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Requiring photo ID at the voting booth is a no-brainer
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Having fair and honest elections are essential to our democracy. Without them, our government would not have the legitimacy needed to decide the issues that affect us every day, such as how much taxes we pay and what our children learn in school.

That's why I've always been struck by the fact that here in California, people don't have to show photo identification when they go to the polls on Election Day. All a person has to do is show up and sign in, without having to prove that they are who they say they are. This is an open invitation to fraud, where a few invalid votes could determine the outcome of extremely close races.

Recent elections have shown us just how powerful a few votes can be in determining who wins and who loses. We only have to look at the 2000 presidential race, where 537 votes out of more than 100 million cast determined the outcome. In a race that hits much closer to home for me, my brother Tom lost his first race for the Assembly in 1996 by 86 votes. With elections this close, it's important that we do everything we can to ensure that every lawful vote is counted.

As a new member of the Assembly Elections Committee, I believe it's time we give the people greater confidence that the votes they cast aren't compromised by fraudulent votes. To help deter fraud, I have introduced Assembly Bill 1356, which simply requires voters to show a valid photo ID at the polls in order to receive a ballot.

To give all voters greater confidence that the right person won, AB 1356 requires voters to show a photo ID when they sign in to vote, as long as it's issued by the State of California or the U.S. government. For those who don't possess an ID, my legislation would allow them to obtain a card from the state for free, giving every citizen the opportunity to vote regardless of their ability to pay. If a voter forgets to bring their ID, they can still cast a provisional ballot.

AB 1356 is a straightforward bill that conforms to the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court allowing states to require photo ID at the polling place. At its core, AB 1356 simply makes voting at your local precinct as secure as opening a bank account or applying for a library card. By combating voter fraud through the use of photo ID, we can make California's voting system more transparent. Perhaps that's why a recent poll found that 76 percent of California voters support this common sense reform.

Under my legislation, we can stop a lot of voter fraud in its tracks and prevent people from voting twice. It's important to take every necessary step to safeguard our democracy and give people faith in the outcome of elections in our state. By working together to eradicate voter fraud, I am confident we can protect our democracy for all Californians.

(Assemblyman Bill Berryhill, R-Ceres, represents the 26th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the communities of Ceres, and Turlock.)