Changes ahead for voter IDs

Published 10:30 pm Friday, August 3, 2012

By Tyler Spivey

While it won’t affect Pike Countians this year, the new voter identification law in Alabama is something area voters eventually will have to deal with.

The law, which takes effect in 2014, aims at reducing voter fraud and requires some form of photo identification prior to casting a vote.

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While some may think this prerequisite is unnecessary or unfair, others disagree.

Probate Judge Wes Allen said he supported the law.

“I believe this law is positive. Allen said.  “This law will help ensure we continue to have open and honest elections.”

The current voter identification procedure allows for items such as utility bills, bank statements, and paychecks to be used as I.D.

The 2014 law will discontinue those items as acceptable I.D. forms, and picture identification will only be acceptable at the ballot box.

And Allen said that he doesn’t expect voting rates in the state to decrease due to the new law.

“It’s not a lot different from what we’ve been doing,” said Melissa Ingram, chairman of the Pike County Board of Registrars. “I’ve never used anything but my driver’s license [for I.D.].”

Ingram said that the only people the new regulation is likely to effect is the older population who don’t have driver’s licensees, but they can simply obtain a voter I.D. at the Pike County courthouse. They will be provided free of charge.

Valid student and employee identification are still acceptable with the new law, as well as a military I.D. that contains a photo. Voters can even use their passport.

Linda Jaeter, an election inspector at the Academy Street precinct, said that she had an elderly relative that didn’t have a license, but was still eligible to vote.

Jaeter said that active voters won’t be deterred by the law.

“These people have been voting a long time,” Jaeter said, referring to senior voters. “They know what they’ve got to have.”

Jaeter said that the law also provides for voters who don’t have valid photo identification to still vote if they can be positively identified by two election officials.