"Truthiness" from the Former President on Voter Identification Practices Worldwide

By Dan Cadman on January 26, 2017

A few days ago, John Fund wrote an article for National Review online: Obama's Final Whopper as President".

The gist of the article is this:

He claimed that other countries don't have voter-ID laws, though many do. ...

At his final press conference, Obama promised that he would continue to fight voter-ID laws and other measures designed to improve voting integrity. The U.S. is "the only country among advanced democracies that makes it harder to vote," he claimed. "It traces directly back to Jim Crow and the legacy of slavery, and it became sort of acceptable to restrict the franchise. ... This whole notion of election-voting fraud, this is something that has constantly been disproved. This is fake news."

The argument over whether or not there is voter fraud will rage on, in part because the Obama administration has spent eight years blocking states from gaining access to federal lists of non-citizen and other possibly illegal voters.

But Obama's first statement, that the U.S. is unique in trying to enforce ballot integrity, is demonstrably false.

All industrialized democracies — and most that are not — require voters to prove their identity before voting.

Huge swathes of the globe's nations do indeed require voter identification, and their citizens do not find it problematic. The reason is simple: These nations have opted for national ID cards. Such cards become fundamental to exercising a citizen's rights and privileges, and are the gateway for everything from seeking a passport, to applying for unemployment or other social insurance benefits, to voting.

In Latin America, such documents are often colloquially referred to as cedulas. But they are by no means restricted to the New World. In Spain, they are known by their acronym, DNI (documento nacional de identidad); likewise in France, where they are known as the CNIS (carte nationale d'identité sécurisée). Other highly advanced and democratic European nations also have similar identity cards for their citizenry.

In fact, Wikipedia hosts a whole section of information on the various countries worldwide that have such national identification cards, although I can't vouchsafe that it is 100 percent accurate. Two things I can say, though, from my years of bureaucratic experience as an immigration officer and practical exposure to such documents, both at home and abroad:

First, where they are in use, they provide a sense of wellbeing as physical proof of one's place in society and one's right to social benefits; as such they are often a source of great pride. We in the United States seem to be in a distinct global minority in our distrust of a "big brother" who would control our lives should a national ID card ever become the law of the land.

Second, most nations go to extreme lengths to ensure that the documents that they produce for this purpose are as close to counterfeit-proof and tamper resistant as human ingenuity and technology can make possible. Compare this with the U.S. Social Security card, which, despite whatever one might say to the contrary, often serves as a surrogate for a national identity document.

In sum, Mr. Fund was right, and Mr. Obama was demonstrably wrong, not to say false, in his assertions. His ignorance on the matter is a curiosity given that several of his formative years were spent in Indonesia, which is one of the many countries that requires a national ID card.

This leads us back to the matter of voter fraud. It's time to settle that question, and the means are readily at hand. It simply requires the political will to get it done.