Exclusive: Proof of Citizenship Next Logical Step in Voter Registration

by THE EDITORS May 13, 2008

After the Supreme Court's recent decision that a voter ID law in Indiana is not unconstitutional, lawmakers in Missouri have taken the next logical step: a proposed constitutional amendment requiring those registering to vote to show proof of citizenship.

Similar legislation is being considered in 19 states, but Missouri, which may hold a referendum in August, is the only state where it might take effect before the November presidential election.

According to the New York Times article linked above, more than 38,000 voter registrations have been rejected in Arizona, the only state that requires proof of citizenship, since the measure passed in 2004. What's of even bigger concern is that "[m]ore than 70 percent of those registrations came from people who stated under oath that they were born in the United States, the data showed."

Critics say that such a measure would disenfranchise those who cannot furnish proof of citizenship: a birth certificate, naturalization papers or a passport. Yet such proof of citizenship is needed in order to obtain a driver's license, attend school, and a host of other everyday activities.

FSM Contributing editor Mike Cutler recently pointed out problems related to driver's license fraud in America. Photo ID at the polls is an important first step, but what if that ID is obtained fraudulently?

Back in 2004, many Americans were incensed when The Guardian, a newspaper in Britain, tried to influence voters by sponsoring a letter-writing campaign to residents of Clark County, Ohio, a swing state in that year's election. Below is one of the milder comments published by The Guardian:

I suggest that if a particular reader of the Guardian would like to vote in America - would really like to influence the American election, say - that reader should move to America, become a citizen of the United States. Everyone is welcome here. Even the readers of the Guardian. But if you don't wish to be an American, to live in Ohio, for instance, and participate in the American political process, that is too bad. Perhaps there is something wrong with you. Perhaps it is your teeth.

Perhaps some of us take our citizenship for granted. But it must be worth something, as the applications for naturalization has doubled within the past year. We owe it to ourselves and those who want to become American citizens alongside us to make sure our election process remains as free from taint as possible. And citizens should applaud every effort to keep potential fraud out of the voting booth.

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