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Letter: I Haven’t Flip-Flopped on Voter ID

To the Editor:

I felt the need to explain my recent vote on HB 595, which repealed portions of the voting laws passed last session. It probably looks like I’ve flip-flopped or am trying to have it both ways. I always try to be as honest and clear as possible with the voters of my district, so bear with me here.

Last session I voted for the voter ID law because I believed it was the right thing to do. I still do. I have not changed my position.

2013 is a different world. Democrats own the House and the executive branch. Considering that at least one Republican senator still in office voted against the voter ID bill last session, it would have been a good gamble for Democrats to grab some headlines, swing for the fences and repeal the whole thing. They may have succeeded.

Instead, a compromise was presented, and I applaud House Democrats for going this route. Since it was the best we could hope for, and it was a genuine compromise, I chose to support it. HB 595 leaves in place the existing voter ID provisions and simply repeals the portions of the laws that have not yet taken effect. The voting laws passed last session were to be phased in over several years. Even though this bill was not the outcome that I desired, I recognize that this is the honorable way to conduct House business.

Should other bills tightening our voting process arise, I will probably support them. I believe that each person’s vote is too important a thing to risk by having even one improperly cast vote negate yours. I believe that voter ID laws are the best way to ensure that we adhere to the principle of “one person, one vote.” Allowing the status quo to go on for a while may in fact give folks time to get used to the changes, and then make other laws more palatable and the GOP position stronger. Time will tell.

Rep. Steve Smith, Republican

Charlestown