Dear Editor:

The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan organization which seeks to enable citizens to make informed decisions. Founded by the activists who secured voting rights for women, the League has always worked to promote the values and processes of representative government. Protecting the voting rights of all Americans, assuring opportunities for citizen participation, and working for open accountable, representative government is a major concern of the League. It is does not endorse or oppose candidates or parties. The League seeks to encourage people to become involved in civic engagement.

Many LWV members are serving on the boards of non- profit organizations and government commissions because they want to make a difference. The League is concerned about getting citizens to exercise their right to vote and is against any law which would prevent eligible voters from voting. The LWV is not interested in registering people who are not eligible to vote, but fears that requiring a government issued photo ID may discourage eligible voters from exercising the right to vote.

The problem is especially evident in some populations of elderly who may not be able to find a birth certificate, may not have a valid passport of driver's license. Getting a government issued Photo ID may be difficult for women whose credit card or utility bills may be in the name of a spouse. Women who get married, get divorced, or have a name change may also experience difficulties in getting the necessary documentation before receiving a valid government photo ID. College students who attend state colleges may use a photo ID as documentation but photo IDs from private colleges are not acceptable.

To get a government issued photo ID takes 4 or 5 original documents. Ironically the people most likely to vote are newly naturalized citizens. Obviously poll workers are charged with verifying the identity of the voter before voters sign the poll book. Forms of identification may be required for verification but why does it have to be a government issued ID which currently require four pieces of original documentation? The sad fact is that Indiana has a low voter turnout, 48th out of 50 states (Indiana Civic Health Index 2011). Indiana was 43rd out of 50 states in 2011 in voter registration. Anything that would cause a person who is eligible to avoid the polls is not helping the problem of low voter turnout.

When we became a country, only white male landowners were allowed to vote. It took almost 150 years for women to get the right to vote. It took longer to ensure that minorities were not discouraged from voting. I remember living in Virginia in the 60s when there was a poll tax. The League, a group of men and women who value democracy, wants to see all eligible voters exercise their right to vote.

Karen A. Patton

President of LWV of Montgomery County