Picture IDs at the Polls

More Americans are living at a time when they need to prove who they are. Whether it's getting on a plane or getting a speeding ticket, a government-issued photo ID is required. Equally important is a need for states to require that would-be voters show such an ID before being allowed to vote.

Last week, Georgia legislators passed a measure that reduces the number of acceptable forms of voter ID from 17 to six that are government-issued. They rightly excluded some previously acceptable non-picture forms of ID, such as a utility bill, that made it too easy to cheat.

The shift remains controversial. Democrats argue that the measure would keep many elderly, poor, and minority citizens who don't have a picture ID away from the polls. One study showed 6 to 10 percent of Georgia's electorate lack any state-issued ID.

But that simply indicates a need to get the word out aggressively about the change, if it's approved by the US Department of Justice; the department must ensure the measure complies with the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Some 20 states now require some form of ID at polling places. Five states already require picture IDs, and 21 more are moving in Georgia's direction. In those states, Democrats and Republicans should also add ID drives to their voter registration efforts. And states can work to help citizens without a driver's license get a free state photo ID card.

Given the problems created by recent close elections, requiring a picture ID is a common-sense move that should help create greater public confidence in elections. It's not too much to ask that a valid, secure form of picture ID be presented when exercising democracy's fundamental right.

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