Questioning claims of fraud and warning that older voters could be disenfranchised, Secretary of State William Galvin is voicing his opposition to a planned ballot question requiring Massachusetts voters to present identification at polling places, describing it as “a solution that is in search of a problem.”
Galvin, a Democrat who serves as the state’s top elections official, said that under existing law, poll workers can ask for identification if they have any doubts about would-be voters and voters must show ID in some cases such as casting a ballot for the first time in a state or federal election. “But the idea of making ID a prerequisite, I object to,” Galvin said. “Many older persons who are very good voters have been persuaded or have chosen to give up other forms of ID, such as a driver’s license. The idea that they would be precluded from voting is absurd.”
An initiative petition filed by former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown aide and Massachusetts House candidate Tatyana Semyrog of Duxbury would require voters to present a government-issued photo ID at their polling place before receiving a ballot or sign an affidavit attesting to their identity and residence.
Supporters, who include MassGOP Chairman Jim Lyons, say imposing the mandate would help protect against fraud and abuse. Galvin said Monday that Massachusetts has not had any major issues with election fraud and that any problems are “because of candidates, not because of voters or anything else.” “I think we’ve led the country in showing that you can open up the franchise effectively and honestly and with integrity in the process,” Galvin said about the state’s elections systems.
The potential ballot question cleared Attorney General Maura Healey’s constitutional review earlier this month, and supporters must now collect 80,239 signatures by November to advance to the next step in the process.