After writing a short piece Monday about the Justice Department attempting to block the implementation of a fairly strict voter ID law in Texas, J. Christian Adams, who is writing about (and supporting) the law for PJ Media, tweeted me. I had watched a video from Project Veritas that purported to show problems with voter impersonation at the polls. I had found it a bit wanting, and Adams directed me to watch the two other videos he said showed more problems with potential poll fraud.
The first, which I had heard of but had not watched, involved James O'Keefe posing as Attorney General Eric Holder at his voting location and successfully being offered a ballot. While clever and amusing, the video still is not a compelling illustration of a need for voter ID, because the impersonation of unwitting living voters is not an achievable strategy for electoral fraud. The risk of discovery is incredibly high as the day goes on. How many voters would need to discover that somebody had already voted under their name at a precinct before people realized something was going terribly wrong? An attempt to actually alter a vote through this method could make a huge and very public mess of things, but I cannot imagine a circumstance where the widespread impersonation of living voters could ever actually work.
The second video, showing reporters being offered ballots after posing as people in New Hampshire who are actually dead, is more compelling, in part because it’s a kind of fraud that actually happens and has the potential to succeed. After all, these victims of impersonation aren’t going to show up at the polls later in the day:
But to me, voter ID is putting the burden on the citizen for terrible management of voter rolls by the government. It’s forcing individuals to have to pay -- either with money or with time or with both -- for government bureaucracy’s inability to collect, collate and manage information efficiently to remove people from the voter rolls when they don’t belong there. (But of course, attempts to do so also become ridiculously politicized. It’s apparently racist just to make sure the people on the rolls are legitimate voters.)
Voter ID laws are like DUI checkpoints: It’s government expressing both its power and its laziness. It’s not tackling the underlying problem and instead creating more burdens for its citizens to express their rights. A quick check online shows fake IDs available for around $135. Assuming a party or candidate wishing to engage in fraud isn’t able to get the costs down through other means, it may be too pricy to attempt to game the system for a general election. But for a smaller primary or municipal election, getting fake IDs into the hands of these fake voters will not be as much of a problem.
Here’s a thought exercise: Why the hell do we even still have polling locations anyway? Do we really even need them anymore?