Jimmy Carter and James Baker have been leading a panel in studying how to improve confidence in the US electoral system. Among the panel’s recommendations are ‘electronic voting machines should have paper trails’ and ‘all voters should present photo IDs.’

The call for paper verification of votes on electronic machines drew praise from election reform advocates, but the call for photo identification was criticized as an invasion of privacy and something that would discourage some voters.

(I am sure there are also probably election reform advocates out there who would praise the call for photo identification. And probably Diebold representatives who would decry the need for paper verification.)

The voting process should be as transparent as possible to the voter. I think paper trails are a giant step in that direction.

How transparent do voters have to be to the system?

What role will the photo ID’s play? Will they simply to be used to verify ones name matches what’s on the rolls and that one’s face matches one’s picture? Once Real ID becomes implemented, will magnetic cards be scanned to verify one hasn’t voted multiple times or in multiple voting places? If ID cards are scanned, will there be a check for outstanding parking tickets to be settled up before one can vote?

Does an individual who doesn’t require or desire a license or state photo ID have the right to participate in society through work, residency, obeying laws, paying taxes, and voting? (As a society, we’ve already crossed driving, banking, air travel and purchasing certain products off that list. Is voting to be next?)

What does say… Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington legislative office have to say about the potential ID requirement?

Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington legislative office, said the photo ID provision “will disproportionately impact the poor and the elderly, who may not have drivers’ licenses or access to a location where they can obtain IDs.”

That would be problematic. Still, I’m not hell-bent against an ID requirement, but there are serious questions to be answered first.

I reckon this bi-partisan effort is a good step toward shoring up our electoral system. Will our leaders in Congress and the Administration act on the recommendations?

The President had some words on the panel’s report, but didn’t really say anything:

“It is critical to maintain America’s trust in our election system, and I look forward to reviewing this report and working with Congress on the recommendations,” [Bush] said.

So, will our leaders in Congress and the Administration act on the recommendations?

Reuters: Bipartisan panel recommends U.S. election changes

Politics Carter and Baker Make Electoral System Recommendations