Keene’s bill is unneeded

Local Assemblyman Rick Keene’s proposed legislation to require voters to show identification and proof of residency before being allowed to cast ballots is unnecessary, in bad taste and, interestingly, somewhat ironic.

There’s been little evidence of voter fraud in recent elections, so we have to wonder what Keene’s motivation is. Does he know something voters don’t? He cites some close Assembly elections and “reports” of dead people, felons and illegal immigrants casting votes, but nothing really notable.

Keene wants voters to show their driver’s licenses to prove they are who they claim to be and something like a phone bill to prove their residence. What about students sharing a home with roommates but without a utility bill in their names? Of course, as we recall from his days on the Chico City Council, Keene didn’t think students should be allowed to vote in local elections anyway. Their four- to eight-year educational stay in Chico was too temporary to warrant a voice in local elections, he figured.

The timing of the proposed legislation is in bad taste at worst and curious at best. It comes on the heels of the historic Iraqi elections, which were paid for with the blood of thousands of American soldiers and Iraqi citizens. What is Keene thinking? While tens of thousands fight and die for free and unhindered elections in that country, our assemblyman wants to make it more difficult for to Californians to cast their votes.

Keene’s bill is an obvious attempt to restrict the right to vote to the right kind of voters—conservative Republicans who vote for candidates like Keene.

The ironic aspect of Keene’s bill, which would require voters to prove they are voting in the proper precinct, is suggested by the case of Frank Solinsky, owner of Payless Lumber. In 1997, it was discovered that Solinsky and his wife Judith, who lived in the county, had listed their city-located business address on their voter registration forms so they could vote in city elections. Solinsky was a significant financial supporter of pro-development candidates like Keene.

While this particular case hardly represents massive voter fraud—the Solinskys decided not to vote that year after their dubious registration was brought to light by this paper—it does point out the misdirected and disingenuous nature of Keene’s proposed legislation.