Editorial: How Voter ID can make North Dakota -- and America -- great again
To North Dakota lawmakers: Are you interested in helping President-elect Trump fulfill his promise to Make America Great Again? And are you interested in making North Dakota a national leader in that effort? Then take up the cause that's sure not...
To North Dakota lawmakers: Are you interested in helping President-elect Trump fulfill his promise to Make America Great Again?
And are you interested in making North Dakota a national leader in that effort?
Then take up the cause that's sure not only to be smart policy, but also to put North Dakota in a flattering national spotlight: Voter ID.
No, not that Voter ID, the one that has prompted judges to intervene from coast to coast, including in North Dakota.
This Voter ID:
Bipartisan Voter ID.
Is such a thing even possible?
Absolutely. Before partisans got ahold of it, Voter ID was a bipartisan issue, and it could become one again today. All that's lacking is for one state to take the lead.
As the 2017 legislative session dawns, and as a practical and business-minded new governor gets comfortable in office, it's clear that the state could be North Dakota.
The time is right. The personalities are in place. Here's hoping the stars and planets of state politics can line up, too.
For North Dakota lawmakers, the task is simple: Revisit the Carter-Baker Commission's work, and draft the commission's recommendations into law. That's it.
The Carter-Baker Commission was the bipartisan 2005 effort that sparked the interest in Voter ID in the first place. Co-chaired by former Democratic President Jimmy Carter and Republican Secretary of State James Baker III, the commission studied the strengths and weaknesses of America's electoral processes and wound up calling for "uniform voter photo ID."
After that, a good number of states-North Dakota included-took the commission's call to heart.
The trouble is, the call was only half of the commission's recommendation. As it happened, it was the half that best served Republicans' interests, which is why Voter ID laws these days seldom draw Democrats' support.
The other half of the commission's recommendation was to make the IDs both free and very easy to get.
That's the half that could bring Democrats on board today.
"No state has yet accepted our proposal," Carter and Baker themselves wrote in a joint New York Times op-ed in 2008.
Instead, "the laws on the books, mainly backed by Republicans, have not made it easy enough for voters to acquire an ID. At the same time, Democrats have tended to try to block voter ID legislation outright-instead of seeking to revise that legislation to promote accessibility."
That's the opening for North Dakota: Be the first in America to pass a practical, useful and bipartisan Voter ID law.
Plus in so doing, be a state that takes pains to pass major legislation with bipartisan votes. For the spirit of "We're all in this together" is one that all patriots remember. And recapturing that spirit is a huge part of Making America Great Again.
-- Tom Dennis for the Herald