Legg Defends Birth Certificate Proposal

by Gabe Bullard on April 25, 2011

The two Republican candidates for Secretary of State in Kentucky say they want to make sure only legal citizens and registered voters cast ballots in elections. But critics say their proposals for making that happen are unnecessary.

Candidate Hilda Legg has put forward the toughest proposal. She says residents should be required to show a birth certificate or proof of citizenship before registering to vote.

“We also want to ensure that the legal voter’s vote is not cancelled out by an illegal voter’s vote,” she says. “If the integrity of the election process and the fairness of legal voters voting and the importance of casting a vote has any value in our commonwealth and our society, then it appears to me that is not an onerous suggestion.”

A valid Social Security number is already required to register. Legg’s opponent, Bill Johnson does not support the birth certificate requirement. But both candidates say more should be done to check identities at polling places, including voters showing a valid photo ID.

ACLU of Kentucky director Michael Aldridge says the candidates are railing against fraud that doesn’t exist and the suggestions are politically-motivated.

“There’s always a desire to reduce the number of voters and increase the number of people who would vote for you. These are all just unnecessary impediments. And in a country where only 41% of eligible voters voted nationwide last year, we should be doing everything we can to increase voter participation, not reduce it.”

Aldridge says proposals like Legg’s and Johnson’s disenfranchise poor and minority voters. Indiana currently requires voters to have a photo ID when casting ballots.

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