voter fraud is not that big of a problem right now, but he said by preventing mistakes the government can raise confidence and prevent contemplated fraud.

    One county clerk from Wasatch said he has encountered someone trying to vote fraudulently. He had someone come in to vote early but had no ID, so the clerk gave him a provisional ballot but found out that the man who tried to vote was not an American citizen.

    Rep. Rebecca Lockhart, R-Provo, who voted in favor of the bill, said that voting areas are becoming larger and people no longer know everyone that comes to vote as they once may have.

    Ron Mortinson, a Utah resident, cited other cases of enforced verification. He said voter picture IDs are required in such places as Ethiopia and Liberia. He said America should practice what it teaches abroad. Mortinson does not agree that voter identification would be a burden in Utah, but it would be a verification of identity.

    Daw said there will be reminders sent out to all registered voters before the election reminding people that they do need to bring a form of identification to the polls. He said no one will be turned away just because they leave their wallet at home, but some may have to take a provisional ballot in order to vote.

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