Debate Over Voter ID Continues

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CARSON CITY, NV - You go to the doctor, you show your ID. You take a plane somewhere, you show your ID. Pretty soon, you may have to show your ID at the ballots. That's what Republicans are hoping for with their new voter ID bill.

In a two-and-a-half-hour hearing Tuesday, legislators held a heated debate over the controversial AB 253. It's a matter of protecting our most basic right to vote. Republicans want voters to show their ID to make voting more secure, but Democrats say this extra step could discourage people from casting a ballot.

"What we're talking about here is putting a major obstacle in front of a major fundamental right," said Assemblyman Elliot Anderson.

"How in the world would we know if someone voted fraudulently if we don't ask for ID to begin with?" said Assemblyman John Moore.

It's a divided committee over AB253, a bill that would require Nevada voters to present identification when they head to the polls. Currently by law, you do not have to have a photo ID with you when you vote. One of the bill's sponsors, Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, says showing an ID will help prevent voter fraud.

"This is one of our most fundamental rights and if we need to get on an airplane, shouldn't we need it to vote?" he asked.

The fear from the opposition is obtaining an ID would create one more obstacle, which could turn even more voters away from the polls.

"We do not think disenfranchising a single voter is worth that cost," said Vanessa Spinazola, a representative from the ACLU of Nevada.

There are 31 states in the country that require some sort of voter ID. AB 253 would require a photo ID and a signature, which not all IDs have.

"Around 300 thousand people that would have to go into the Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain these IDs and we all know that there are very long lines at the DMV right now," added Spinazola.

While it would be free of charge to get these IDs from the DMV, the DMV reports that it would take an additional $47,000 to create them.

"There's not a lot of evidence of voter fraud," said Assemblyman Stewart. "We have a good voting system, legislative system in Nevada."

So, why do we need to change it? Proponents say it would add more protection to our fundamental right.

"This provides a level of comfort for a person who goes to show 'hey I'm required to show who I say I am,'" Stewart added.

Those against the bill say it would mostly prevent people with low income and minorities from voting. Right now, there have been two known cases of someone trying commit voter fraud in Nevada. One person tried to prove that fraud could happen and was caught. Another person had dementia and forgot she had already voted.