ON YOUR SIDE: How a voter I.D. law affects everyone

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Updated: 5/12/2014 6:28 pm
RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- Nevada is one tiny step closer in making identification at the voting poll a requirement. It's a controversial issue, but no matter which side you support, it's going to cost every taxpayer.

Nevada isn't the first state to debate the legitimacy of a voter I.D. law. It's played out in 34 other states, and University of Nevada Political Science Chair Eric Herzick has heard both sides.

"The more conservative action groups will say, 'Absolutely, there's all this vote fraud going on. You have to show X I.D,'", explains Herzick. "More liberal groups will say, 'This is just a move to disenfranchise people, and there isn't much voter fraud, and this will disproportionately affect poor and minority voters.'"

Herzick said those are extreme examples. But in the case of preventing voter fraud, it isn't a problem in Nevada. Secretary of State Ross Miller said there has only been three cases of voter fraud since he's been in office.

"The limited instances where we've gotten complaints in our office about voter fraud taking place, we've effectively put the resources in place to investigate and ultimately prosecute those individuals," said Miller.

The argument that a large number of voters would be disenfranchised, Herzick said providing an I.D. would be a hurdle for a small population of people. "There are about 10-percent of voters, potential voters, who would have a tough time producing some sort of I.D."

If a voter I.D. law does enter the ballot and passes into law, it wouldn't just affect that small group. Herzick said, "It adds a hurdle to everybody."

Both Herzick and Miller say it will be expensive to implement a voter I.D. requirement.

"You have to offer a free I.D. to anyone who doesn’t have it. You have to offer a means of transportation so they'll be able to get it. And [you have to have] extensive educational outreach to inform the public that the means of voting has fundamentally changed; that they now have to bring a driver's license to the polls. These aren't without cost," said Miller.

Estimated costs to provide voter I.D. cards in Nevada range from $2 million to several millions dollars. It's such a wide-range estimate that state financial analysts cannot say how much it will cost with certainty, though they do know it will increase state and local expenditures.

The petition for a voter I.D. law needs more than 100,000 signatures by June 17 to qualify for the November ballot.
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