Them GOPs an' Democrats, Each Hates the Other One

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It might surprise those who think the word "Diebold" appears only in liberal dictionaries, but there was a time when it was conservative Republicans who passed around books like Votescam and murmured darkly of the dangers of electronic voting. So I got a nostalgic kick yesterday when I read that Maryland's GOP governor, Robert Ehrlich, had cited Diebold's problems as he declared he "no longer [has] confidence in the State Board of Elections' ability to conduct fair and accurate elections in 2006."

How have the local Democrats reacted? Like national Republicans, of course. They say Ehrlich's just upset that he's trailing in the polls and that he hasn't been able to replace the state elections administrator with someone more to his liking. One legislator claimed the governor "wants Florida and Ohio to happen in Maryland." If it weren't for the fact that Ehrlich hasn't lost yet, you can be sure they'd be shouting "sore loser."

Believe it or not: It's possible for some or all that to be true, and for some or all of Ehrlich's stated concerns to be valid, both at the same time!

Elijah Cummings gets the best line in the Baltimore Sun's account:

When Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. delivered a stunning vote of no confidence in the state's voting system last week, he raised the specter of this fall's election ending in disarray.

To some Democrats, he also began to lay the foundation to challenge the outcome—if he winds up losing.

"That's the first thing I thought about," said Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat who served with Ehrlich in Congress. "I don't put anything past my good friend."

NEXT: She Thinks My Tractor's Speedy

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  1. I seriously doubt that a “fair and accurate” election for any office higher than hall monitor has ever been held. The Polls may complain about the other teams fraud, but only if an investigation won’t expose they’re own.

  2. How the worm turns…

    Delicious. Simply delicious.

  3. he also began to lay the foundation to challenge the outcome — if he winds up losing.

    Of course, he also laid the foundation for the Dems to challenge the outcome if they wind up losing. You’ve gotta wonder why the Dem hacks don’t, apparently, see this.

  4. Because they’re going to win fair and square.

    Ehrich = toast.

  5. The Dems refuse to require identification at voting booths and have made it so that you can vote in any precinct in Maryland, not just your own. Put those two together and it is a recipe for fraud and disaster. You can’t cash a check without a photo ID, but we can’t require it for voting? There is an easy way to tell which side wants to have crooked elections; whoever objects to a photo ID requirement for voting is the crook.

  6. Your papers, please.

  7. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Machine-readable paper ballots are the best system. You have the paper backup, in case the machine count is questioned, and you have the machine count done at the polls in case somebody alleges that paper ballots were tampered with on their way from the polls to the central collection point. (Such tampering has beem alleged from time to time in our history….) Redundancy is a virtue.

    Even better, if you’re worried that the machine might be hacked and that the erroneous machine count might be used to impugn the unaltered paper ballots, count all the ballots right then and there in the precinct, before they are moved to a central location. That way a discrepancy between the machine count and the manual count can’t be attributed to shenanigans during transit. Let anybody who wants to stand over the people doing the counting, including the media and citizens with camcorders.

    None of these methods are perfect, but they are simple and relatively transparent. The only thing I ask, having run a polling place myself, is that the counting not be done by the people who worked there all day. Aside from the possibility of shenanigans done during the day being covered by the people who count, there’s the fact that after 13 hours of dealing with “Hey, man, like, I used to live here, but, like, I moved, and, like, I think I registered at my new place but, like, I don’t know, so, like, can I vote here?” most poll workers simply want a long vacation in a place with no elections. (North Korea is the #1 vacation spot for poll workers! 🙂

    As to ID, I don’t really object. Just, please, keep it simple for the poll workers. Whatever the ID requirement, keep it simple for us to enforce. Whether that means a very broad or narrow standard, keep the standard simple. The more complicated it is, the more provisional ballots we’ll have to issue. The more provisional ballots we have to issue the slower the line will be, and the more complicated any recount will be.

  8. Or, and I’m only about half kidding, save a lot of people a lot of time and conduct elections through statistical sampling. It would result in a smaller group of workers to oversee, and less data that could be tampered with.

    Before you tell me about possible inaccuracies, please look at the clusterfuck we have now.

  9. “whoever objects to a photo ID requirement for voting is the crook.”

    whoever objects to a poll tax for voting is the crook.

    whoever objects to a grandfather clause for voting is the crook.

    whoever objects to a literacy test for voting is the crook . . .

  10. How much does the photo id cost? Where do you have to go to get one?

    And ultimately, why should a citizen’s ability to exercise a fundamental right be contingent on barriers like this? What’s next, you need to show id to hold up a picket sign, or join a church?

  11. joe-

    The thing is, voting is one fundamental right that you can only responsibly exercise at certain intervals. Exercising that right more than once on the same day is irresponsible, to put it mildly.

    Having run a polling place, I won’t blindly endorse any and all calls for ID. Implementation could be a real bitch. Once you’ve been there, you realize that keeping a polling place running smoothly all day long is a non-trivial operation. However, I have no principled objection to modest and cost-effective means for preventing a person from voting several times per day.

    Of course, the devil is in the details. Personally, I would say that photo ID should be seen as a supplementary measure, not the primary defense. The primary defense against fraud is an accurate roster that has been properly maintained and updated, and where registrants have been vetted (by whatever means) prior to election day. Most problems that I experienced were caused by inaccurate rosters (including the idiots who did a registration drive, collected registration forms, and then forgot to turn them in, resulting in people who came to my polling place believing that they were on the roster).

    The emphasis should be on preventing people from registering under multiple names. Checking ID at the polls should be seen as simply a backup measure, not the primary defense against fraud.

  12. “Believe it or not: It’s possible for some or all that to be true, and for some or all of Ehrlich’s stated concerns to be valid, both at the same time!”

    Nice Kaus impersonation.

  13. Well, I certainly have my problems with being forced to carry ID for the benefit of the government, but the simple fact is that Democratic politicians don’t refuse to allow ID at voting booths from a love of liberty or fairness. They are crooks. Aren’t all politicians?

  14. joe-

    The thing is, voting is one fundamental right that you can only responsibly exercise at certain intervals. Exercising that right more than once on the same day is irresponsible, to put it mildly.

    Having run a polling place, I won’t blindly endorse any and all calls for ID. Implementation could be a real bitch. Once you’ve been there, you realize that keeping a polling place running smoothly all day long is a non-trivial operation. However, I have no principled objection to modest and cost-effective means for preventing a person from voting several times per day.

    Of course, the devil is in the details. Personally, I would say that photo ID should be seen as a supplementary measure, not the primary defense. The primary defense against fraud is an accurate roster that has been properly maintained and updated, and where registrants have been vetted (by whatever means) prior to election day. Most problems that I experienced were caused by inaccurate rosters (including the idiots who did a registration drive, collected registration forms, and then forgot to turn them in, resulting in people who came to my polling place believing that they were on the roster).

    The emphasis should be on preventing people from registering under multiple names. Checking ID at the polls should be seen as simply a backup measure, not the primary defense against fraud.

  15. thoreau, I guess my opposition comes from the “barrier” effect. To the extent that such a requirement prevents some legitimate voters from voting, that requirement is an imposition on fundamental rights.

    Maybe we should just dip our fingers in purple ink.

  16. I don’t know how that got posted twice.

    I’d be fine with purple ink.

  17. “I don’t know how that got posted twice.”

    Do you see?!? We can’t trust the machines!

  18. I’m all about the purple ink. Sometimes the lowest technology solution is the best. Also, it would save the state money on those “I Voted!” stickers.

  19. Joe, are you saying that voter fraud is not a problem, or that you have a better solution? If so, what? (Seriously.)

    And yes, purple ink is an option. But remember that half the U.S. population goes to considerable effort and expense to manacure, paint, and otherwise decorate fingernails.

  20. Larry A,

    Voter fraud offends me on principle. However, unless it rises to the point of changing outcomes, it doesn’t seem to be a big enough problem to justify causing another problem (disenfranchisement).

    For voter fraud to rise to the level that it’s changing outcomes of elections, there would have to be something larger and more elaborate going on than someone claiming to be a name that is on the roster.

  21. For voter fraud to rise to the level that it’s changing outcomes of elections, there would have to be something larger and more elaborate going on than someone claiming to be a name that is on the roster.

    If you limit the discussion to national or perhaps state office maybe. But there are several Texas counties not far from where I live where voter fraud regularly changes the outcome of local elections. It’s a running joke that the winning candidate is the one that gets the cemetary vote.

    And in the long run, the appearance of voter fraud can be more damaging than the results.

  22. joe,

    How would we know if fraud had changed election results if the fraud was successful?

    You fear that people would be discouraged from voting if they had to present some kind of ID. Did you consider that there may be people who are discouraged from voting now because they have no confidence that their vote will “count” because of possible fraud? Maybe vigourous anti-fraud measures will lead to an increase in the number of voters?

    The purple finger is a good idea, but the fraud I tend to hear about (presumably because I work in academia) is college students who vote in the district their school is in, and who also vote back home via absentee ballot. What do you do about that? Federalized elections? Is that even constitutional?

  23. joe, the Machines have noted your rebellious attitude. Prepare to be absorbed. Or assimilated. Whichever you prefer.

  24. The purple finger is a good idea, but the fraud I tend to hear about (presumably because I work in academia) is college students who vote in the district their school is in, and who also vote back home via absentee ballot.

    Exactly. These sorts of things can only be prevented with good rosters. ID, or purple thumbs, or whatever other method you want to have in place at the polls, will not prevent that sort of thing.

    And, to be honest, if the process for getting on the roster is sound, then any person who can manage to get around it probably has the resources to obtain fake photo ID, or at least fake ID that’s good enough to fool a poll worker (e.g. me).

    Don’t get me wrong, there are indeed some types of mischief that could be thwarted with ID requirements. So I’m fine with an ID requirement if it’s reasonbly implemented (ah, there’s the catch!). But ID requirements should be seen as the very last line of defense. The registration procedures are far more important.

  25. Larry A,

    The cemetery vote is a problem with registrations, and should be caught on that level. You need to clean out your elections offices, not hassle people who don’t have drivers licenses.

    mitch, I think you’re fudging two very different ideas by using the word “discouraged.” I’m not complaining that the ID will make people feel worse about voting. I’m complaining that people who want to vote, who are legally entitled to vote, will be prevented from doing so when they attempt to. That is intolerable.

    I don’t know what to do about the dual-home voters. Maybe a database linked to Social Security? That would seem to create even more problems. Either way, I don’t think an id requirement would help in that situation, either.

  26. Joe,

    Are you really so elitist that you believe that there are large numbers of people out there are so out of society that they do not carry an ID? You can’t get on a plane in this country without a photo ID. You can’t cash a check or open a bank account without one. If you look young enough, you can’t buy cigeretes or alchohol without a photo ID. I doubt you could get ultility service without a photo ID and you certainly couldn’t sign a lease or purchase a house without one. You can’t get a legal job without at least a social security card. Some people would be discouraged from voting because of an ID requirement? Who? Homeless people? Illegal aliens? It is virtually impossible to function in today’s society at a level above being a street person without having a photo ID. To say that requiring one will prevent people from voting is absolutely rediculous.

    I don’t think the purple finger idea is a bad one in princple. However, it does nothing to prevent non-eligible voters such as felons or illegals from voting. It just keeps them from voting twice. Inelligbles voting is just as big of a fraud problem or bigger as double voting.

  27. The people who object to IDs are living in the 19th Century. The free market has already created a de facto national ID requirement. You can make all of the “papers please” jokes you want but the fact remains that the government could abolish all forms of official identification tommorow and all of us would still be stuck having to carry some form of identification if we wanted to function in society. Instead of having a state issued driver’s license we would have a bank issued ID card. Regardless of who issued it, the effect would be the same. It is an admittedly unfortuneate product of the modern economy. I wish it were not so as much as the next person.

  28. As you say, John, people without ready access to a photo id tend to be poor people in rough circumstances.

    That doesn’t mean the portion of them who want to vote should be denied that opportunity.

    As far as “elitist” – you keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

  29. No Joe you think everyone who is not in your circumstance is helpless. That is why you are an elitist. They are not and it is insulting to poor people to say that they are so helpless that requiring them to have an ID is onerous. Even if you loose your job and get kicked out on the street, or go to jail your ID is still good. Granted, I suppose if you have done 10 or 12 years in prison, your driver’s license has probably expired. There is nothing to stop you from getting a new one. States bend over backward to issue photo ids to anyone who wants one. You just have to have enough initiative to go down and get one. As I said above, you cannot function in society at a level above a street person without one.

  30. Whether you like it or not, John, there are people who can’t afford a car (and hence, don’t have a license), or a passport.

    Your ignorance of those who earn less than you is showing.

    And I don’t care to allow your judgement of whether someone is showing enough initiative to determine whether they are entitled to their civil rights.

  31. You’ve never been in that circumstance, you don’t know anyone who has (as demonstrated by your dumbass remark that must all be street people), yet you feel perfectly confident making proclaimations about their “initiative,” and the ease with which they can navigate state bureaucracies without money or an existing ID.

    Oh, and btw, these wholly uninformed judgements you make just happen to reduce the number of people who can vote for candidates you dislike.

  32. Joe,

    You are a first class dumbass. You don’t have to have a license to get an ID. Any state will give you a for ID only card at the drop of a hat. As I said above, you cannot so much as cash a check or get a place to live without an ID. I defy you to find anyone who is living above the level of a street person or who is not an illegal alien who does not have an ID. Your remarks just show how little you have been around people. Everyone has an ID. As far as using your civil rights, we expect people to register and go to the polls don’t we? How is the registration requirement anymore onerous than the ID requirement? The bottonline is that you cannot just show up and vote. You have to go down and register a few weeks before the election. That strikes me as a lot more onerous than requireing an ID.

  33. Actually, every city and town hall has a voter registration facilities, but very few of them have photo ID facilities. And of course, not every burgh has a DMV.

    Not to mention voter registration drives in poor neighborhoods. When was the last time the DMV had a license test “drive” out in the hood? Still want to stick with the line that every registered voter can get a photo id no problem?

    Yes, it’s tough to get by without a photo ID. It’s also tough to get by without enought money to get to the DMV to get a photo ID. When someone in that circumstance does get sufficient funds, they usually have higher priorities than getting a license for a vehicle they don’t own.

    Some of us (like John, and the state legislatures in five Republican-controlled states) are ok with people being prevented from voting because of their poverty, and some of us (you know, like the Supreme Court) are not.

  34. I defy you to find anyone who is living above the level of a street person or who is not an illegal alien who does not have an ID.

    Two weeks ago, my 17-year-old daughter was in that category. (That was when she finally got a learner’s permit.) She is neither a homeless person (since she lives in my home) nor an illegal alien. If she had waited for 22 more months (until she turned 19), the new “lawful presence” requirements that Virginia imposes as conditions for getting a driver’s license or learner’s permit would have made it difficult or impossible for her to get an ID. (As it was, since she was under 19, I could show my driver’s license as proof that she was legal.) If for some reason she hadn’t gotten around to driving or voting before she turned 19, should she be indefinitely denied the right to vote? (I can already hear people saying, “Well, sure, if she was likely to vote the way Seamus does.”)

  35. a quick interruption to this, um, love fest.

    what would a second- and third-class dumbass be? since obviously the taxonomy of first classness you have established through example.

    and is there a good website for such classficiation? you see, i’m working on something with someone who is, my guess, a fourth-class twaddlenock, but i’m not sure if that’s more twaddlenockish or less twaddlenockish than third class. or, yea, a fifth- class one.

    please advise. (vizzini would be proud, btw)

  36. States bend over backward to issue photo ids to anyone who wants one.

    Not so. Virginia makes you jump through all sorts of hoops to get an ID. Maryland is considering similar requirements. And once the federal “Real ID” Act goes into effect, all states will.

  37. John-

    I think we need to distinguish between ID requirements for registering to vote, and ID requirements for when you show up and your name is on the roster. Showing ID at the polling place can prevent certain types of mischief, but it won’t prevent an ineligible person from voting if his name is already on the roster. It won’t prevent a student from voting at school if his name is on the roster there, and also casting an absentee ballot at home if his name is also on the roster there.

    We can debate what types of ID requirements should be in place for voter registration, but let’s not harbor any illusion that showing ID at the polling place will stop a felon or non-citizen from voting if his name is on the roster.

    Showing ID at the polling place will only thwart those who pose as another person on the roster. And posing as another person works best if you have good reason to believe that the other person won’t show up to vote (e.g. a dead person is still on the roster).

    So, let’s be very concrete about the types of voting problems that we want to prevent with ID, and distinguish between ID at registration and ID at the polls. If your concern is that felons are on the roster, well, having them show ID at the polls won’t help.

  38. Thoreau,

    You are right. IDs will not solve all mischief anymore than purple fingers will. Clean elections take a combination of measures. Most of the voter registration lists in this country are terribly out of date and a complete mess. The first step would be to go through and clean out these lists before the election by removing dead people and the like. I don’t pretend that IDs are the only sollution. It does seem, however, that the Democrats hide behind rediculous arguments about voter intimindation and the like to stop every form of fraud prevention. At a minimun, you should clean up the rolls, require a photo ID to both register and vote and also use the stained finger to prevent double voting. That would go a long way to ensureing a fair election. However, I think the people who are out there giving cigs to homeless people in return for voting (as they were in Wisconsin in 2000) are really interested in any kind of real fraud reform.

  39. John-

    It’s not just a matter of combinations. It’s a matter of priorities. I place good rosters much higher on my list of priorities than ID at the polls.

    FWIW, I was a poll worker in a neighborhood where people moved VERY frequently, and so I had to do lots of provisional ballots. Some of them forgot to re-register, but others did in fact re-register like a responsible voter should, yet the people downtown failed to process it.

    I think we need to realize that cleaning up the rosters isn’t simply a matter of dumping people who moved/died/etc. Keeping eligible people on the list should also be a VERY high priority. I don’t want to see long lines of eligible and responsible citizens filling out provisional ballots because an over-zealous bureaucrat crossed his name off the list in some snafu.

    It’s all about priorities. Accurate rosters are a higher priority than the politically charged issue of ID at the polls. And accuracy in rosters involves some trade-offs. Zealous measures that cross off the ineligible will also cross off some eligible, responsible people. It’s easy to dismiss this as “breaking a few eggs” to make breakfast, but how’d you like to be the person who’s in a hurry and has to stand in a long line to do a bunch of paperwork and hope that your provisional ballot is counted (not all are counted, depending on whether eligibility can be established, and the process of establishing eligibility is conducted by the same people who make inaccurate rosters) all because some guy downtown screwed up?

  40. I know Thoreau. I move a lot and have been prevented from voting a couple of times over just these issues. I honestly don’t know how you clean up the rolls completely. That is the toughest and probably most important job.

  41. This is simply dealt with. Each of us can provide DNA to the feds. They, in turn, will create a massive database. Then we can use biometrics at the polling booths.

    I’d be worried about how such a database might be misused, but, fortunately, we have a full panoply of rights protected by the Constitution. I feel better already.

  42. Y’all are acting like all, or even most, vote fraud is voter fraud. That’s just the petty stuff.

    As much as we like to say that every vote counts, you know it really doesn’t. If one party had a lock on individual voter fraud we should worry. But it’s more like ‘whole-dollar’ accounting — comes out in the wash.

    That’s what the Doctor thinks.

  43. Maryland, my Maryland.

    They’ve overfished the Chesapeake & you can’t get Calvert whiskey because they stopped making it. Doesn’t anyone respect tradition anymore? Election fraud is one of the great traditions that links Maryland with its past. Enough is enough, let Maryland be Maryland, I say.

  44. The argument that cost of an ID card is prohibitive is already moot. For example the Republican controlled Assembly and Senate in Wisconsin passed legislation that would not only require an ID to vote, but would waive the fee on state issued ID cards. The Democrat Governor vetoed it saying that even though the cards are now free, it still would prohibit some from voting since they would still have to take the time to go get a free ID card.

    There is one reason and one reason alone for his veto: he and his party count on fraudulent voting in Madison and Milwaukee.

  45. Here’s a question about multiple voting:

    Say that somebody lives in New Hampshire. He votes in the January primary. In late January or early February he moves to a state with a March primary. He registers before the deadline, etc. and votes in the March primary. Is that illegal?

    Assume, if you like, that he moves there to establish permanent residence. He got a new job in that second state, the job started in March, and that’s why he moved on the schedule outlined above.

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