According to John H. Fund in Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy, voting irregularities cover a lengthy history dating back to the infancy of our nation (8). As detailed by William Bird in Vote: The Machinery of Democracy, whether it was in the earliest elections that were conducted by a voice vote, on hand-written paper ballots (votes), or on party tickets, which only listed the names from one political faction, instead of two or three, there have been frequent attempts to take advantage of the voting system in place (1). Whereas today, when an election is imminent and the airways are filled with candidate endorsements, the subject of voter identification usually steps into the public eye. Although a few states passed laws in recent years requiring its citizens to provide a photo ID (identification), most states still rely on proof of signature, which can be easily forged. To ensure the integrity of the election process, voters should be required to present a photo ID at the polls.
It appears to be a straight forward process to go to the polls on an election day and cast your vote, but there are some requirements that must be met. You must be a citizen of the United States who is eighteen years old, or older, before the date of the election in which you wish to vote. According to the Shelby County Election Commission, you cannot be a convicted felon, but if you were found guilty of a felony and have received a pardon, or subsequently had your full rights of citizenship restored, then you are allowed full voting privileges just as other citizens without a criminal record. You can’t just show up at the polls and expect to be allowed to vote without prior authorization from your voting district. In order to partake as a qualified voter, you must become properly registered within your jurisdiction, which is the area of the city where you reside, no later than thirty days before the election. In most states, and in Tennessee, you can register at the election commission in your county of residence, the motor vehicle office, a public library, and many other designated government offices. You must present a valid photo ID and proof of residence when you register in person to establish your identity and the voting precinct to which you will be assigned. When you complete the enrollment process, a voter registration card is mailed to your residence. Hence, the thirty day requirement mentioned earlier allows the processing of your application, the verification of your identity, and mailing time to receive the voter registration card. If you register to vote by mail, and the postmarked envelope proves the thirty day obligation has been met, your enrollment will be processed in the same way, although there is a little divergence for voters who register by mail. You cannot request to cast your ballot as an absentee voter in the first election in which you will participate. You must report to the polls to vote for the very first time after becoming registered, and you are required to show your voter registration card or another piece of qualified proof of identity. These are reasonable requests since the mail-in application didn’t require a photo ID and most people provide their drivers license to complete the requirement when they arrive at the polls, although there are many other forms of easily attainable ID that would be accepted. The enrollment form did necessitate the disclosure of the applicant’s social security number so that it could be checked against the records of the driver’s license bureau or the social security administration for authentication. This ensures the application wasn’t an attempt to fraudulently register somebody who was ineligible. According to the Shelby County Election Commission, people who have voted in a previous election “must only present evidence of their signature or sign an Affidavit of Identity.” Some people are in disbelief when they learn that a photo ID is not...
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