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Legislature has bigger priorities than voter ID

Posted: December 13, 2012 - 5:22pm

There’s a reason Alaskans voted to limit the state Legislature to a 90-day session: we didn’t want our elected representatives wasting time in Juneau on frivolous or unnecessary legislation.

Unfortunately, not every legislator seems to have gotten the message. Just this week, Rep. Bob Lynn, an Anchorage Republican, said one of the first bills the House State Affairs Committee, which he chairs, will hear is his submission that would require voters to show a photo ID at the polls.

Really? With all the challenges Alaska faces, his priority is copycat legislation to address a problem Alaska doesn’t have?

Concerns with the bill itself are many. Chief among them is the fact that such a law would, to say the least, be problematic in implementation as there are vast regions of the state where a photo ID isn’t required to drive. Quite frankly, legislation should not create more problems than it claims to solve.

The notion that voter fraud is so widespread — despite all evidence to the contrary — that legislation is required does nothing more than play to our fears and discourage people from even voting at all. With voter turnout already chronically low, we don’t need any more roadblocks in the democratic process.

When Lynn introduced a similar bill in 2011, the measure never made it out of committee. That’s a good place for it to stay this time around as well.

Perhaps, if the Legislature can sort out energy security, oil taxes, the state budget and all the other big issues facing the state, then there will be time to look at a voter ID bill. But until that time, there are much more important and pressing issues that need to be addressed.

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