I believe it is way past time for a national ID.A national ID card isn't necessarily an acceptable voter ID card. Remember, that voting has to be done by precinct and that requires accurate, up-to-date address information. We live in a very mobile society, so that would require a very large amount of re-issuing effort for every voter who ever changes residences every time they change. Apparently over 30M voting age Americans change residences each year (http://www.chacha.com/question/what-percentage-of-americans-... and http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0400.p...). People who lose their voter registration cards would also require re-issue. (for some estimate on this, about 9M Americans lose their wallet each year: http://www.chacha.com/question/how-many-americans-lose-there...) And, of course, there would be a requirement for new issues for those who register to vote for the first time (~2M - 3M). This important aspect of voter registration seems to be missed by a lot of voter ID advocates (of course most of them are only interested in suppressing the vote anyway). And I think an even larger number of people fail to appreciate the cost and complexity of keeping voter registration lists for every precinct in America up-to-date. Add the cost of individual IDs to that and the process becomes very expensive. Today, that residence information is stored only in one database at each state level. Then, just before the election, that list is parsed into voting precincts and mailed to the polling officials who will oversee the vote. So, if we decide to implement a national voter ID that is not easily forged, it would need to be similar to a driver's license. The cost just of producing each card would be on the order of a dollar (CA drivers license costs about $1.30 each to produce - http://roadwarrior.blogs.pressdemocrat.com/11890/wait-contin...). Those would have to be mailed or picked up by every registered voter in America. Multiply those cost by a couple hundred million and add some office handling costs. Then, you would have to re-issue or newly issue another ~50M cards per year. Most of these would require some sort of office visit, review of documents, re-printing, etc. Now a ~$1B dollar initial cost along with several hundred million per year is not an astronomical cost, but what does it buy us? First, it isn't going to stop much voter fraud since we don't have much. The fact that there will tens of millions of lost and out-of-date cards floating around at any given time might actually lead to more voter fraud. Second, it is likely to keep some people from voting because it ads time and effort required by each voter to hold an up-to-date card on election day.
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