What to Do About Zombies at the Polls?

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?

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  • ant1sthenes||

    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.

    Providing truly free IDs (any requisite paperwork being free as well, etc.) deals with the first issue. Everyone has to pay with time for an ID, and everyone values their time. There's no discrimination there, provided that the lines and requirements for the free voter ID are the same (or less restrictive) as those for normal ID.

    Besides, can't (don't?) laws allow for provisional ballots to be cast in many cases where a person maintains that they have a right to vote in a location but the paperwork disagrees?

    And I think you're underestimating the impact that an ID requirement can have on registration fraud (provided that voting staff actually check them). You have more things to keep straight, increasing the risk of getting caught. You have to deal with the expense of getting a fake ID, unlike a legitimate voter (in fact, it's probably much pricier than a normal ID).

  • albo||

    ID addresses the issue I mention downthread--showing up and claiming to be someone who's no longer in the precinct but still in the voter book, because purge rules make it harder to get names off the rolls.

  • Brandybuck||

    At least in my state, nearly everyone has a drivers license, and the few that don't have state ID cards. Even the undocumented workers keep notarized birth certificates on them so they can buy their cervesa.

    I have never understood the argument that voter ID is somehow onerous to the poor, disadvantaged, minority, etc.

  • gerry||

    You're overlooking the fairly easy combination fraud. It is common to be able to register a completely fictitious voter in many places, simply by sending in a postcard. Likewise, these voters will not be showing up at the polls, either. Padding the registration (say at a large housing complex) and then voting all of those fraudulent registrations by combinations of absentee ballots and a few people to vote live allows a single individual or a small group to enter hundreds of votes without a single ID or ever presenting themselves in front of an election official.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Aren't you agreeing with him that registration fraud is more important than ID fraud?

  • Auric Demonocles||

    So now you're going to make people show up to register with an ID, and then show up to vote, and this is supposed to be less of a burden than bringing the ID to vote?

  • ant1sthenes||

    Who is saying that?

  • Auric Demonocles||

    If that's not the case, then there isn't a difference between registration fraud and ID fraud.

  • ant1sthenes||

    For registration, the important thing is not that the person there is who they say they are, but that the registered party is actually eligible to vote there.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    If they're not the registered party, then they aren't eligible to vote.

  • Voros McCracken||

    I'm not sure there's much of a bright line separating the two. To vote you have to register, and so voter fraud _is_ registration fraud. Registration fraud that is not voter fraud (IE someone falsely registers but then does not falsely vote) is not much of a concern.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Not in the case where someone represents themselves as a legitimate voter. However, that's harder to pull off without getting caught.

  • Reformed Republican||

    Well, there's no problem. If you have a gun, shoot 'em in the head. That's a sure way to kill 'em. If you don't, get yourself a club or a torch. Beat 'em or burn 'em. They go up pretty easy.

  • Joe R.||

    An axe is useful for both killing zombies and creating exits.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Requiring identification at the polls is neither overly burdensome nor racist. To exercise the right to vote can require a little effort on the citizen's part.

    What's the alternative to polling places?

  • ||

    What's the alternative to polling places?

    The only alternative to the polling place currently available is the Post Office with mail in ballots for absentee and early voters. But can anyone say for certain that their mail in vote was counted?

  • ||

    I live in Philadelphia, I can always be sure my vote is double counted, so long as it's the right one!

  • UneasyRider||

    It seems like it would be very easy to have universal database of all registered voters using SS numbers to avoid duplication and ensure citizenship. People would still be able to vote out of district, but at least they would only be able to vote once. This seems like such a ridiculously simple thing to do.

  • albo||

    Voter ID is no biggie. I'm judge of election at my poll, and PA had a "try-out" of ID at the primary. The very people all the naysayers said would be hurt, the elderly, were the ones who already had their ID out before we asked.

    The problems I see are motor-voter and the end of the purge. Motor-voters (registering when you get your drivers license) turn out at about 10 percent. If you're not motivated to register to vote until the DMV's computer asked you if you want to, you're not motivated enough to actually vote, so why bother.

    And the elimination of the four-year purge in PA leaves my voter book with about 1,000 voters who no longer live their or who died. Any of those names could be grabbed and used to vote if someone is corrupt enough.

  • Joe R.||

    I'm not motivated enough to actually vote, not because I'm apathetic, but because I understand mathematics.

  • kinnath||

  • Syd Henderson||

    If Necroamericans care enough about their country to come out and vote, I'm certainly not going to stand in their way.

  • o3||

    since the dead have voted, and been voted into office, for a long time, why not the walking dead also?

  • Fatty Bolger||

    What to Do About Zombies at the Polls?

    I believe headshot is the preferred technique.

  • Brandybuck||

    Don't forget the double tap

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    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.

    So the fix for this inability is to force individuals to pay more money, right?

  • R C Dean||

    But to me, voter ID is putting the burden on the citizen

    Boo freakin' hoo. Any attempt to make voting "easier" (multi-day voting, EZ absentee ballots, etc.) makes vote fraud easier, too.

    It should be flatout impossible to register without quality documentation of your identity and location. Period. If "official" photo ID works for that, so be it.

    And, if you can't register without showing a photo ID, then the "burden" of hauling that ID to the polls strikes me as one we can stand to bear.

    No question, more needs to be done to keep the voters rolls clean, sterilize the vote handling and counting process, etc. But that's no reason not to have tight registration and voting requirements, also.

  • Registration At Last!||

    This is just one little sliver of the vast case for a national identification form. The current system, relying on Social- Security- Numbers- plus-state- drivers- licenses- with- birth- certificates- and- passports- in- the- background gives you all of the hassle and none of the security of a true identification system.

    One type of card, as secure as current technology allows, for all Americans, free of charge.

  • T o n y||

    Since there's no evidence of a significant voter fraud problem in this country at all, the only reforms that need to be done to elections are to make it easier for people to vote.

    For some reason a lot of "libertarians" really love their excess bureaucracy on this topic. Can't imagine why.

  • PapayaSF||

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    My father was a loyal Democrat. He died in 1940 and in 1948 he voted for Lyndon Johnson.

    -Probably William F. Buckley, Jr.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    How many times has Tony ignored the links provided (as well as the observation that there can't be evidence of voter fraud when you are voting for dead people with no ID requirements without cross checking all the obituaries and the voter rolls)?

  • PapayaSF||

    I will keep posting the links every time I see him or any other denier making those claims.

  • PapayaSF||

  • Azathoth!!||

    ...on the part of Democrats.

    You've got to have that part. It's important--because they're the ones fighting voter ID.

  • Brandybuck||

    Make it easier to vote? How much easier can you possibly get? The only thing I can think of to make it easier, is to have the polling place show up at your door.

    Maybe it's different in your state, but around here the polls are all within a couple of miles of where you live, lines are rarely long, and anyone can vote absentee mail-in ballots for the pitiful cost of a stamp. Don't have a car and no way to get to the polling place on your own? Call your local party and they'll send someone out to drive you. Even if you speak Tagalog or Croatian, there will be someone to help you with your ballot.

    The requirement to show ID is a burden to no one. I'm not asking for three pieces of ID plus a TSA patdown. Just one of drivers license, state ID card, passport, whatever. The same ID you have to use in everyday life anyway.

  • T o n y||

    It's been demonstrated that it is, in fact, a burden. If it weren't a burden, nobody would be trying to implement these programs. It is entirely about suppressing certain types of voters. There is no other motive here whatsoever. Recent study showed that the ID law in Pennsylvania will disenfranchise something like 700,000 voters.

  • PapayaSF||

    No, it showed there were 700,000 names on the voting roles who didn't have certain kinds of state-issued ID. For all we know, those are 700,000 fake voters.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Tony, you need to come to grips with a fact -- whatever is the case with the motivations of the political establishment, a large number of ordinary people on the right believe that Democrats regularly engage in voter fraud, and have occasionally changed the outcome of elections by doing so. They believe that as sincerely as many people on the left believe these measures are intended to disenfranchise legal voters. Every action taken by Democratic politicians in opposition to fraud-prevention laws will be viewed in that light.

  • ant1sthenes||

    "For some reason a lot of "libertarians" really love their excess bureaucracy on this topic. Can't imagine why."

    Because they care about democracy, unlike progressives?

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Progressives care about democracy (on the issues that voters agree with them on).

  • ant1sthenes||

    No, they care about power. Winning elections is one way of getting it. Winning elections doesn't have to meaning getting the most legitimate votes.

  • albo||

    I bet a lot of the people who oppose ID at the polls as a solution in search of a problem also supported McCain-Feingold because it was important to prevent "the appearance of corruption" from money in politics even if you can't prove any actual corruption at the moment.

  • PapayaSF||

    Good point. And how many federal-level cases of racial discrimination have been proven in recent years? Maybe such laws are not needed!

  • albo||

    Google "la nueva forma de votar"

  • Flyover Country||

  • AlmightyJB||

    Also, how come you can only vote once? It should belike american idol where you text your vote as many times as you want.

  • ant1sthenes||

    You should be able to vote as many times as you want, but each vote places your name in the drawing for the Hunger Games.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Here's my solution to voter fraud: replace election with allotment. Then, you just do a thorough check on the identity of whoever wins. Also, they're probably smarter and more ethical than a politician. Plus, it renders the whole campaign finance thing irrelevant.

  • Laird||

    Nonsense. There are two problems to address: people who aren't entitled to vote being on the rolls, and people voting who aren't who they purport to be.

    The first refers to convicted felons, non-citizens, the deceased, etc. Failing to remove the deceased from the rolls is indeed a failure of bureaucracy, but would not be a serious issue except for the second problem. As to the other categories, the only means of preventing such people from getting onto the rolls is through some means of ensuring that they are legitimate electors, i.e, voter ID.

    The second issue is more serious. The only means of preventing people from improperly casting ballots (pretending to be someone else) is through providing proof of identity at the polling place. I'm open to other suggestions, but in the absence of a national ID card the methods proposed in all these laws seems to be the only rational way of doing this.

    People have to put out a small amount of effort to vote. Almost no one in our society doesn't have some form of acceptable ID (you can't buy cigarettes or liquor, cash a check, get onto a plane, or even go into a federal building without it), and these voter ID laws all provide means for those who truly don't have one to get one, free. That's not asking too much. Anyone who argues against some reasonable form of voter ID is arguing in favor of vote fraud, plain and simple.

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