Licensed to Vote

So the Supes decided today that it’s OK to ask for ID at the polling place.

I’ve got somewhat mixed feelings about this; on one hand, it’s almost certainly true that elderly, poor and minority voters – who are certainly more likely to vote Democratic – are more likely not to have licenses or to be discouraged from voting, which makes this a regulatory decision that will have clear electoral impact.On the other, it’s important to recognize that the test case was filed on behalf of a woman who actually was found after the fact to have illegally registered in both Indiana and Florida. So it’s hard to argue that this issue is a myth.

In the first lunch I ever had with Brad Friedman (who is still pissed at me, I’m afraid…) I suggested that politically, those of us in favor of plugging the holes in the vote tallying and counting systems – who were typically of the left – could broaden our coalition by agreeing to ID’s and steps to generally secure the registration and voting part of the chain.

Brad was bitterly opposed. He pointed out – legitimately – that the best study that had been done on the subject originally showed no significant evidence of registration/impersonation fraud. That’s real data.

So I’m slightly conflicted on this. I’d like to see a fraud-resistant voting process – end to end, from registration to recount. And I’d like that process to be electorally neutral – i.e. to have no impact on nonfraudulent voting. I’m not sure this decision meets the latter of those two criteria, and I’m not sure what to do about it.

87 thoughts on “Licensed to Vote”

  1. What do drivers licenses have to do with it? I thought state ID cards are cheaper than licenses or free ($3 here in FL when done by mail or in person).

    Is it really a “discouragment” from exercising your Constitutional right to vote–some would persuasively argue it’s really a _duty_ to vote–to go through an easier process than the drivers undergo to get their license, and pay less for the resulting ID?

  2. I wonder why you waste your blog time linking to a fellow who says things like

    _Today’s verdict will undoubtedly be heralded and taught at American institutions of learning, for decades to come, with the same reverence as that dedicated to landmark Supreme Court decisions like 1857’s Dredd Scott v. Sandford ruling, which thankfully found that “people of African descent imported into the United States and held as slaves, or their descendants — whether or not they were slaves — could never be citizens of the United States, and that the United States Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in federal territories.”_

    The man is a conspiratorial windbag.

    Oh yeah, “Link.”:http://www.bradblog.com/?p=5932

  3. I’ve never understood how this issue became such a big deal. Two things are obvious to me at base:

    1) An honest voting system requires ID to prevent fraud.
    2) An honest voting system cannot impose a poll tax.

    From these premises, it seems obvious that the solution is for the state to provide free state ID cards for the purpose of voting. If a driver’s license also happens to be an acceptable form of state ID, and the driver’s license has a fee associated, well, that’s a practical addition to the system which has no downsides.

    I don’t, to be honest, buy the idea a free state ID is a sufficiently onerous burden as to make the requirement an actual problem… or if it is, the practice of holding elections on weird-ass Tuesdays instead of Saturdays is probably more of one.

  4. Tuesday was market day, wasn’t it?

    The law is a solution in search of a problem, since voter impersonation appears to be vanishingly rare. (Note that nothing is done here to crack down on absentee voter fraud. The fact absentee ballots were traditionally conservative is mere coincidence.)

    Nevertheless, a law like this is not inherently terrible. The issue here is availability of the required ID. When Georgia passed a similar law, the nearest DMV office to the black, poor, Democratic neighborhoods of Atlanta was over two hours each way by bus. Why do I think that was a feature, not a bug?

  5. #3 from Marcus Vitruvius:

    “1) An honest voting system requires ID to prevent fraud.”

    “2) An honest voting system cannot impose a poll tax.”

    “From these premises, it seems obvious that the solution is for the state to provide free state ID cards for the purpose of voting.”

    That looks perfect to me.

  6. Until recently I had to drive onto a military base and show my ID to guards carrying M16s in order to cast my vote. And that’s nothing compared to what some people, including many people of color, had to do to vote. Of course, we could follow the lead of Australia, and make voting mandatory…

    Well actually we couldn’t, could we?

  7. bq. Why do I think that was a feature, not a bug?

    Because you’re prone to conspiracy theories, as further suggested by your remark about absentee ballots? And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

    But seriously, the problem space isn’t voter _impersonation_ so much as ensuring only legitimate voters actually vote. AL has done more work on this and can probably provide better analysis, but I’ll posit four possible scenarios when a person attempts to cast a vote (assuming they’re at the correct polling place):

    1 – he is duly registered to vote and is in fact the person whose name is on the roll
    2 – he has duly registered to vote but his information is wrong on the roll
    3 – he has not registered to vote in _that_ precinct but tries to vote anyway:
    a-using his own name and his own data
    b-using his own name and fraudulent data, or
    c-using someone else’s name in a fraudulent manner
    4 – he is not legally allowed to vote at all but attempts to do so in manner a, b, or c listed above

    Our electoral system has an interest in both allowing all eligible citizens to vote _and_ in preventing fraudulent votes cast, because the latter has the net effect of cancelling out another’s vote. This is especially true in the case of 3c and 4c, but those are not the only scenarios that should be taken into considerations when designing a law to cover _all_ scenarios.

    It seems to me that requiring government ID neatly solves many of these problems at once, without preventing a lot of legitimate votes:

    – It lets all S1 to pass
    – It allows for on-the-spot refutation of bad data in S2
    – It gives justification for a voter demanding a provisional ballots to be provided in 3a and 4a (and hopefully 4a will be thrown out when checked against records before tallying the vote)
    – It prevents 3b and 4b from happening as their ID would not match the fraudulent data
    – It prevents 3c and 4c from ever happening at all

    The law should not be viewed as being enacted solely to prevent 3c and 4c, which are hard to find evidence of anyway; but it also prevents more bad scenarios while enabling the good scenarios.

  8. This is an argument about nothing. There is almost nothing you can do without ID in the modern world. You can’t use the bank — even if you don’t have a bank account and use a check cashing service for a welfare check, they want ID. You can’t get a library card, a Blockbuster account or join a gym, or rent a car or ride Amtrak or an airline, or even take Greyhound. You want to buy tobacco or alcohol? ID. Want a senior/handicapped discount card for transit? ID. Picking up held parcels at the post office? ID. Getting your prescription? ID. Stay at a hotel, rent an apartment? ID. Even most private landlords advertising weekly rooms for rent want an ID.

    I wouldn’t leave the house without ID, any more than I would leave without my house key. Whether it ‘should’ be this way is not the point; this is how we live in today’s USA.

    How many people can there possibly be who are so detached from society that they never need to show ID? Never went to school, never worked, never had any contact with any government agency, never been to the doctor, never taken any form of transit or used the library? Basically, this would mean they have never left the house where they were born or spoken to anyone outside their family. Even the poorest people, who are getting by on some kind of government benefits, usually need ID to visit those offices and cash their checks. I’m not talking about isolated or lonely people, just those who never interact with anyone for any reason, even an impersonal commercial transaction.

    Even supposing some minute number of those people exist, how many of these ‘totally isolated from society’ people, in turn, are simultaneously so involved with the political process that they desperately want to vote? If there really are such people, isn’t it easier just to offer them free ID from the DMV? You’re worrying over a theoretical group, vanishingly small if they do exist, to avoid solving a larger problem. When you have upwards of 20 million “undocumented” people in the USA, it’s worth imposing ID rules to vote.

  9. Voter fraud is not vanishingly rare, and Democrats were pretty clearly eyes-deep in it in a number of places in 2004. A trusted voting system must be trusted by both sides. Requiring ID is an important first step. Not a foolproof one, but an important one.

    The next step on this front is to ensure that vote-valid ID can be obtained readily and used by citizens, but obtained and/or used only with significant difficulty by illegal immigrants. That will be a policy challenge, but it’s a worthy one if the voting system is to keep its integrity.

    On other fronts, electronic voting is going to remain a problem, and that will be an ongoing locus for efforts to ensure a fully transparent, auditable process. I’m not a big fan, personally, and I’m glad to see some progress in recognizing the pitfalls, but it’s uneven.

    Final recommendation I have would be to take a leaf from Canada and make the running of federal elections a federal responsibility right down to the grassroots district level, with uniform practices and standards throughout. That’s why there’s Elections Canada. It costs extra because it creates 2 parallel election systems, but if the vote is truly important it’s worth it.

  10. Voter fraud is a huge problem, particularly in urban machines, mostly but not exclusively run by Democrats.

    I particularly like mail-in ballots. A paper trail. It’s possible to steal elections with paper ballots, but more difficult. More effort is needed. Electronic voting is a solution in search of a problem.

    Paper ballots, requiring a signature like a check, handed in to the polling places or mailed. Counts commence on election day.

    This is not fraud free, but to my mind eliminates the physical barriers of the disabled, poor, elderly, etc. Mailing should be free.

  11. *Marcus Vitruvius at #*
    _1) An honest voting system requires ID to prevent fraud._
    _2) An honest voting system cannot impose a poll tax._

    And *David Blue at 5*
    _That looks perfect to me._
    The one problem that exists, and was called out in the minority opinion, is the use of labor as a poll tax(paraphrased). If I have to take time out of my possible earning hours in order to fulfill a government mandate that allows me to exercise my rights, I still face a poll tax in face of lost income. I wish the majority opinion addressed this a bit more.

    *Diane at 8*
    _You can’t use the bank — even if you don’t have a bank account and use a check cashing service for a welfare check, they want ID. You can’t get a library card, a Blockbuster account or join a gym, or rent a car or ride Amtrak or an airline, or even take Greyhound. You want to buy tobacco or alcohol? ID. Want a senior/handicapped discount card for transit? ID. Picking up held parcels at the post office? ID. Getting your prescription? ID. Stay at a hotel, rent an apartment? ID. Even most private landlords advertising weekly rooms for rent want an ID._

    ID is not the same as Photo ID, and ID is not the same as positive identification. Additionally, private transactions are dramatically different from rights guaranteed in the constitution. No constitutional right guarantees you using a bank, renting a hotel room, or picking up a prescription – only the decision in _Griswold_ allows that.

    In addition, these things which are public in nature – library card, welfare, handicapped privileges, are entirely different from voting rights declared in the Constitution and amendments. Laws can be changed and modified with ease, rights can only be regulated and not infringed.

    _Basically, this would mean they have never left the house where they were born or spoken to anyone outside their family._
    I have only shown my picture ID once to anyone in the government in more than 5 years, outside of flying and passport control. That was for renewal. And with flying, I do not have to show my ID, I choose to in order to speed things up.
    Transactions are more protected than you think, but Driver Licenses are just so convenient.

    *Jim Rockford at 10*
    _Voter fraud is a huge problem, particularly in urban machines, mostly but not exclusively run by Democrats._
    Vote Fraud is not a huge problem, it is a nuisance. If you take the “National Commission on Federal Election Refom”:http://www.american.edu/ia/cfer/members.htm , which is cited in the decisions, most of the fraud is in absentee ballots search for “specific case”:http://straylight.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/07-21.ZO.html . (Search for ‘the only kind of voter fraud’)]
    It is said to be a huge problem so to enhance it, which generally puts problems onto people who vote similarly. Democrats.

  12. Brad was bitterly opposed. He pointed out – legitimately – that the best study that had been done on the subject originally showed no significant evidence of registration/impersonation fraud. That’s real data.

    You mean all those people buried in Chicago are still alive? Oh my God! No wonder Brad is so upset.

    The correct argument against this decision, which I will now supply you with, is that it could have a devastating effect on the economy of Saint Louis. The price of a vote there was already up to $10 a pop in 2006, and if people have get IDs they’re going to want $20 and gas money, too.

  13. #11 from Dave:

    “The one problem that exists, and was called out in the minority opinion, is the use of labor as a poll tax(paraphrased). If I have to take time out of my possible earning hours in order to fulfill a government mandate that allows me to exercise my rights, I still face a poll tax in face of lost income. I wish the majority opinion addressed this a bit more.”

    I’ll address this, but simply, since we are heading off topic.

    I think that in a democracy, the people have a moral obligation to vote, just as office-bearers, once elected, have a moral obligation to serve and not take a long vacation instead. Everyone must do their part, and a law that requires everyone to attend a polling place on election day and be marked off the roll (or else vote absentee) is well founded.

    Therefore, the conflict between honest voting and not having a poll tax should be reduced as much as possible, but to the extent that the conflict is irreducible, have a poll tax.

    Yes, getting to the polling place is a cost, time spent traveling is a cost, and time spent filling in a form to get free and secure voter ID is a cost. I think it’s right to impose these costs, after reducing them as much as practically possible.

  14. Think how glorious it is to vote in honest and important elections. What a celebration of democracy, citizenship, solidarity and freedom election days are!

    How enviable this is, to participate in this ancient rite of freedom, compared to the way things are in large parts of the world where voting is phony, impotent or nonexistent. What others can’t get, even at the price of their lives, we have as a gift.

    Of all the moral duties of citizenship, which is more potent, more joyful and lighter than voting?

    I don’t see it as reasonable to refuse to make a tiny sacrifice so that your fellow citizens can vote with you on election days with the best reasonable assurance that their votes won’t be nullified by fraud.

  15. “that the best study that had been done on the subject originally showed no significant evidence of registration/impersonation fraud. That’s real data.”

    That’s arguable due to the fact that, without voter ID, it’s next to impossible to _detect_ impersonation fraud.

  16. Andrew and i had this out on a thread at Volokh but to readress his point here- we have _no idea_ if we have a problem or not because there is _no mechanism_ for us to find out at the moment. By design.

    Saying this is a solution in search of a problem is equivalent to saying you don’t have a mouse problem but refusing to turn on the lights or set any traps when your cheese keeps disapearing.

    For the record- Andrew wonders why no-one is pouring over the voter sign ins and comparing them to the registration signature. Its a fair question but here is my answer:

    1.Doesnt affect those who are registered illegally in the first place. Getting a state ID is significantly more difficult for an illegal alien than registering to vote. Sad but absolutely true.

    2.I maintain that if Republican governors were fishing through voting records in, say, heavilly Hispanic districts, Andrew would be the first one screaming bloody murder about voter intimidation. Lawsuits would be instant and furious.

    3.That being said- someone _should_ be out there figuring out how widespread voter fraud is. Right now so very few cases are prosecuted statistics alone prove we arent taking this seriously, but worse we dont know how big our problem is.

    That is why Andrew and ALs argument that there is no proof of a real problem is bunk. We dont know and nobody is willing to let anybody else get under the hood and find out. This is the ultimate sausage making in American politics today.

    Seriously- can you imagine if Governor Daniels of Indiana pulled a bunch of voting logs and found 5,000 illegal immigrant voters and had them stricken from the rolls, much less the dead and coma ridden? It would be political jihad in the statehouse (and the courthouse) and that is a fact.

  17. One of the problems with ID’s is that it basically prevents the homeless from voting. Most have a number of problems with ID’s including:

    1)No fixed address
    2)No personal records

    Technically, by law, they are still US citizens, and therefore should be allowed to vote. But how do you account for voters who will difficulty establishing their identity?

    They next thing I predict we’ll see is lawyers set up at polling places that say (generally to the elderly, or the homeless):

    1) I’m sorry, your ID is incorrect
    2) I’m sorry, we don’t accept that type of ID here
    3) I’m sorry, I don’t believe that’s your picture, get another ID and come back later.
    (or some variation on those three)

    It’s fairly easy to cheat these voters without getting caught, and since you have a 1 day window to show ID, I predict hundreds of thousands will lose their vote across the country.

    _You mean all those people buried in Chicago are still alive? Oh my God! No wonder Brad is so upset._
    Yes, and all those people voted by absentee ballot. Which is still not solved by this law. So here’s the fix for those of you who believe in substantial voter fraud. Prove it. The Bush administration has been pushing attorney’s to find it for 6 years, and so far have detected bupkis. Can you do any better?

    In the meantime, how do we fix the absentee ballot “dead voter” problem. And how do catch “individuals”:http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,226838,00.html who attempt to illegally vote multiple times?

  18. _”Chicago, however, is known for its fires, and there was a roaring one there in 1982 that resulted in one of the largest voter fraud prosecutions ever conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice. The telltale smoke arose out of one of the closest governor’s races in Illi­nois history; and as for the fire, the U.S. Attorney in Chicago at the time, Daniel Webb, estimated that at least 100,000 fraudulent votes (10 percent of all votes in the city) had been cast.[2] Sixty-five individuals were indicted for federal election crimes, and all but two (one found incompetent to stand trial and another who died) were convicted. [3]”_

    “source”:http://www.heritage.org/Research/LegalIssues/lm23.cfm

    _”What particularly struck FBI agent Ernest Locker was how routine vote fraud was for the pre­cinct captains, election judges, poll watchers, and political party workers he interviewed. They had been taught how to steal votes (and elections) by their predecessors, who had in turn been taught by their predecessors. Based on his investigation, Locker came to believe the claims, hotly debated among historians, that Mayor Daley threw the 1960 presidential election for John Kennedy with massive ballot stuffing in Chicago.[17] This type of voter fraud, stated Locker, “was an accepted way of life in Chicago.”[18]_

    _Soon after the investigation started, it became evident that this was not a case of isolated wrongdo­ing, but rather a case of extensive, substantial, and widespread fraud in precincts and wards through­out Chicago”_

    _”Locker was shocked at the sheer magnitude of the number of fraudulent votes and the fact that fraud occurred in every single Chicago precinct.[21] More than 3,000 votes had been cast in the names of individuals who were dead, and more than 31,000 individuals had voted twice in different locations in the city.[22] Thousands of individuals had supposedly voted despite being incarcerated at the time of the election, and utility records showed that some individuals who voted were registered as living on vacant lots.”_

    Mind you, as far as I know this was the last time anyone bothered to do a massive, detailed review of voting records.

    Prove it? Indeed. How about stop blocking us from looking.

  19. This thread (like the one at Volokh) is riddled with urban legends.

    Maybe people in Indiana are totally different than people in Florida, so they would freak if Gov. Daniels started looking at voter rolls of Hispanic precincts. (Why Hispanic, though, Mark? Doesn’t that assume, circularly, that all this fraud happens in pro-Democratic precincts??) Well, we know what happened in Florida when Gov. Jeb purged the rolls of tens of thousands of legitimate voters whose names somewhat resembled felons’. Pretty much nothing happened in time for the election. Incidentally, one of those purges was set up so that no Hispanics would be purged. In Florida, they vote Republican. Again, a feature, not a bug. Oh, did I remember to mention that the company hired to run the purges is led by local officers of the Republican Party? But, yeah, I’m a conspiracy theorist if I don’t think stuff like this or the Georgia ID law (hours by bus for poor people) is done with a conscious desire to disenfranchise legitimate Democratic voters.

    It’s rather charming that in the teeth of evidence of Republican shenanigans, Joe Katzman tells us that almost all the fraud is by Democrats. Hunh? A few cases of obviously bogus registration forms that no one ever used to vote?

    And as I pointed over on Volokh, it is really quite amazing how people like Diane think everyone lives the way they do. Many people don’t. I haven’t been carded for alcohol in over 20 years, nor did I need photo ID for prescriptions, train tickets, and quite a bit more. The people we’re talking about don’t have money to fly. (Yes, Diane, such people exist even though they don’t tend to blog, either.)

  20. _”U.S. Attorney Dan Webb estimated that 80,000 illegal aliens were registered to vote in Chicago.[36] Dozens of aliens were indicted and convicted for registering and voting,[37] and one individual was indicted for recruiting an illegal alien to register to vote.[38]”_

    80,0000 illegal alonge. Keep in mind this was 25 years ago. How many votes were the swing in Florida in 2000?

  21. _”Why Hispanic, though, Mark? Doesn’t that assume, circularly, that all this fraud happens in pro-Democratic precincts??”_

    No. Not circularly. Directly.

    But not all fraud, obviously, but most fraud. If you can find examples like Chicago in the above with rampant, _strategic,_ fraud in Republican districts, go ahead and look. In fact go look either way.

  22. Speaking of the felon purge in Florida, I notice Andrew doesnt mention that over 50,000 names were removed from the list _that nobody argues weren’t felons._ Smoke but not fire huh?

    Furthermore the entire affair was a state law (not Jeb Bushs personal fiat) spurred by massive voter fraud in the 1998 mayors election. That particuarly election had to be “reheld.”:http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1998/03/04/miami.mayor/index.html

    So tell me again how this isnt a real issue?

  23. _”Democrat John Kerry carried Wisconsin in the Nov. 2 election by a slim margin of 11,384 votes over President Bush and took more than 70% of the vote in Milwaukee. Questions are continuing to be raised, however, about the ballots that were cast in Milwaukee, where Kerry’s margin over Bush was 123,000 votes. Among the concerns:_
    _The number of people listed on the city’s voter rolls as having voted in the Nov. 2 election is about 8,300 fewer than the number of ballots cast.”_

    “Milwaukee Journal Sentinel”:http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=296408

    _”One in every 10 new voter registrations for people in Shannon County during the past few months is suspect and under investigation, Fall River County Auditor Sherrill Dryden said Wednesday, adding to problems surrounding a push to increase the number of Native American voters in South Dakota._

    _Fall River County handles voter registration for the adjacent Shannon County, which makes up about half the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwest South Dakota. More than 1,000 new registrations have poured into Dryden’s office from the reservation this fall, some from new voters and others from people who haven’t voted for awhile and need their registration updated._

    _”We had different birthdays and different signatures. Some of the middle initials were wrong,” Dryden said. “We just got suspicious when we see a birthday that’s a day or two off or a year or two off. It just sent up a red flag.”_

    From the “Argus Leader”:http://www.papillonsartpalace.com/massive.htm

    The only reason we dont find more voter fraud is because we dont look.

  24. Mark: I couldn’t find the direct link, but I googled “it”:http://www.heritage.org/Research/Legalissues/lm23.cfm. Here’s a key paragraph:

    _So the FBI employed a new and unique tool in vote fraud investigation: a computer._

    I believe we have more of these “computer things” that we can use to analyze these problems today. But i’m unsure, let me google it…

    bq. Locker was shocked at the sheer magnitude of the number of fraudulent votes and the fact that fraud occurred in every single Chicago precinct.[21] More than 3,000 votes had been cast in the names of individuals who were dead, and more than 31,000 individuals had voted twice in different locations in the city.[22] Thousands of individuals had supposedly voted despite being incarcerated at the time of the election, and utility records showed that some individuals who voted were registered as living on vacant lots.

    Dead: 3,000 out of 1.6 million = 0.18%”
    Voted Twice: 31,000 out 1.6 milion = 1.9%
    Incarcerated: Thousands? = ~0.1%
    Vacant lots: Some? = 0.01%
    Later they say 100,000,00 faulty votes. It’s unclear where they got that number. It’s an estimate, an unless they give me a statistical analysis that demonstrates how they got they number, I’ll assume it’s wrong. Based on the these numbers, it appears to be closer to 50,000. (or 2%). Just to be clear, most of the fraud was instigated by poll workers themselves. An ID law will not protect against poll worker fraud.

    Now this was 20 years ago. theoretically, these “computer” things have gotten better and can “analyze” these trends easier (with ballots alone) than we can now.

    It does bring us Wiscounsin 2004 where “computers”, were used to find 5,000 fawlty election votes. Again, this is 0.155% of the vote uncovered, without use of the ID law.

    Now, I’m not anti-ID. I think it’s a decent idea. However, I also think it can be used as a cudgel against some voters. And I still think that it does nothing to stop the absentee ballot problems (or polling place fraud), which are both easier than impersonation fraud.

  25. Dave: _The one problem that exists, and was called out in the minority opinion, is the use of labor as a poll tax(paraphrased). … I wish the majority opinion addressed this a bit more._

    They did, but perhaps not to the extent you wished. In the last poll tax case, the poll tax was justified as encouraging civic responsibility by restricting the franchise to those who care enough about public affairs to pay $1.50. The Court rejected this argument because the ability to pay money was irrelevant to voting. I think you could also say that if the government placed an obstacle course in front of the polling booth, the ability to perform feats of dexterity or strength would also be irrelevant to voting. Making it more difficult to vote simply for the sake of weening out the less enthusiastic is not a legitimate government action.

    Protecting against voter fraud and safeguarding voter confidence are. Being eligible to vote and being who you represent yourself to be are relevant, no?

  26. Oops forgot to argue the 80,000 number. This number is “estimated” from a “dozen arrests”. So you postulating a 5% impact from 0.0019% of data. That must be a fantastically interesting statistical analysis…

  27. Mark: Maybe 4,000 voters! That could have influenced the election by 0.03%!

    I’m much more concerned with computer fraud than with impersonation fraud. The ability to swipe an entire polling place is much more dangerous. I guess we’ll figure out the effect in 2008.

  28. bq. Furthermore the entire affair was a state law (not Jeb Bushs personal fiat) spurred by massive voter fraud in the 1998 mayors election. That particuarly election had to be reheld.

    Hah, I remember that, I was living in Miami when it happened. Good times.

  29. _”Now this was 20 years ago. theoretically, these “computer” things have gotten better and can “analyze” these trends easier (with ballots alone) than we can now”_

    But do we? Systematically? I know for a fact its illegal to crossreference voter registration with immigration status.

    You have to understand- the examples I cited are the exception, not the rule. Not because fraud isnt rampant, but becuase _we almost never look for it._ Has the kind of systematic investigation that the FBI did in Chicago in 1982 been done since? No, it has not. So claiming the lack of investigation proves no need for an investigation just doesnt fly. This is absolutely the tip of the iceberg.

    What everyone involved is afraid to find out is if our system is systematically and completely compromised. I suspect it is, and that the number of illegal votes numbers well into the hundreds of thousands. But again- we almost never look and when we do we almost invariably find something.

    And the IDs arent a magic bullet, but they are a strong step in the right direction. Just because we cant solve everything at once is no excuse not to take the simplest steps to solve the easist problems.

  30. _”Mark: Maybe 4,000 voters! That could have influenced the election by 0.03%!”_

    That we found out about. Whats disturbing is we didnt look anywhere else. The roach analogy is applicable.

  31. Mark: Again I’ll say I’m not anti-ID. However, I’m very worried that this will be used as a cudgel against voters. A large cudgel that may only strike a relatively small problem. (As I was noting; most of the problems addressed in 1982 can be solved without a voter ID). However, if steps can be taken to ensure that voters are NOT disenfranchised (especially poor, elderly and the homeless) my conflict will pretty much disapear.

  32. Agree completely. Without question the IDs have to be free and easy to obtain. But thats not what is being argued, apparently free and easy is still too high a hurdle in some peoples estimation.

  33. Dave, #11:

    The one problem that exists, and was called out in the minority opinion, is the use of labor as a poll tax(paraphrased). If I have to take time out of my possible earning hours in order to fulfill a government mandate that allows me to exercise my rights, I still face a poll tax in face of lost income. I wish the majority opinion addressed this a bit more.

    I may be naturally cold-hearted, but as long as the government is not making this process artificially difficult, I really don’t have a problem with it. I would go even further, and require states to meet some minimum standards of accessibility– some number of non-business-hour operation and some number of weekend hour operations per month, to alleviate that problem.

    But in a system that requires Tuesday votes to begin with, requiring an hour or two every four years (or less, if you don’t move) is not an insurmountable burden.

    Alchemist, #17:

    One of the problems with ID’s is that it basically prevents the homeless from voting. Most have a number of problems with ID’s including:

    That is a more serious problem. But so is voter identification fraud in general.

  34. The problem of course is a cart-horse one; do we change voting laws, and then work to make the ID’s easier to get – and in the meantime change the electoral landscape as legitimate voters are dissuaded? Or do we say that requiring ID’s is fine – once the mechanisms are in place to ensure that every voter who wants one can easily get an ID?

    A.L.

  35. Speaking of crafting a solution to a problem that may not exist- is there any evidence that an ID is an actual impediment to voters, or is this the soft bigotry of low expectations at work?

    Secondly- most states require an ID to excercise our consistutional right to bear arms. Do the anti-ID folks also call for forbidding requiring ID to buy a firearm? Isnt this an added burden for the homeless and the poor?

  36. The corrupt Miami election was executed with absentee ballot fraud. The Chicago election referenced above (not that I view Hans von Spakowsky as an acceptable source, but just for the sake of argument…) says the “dominant” means of fraud was absentee ballot fraud.

    I’m rather confused: why if vote fraud is being conducted with absentee ballots are we concentrating our efforts on in-person fraud, which a Republican US Attorney who got fired for not finding it on Karl Rove’s orders has described as a “bogeyman”? Actually, I’m not confused. It’s because these fake clean-elections campaigners have a barely-disguised ulterior motive: discouraging Democrats from voting.

    I don’t know where Mark got the figure that 50,000 felons were correctly stricken from Florida’s voting rolls (how many false positives, though?) Here’s the info on the 2004 attempted purge of just under 50,000 felons. First, the Republicans passed a law that the list of purgees would be secret. When they lost a court case on that, the media noticed immediately that much less than one percent of the names were Hispanic. In Florida, that seems weird. It turned out that the State and its Republican-affiliated purging company had matched two databases, one of which had race as “Black” or “White”, and the other had race as “Black”, “White”, or “Hispanic”, guaranteeing that Republican-leaning Hispanics would not match and not be affected by the purge. Even if every one on the list deserved to be there (which was not, of course, the case) such race- and politics-based selective disqualification is heinous. But, if you will excuse me for repeating myself, that’s a feature (maybe the feature), not a bug. After these facts became known, the state had to cancel this purge.

    In theory, I don’t have a problem with photo ID requirements, depending on how they are implemented. What I expect in practice is what we saw with the noble-sounding “separate but equal”, that the point was separate and unequal. The point of Photo ID is not clean elections, so that is not how most jurisdictions will implement it.

  37. Mark asks “is there any evidence that an ID is an actual impediment to voters, or is this the soft bigotry of low expectations at work?”

    Good question. Here’s how Georgia implemented the law.

    On top of that, the state recently reorganized the Department of Motor Vehicles [only site for getting license or Voter ID card], paring down the number of offices. After the reorganization, there were no DMV offices in Atlanta, a city with a wide black majority. The closest station is at least nine miles away. Fewer than 60 of the state’s 159 counties have DMV offices.

    I should mention that, presumably subsequent to the legal case, Georgia DMV opened or reopened an Atlanta office (per Google). Incidentally, this Voter ID bill also passed on the heels of an absentee ballot problem that it would not solve.

    In oral argument, an attorney arguing for Indiana’s law admitted that as many as 200,000 lawful voters did not have ID. How difficult it is for them to obtain it is, I suppose, not going to be clear until we see when and where these cards are offered. Of course, Diane upthread assures us that everybody who counts drives and flies, so who cares about them, anyway!?

  38. Anecdote: About 5 years ago, my employer hired a British scientist. Once her visa was granted, Jane moved to town and went to DMV for her driver’s license. Because of Motor Voter, the clerk asked if she’d like to register. She was puzzled when Jane replied that she wasn’t a U.S. citizen: “yes, but you want to vote, don’t you? We can get the paperwork done in a minute or two.”

    As has been noted earlier in the thread: few instances of fraud will be found in a system with few provisions for detecting it, no matter how easy or commonplace it may be.

  39. bq. Of course, Diane upthread assures us that everybody who counts drives and flies, so who cares about them, anyway!?

    Gee, I don’t recall her using exactly those words to make exactly that point.

  40. bq. As has been noted earlier in the thread: few instances of fraud will be found in a system with few provisions for detecting it, no matter how easy or commonplace it may be.

    Regardless, if it can only be imagined but not demonstrated, then the burden of proof lies with those making the accusation.

    Contrast this to the vocal and strong opposition by some of the very same people to taking measures to correct demonstrable flaws and errors in the e-voting system. Hypocritical and just a bit suspicious in intent, wouldn’t you agree?

    Two parallel threads, but in both the voice of the Rightwing as represented in comments and posts is one where imagined threats must be strongly and swiftly dealt with (but real ones ignored). Very Orwellian. Very image-oriented and results-ignorant.

    That about sums up the past 8 years of your intellectual and political brethren’s governance, does it not?

  41. bq. Contrast this to the vocal and strong opposition by some of the very same people to taking measures to correct demonstrable flaws and errors in the e-voting system.

    Sepp (#42), so you are suggesting that some, most, or all posters at WoC have been in favor of e-voting schemes? In that, you are 180 degrees off.

    You seem to have a tendency to make “cleanup in Aisle 2″ charges.

    Here is the search of the Winds of Change archive for “electronic voting”:http://www.google.com/cse?cx=005189183954745003745:bg0_5q-nxvq&cof=FORID:0&q=electronic+voting&sa=Search to help you supply the missing link.

    If you can’t, it would be appreciated if you would set the record straight.

  42. I will support any reasonable proposals to improve the legitimacy of absentee ballots as I support reasonable means to do the same for on-premise voting.

    Also, I think electronic voting machines are a universally bad idea.

  43. _In oral argument, an attorney arguing for Indiana’s law admitted that as many as 200,000 lawful voters did not have ID._

    No, Paul Smith, the attorney for the State Democratic Party that was challenging the law “guess[ed] that about 200,000 voters will be burdened by the current Indiana law.”:http://www.slate.com/id/2181781/ The evidence at trial was that “around 43,000 Indiana residents lacked a state-issued driver’s license or identification
    card.” (Stevens Opinion) How many of them are registered voters? How many would be able to comply with the law?

  44. bq. The corrupt Miami election was executed with absentee ballot fraud.

    Ah, but you forget _why_ the focus was on absentee ballots. Carollo narrowly won in with the in-person votes, but lost after absentee ballots were tallied… and this is why he chose to challenge the _absentee_ ballots. He didn’t have a reason to challenge the bloc of votes he already won. Do you really think the rest of the process was entirely squeaky clean?

    (Incidentally that 2004 purge was an attempt to fix the 2000 purge, which also got lots of attention and claims of bias. I guess some people just won’t be happy until they kill that non-felon voting provision in FL’s constitution by media fiat instead of by legislative process.)

    This is exactly the problem Mark Buehner is talking about: there hasn’t been a systematic examination of voter fraud, only isolated cases where candidates challenge a specific bloc of votes.

  45. No, I am not suggesting that any particular individuals on this website are in favor of such things. I do hope you recognize that some of your viewpoints are shared with a certain larger segment of the world outside this little microcosm of good sense and reason. The Rightwing members of the Supreme Court, for example.

  46. Sepp, you ought to get a better grip on that tarbrush. I’ve so far avoided making generalizations about the kinds of people who use anonymizers.

  47. Sepp (#42, #47) —

    It would improve your arguments if you would put in hyperlinks to pages that support your assertions and accusations.

    bq. Contrast this to the vocal and strong opposition by some of the very same people [who?] to taking measures to correct demonstrable flaws and errors in the e-voting system [what measures, flaws, and errors? How does that relate to this discussion?]. Hypocritical [who?] and just a bit suspicious in intent [whose?], wouldn’t you agree?

    bq. Two parallel threads [this thread and which other?], but in both the voice of the Rightwing as represented in comments [which?] and posts [which?] is one where imagined threats [which?] must be strongly and swiftly dealt with (but real ones [which?] ignored).

    When you can’t find relevant citations, that may be a hint that the argument needs a little more work before being presented to an other-than-sycophantic audience.

  48. PD Shaw appears to be correct, although I don’t see how 200K are inconvenienced while only 43K lack the correct ID. To me, 43K still looks like a problem. Moreover, I would estimate that most of those people will in fact have some problem getting ID. For example, they’re dependent on public transportation, or they’re virtual shut-ins. (Yes, they have to be mobile enough to vote in person, but if the polling place is the nursing home lobby, that isn’t much problem.)

    I’m completely amazed at the way the 2004 voter purge in Florida is not defended on its merits, which would be impossible given its evident bias, but because it was an attempt to “fix” the also-crooked 2000 purge. Evidently someone needs a refresher course on the serial manipulations the South did to stop Negro voting back in the Jim Crow era—a contemptuous process that led to the pre-clearance provisions in the Voting Rights Act, so that valuable time wasn’t wasted invalidating the latest gimmick. The 2000 purge had all of the accuracy of the TSA no-fly list, taking voting rights away from people with the same name as a convicted felon.

    If Florida’s law that fails to restore voting rights to felons is overruled by Federal legislation, blame the Republicans who perverted it to their own advantage. As with “separate but equal”, the facially-neutral name is a cover for a reprehensible policy.

  49. I don’t say much about electronic voting machines, because here’s everything I have to say on that topic:

    Go back to paper and pencil ballots. Seriously. Do it now.

    There’s nothing wrong with paper ballots plus a lot of honest scrutineers checking each other, and there never was.

    The advantages of paper ballots (like a paper trail when anything goes wrong) are so obvious, and the disadvantages of the alternatives have become so scandalous, that this is a boring topic. There’s nothing to say but the same thing, over and over.

  50. bq. I’m completely amazed at the way the 2004 voter purge in Florida is not defended on its merits, which would be impossible given its evident bias, but because it was an attempt to “fix” the also-crooked 2000 purge.

    Extract your amazement from some other strawman. I cited the 2000 purge as evidence that the 2004 purge was not a random occurrence; after the Miami mayoral election there was a recognized need to fix up the rolls, and there were several attempts to do so. Obviously I disagree with the charges of crookedness and bias, and considering the repeated _tu quoque_ you throw around whenever Chicago gets mentioned, they seem a little comical. If you think we should give up on cleaning the rolls, or Republicans are not trustworthy enough to do the job and should hand the task over to MoveOn.org, just say so and save us some time.

    And yes, I’m aware of the history behind the felon voting laws. FL is one of seven (I think) states that still has the provision, and it has yet to be overturned. But given that their discriminatory aspect has been _de facto_ moot for the past hundred years or so (unless you take Wright’s “comments”:http://www.volokh.com/archives/archive_2008_04_27-2008_05_03.shtml#1209419494 yesterday at exact face value), I don’t see the convincing policy argument for getting rid of them.

  51. #44 from lurker:

    “I will support any reasonable proposals to improve the legitimacy of absentee ballots as I support reasonable means to do the same for on-premise voting.”

    “Also, I think electronic voting machines are a universally bad idea.”

    Amen and amen.

  52. #36 from Armed Liberal:

    “The problem of course is a cart-horse one; do we change voting laws, and then work to make the ID’s easier to get – and in the meantime change the electoral landscape as legitimate voters are dissuaded? Or do we say that requiring ID’s is fine – once the mechanisms are in place to ensure that every voter who wants one can easily get an ID?”

    Pursue both simultaneously without waiting on anybody else, and without using anybody else’s tardiness as an excuse to do nothing.

    The proper attitude to honest and universal voting is one of civic-minded, gung-ho crusading idealism. With the proper attitude, the cart-horse problem goes away.

  53. I don’t think Florida’s felon voting law is good public policy, but it’s not obscene.

    Using the felon voting law to disenfranchise voters of the same color and similar names with no regard to accuracy (a reasonable description of the 2000 purge) is reprehensible. Supporters see this ability to use a justifiable law for this unjustifiable end as a feature. (See under: literacy tests for literacy, discriminatory Southern application of.)

    The mess of the Miami mayoralty election had almost nothing to do with felons on the rolls, and much more to do with fabricated absentee ballots that are not touched by the felon voting laws. Those who wish to throw lawful Democratic voters off the rolls merely use the anxiety about voting in general that arises from cases of other methods of fraud for their purposes.

  54. Andrew, I’m still not entirely sure why you are claiming you would expect the same kinds of people that executed the Florida purges to be the ones pooring over vote and registration logs to search for abuse. I think that kinda proves my point- the evidence you are asking for would be explosive to search for in our politicized environment.

    Until some 3rd party blue ribbon commission or the FBI decides to do basically what they did in Chicago in 82 again and _systematically_ track down who voted and their status, I don’t see how there can be data furnished.

    However, its honestly good to see that some things a lot of us across the spectrum seem to support. Here’s my list:

    * Electronic voting machines are dangerous and questionable even if we believed them bulletproof (which we don’t). There is no good reason for them that outweighs the doubt they bring into the process by their very nature.

    * If IDs are required, they MUST be free and easy to obtain. This is obviously a relative concept, but I think some reasonable level can be established. Maybe mobile ID stations can be established at polling places (with the proper state oversight of course)? That would pretty much solve the argument- if you have to show up to vote you can show up to get your picture taken, so bring your documentation.

    * The absentee process has to be tightened down as well. Polling sites also need MUCH more oversite. I’m sick of stories about stacks of ballots showing up in peoples trunks.

  55. Mark, I’m with you on all three bullet points.

    I don’t trust Jeb Bush to an honest job comparing signatures (at least, not if it gets outsourced to a GOP-affiliated company, like the compilation of the purge list) except that it’s not hard to check their work. Just give us an A-B comparison of the signatures. There’s a reason that Florida tried to keep the media away from the 2004 purge list, which is that it fell apart quickly under scrutiny.

  56. AJL,
    I’m interested in some more info on this 2004 Florida voter purge. If what you are saying really happened they way you describe it, then I am appalled. Do you have any links that summarize and/or explain what went down? I’d really like to see how the work was contracted to that particular company.

    I agree with Mark, election integrity is something we should all support and welcome all efforts to bring any incidents or discrepancies to light.

  57. In typical AJL fashion, I’ve attributed to malice actions of Republican political appointees that can also be explained by gross incompetence. I should also say that the 2004 outsourcing, unlike 2000, appears to have been to a politically-neutral company. As evidence of malice, remember how the list was supposed to be secret, and how uninterested the State was in fixing it until the embarrassment level peaked. Some excerpts: (begin long quote)

    So when state officials rolled out the 2004 version of Florida’s felon database, news organizations around the country lined up to get a copy and analyze the results. But secretary of State Glenda Hood, citing privacy concerns, went to court to fight the release of the list. A judge later ruled that the list had to be made available to the public.

    It took one day for the press to find that the mistakes had been repeated.

    First, The Miami Herald reported that more than 2,000 of the 48,000 felons had been granted clemency, a process that restores the right to vote. Other papers, including the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, interviewed local ex-felons who had been given clemency, had voted for years and were surprised to learn they might be prevented from voting. [SNIP]

    Once the list went public, everyone’s attention was focused on who should not have been added to the purge list. But there was something else about the list that didn’t seem right to us.

    The felon list included a race category that identified roughly 24,000 people classified as white and 22,000 as black. Only 61 were considered Hispanic.

    In a state with a Hispanic population that approached 20 percent, it seemed odd that Hispanics would make up less than 1 percent of the felon list.

    The lack of Hispanics seemed significant considering the politics of the state. South Florida’s powerful Cuban-American voting block has traditionally been a staunch supporter of the Republican Party. A number of the state’s Republican politicians, including Gov. Jeb Bush, have benefited from the strong support of the Cuban-American community. [SNIP]

    But secretary of State Hood said she had no plans to investigate how the list ended up so flawed. There was no reason, Hood said, to delay the use of the list to determine what had happened.

    That changed when New York Times reporter Ford Fessenden saw our story and decided to follow up on it. Fessenden reported that the state’s database of convicted felons doesn’t include Hispanic as a race category. Instead, Hispanics recorded in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement database are listed as white.

    That flaw guaranteed most Hispanics would be left off the voter purge list because their race wouldn’t match from the felon database to the voter database. [SNIP]

    We used the simplest tool offered by Excel and Access. We counted.

    We used the same types of tools we use to check the accuracy of our own database projects: sorting columns to look for odd entries and counting up how many widgets are in different columns to make sure there aren’t blatant errors.

    In this case, counting the race column uncovered major errors in a database that could have kept nearly 50,000 people from voting.

    Finding the error was the easy part. We spent the next month digging through thousands of documents in search of exactly where the state went wrong.

    In contracts and e-mails between state election officials and private businesses that negotiated with the state to create the felon purge list, we discovered that former election chief Clay Roberts [a GOP political figure–AJL] had given the order that ultimately kept Hispanics off the list. He made a last-minute decision to require an exact race match between the state’s list of felons and its list of registered voters.

    Documents also showed Accenture, the private company that helped the state create the 2004 list, cautioned Roberts and his staff against making such a crucial change at the last minute.

    We also interviewed the state’s data experts who helped create the felon purge list and found they knew all along that race classification problems could lead to fewer Hispanics on the purge list.

    We talked to employees of ChoicePoint, the private company that created the purge list before the 2000 election. The company told us it had warned state election officials that using race to match felons and registered voters would cause problems for the same reason it caused problems in the current list.

    At least one data expert with the division of elections told us that he forgot to pass on his concerns about using race in the matching process to his supervisors.

  58. bq. Supporters see this ability to use a justifiable law for this unjustifiable end as a feature.

    See, you keep derailing otherwise reasonable posts with this imputation of nefarious motivations. I’m noting my continued disagreement, declaring impasse on this, and moving on.

    bq. The mess of the Miami mayoralty election had almost nothing to do with felons on the rolls,

    Not quite. Carollo came up 155 votes short of what he needed, and if I recall the numbers correctly there were about ~110 felony votes in the inspected bloc. There were also a number of non-eligible voters who voted in that election (a scenario, incidentally, that a state ID check would help cut down on). The combination of that plus official corruption was enough to prompt a review of the rolls, of which the felon purge was only one aspect.

    I’d dig for the actual numbers, but that involves reading through old Miami Herald issues, which I am loathe to do. However I do recall they got a Pulitzer for investigative reporting on “non-resident voters”:http://www.pulitzer.org/year/1999/investigative-reporting/works/980201_the_outsiders.html after the election.

    bq. Those who wish to throw lawful Democratic voters off the rolls merely use the anxiety about voting in general that arises from cases of other methods of fraud for their purposes.

    Mmhmm. Are those who wish to throw blocs of _unlawful_ voters off the rolls equally evil? And whose crystal ball are you using to distinguish between the two groups?

  59. I’m at a loss as to how retaining unlawful voters is anymore virtuous than removing lawful voters. The net effect is the same.

  60. It’s starting to look like more trouble than it’s worth to purge felons from the registry, at least in Florida.

    The available databases don’t get you to the solutions easily and cleanly enough for the process to be practical, let alone accurate.

    I’ve always got bad vibes about these punishments that can go on forever. The sexual criminal lists are equally subject to abuse and mismanagement.

  61. In Florida, it’s not the principle of removing ineligible voters from the rolls, it’s a bad process incompetently executed.

    AJL, does have a tendency to attribute to malice what can be better explained as the typical gross incompetence of bureaucrats, but Florida really does have a problem.

    It’s like any statistical process. Broadening the matching criteria to find more felons one the rolls will invariably pick up more innocent victims, tightening the matching criteria will spare the innocent but leave more felons on the rolls.

    If the populations are random, then it’s an arbitrary choice as to which error is more acceptable, e.g. more felons voting vs. more innocent people purged. Since the felon population isn’t random, AJL’s position is that the choice of error is always made to favor the Republicans.

    I don’t think he’s really made his case; and wouldn’t be surprised that the selected criteria would tilt their way in states where Democrats are in charge of the process, and unsurprisingly tilt the other way where Republicans are in charge.

    What is amazing is that Florida still hasn’t gone to a fully transparent process. There are certainly ways that a bipartisan approach could transparently come up with a set of purges and/or non-purges that everyone can agree with. That’s probably how things things should be handled. Maybe that’s asking too much in the current environment?

  62. *Mark Buehner at 63*
    _I’m at a loss as to how retaining unlawful voters is anymore virtuous than removing lawful voters. The net effect is the same._

    It is not. Removing lawful voters is the state taking away rights you have, either through accident or malicious intent. Maybe both.
    Retaining unlawful voters is the state not following through on the laws it has.

    Especially when the process ‘happens’ to make it more difficult for people who don’t generally support you.

    *The Unbeliever at 61*
    _See, you keep derailing otherwise reasonable posts with this imputation of nefarious motivations. I’m noting my continued disagreement, declaring impasse on this, and moving on._
    There are many people who believe in States Rights’ because of any number of reasons. And then there is Lee Atwater, and his comments.
    That there are overlapping motivations, of both lawful and nefarious, should not be dismissed or taking one entirely over another.

  63. _”It is not. Removing lawful voters is the state taking away rights you have, either through accident or malicious intent.”_

    That’s sematics. The reality is that every illegal vote cancels out a lawful vote, which is having your rights removed. Does the fact that the victim is anonymous, or some polyglot of the entire electorate make a difference?

    That is unless you look at the act of voting itself as whats important, and not the actual ability to affect a change. Thats general the fascist way of voting- hey, you got to vote, the fact that your vote was meaningless is immaterial, you retained your right to vote.

    I don’t buy that philosophy. The act of voting is trivial, its the ability to affect change that is paramount. Every illegal vote cancels out that right, and when our government willfully ignores or even abets that violation, its just as bad as not letting me vote at all. Maybe worse, because in that case at least i would know about it and could fight it.

  64. Mark B: I wouldn’t call “useless voting” a feature of facism _per se_, rather it’s one of totalitarian states of varied natures.

    And I have to disagree with you that the act of voting is unimportant; as AL points out, belief in the electoral system is critical to the legitimacy of a government. Perhaps on the margin the act is irrelevant, as seen by the millions who choose not to vote, but you can’t have a systemic disbelief in the system, _especially_ if it takes the form of random denials to the polls. (I’ll hold off quoting the usual dusty political theory tomes for now.)

  65. But belief in the electoral system is important because it is belief in the ability to change matters without resort to violence. If elections cannot effect change, then people who desire change strongly enough would (on the margins) resort to armed force rather than voting to solve issues. Thus, if people see the act of voting as simple, denying no one the ability to participate, and utterly meaningless, then the voting is useless at its primary function: producing a means to select policies (indirectly, via the people elected to create and implement those policies) without resort to armed force. In other words, if people see the voting as meaningless, in terms of their ability to effect change via the process, then the government will not be seen as legitimate even if the process is seen as otherwise flawless.

  66. That’s true, Jeff, but you still can’t discount the individual act of voting like Mark B seemed to be doing. It’s the first “touch point” where a government tells the governed they have a say in matters, and trivializing it is a dangerous step.

    The perceived ability to affect change is more tenuous; there’s a distinct segment of the American populace fed up with the two party system AND the two parties, and believe whoever they vote for things won’t change. I suspect this sentiment exists at the ends of the bell curve in _every_ society, no matter how just/fair/egalitarian/whatever. Maybe there’s no way to prevent it entirely, but you’re right that it can not become the prevailing sentiment.

  67. I think the individual act of voting is important. It’s an act of participation in the great communal act by which democratic nations renew themselves and give the newly created electorates governments to represent them. To turn someone away at the voting booth denies them a part in that. It may also suppress future votes, if the person turned away becomes dejected or disgruntled that their trip to the polling place was in vain.

    Therefore, even though the mathematical effect of one fraudulent vote is the same as the suppression of one valid vote, I think that the suppression of the valid vote is the greater evil.

    But there’s no reason to think that measures designed to suppress invalid votes must suppress equal numbers of valid votes. And if you can suppress a lot of invalid votes while not stopping many valid votes – why not? – then obviously, go ahead and do that.

  68. “Diane upthread assures us that everybody who counts drives and flies, so who cares about them, anyway!?”

    Not at all. Read the post. It mentions, for example, that even people who survive on government benefits need ID merely to get the cash. Welfare, social security etc. do not hand out cash at a window.

    The benefits can only be paid in one of two ways: into a bank account (direct deposit), which means you need an ID to open a bank account or a check, which you will need to cash. How do you cash a check? Go to a bank (where they will ask for ID) or a check cashing firm (ditto).

    To receive any sort of government benefit you also usually need a Social Security number. And if you visit a SS office, they will ask for ID. They sure did a couple of years ago when I needed a duplicate card.

    As to driving and flying, I also mentioned Greyhound, which — the last time I took it, which was mid-2007 — required photo ID of all passengers.

    I also also mentioned public transport. They often offer a discount to the elderly and/or disabled, but they usually require some kind of ID to establish your age or that you have been designated as disabled in some way.

    So even poor people, who are living on some government benefit, taking the cheapest form of transport, etc. are almost certainly going to need some kind of ID. And for those who are trying to move up from this position and want to work, they will also need ID for most employers.

    As to constitutionally protected activity vs. commercial activity, my question remains: How many people can there be who are simultaneously so isolated from every aspect of modern society that they have no need of ID to do any of the things that I described and yet also so engaged in society via the political process that they want to vote but can’t because they don’t have and can’t get ID? If illegal aliens can round up enough ID to get mortgages, which they can, I just don’t believe there are citizens (i.e. potential voters) who can’t get ID.

    Rather than allowing their circumstances to dictate policy for everyone, why not offer them free ID? Why don’t anti-ID activists focus their attention and money on something practical, like helping these folks get ID.

    Finally, while this thread is obviously not specifically a forum for discussing one’s personal situation, the poster who made the remark about how I was only interested in those who could afford to fly and drive is the one who is being condescending. S/he assumes I have no personal knowledge of what it means to be short of money and therefore can’t sympathize with such people.

    In fact, I was laid off three times between 2001 and 2007. My first unemployment in post dot-com, post 9/11 NYC lasted a year and a half and left me literally broke. My medical care at that point consisted of ERs as I had no insurance. The only work I had was P/T fast food at $5.15 an hour (gross). I have also, as noted, been on government benefits myself recently (unemployment) and I use public transport as I cannot afford a car even when I am employed. I use Greyhound more often than not because Amtrak is too expensive. And while I’m not disabled (which could happen to anyone) nor elderly (being in my mid 50s, that’s not far off), I am aware those folks exist.

    And yet, I do and always did have ID.

  69. #72 from Diane:

    “Rather than allowing their circumstances to dictate policy for everyone, why not offer them free ID? Why don’t anti-ID activists focus their attention and money on something practical, like helping these folks get ID.”

    That’s the right approach: both democratic and charitable.

  70. bq. One of the problems with ID’s is that it basically prevents the homeless from voting.

    Most *registration* forms require an address. Any issues related to address would affect the actual voter registration form just as much as any state issued ID.

  71. Diane,
    I don’t normally like to clutter threads like this, but I must say thanks for taking the time to make such an excellent post.

  72. Diane,

    I thought you made sensible points in your first post (#8), and I winced when a regular commenter mischaracterized them, presumably as a means to advance his rather different views (#39). (I’ll add that his comments also added important perspectives to this discussion.)

    Your addition of detail and personal experience in #72 again brought a common-sense view to the thread. As it’s all too tempting to prefer speculation to perspectives grounded in pragmatism, I appreciated that.

  73. bq. One of the problems with ID’s is that it basically prevents the homeless from voting.

    And one of the problems with the homeless voting is the danger of absentee voter fraud which AJL is so concerned about. Part of the fraud in that Miami 1998 mayoral election was “buying homeless votes for $10 each”:http://www.miamiherald.com/522/story/456937.html via absentee ballots.

    We shouldn’t systematically disenfranchise the homeless, but I suggest they may present a reason for _higher_ scrutiny and standards in the voting process, rather than reducing barriers to fraud.

  74. A hypothetical Jane Smith works out in Ruralville, where she’s worked for X years. She may have had ID at some time in her life but the ID expired and she no longer has valid ID currently. She does not have a car, and a trip to the DMV requires her to take an entire day off from work which she cannot afford to do, nevermind the expense of the ID that she cannot afford.

    We make reasonable accommodations for people; a disabled person can’t use a regular paper ballot or touch screen but that doesn’t mean nobody cannot use them. The existence of persons who are unable to physically get to a polling place doesn’t make the use of polling places to case votes as violating their right to vote- we have absentee balloting (that over time has gotten easier to do) and there’s also efforts (usually by political operatives) to round up these people and drive them to the polls. There is a sizable population of people who cannot read, therefore we cannot have ballots that require people to read the ballots?

  75. I’ve been looking at some of the numbers of people who might be affected by this law in the court filings and transcripts, and I think there are very few people potentially impacted by this law, though a few caveats are in order.

    Even if I were to suggest that a few thousand might be impacted by the law, it’s arguably too much. Both proponents and opponents of the law have the same philosophical underpinning: every vote is sacred and elections can be decided by a very small number of votes.

    This might not be equally true outside of Indiana. Indiana appears to have a very high number of citizens with driver’s licenses or comparable state IDs (estimated 99%). Nationwide, the Carter-Baker Commission estimated 88% of Americans lack such an ID. In Indiana, those without IDs are concentrated in Marion County (Indianapolis).

    I’m actually ambivalent about photo IDs. I’m extremely hostile to a SCOTUS decision precluding states from requiring them.

  76. Here in FL, theoretical Jane Smith could renew her license by mail for $15, or just get a state ID in the mail for $3 ($10 renewal fee). Even if she was required to renew in person because her ID expired many years ago, that ID would be good for the next 8 years or so, after which she could continue renewing by mail.

    I realize the numbers may vary in other states, and one could make an argument for reducing/eliminating the cost. But is travelling to the DMV once every few decades, or sending in forms by mail once every 8 years, _really_ too much to ask of a citizen who wants to vote?

    As for the disabled and illiterate: if I recall correctly, most polling places offer assistance in casting your vote if you request it. This usually takes the form of a poll worker going to the ballot box with you, reading the options, and helping you record your intended vote on the ballot itself.

    If the above accomodations were not in place, I might be sympathetic to the objections raised against requiring ID. But given the routes available for citizens to maintain absolute minimal contact with the system that governs them, I don’t see how maintaining ID creates any sort of reasonably objectionable barrier.

  77. Unbeliever- As mentioned earlier Atlanta has 1 polling station. If these states want to put up a “barrier” towards voting, they should also help legal residents crossing. I expect a lawsuit in Atlanta is not too far away, basically informing the government that if every citizen needs an ID to do their civic duty, there need to be enough DMV’s so that all citizens can have equal access. Having one DMV for 400,000 people seems like asking for trouble.

    relative comparison: My town has 100,000 people, and 4 DMV’s.

  78. bq. there need to be enough DMV’s so that all citizens can have equal access. Having one DMV for 400,000 people seems like asking for trouble.

    I generally agree with your point. But that is a flaw in the local implementation, not the underlying philosophy, and I suspect GA may provide other methods of obtaining a state ID. For example, how many county clerks or tax collector offices are there within the same area? (I somehow doubt government at _any_ level would have a lack of tax collectors!) For my own part, I have not set foot in a DMV for 11 years; all my ID renewals, new ID requests, and address changes were done through tax collector’s offices, through mail, or over the Internet.

  79. In Georgia, the free ID is at the registrar’s office, not the DMV, and there is only one registrar per county. Since any federal or state-issued photo ID will do, there are theoretically numerous places to get an ID, but they are probably not free and it doesn’t seem likely that someone without a driver’s license would have other identification.

  80. Here is something to chew on from the Appellate Court decision:

    bq. _Even though it is exceedingly difficult to maneuver in today’s America without a photo ID (try flying, *or even entering a tall building such as the courthouse in which we sit,* without one; see United States v. Smith, 426 F.3d 567 (2d Cir. 2005)), and as a consequence the vast majority of adults have such identification, the Indiana law will deter some people from voting._

    “Link pdf”:http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/electionlaw/litigation/documents/Rokita-Judgment.pdf

    While none of these lawsuits have actually located an individual who would be deterred from voting for want of a photo ID, that person may not even have been able to watch his or her case be decided in any event.

  81. Look, after some hard thought, I’m not really against this law except for three counts:

    1)There must be attention paid to the (admitadly) small groups who don’t have ID’s (homeless, extreme poor, elderly). If enough attention is paid so that everyone who wants one has a convienent opportunity to earn one, I have much fewer gripes.

    2) I’m also deeply worried that political lawyers are going to turn this into a game of “How can I possibly disqualify this voters ID?”. Attempting to stop voters due to: wear & tear, difficult to read information, out of date ID’s, or “bad pictures”. If the ID presentation laws are clearly presented and advertised PRIOR to election, than that helps alot. Also, those working at polls MUST have training on these rules accepting ID’s (just to prevent confusion).

    3) ID’s alone will not stop the problem. Efforts need to be made towards developing multi-state voter databases: to identify multi-state voters, obituaries and blatantly false voting addresses.

    Finally, we need to get rid of electronic voting booths. I think these are way more dangerous than ‘impersonation fraud’.

  82. #85 from Alchemist:

    “1)There must be attention paid to the (admitadly) small groups who don’t have ID’s (homeless, extreme poor, elderly). If enough attention is paid so that everyone who wants one has a convienent opportunity to earn one, I have much fewer gripes.”

    You also need to pay attention to reaching and educating potential voters who would want the free and convenient voter ID if they knew about it. In the long run, the solution is that everyone should be indoctrinated in school to value democracy, to want to vote, to know how, and on specifics that don’t change, or change as little as possible, so that even people who get minimal schooling before they drop out will be rightly guided to democratic empowerment. But in the short and medium terms, you have a number of people who won’t know what the system is now, and who are likely not to have mailing addresses (or check them), who are likely not to be following media reports and so on. I’d be particularly concerned about elderly people who may not have kept their ID information handy. To cut down on disfranchisement through lack of information, I think you have to spend some money, particularly on television advertising, because the elderly, who often find it hard to read, value television as an information source.

  83. The actions of the court were IMO designed to disenfranchise those voters whom are poor, have lost their home or a permanent place to stay. Most people believe that these voters are Democratic or a racial minority. The reality is given the racial makeup of America these voters are likely to be white and last voted Republican.

    Nonetheless, if members of your party believe these people should be registered, the PARTY should get off their asses and register these people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>