11:53 am Jun. 15, 20121
More substantive daylight between the major Democratic candidates in the race for an open congressional seat in Queens: an argument over voter ID requirements.
Tacking to the right of her opponents, City Councilwoman Liz Crowley said photo ID should be required before people are allowed to vote.
The comment came in response to a question from the audience at a debate hosted in Middle Village, a conservative-leaning neighborhood in southeast Queens.
It's the first time the question was asked of the candidates, who have debated nearly a dozen times in advance of the June 26 primary.
"Look, we live in a society where we need ID all the time, so for me, I don't think it should be any different than when you go to vote," Crowley said.
She said there were instances of voter fraud and elections turning on a handful of votes, "so we have to make sure that the people who are coming down are actually the people registered and rightfully able to vote."
"You'll see," Crowley added, "I'm much more a moderate Democrat than my opponents."
Assemblywoman Grace Meng said ID should not be required, and argued that voter participation is already "abominably low" and "whatever we can do to improve the process where more people vote" is good.
"Do I believe the process could be improved, yes. But I don't necessarily believe that ID is required," she said.
The reaction from the crowd was mixed, with some audible applause and booing.
Assemblyman Rory Lancman also said photo ID should not be required. He too said it creates a barrier to participation and that there's no evidence of widespread voter fraud that needed to be prevented. B
ut Lancman also made the case that unlike the audience at the debate, there were residents, mostly recent immigrants, who are unfamiliar with interactions with the government and don't know how to obtain a photo identification.
"We are the same people. We come from the same neighborhood," Lancman said. "For you and I, the idea that it's hard to get a photo ID is strange to us. But let me tell you, for many people in this country, they don't know the process. They don't know what to do."