Local lawmaker co-sponsoring voter identification measure

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A controversial bill in the New York State legislature has a Western New York connection.

The proposal would require you to show your photo identification when you vote. It is being co-sponsored by Senator Patrick Gallivan, a Republican from Elma.

By phone Tuesday, Gallivan explained he’s in favor of taking any steps to prevent voter fraud. He also stressed there’s nothing discriminatory about the bill.

Opponents say otherwise.

“(We need to) ensure the integrity of our elections,” Gallivan said. “One of the ways that I think is a simple way to do it is that people have to show their ID when they vote.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, New York is one of just 16 states nationwide which don’t require voters to show any identification before they vote.

Right now, all a voter needs to do in New York is sign their name to cast a ballot.

Many Democrats, including Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner issued a strong critique of the voter ID legislation.

“The removal of illegal and unnecessary barriers to the ballot box have marked our strides toward justice and civil rights for all Americans,” Zellner wrote in a statement. “Now, at a time when we should be encouraging every citizen to engage in our democracy, Republicans continue to try to put those barriers back in place to combat a nonexistent threat of widespread voter fraud.

“That is the true fraud, and we must oppose it.”

Gallivan noted discriminatory measures have been in place in some spots across the nation at different times, but this isn’t one of them.

“We clearly articulate that this should be done in a uniform and nondiscriminatory manner,” Gallivan said. “We take many things into consideration including in the event somebody does not have the proper ID with them, they still have the ability to exercise their right to vote through an affidavit ballot.”

If you were to vote through affidavit ballot, the board of election verifies your eligibility after election day.

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