Florida to require IDs at voting booth; Update: At registration

Florida has announced that it will enforce a voter-ID law passed three years ago in this year’s election.  The law survived challenges from activists, who are still complaining about the quality of the databases on which the identification will rely:

State elections officials will resume enforcement of a controversial state law that requires Floridians to have their identification match up with a state or federal database in order to register to vote.

Secretary of State Kurt Browning sent notice to the state’s 67 supervisors of elections on Friday that the 2006 law, which has been on hold for the last year pending court rulings, would take effect again Sept. 8.

The result is that voters whose identification doesn’t match with state files on Election Day will be given a provisional ballot and two days to prove their identity for their ballot to count.

Florida will be a crucial battleground state this year, as it has been in the last few presidential elections.  Republicans afraid of voter fraud, including that organized by ACORN, have to be pleased with this decision.  It eliminates one potential threat and makes it less likely that the state will get embroiled again in the kind of controversy that occurred after the 2000 election.

In reality, though, Floridians have to hope that the results from the Sunshine State are decisive enough not to make this an issue.  In a razor-thin election, the provisional ballots cast will take on huge significance, and the decisions made on approvals and rejections will take on huge political implications.  Floridians don’t need that kind of national attention all over again, nor does the rest of the country need lessons in arcane electoral concepts such as “pregnant chads” and the like.

Voting is a right of citizens to determine the composition of our representative governments.  The state has a vital interest in protecting the rights of citizens by ensuring that ineligible people do not dilute their vote.  Presenting the same kind of identification that everyone uses to write a check at the grocery store is not an undue burden, and should be the law in all 50 states.  Florida has made the correct decision, and hopefully will have a cleaner election as a result.

Update: Juan Paxety points out a fundamental misread on my part.  The ID requirement comes at registration, not at the voting booth.  Floridians already have to show ID when voting; this requires them to show ID in order to validate their residence in Florida.  Juan believes this to be a safeguard against voters who try to register in two states.