Your editorial of June 9, “La. good model for ID rules for voting” is correct. But, the model is even better than your editorial says. At each polling place, the secretary of state posts a list showing what one needs to vote: 1. driver’s license; 2. a Louisiana government-issued special identification card; 3. a generally recognized picture identification card; and 4. failing the above, the signing of an affidavit. The beauty is that, if followed, there is no slowdown in voting. But, take away the generally recognized picture ID and slowdowns occur.
The voter suppression critics say if one is dependent upon a state government-issued document to vote, the state can deny them. A privately issued but generally recognized picture ID requires no state action.
The problem we do have in Louisiana is that there are some local election officials who do not believe that a generally recognized ID should be used and a state government-issued certificate is needed. These officials are not only slowing down voting but are not complying with the law and therefore give critics an opening to challenge the Louisiana system.
Former Secretary of State and now Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, concerned both with a correct interpretation of the law and with identity theft from the overuse of one’s driver’s license, sent a letter dated April 15, 2009. He stated that his instructions to commissioners was not to “discourage the use of alternate photo identification cards.” He further stated: “Likewise, affidavits are only to be used when there is no photo identification, not if an alternate photo ID is presented.”
John A. Mmahat
chairman and CEO, nonprofit corporation