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Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP

by TChris

The Republican-controlled Georgia legislature made its intent clear when it enacted a law that required voters to have a driver's license or to buy a state-issued photo ID. Requiring payment for an ID amounts to an unconstitutional poll tax, so a federal judge struck the law down. Poll taxes don't prevent fraud; they suppress voting. That's the transparent purpose of Georgia's Voter ID law.

Undaunted, the legislature reenacted the law, this time offering the ID for free. In response, both a state judge and a federal judge have issued restraining orders against the law's implementation, concluding that the revised law is still likely to be found unconstitutional.

Judge Murphy decided the law still ran afoul of the federal Constitution. He said it violated the First and 14th Amendments because the severe burden on the right to vote discriminates against disadvantaged groups, those least likely to have a photo ID.

Burdening voting is exactly what the Georgia legislature intends.

Emil Steiner echoes the improbable Republican claim that Georgia elections will become "an exercise in ballot stuffing," making it "easier to commit election fraud in the Peach State than to purchase alcohol." Putting aside that the right to vote (unlike the desire to buy beer) is constitutionally protected, Republican worries that voters will cast multiple ballots in the absence of a photo ID requirement are overblown. The evidence that multiple voting is a widespread problem just doesn't exist.

Republicans screamed about "rampant" voter fraud in Wisconsin after the 2004 election. Their proof quickly evaporated, and a subsequent investigation found no evidence of a conspiracy to influence the election by illegal voting. Some isolated cases of ineligible voting were found, generally by felons who were on probation. Federal prosecutors charged four people with multiple voting; at least three were convicted. (Some of the charges against felons who allegedly voted illegally were so dubious that they led to acquittals.)

Republicans can nonetheless be counted on to ignore evidence that the system can be made to wors well without imposing new burdens on voters. That's because the prevention of voting fraud is unrelated to their desire for voter ID. Republicans want these laws because they have the collateral consequence of reducing voting by poor and minority voters.

Wisconsin's 2004 election was flawed, but those flaws could be remedied by providing more voting machines where they're needed and by improving the training of poll workers. The real risk of fraud, of course, comes from voting machines that can be hacked or manipulated to produce results that are friendly to the tampering party, and from election workers who assure that voters from their party will have ready access to voting machines while opposition voters stand in long lines. We rarely hear Republicans squawking about these issues. Do you wonder why?

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  • Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#1)
    by beefeater on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 10:09:31 AM EST
    For crying out loud, You need ID to cash your welfare check, or rent a video from Blockbuster, or to open a checking account or to drive a car why not to prove that you are eligible to vote for cripes sake? Who in this country dosen't have some kind of ID anyway? We have this kind of law in Arizona, and the only people it bothers are the illegals.

    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#2)
    by BigTex on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 10:21:12 AM EST
    Question for all who oppose some sort of photo ID for voting. How would you stop the fraud? Here in Texas a utility bill is enough to let you vote. What's to stop, hypothetically, someone from gatheing 5 utility bills from people who will not vote, and going and voting based on the utility bills? Counties are small spatially, this could be easily accomplished. With a photo id requirement, this is eliminated. It goes back to the prinicple of one man one vote.

    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 10:41:20 AM EST
    The homeless, the illegals and the dregs of society all vote democrat- that is why they don't want IDs required. If you are not smart enough to get a free ID card, then you are either too stupid to know who to vote for or you are an illegal alien.

    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 10:47:44 AM EST
    Beefeater -- Sigh. I thought this had been beaten to death long ago.
    • OK, prove your citizenship. Right now. You probably have a US passport or a certified copy of your birth certificate lying around. Lots of folks (not just poor people) don't. Local ID, like drivers' licenses, are worthless for proving citizenship.
    • Poor people get robbed a lot. ID documents are some of the most popular targets for theft. I've heard numbers as high as 40%/year for the theft rate.
    So to do it properly, we'd need a big bureaucracy with a big, invasive database, lots of offices to replace lost/stolen IDs promptly, expensive hard- to- forge IDs,and a way of quickly verifying IDs at every polling place. We can be sure this won't be done right. Not only is it a very difficult problem in general, it's a magnet for corrupt practices (remember the bogus "felon" lists?). This ignores whether or not this is the Right Thing To Do or not. Is it only older Europeans who get a cold feeling in the pit of their stomach at the phrase "Papers, please"? Oh, BTW, every illegal imigrant I've heard of around here has forged ID.

    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 11:14:48 AM EST
    I am against a national id. Much of that is because I am Jewish and know how that was used in Germany and the Soviet Union. But today we have SSN being used as an ID, even though the law (as I understand it) says that it is not, and even though since it contains no checksums, etc., it is technically a really crappy ID easy to fake. Without agreeing there should be a national ID, I would like to see a group of lawyers work with a group of engineers and privacy experts (Bruce Schneir, ACLU, EFF) to see if they could determine a) what the goals of a national ID should be, b) what the risks are, and c) determine some sort of computing architecture that would meet a while minimizing b. I am concerned that reasonable people that want to effectively control illegal immigration, especially by placing the burden on the employers, are going to take us down the path to a terrible national ID. Screw voting, the SSN is a terrible, easily forged ID. Maybe that is a GOOD thing, but if it is not, we probably do need a good replacement for the SSN used to keep SSN fraud down, and possibly used by employers to determine employment eligibility and maybe used at the polls.

    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#6)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 11:21:06 AM EST
    lightig writes:
    Oh, BTW, every illegal imigrant I've heard of around here has forged ID.
    Maybe we can arrest them when they try to vote and deport'em. et al - One of the recurring themes has been that the way to stop illegal aliens is to punish those who hire them. Now, as we all know, if you don't provide some type of valid ID, with photo, there is no way you can hold the emoployeer responsible. So what you are saying is this.
    I don't want an ID for illegal aliens because I want them to vote... And I was just kidding about stopping the flow of them by puniushing the employers.


    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#7)
    by beefeater on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 11:22:56 AM EST
    "OK, prove your citizenship. Right now." How about "the election is in November better get an ID before then." If you are concerned enough to vote, get it done? Are you saying that if any system isn't fool proof then nothing should be done? Will somebody always try to scam the system? Are you aware of anything that anyone does that is 100% accurate! If someone is too lazy too stupid, or to corrupt to prove eligibility then I don't want them voting for the goverment that the rest of have to live with.

    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#8)
    by Slado on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 11:23:29 AM EST
    The same people who claim Ohio was stolen from voter fraud some how think letting anyone vote based on their "word" is a good idea? Doesn't matter how fancy a voting machine you have, if the person voting isn't who they say they are the system doesn't work. This is a no brainer except for people who want illegal aliens to vote for them. Republican or Democrat.

    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#9)
    by Dadler on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 12:07:42 PM EST
    Slado, The notion that ineligible or illegal voters showing up in person to vote are as big a problem to the integrity of the electoral system, or even a flea on the ass of it, as are insecure and fraudulent voting machinery and software, is just not sound to me. Certainly legitimate, but not in the same universe. Check it out. All the info you want.

    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#10)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 12:16:48 PM EST
    You are mis-stating the Wisconsin results badly I am afraid. What the prosecutor actually said was that the records were so bad and so incomplete that it was impossible to bring charges. He did not say that there was no fraud. Poll workers accepted same day registration cards that did not have an address or even a complete name. In such a case it is impossible to Know who voted and if you can't find them you can't charge them. They might be legit they might not, the point is that noone can say because the record is too incomplete. Faced with thousands of such records the DA announced that he couldn't do anything about it. He's right but that doesn't mean that there isn't a problem. In wisconsin you can register the day of at the polls without any ID whatsoever. All you need is someone in the room to "vouch" for you. I.E. You and I can walk into a polling station in milwaukee and you can say "I'm GOD, I live upstairs. " and I say "yeah that's right." Bingo, you are now a registered voter and can vote. Tell me that that doesn't tempt people to cheat? You don't have to have a conspiracy, just a percentage of people who see an easy way to take advantage of the system. Given how strongly people feel about these elections it is not hard to suggest that some people did cheat. What we don't know is how many. Add in the fact that Milwaukee always provides the margin of victory in state wide elections and you can see why people are frustrated with the lack of any controls on the process. In this case asking to see an ID doesn't sound out of line. The WI legislature even offered to exempt elderly and indigent people from the requirement but Doyle vetoed it anyway. Democrats are starting to look like they have something to hide on this issue.

    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#11)
    by Sailor on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 12:27:59 PM EST
    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#12)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 12:50:44 PM EST
    Oh please. The Right to Vote extends to citizens only, and proving that we don't have illegals voting is a perfectly rational idea. Why don't you explain to me how many of the people who would be unable to vote under an ID system have trouble either: -- driving -- flying -- buying cigarettes -- buying alcohol

    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#13)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 01:36:34 PM EST
    Sailor, Read the fine print on the link that you provide. The last paragraph describes the process of "vouching" for someone. My example may have been a little flippant but it is accurate. Note that you can put down anything you want on the registration form because no one even tries to check it until after the election when it is too late. The system has serious problems. It's not a conspiracy, it's just incompetence but it does need to be fixed.

    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#14)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 02:26:20 PM EST
    JimakaPPJ and Slado -- Yes, because [scary_music]Illegal Aliens[/scary_music] all have big neon signs on their foreheads so we can recognize them. The whole "illegal aliens" business is simply an unrestricted license to harass Hispanics, and Hispanics know it. The accusations of vote fraud in Ohio (and Florida, and Colorado, and New Mexico, and ...) are not based on "retail" fraud like ineligible voters, but on "wholesale" fraud like gimmicked voting machines or hacked vote-counting computers.

    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#15)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 02:50:10 PM EST
    Are you saying that if any system isn't fool proof then nothing should be done?
    1. Is inelegible people voting really a problem? Before putting in any solution, we have to know if it's worth the trouble. And I am deeply suspicious of *any* claims regarding illegal behavior -- you're essentially asking people to confess to a crime.
    2. Remember the drug test paradox from elementary probability theory, and realize that 99+% of people trying to vote will be legitimate. Your ID system has to be very good, or it degenerates to coin-tossing. Worse than nothing.
    Nope, the purpose of these ID laws is the same as the reason for the poll tax -- keep blacks from voting. Heah, boy, that ID looks fake to me. Come on down to the station so's I can check it out.

    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#16)
    by jimcee on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 05:02:32 PM EST
    It seems to me that if one wants to vote then he will supply the appropriate ID so that he can vote. That the same site who has in the past allowed dubious claims of voter fraud in both Florida and Ohio now wants to allow a system that would allow anyone who wants to vote to vote, whether they are elegible or not. I've been saying this a lot on here lately but it is just the perfect thing to say: You are a hypocrite if you want to prevent illegal poll rigging but at the same time do not want anyway to prove that one is eligible to vote. It is just pure and simple tom-foolery that only shows that there is a certain group that feels that they need to have the means of voter fraud to win future elections. In otherwords why, if you are trying to prevent fraud, would you make it easier to to commit it? Hypocritical, thy name is the Progressive Left. Oh, and rather pathetic in a sophmoric kind of why. Sheesh.

    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#17)
    by Sailor on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 06:15:11 PM EST
    Read the fine print on the link that you provide. The last paragraph describes the process of "vouching" for someone.
    I did read it, I also linked to it. The person who vouches for someone has to be able to provide the same ID requirements of the person that they vouched for. Do you have a problem with that? BTW, did you see what provisional ballots were? They aren't counted immediately, they have to be verified.

    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#18)
    by jimcee on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 07:01:07 PM EST
    Voter fraud is made easier by those who want non-identifiable voters. I'll ask again, why do certain folks want to make it easier to commit voter fraud? Especially after all the complaints about alledged fraud in the past? Although I do hate to assume the worst motives of some people I can't think of a reason why showing ID to vote is such a bad thing... Unless one wanted to commit fraud themselves, then I can understand why someone would not want some form of residency proof.

    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#19)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 07:32:08 PM EST
    lighting - Wrong. We have a constitutional republic. Just a couple of hundred votes in a single district could easily switch the control of the House and/or Senate to the other party. And we a great example of a Demo politican saying they don't care.

    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#20)
    by jimcee on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 07:46:59 PM EST
    Jim, No one here wants logic because it doesn't stoke thier emotions. Thier answer to precieved fraud is more fraud. Yikes!

    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#21)
    by Sailor on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 08:06:25 PM EST
    The last paragraph describes the process of "vouching" for someone. My example may have been a little flippant but it is accurate.
    No, it was completely inaccurate. See the link to your home state. Your 'flippant' remark was in error. Try again.

    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#22)
    by Sailor on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 08:44:51 PM EST
    Voter fraud is made easier by those who want non-identifiable voters.
    And making voters pass tests is exactly why the CRA of '64 was passed. Next you'll want poll taxes or any other mechanisms that will deny the right of CITIZENS to vote. Why shouldn't poor, homeless, marginalized citizens be allowed to vote? Ya wanna see why rethugs are so eager to limit voting rights? Look no further.

    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#23)
    by Che's Lounge on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 11:51:33 PM EST
    Here in Texas a utility bill is enough to let you vote. What's to stop, hypothetically, someone from gatheing 5 utility bills from people who will not vote, and going and voting based on the utility bills? I wouldn't put it past the Republican Guard. But Diebold has saved them the trouble.

    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#24)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Jul 14, 2006 at 09:22:09 AM EST
    Posted by Sailor July 13, 2006 09:44 PM And making voters pass tests is exactly why the CRA of '64 was passed. Next you'll want poll taxes or any other mechanisms that will deny the right of CITIZENS to vote. Why shouldn't poor, homeless, marginalized citizens be allowed to vote?
    There are no proposed tests or poll taxes and the homeless, poor and marginilized citizens WILL be allowed to vote. Illegal immigrants will not be.

    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#25)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Jul 14, 2006 at 09:49:05 AM EST
    JimakaPPJ --
    Just a couple of hundred votes in a single district could easily switch the control of the House and/or Senate to the other party.
    ??? And which district would that be, pray tell? It's a rare election that's decided by "a couple of hundred votes". To shift control of the House and/or Senate would need an army of illegal voters. If you think that you could put together an army like that without somebody blabbing, you're moving into Black Helicopter territory. Using the audit-proof voting machines means all you'd need is a laptop. The paper voting records in disputed districts in Florida were destroyed with, IMHO, unseemly haste. Unless you're saying that the Republicans used this method to take and keep control of the House and Senate?

    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#26)
    by Sailor on Fri Jul 14, 2006 at 10:38:16 AM EST
    There are no proposed tests or poll taxes
    The judge disagrees:
    In October, the judge rejected a more stringent voter ID requirement, saying it amounted to an unconstitutional poll tax


    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#27)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Jul 14, 2006 at 08:04:35 PM EST
    Surprise, surprise......the disadvantaged groups that the Republican Georgia Legislature would discriminate against by impeding access to exercise of voting rights are people of color and predominantly Democrats. Are these legislators racist bigots or just plain old Republican reactionaries who believe that they are entitled to run the country?

    Re: Voter ID: Another Bad Idea From the GOP (none / 0) (#28)
    by Sailor on Fri Jul 14, 2006 at 08:34:27 PM EST
    Are these legislators racist bigots or just plain old Republican reactionaries who believe that they are entitled to run the country?
    Uhh, what's the difference?