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12/12/2012
Apply wisely

A law requiring photo identification to vote has its place.

Anchorage Republican Rep. Bob Lynn has proposed Alaska's Legislature pass a law requiring voters to show photo ID to receive a ballot.

This makes sense for the highly populated places, where those who staff the precincts know few of the voters. But, especially in Alaska, it seems especially unnecessary to require photo IDs when the precinct workers know a voter personally, which often is the case in small communities.

The intent behind the proposal is to prevent voter fraud — people saying they are someone they aren't in order to vote. Apparently, that happens in some cities or at least the possibility of it exists. It's one of those times when a law might be necessary because of one or two bad apples, and those bad apples could upset the apple cart in a very close election.

The Legislature's legal staff is drafting legislation for Lynn. When Lynn proposed this law in a previous session, he allowed for free photo ID cards for those who cannot afford to acquire one. His proposed law also permitted precinct workers to waive the necessity of photo ID if they knew the person who wanted to vote. People without proper ID would be allowed to vote a questioned ballot.

Currently, many voters present a drivers license with a picture to vote. But, the state allows special rural licenses without pictures to be used for voter identification as well as other documents that allow election officials to verify identities, i.e., a birth certificate.

In many rural areas of Alaska, villagers don't have easy access to equipment that produces photo IDs in Department of Motor Vehicle offices. Villagers can acquire licenses without photo ID for this reason. These licenses are valid in 294 communities in the state.

If Alaska can make special rules in part of the state to deal with the lack of photo equipment, then it also should be able to apply rules to municipalities that aren't appropriate or reasonable in villages.

When Rep. Lynn's photo ID proposal is introduced in the House, it should be reasonable in its application. Reasonable would be proposing the law for the cities and areas with concentrated populations and not adding encumbrances for villages.