Voter photo plan defended



Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller, speaking before a luncheon meeting of the Nevada Women’s Lobby, denied that a program he has proposed was a “voter ID” program as it has been portrayed by the press.

Miller said no one would be required to present identification at a polling place. Rather, election officials would obtain photos from the Department of Motor Vehicles of drivers and others holding state identification cards and use them to match with faces of people attempting to vote at polling places. While not all Nevadans have driver licenses or other state identification cards, most do.

One political activist at the luncheon, Elisa Cafferata, urged support for the Miller plan, saying it was the best way to head off legislation requiring all voters to present identification in order to vote.

But American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada representative Vanessa Spinazola objected to that stance, urging against any unnecessary impediments to voters.

Miller acknowledged that voter fraud committed through individual voters is virtually nonexistent but said he was convinced that if the voter photo plan was not offered, enactment of a full fledged voter ID plan by the Nevada Legislature would be unstoppable.

One person at the luncheon asked a seatmate what good are Democratic majorities in both state legislative houses if they cave in to conservatives on such an issue.

Voter identification bills have been introduced at the Nevada Legislature but have always been defeated. At the 2011 Legislature, bills sponsored or cosponsored by Republicans John Hambrick, Ira Hansen, Lynn Stewart, Melissa Woodbury and Michael Roberson were all defeated.

Voting fraud committed on the voter side—as opposed to the vote-counting side—is extremely rate. Nevada election officials say they can count instances with single digits, and that when it does occur, it is often innocent (“The fraud of voter fraud,” RN&R, Oct. 25), but conservatives encourage the notion that it is rampant in order to win enactment of voter identification laws whose burden falls heavily on low-income voters without driver licenses.

Miller said about 15 percent of Nevadans do not have driver licenses, a relatively high number among states.

Citizens without identification tend to be low-income people such as senior citizens. They also include many Latinos. Republicans dismayed by the low Latino vote for the GOP in last month’s election are trying to avoid issues that further alienate that group of voters.

Asked about the privacy implications of public agencies swapping information on members of the public, Miller said reassuring the public of the security of elections was worth the breach of privacy.

Voter identification laws are a high priority of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative organization created under section 501(3)(c) of the Internal Revenue code. It is funded by right-wing millionaires and corporations such as R.J. Reynolds, State Farm and Koch Industries.