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Tilting at Windmills

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September 28, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

VOTER ID....In the LA Times today, law professor Daniel Tokaji asks if voter ID laws, like the Indiana law that's being challenged in the Supreme Court, are "a new poll tax":

This burden that Indiana's law imposes might be defensible if the state had evidence that ID is needed to prevent polling place fraud, but that evidence simply doesn't exist. The state of Indiana couldn't document a single case of voter impersonation at the polls. In other words, voter ID is a solution in search of a problem.

....In challenging this law, voting rights advocates rely on a 1966 case that struck down poll taxes, which were used to disenfranchise African Americans in some Southern states. In that opinion, the Supreme Court held that even a $1.50 poll tax discriminated against voters based on their economic status. The court declared that restrictions on the right to vote must be "closely scrutinized and carefully confined."

Some are optimistic that the Supreme Court will follow this precedent and strike down Indiana's law, thereby placing comparably strict laws in jeopardy....[But] just last year, it lifted a court order against an Arizona voter ID law that required photo ID or two forms of non-photo ID. That opinion turned the right to vote on its head. The court suggested that the mere perception of voter fraud was equivalent to vote dilution. According to the court, citizens might "feel disenfranchised" if they believe, correctly or not, that others are committing vote fraud.

Indiana "couldn't document a single case of voter impersonation at the polls." And we're supposed to believe that voter fraud is the real reason behind these laws? Please.

Kevin Drum 12:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

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The reason there's no documented voter fraud is because it's a crime where it's impossible to be caught. It's easy to register under a fake name, then show up and vote. Remember when a Democrat vote got a Mary Poppins under the rolls? If it hadn't been such an obviously fake name, it never would have been caught. And if that person had shown up and voted, who would have known?

Explain this: How would somebody undertaking such a scheme get caught?

So, let's have vote reciepts (like Democrats want) and require ID (like republicans want), then we can be sure in our elections.

Source for Mary Poppins: http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=News&id=2275739


[NOTE: Because this post questions Democratic dogma, it will probably be deleted]

Posted by: Al on September 28, 2007 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

C'mon Kevin, you're usually more honest than this. Google vote fraud on the internet and read about ACORN or East St. Louis, felons in Florida or your own former congressman B-1 Bob knocked out of office by fraudulent ballots. And if the appearance of impropriety is enough to stiffle freedom of speech with campaign finance reform, how come the appearance of fraudulent voting is not enough to ask people to show an ID. How does the public benefit by bending over backwards for people that don't have ID anyway?

Posted by: minion on September 28, 2007 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, that post falls right in to Democratic dogma -- at least until 2006. Remember all the accusations of voter fraud against Karl Rove and his evil hurricaine-making machine in the blogosphere? Ohio! Ohio!

The point is, the left-wing should be happy that this requirement (actually being able to prove who you say you are) removes at least one avenue for evil ChimpyMcHitlerites to disenfranchise the population by messing with votes.

Except they're not. Why is that, I wonder?

And why does this post only have 2 comments on it after 9 hours of posting?

And spare me the bitching about this being a poll tax in disguise. Your right to vote is contingent on "you" being qualified to vote. As in, registered to vote in that county (or whatever your State requirements are) and in being the person who you say you are. If ID cards are expensive, make em free (isn't that the proposal in Georgia)... but what's the point about screaming "Diebold!" if you can't verify that there's garbage going into the system in the first place?

Posted by: J.C. on September 28, 2007 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

D'oh... ex-nay on the "nine hours" crack, I apparently can't tell the difference between PM and AM on the West Coast. :) My points still stand though.

Posted by: J.C. on September 28, 2007 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Al, voter rolls are public. If there were a bunch of fake people on the rolls, then it wouldn't be hard to show that those people don't exist, and if the rolls indicated that those fake people had voted then fraud would have been demonstrated.

Posted by: KCinDC on September 28, 2007 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

If the goal is to eliminate voter fraud, why is there no check on absentee ballots? Perhaps because absentee ballots trend Republican voters?

Posted by: Tigershark on September 28, 2007 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, the wingers are the first ones to comment. How special.

The "problem" - voting booth fraud - doesn't exist.

The "solution" - mandatory ID's - is the problem.

Posted by: Lame Man on September 28, 2007 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Last night, I heard a blurb about a story that NPR was doning on this story this morning. The idiot commentatory was explaining that this is an issue because Republicans and Democrats are "concerned about different things." Republicans are concerned about the "integrity" of the process while Democrats are concerned about "fairness."

Arggggggghhhhhhhhh. Integrity hardly describes the Republican concern here.

Posted by: treetop on September 28, 2007 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, the disingenuous (or possibly ignorant) right wingers have really come out in force!

J.C., there is really no comparison between the kind of voter fraud ID laws are supposedly designed to prevent and the kind of vote fixing many are afraid is possible with computerized and touch-screen voting systems. Is that really a difficult distinction for you to make? Will a voter ID law prevent a touch-screen voting booth from miscounting my vote? Really?

The problem with voter ID laws (to the right it's a benefit!) is that they seem reasonable on the surface to most middle class people. Poll taxes and literacy tests seemed the same way in their day. "If you can't afford to pay a dollar why should you be allowed to vote," is not so different from "If you don't have an ID you why should you be allowed to vote?"

Another commenter somewhere (I can't remember where I read this) made a nice suggestion.

How about if special new voter IDs are mailed out automatically with welfare and Social Security checks once a year. If you don't have one you can't vote. Not on welfare or Social Security? No problem, just stop by your nearest welfare office and pick one up. That's fair, isn't it? That won't suppress anyone's vote, will it?

Voter fraud is a myth. To the extent that it happens it's isolated and unimportant. Al, your defense that vote fraud is hard to document just won't fly. I suppose we should just trust you? The real agenda here is to suppress the minority vote. Everyone knows it.

Posted by: Rob Mac on September 28, 2007 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK
C'mon Kevin, you're usually more honest than this. Google vote fraud on the internet and read about ACORN or East St. Louis ... --minion

Yes, please do! That way, you will learn that the case against ACORN in Missouri was summarily thrown out of court as being complete and utter crap -- not to mention against DoJ guidelines and part of the GOP plan to disenfranchise minority voters.

I have no issues with ID requirements so long as:

1. Make it a federal, not a state-by-state guideline.

2. The IDs are free.

3. There are mobile ID trucks to go to low income areas and provide the IDs, for free, on the spot -- since many low income people don't have transportation, this allows them to get the IDs without having to find a way to get to wherever they're being handed out.

4. The GOP agrees to a paper record of EVERY vote. Period.

5. Ensure that all polling places have machines equal to the number of citizens in the area. For example, when I lived in the DC area, I voted in two elections -- one in SWDC (primarily African American) and once in Falls Church (more white and Latino) -- and noticed a HUGE difference. The former had few machines and long waits, and the latter a wealth of machines and almost no waiting time. This was NOT a coincidence and should be fixed somehow (probably on the local level, I imagine).

If we can do all that, I think everyone can be happy -- the GOP gets their way with ID laws, the Dems get their way by having those laws be fair, along with a paper trail. Win/win.

Of course, I'm sure there's some glitches in my plan somewhere (and am interested in reading what those are).

.

Posted by: Mark D on September 28, 2007 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK
The reason there's no documented voter fraud is because it's a crime where it's impossible to be caught.

That must explain why Ann Coulter hasn't been convicted of voter fraud ... yet.
:-)

Posted by: Mark D on September 28, 2007 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

The most common form of “retail” voter fraud is people with 2 residencies voting in both, easy to do with mail in ballots and had to get caught, particularly if the residencies are in two different states. And who are the people who have two (or more) homes? Well, let’s just say they tend to vote Republican.

Posted by: fafner1 on September 28, 2007 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Not on welfare or Social Security? No problem, just stop by your nearest welfare office and pick one up. That's fair, isn't it?

It isn't if the welfare office is, say, 90 miles from where you live.

It's also unfair if, as is the case for the voters of Atlanta, the only office to get the Georgia ID being touted in Georgia as absolutely necessary to prevent mythical voter impersonation is way out in the suburbs and difficult or impossible to reach by public transit. Screw you, non-driving Atlanta voters.

Proponents of "free IDs" often seem to forget or be oblivious to the fact that there's more than money involved in placing undue burdens on the right to vote.

Posted by: shortstop on September 28, 2007 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Whew, that post of mine could have benefited from some significant editing. I gotta stop posting while I'm on the phone.

Posted by: shortstop on September 28, 2007 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

read about ACORN or East St. Louis, felons in Florida

ACORN was discussed above. What I read about felons in Florida was that a firm hired by Republicans in Florida purged thousands of legal voters from the list of registered voters because they had the same name as a felon. And most of them were black. Apparently the Republicans felt it was ok for white felons to vote.

Posted by: tomeck on September 28, 2007 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Kevin and the loony leftists can't seem to comprehend that the mere "supposition" of voter fraud is tanatmount to stiffling votes of honest, hardworking Americans. Unless some sort of assurance is being provided that we are rigorously minimizing rampant fraud, who would bother voting. WOuld you?

Posted by: egbert on September 28, 2007 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Let's not forget to differentiate between voter fraud, and election fraud - they are after all two very different things.
One involves a single vote, whilst the other is concerned with the outcome of the tabulation of votes.

And let us consider members of which parties are concerned with each ...

Posted by: kenga on September 28, 2007 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Individual voter fraud is rare because it doesn't make sense. The penalty for getting caught is large in most states, but the gain to a particular individual is small. Huge numbers of people don't vote at all. It would be much easier to buy a vote than to convince someone to vote using a fradulent registration.

Fraudulent registration is almost certainly, as in the case of Mary Poppins et. al., caused by marginal people who are paid by voter registration efforts. In the particular Mary Poppins case, this guy Chad wanted some cocaine, so he forged a bunch of registration cards. That has nothing to do with stealing elections.

There are registration games that are attempts at voter suppression, which I've personally experienced. One method is that activists for a certain party take my registration card at a stand outside the post office, and then later throws it away, thus disenfranchising me. Doesn't cost any money, and it's hard to prove. Lesson: always register at the post office, not with some activist, and make sure you're registered well before the deadline so you can redo it. In another case, a nice young man came to the door offering to register me, but he'd only register Republicans. I didn't know that was illegal at the time, I just thought it was rude.

Posted by: me2i81 on September 28, 2007 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Indiana "couldn't document a single case of voter impersonation at the polls." And we're supposed to believe that voter fraud is the real reason behind these laws? Please.

Aren't you tricky. Michail Reagan uses the same trick on his radio show by demanding that callers who are opposed to illegal wiretapping name a single person who has been illegally wiretapped, which they can't do since illegal wiretapping is performed in secret.

Everybody knows that fake ID's for illegal aliens is a multi-billion dollar business even if local and state governments in the past have been too corrupt and/or politically correct to check out who is voting.

And we're supposed to believe voter fraud isn't a widespread problem? Please.

Posted by: Luther on September 28, 2007 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Based on the split in comment topics here, I propose a split solution, and you all can decide if it's reasonable:

on the one hand, devise a photo ID, easily obtainable (and if there's transportation issues, etc. THEN SOLVE THEM), which will be required to be presented when one is voting. Presumably there will be an electronic biometric that can be matched to a networked system. Thus, you always know who is in front of you.

On the other hand, require every election board to have available on demand a paper vote-by-vote record of every single ballot cast in that ward. Every single one. And if there is ANY questionable activity (whether accusations of voter fraud or accusations of miscounting/machine error), the election board must turn over the paper ballots for independent audit.

Complicated? Sure. But I'll trade an ID requirement for a tangible audit trail any day of the week.

Posted by: jonathan on September 28, 2007 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK
And we're supposed to believe voter fraud isn't a widespread problem?

Yes. And you know why?

Because for the past several years the Republicans have been going out of their way to try and prove it. At the local and federal levels, they have put a ton of cash on the issue, and the DoJ stepped up trying to track down such instances the minute Bush took office.

And yet, after more than six years, there have been exceedingly few cases of voter fraud.

This must mean that:

a.) Voter fraud is a mythical issue made up by the GOP;

b.) The GOP is utterly incompetent since they have little to show for a massive amount of effort;

It's probably a bit of both.

Posted by: Mark D on September 28, 2007 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Luther? How does having a fake green card help you to illegally vote?

"cause green card holders can't vote anyway. At least not in national elections.

Posted by: jonathan on September 28, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, this simpler than everyone is making it out to be. Because the federal races are on the same ballot, the Photo ID requirement runs afoul the 24th Amendment which is an absolute categorical ban that does not admit of any competing state interests.

Posted by: jalrin on September 28, 2007 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it bad to require people to show ID's when they vote?

When consuming a government service that requires citizenships, or exercising the rights that are unique to citizenship, why is mandating that people prove they're eligible a bad thing? I'm stuck on this issue - why am I on the wrong side of other progressives when it comes to voter ID laws?

Immigration generally seems to be the one issue where I do not agree at all with the rest of the progressive movement.

Posted by: An Anonymous American Patriot on September 28, 2007 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Google vote fraud on the internet and read about ACORN or East St. Louis, felons in Florida or your own former congressman B-1 Bob knocked out of office by fraudulent ballots.

Actually, B-1 Bob was knocked out of office by his constituents in this little thing we call an "election." Sure, he screamed "voter fraud," but the investigation proved that more fraudulent ballots were cast for Dornan than for Sanchez. In other words, most of the cheating was in Dornan's favor, and he still lost.

That makes you 0-for-3, minion. Nicely played.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on September 28, 2007 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it bad to require people to show ID's when they vote?

Because not everyone has an ID, especially poor and elderly people. Hell, not every citizen in this country has a birth certificate -- older people who were born at home have had their Social Security benefits taken away because there's no official record of their birth filed with the county, even though that's not how they did it 50 or 60 years ago if you were born at home.

Think about it: if you don't drive and you don't have a checking account, what do you need a photo ID for?

Posted by: Mnemosyne on September 28, 2007 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Your calm and lucid arguments have convinced me. You guys should continue your valiant crusade to keep homeless bums on the rolls...Go ahead and spend time and energy fighting this abomination that 85% of the American public supports to appease your special interests, and the Repubs will spend their resources convincing the public you guys can't be trusted outside your little circle jerks.

Posted by: minion on September 28, 2007 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Look at this voter "fraud". Don't notice that in Florida and Ohio and who knows where.

Posted by: slanted tom on September 28, 2007 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

The complaints about voter disenfranchisement would be more believable if the so-called voter rights advocates could produce one or two voters who would not be able to vote if they had to go out and get photo ID.

Posted by: DBL on September 28, 2007 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Unless some sort of assurance is being provided that we are rigorously minimizing rampant fraud, who would bother voting. WOuld you?

Poor egbert. Can't be bothered to vote because he's bought the right-wing myth hook line and sinker.

I wonder why advocates of voter ID laws don't want to do away with the number one source of fraudulent and suspect voting--absentee ballots. I have yet to hear anyone on that side of the issue address this.

And minion, do you leave any room for the possibility that opposition to voter ID laws that would disenfranchise "homeless bums" as you say is principled? If the those against these measures were so unprincipled, then why don't we see movements underway to do away with absentee balloting? Is it possible that those on the left really want to make sure that everyone is able to cast a ballot? That's certainly how I feel about this issue, but maybe that's because I don't attend these "circle jerks" of yours.

Posted by: Rob Mac on September 28, 2007 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

You guys should continue your valiant crusade to keep homeless bums on the rolls...

Yes, let's strip the poor of their citizenship rights! If they wanted to vote, they shouldn't have been poor.

Even better, we can go back to the old British colonial system where only landowners were allowed to vote. Who needs the Constitution anyway?

Posted by: Mnemosyne on September 28, 2007 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

In Texas, the legislators cast multiple votes for amendments, etc. Seriously. Even one who was pushing for one of these voter ID (poll tax) laws was caught on camera doing it.

http://www.reason.com/blog/show/122730.html

Posted by: Bill on September 28, 2007 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

DBL

It's going to be a lot easier to find people who'll have trouble getting a voter ID than it will be to find citizens who "feel disenfranchised if they believe, correctly or not, that others are committing vote fraud."


Posted by: tomeck on September 28, 2007 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

to DBL at 4:22PM:
Voting is a right of citizenship. Any interference by the government (whether local, state, or federal) in a citizen's voting (such as requiring ID's) constitutes an interferance with the electoral process. Period.
When the Republicans start screaming about the necessity of paper trails at polling places arguments about requiring identification might be more believable; until then it is simply another of Rove's attempts to rig elections.

Posted by: Doug on September 28, 2007 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently voters might feel their votes have been diluted so there must be ID laws, whether or not such dilution has occurred or might occur in the future.

Seems American citizens' feelings are very important and the entire reality must bow to their perceptions of the world, whether flawed or not.

And if you're in Florida and you merely feel threatened by someone you can legally shoot them, even if they weren't threatening you.

Those feelings seem awfully fragile...

Posted by: Lotharsson on September 28, 2007 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

I am a strong supporter of curbing the misuse of absentee ballots... I guarantee that within two or three election cycles Dem activist groups will start obeying a "higher law" and abusing this process too [AFSCME has already started in some nursing homes and with some home health aides] and the Repubs will join that fight too.

Posted by: minion on September 28, 2007 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

Mnemosyne: "Why is it bad to require people to show ID's when they vote?

Because not everyone has an ID, especially poor and elderly people. Hell, not every citizen in this country has a birth certificate -- older people who were born at home have had their Social Security benefits taken away because there's no official record of their birth filed with the county, even though that's not how they did it 50 or 60 years ago if you were born at home.

Think about it: if you don't drive and you don't have a checking account, what do you need a photo ID for?"

I am sympathetic to the plight of the poor and rural, and I know that "voter fraud" is nothing more than a conservative noise effort. I'm just not sure it's really "disenfranchising". The vast majority of people after all DO have a photo ID, and the poor and elderly are already targets of get out the vote drives.

My thinking is that the democrats should seize control of this issue. Pass a narrowly-tailored ID requirement law that is bundled to verifiable paper-trails in electronic voting machines. Shout from the rooftops how the democrats laughingly gave the republicans their fraudulant demands because it doesn't change anything. Give the republican noise makers one less red meat issue and use it to peel away moderate republican support. After all, there IS no voter ID fraud. It's a hoax. And I think the negative disenfranchising effects, which I acknowledge, can be kept to a minimum with a federally funded awareness campaign and local get out the vote efforts.

Posted by: An Anonymous American Patriot on September 29, 2007 at 2:08 AM | PERMALINK

Couldn't find a single case? Did they look? Did they try?

Posted by: Simon on September 29, 2007 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

I had to get a birth certificate from out of state recently. It cost me between $30 and $40, IIRC.

If there is such a danger of voter fraud, how can those pushing ID-at-the-polls requirements justify absentee ballots?

Of course, those voting absentee tend Republican, so I guess there's no problem there.

Posted by: Nancy Irving on October 1, 2007 at 3:55 AM | PERMALINK

Amelia from London:I have recently started going out with this really nice guy. ,

Posted by: Daddy36 on October 22, 2009 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK
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