Voter ID

I Guess I Can't Use This to Buy Beer, Either

|

Once you've finished reading Kerry Howley's piece and have worked up a sufficient mistrust of ID laws, check out this story from Indiana. Rep. Julia Carson, a black Democrat from Indianapolis, had trouble voting in today's primaries because the state's new voter ID card law didn't recognize her congressional ID.

Carson's card does not have an expiration date as the new law requires of valid voter IDs, and Indianapolis poll workers tried to reach election officials before allowing the five-term Democratic congresswoman to cast her ballot shortly after her polling place opened at 6 a.m.

"The inspector just went ahead and made the decision that it was OK because he couldn't reach anybody to get authorization," Carson said later. And she reasoned the expiration date should not have been an issue: "It says for the 109th Congress, so that takes care of that."

Requiring photo IDs for voters is a highly contentious issue that doesn't often bubble over into the mainstream media. Mostly Republican legislators have pushed it to cut down on "voter fraud" (scare quotes because the instances of fraud don't often make sense or exist), and mostly Democratic legislators have opposed it because, well, they like to win. The former governor of Wisconsin, Scott McCallum, has repeatedly claimed that Democratic fraud stole the state from him in 2002 and from George W. Bush in 2004. You can argue that this is the Bizzaro version of Democrats claiming Diebold stole the election for Bush—but then you'd have to ask why our election system is so much faultier than our banking system, our online shopping systems, our Costco reward cards system …

NEXT: Gillespie In the No-Spin Zone: Tonight!

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Better a hundred registered voters be turned away at the polls than one guy with an accent who just rented a new apartment is allowed to pollute our pure electoral system.

    (Sorry, voter suppression brings out the troll in me.)

  2. And she reasoned the expiration date should not have been an issue: “It says for the 109th Congress, so that takes care of that.”

    Now that’s what I call a good poll worker. I would have been proud to have that person on my team.

  3. From http://www.juliacarson.org:
    The Identification you present MUST: … Include an expiration date showing that the photo ID has not expired or that it expired after the date of the most recent general election (after Nov. 2, 2004)
    IOW, she knew the requirements but used what she knew to be an invalid ID to get some free publicity.

    Now that’s what I call a good poll worker. I would have been proud to have that person on my team.
    Yup. Someone who, rather than do their simple job properly, makes up the rules as they go along.

    Vote early and vote often!

  4. thoreau, that is the reasoning of the Congresswoman, and not the poll worker, who is male according to the story.

  5. It is just so unfair to expect the children I mean voters to have a drivers license. I will bet anything that this woman had a drivers’ license and pulled out her Congressional ID just to make a point. It is easier to vote in this country than it is to own a bank account. But if we required IDs, political volunteers wouldn’t be able to round up votes by giving homeless people cigerettes anymore. Like the post said, Democrats like to win, so they are not too fond of making sure only eligible voters vote.

  6. but then you’d have to ask why our election system is so much faultier than our banking system, our online shopping systems, our Costco reward cards system …

    Wait, are you seriously suggesting that because our banking system, online shopping, and other electronic systems work without fault that electronic voting is automatically as secure and reliable? Please tell me I missed some obvious sarcasm here!

  7. jasno,

    I don’t think he was suggesting that at all. I think he was pointing out the fact that Amazon, Costco and Wachovia can do a better job than Our Benevolent Leaders.

  8. (I couldn’t get this by the server and I think Evan answered already, but I’m going to try again anyway…)

    No, I think the point David is trying to make is that banking, online shopping, etc are created and maintained by a market, whereas voting is completely controlled by gov’t.

  9. Thanks for the correction, James.

  10. I’m a little baffled at how requiring decent voter ID is “suppression”, myself.

    Although the real voter fraud these days is probably in absentee balloting, where presenting ID is a non-issue.

  11. BTW, from what I’ve heard, the facts surrounding the whole Diebold thing sound pretty fucked up…and I’ve not really heard a good debunking of it. It sounds like one of those things that might hold water, but sounds just kooky enough to be ignored by most folks, regardless of its validity.

    Then again, maybe I’ve missed a good debunking that’s out there. Anyone know more?

  12. “I’m a little baffled at how requiring decent voter ID is “suppression”, myself.”

    What’s “decent”, RC?

  13. Mostly Republican legislators have pushed it to cut down on “voter fraud” (scare quotes because the instances of fraud don’t often make sense or exist), and mostly Democratic legislators have opposed it because, well, they like to win.

    What a peculiar way to make this statement. If you believe that “voter fraud” isn’t really as widespread, then maybe Dems oppose it because there is a history of minority/poor voter suppression in this country and ID requirements tend to accomplish the similar things as a poll tax? Maybe they oppose it because, since “voter fraud” doesn’t often exist, as you say, there is no need to add another burden to the voters? No no, it must just be that dems want to win at any cost.

    I recently renewed my driver’s license in Illinois. It cost me $10. If I wanted an ID card, it would have cost me an additional $20.
    5 years ago (last time I renewed them) I could get both (assuming I wasn’t getting duplicates) for $5 a piece. $20 may not seem like much, but if you are poor or on a fixed income, it could be problematic. Not to mention the costs of obtaining the originals of the documents you need in order to obtain an ID (notarized Birth certificate — not copies, etc)

    If you don’t drive, you have no use for a driver’s license. But you could fork over $20 to get an ID so that you can be allowed to vote. Yet somehow this isn’t similar to a poll tax?

  14. David W,

    To be fair, our online shopping system and Costco reward cards systems don’t care if you have multiple accounts.

    To some extent that’s true with our banking system also.

    On one hand, you can have multiple accounts. On the other hand, those accounts have to be tied to a known taxable entity.

    However, this last part is only to be in compliance with the law. If someone breaks the law and has multiple bank accounts associated with fictitious entities, the banking system itself isn’t harmed per-se.

    thoreau,

    I’d prefer a pollworker who obeyed the letter of the law when it is so clear. Having people reason that a particular requirement shouldn’t be an issue on a case-by-case basis not only introduces different rules for different people, but it also reduces the incentive to draft laws that say what they mean.

    The law required an expiration date. The ID in question didn’t have one. It’s kind of like the difference between having the ability to regulate commerce and the ability to regulate anything related to commerce.

    Approving methodology when it gives you the results you want in a particular case is a prescription for trouble when the exact same methodology goes against you.

    Another way to think about the issue would be to ask yourself whether you’d prefer that the law in question had the words “or equivalent” added to it. I would abhor adding those two words because it would leave it up to a pollworker to decide whether a given license was equivalent or not. It’s not that I don’t believe that sometimes a pollworker would do the right thing, it’s that I think there would be variety between pollworkers. So even if in one instance the process helped, overall the process would do more damage than good.

  15. The only problem I see with requiring a State ID is that it costs money and that equals a poll tax.

    Now, how any voter manages to make it through life without a valid ID is beyond me.

    The idea that a congresswoman doesn’t have a valid drivers license is just absurd.

  16. anon2-

    If the Congressional ID said “Valid during the 109th Congress” then that clearly means that the ID expires when the 109th Congress ends.

    What’s the problem here.

  17. Wait, the way the article is written the Congressional ID does have a form of an expiration date. The card is for the 109th Congress. After the 109th Congress, the card has expired. Sure, most expiration dates are written as a specific date, but what if I had a card that simply said, “Good for the Year 2006.” I think that the expiration date is implicit, but clearly so.

  18. On the other hand you **could** argue that “109th Congress” does have an expiration date.
    And what about all the Manhattanites who pride themselves on not having a driver’s license?

  19. On the other hand you **could** argue that “109th Congress” does have an expiration date.
    And what about all the Manhattanites who pride themselves on not having a driver’s license? In Virginia, if you don’t have a photo ID, you can sign an attestation that you are who you say you are. Seems fair to me.

  20. Yes, it’s a poll tax. I don’t see how you can claim it to be anything but that. Somehow finding your way to the DMV (if you don’t have a car), then spending the morning there in line, then paying $20 just to get a thing proving it’s you—and that’s not to mention all the documents they require if you’ve never gotten one before or if your previous one has expired.

    Yet, voter fraud and correct ID is an issue, no matter how big or small the problem might be. The states already issue voter ID cards, but they’re just printed on paper. It would cost more, but I think it’s reasonable to demand that voter reg cards comply with voting ID requirements. Jesus. That’s pretty simple.

  21. On the other hand you **could** argue that “109th Congress” does have an expiration date.
    And what about all the Manhattanites who pride themselves on not having a driver’s license? In Virginia, if you don’t have a photo ID, you can sign an attestation that you are who you say you are. Seems fair to me.

  22. How about this: So the law requires an expiration date. What if somebody presented an otherwise legit ID, but instead of saying “Expires on…” it said “Only valid until…” Would anybody get hung up on that phrasing?

  23. sorry bout the multiples. Hamsters are unreliable.

  24. What’s “decent”, RC?

    Non-duplicative photo ID that indicates your place of residence. As a practical matter, this probably means a state-issued ID.

    there is a history of minority/poor voter suppression in this country

    In recent decades?

    and ID requirements tend to accomplish the similar things as a poll tax

    The only problem I see with requiring a State ID is that it costs money and that equals a poll tax.

    So make a free ID available to people who qualify.

    Oddly, though, Dems tend to oppose even voter ID requirements that include free ID provisions. Makes you wonder what they are so worried about.

  25. Why does the expiration date even matter? Do you cease to be the person named on the ID when it expires? Sure, I shouldn’t be allowed to drive after my license expires, but why can’t I still use it for identification? How exactly does an expired ID help someone to vote fraudulently?

  26. In Virginia, if you don’t have a photo ID, you can sign an attestation that you are who you say you are. Seems fair to me.

    Also absurdly easy to defraud. You’d be hard pressed to come up with a less secure system. Would you deposit your money with a bank that let anyone withdraw it who signed an attestation claiming to be you?

  27. What a coincidence. I just happened to be reading John Fund’s Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy today.

    I’m up to the part about where the case in St. Louis during the 2000 election where the polls were held open three hours past the announced closing was filed on behalf of a registered voter who had DIED the year before.

    I know we are not the kind of people who take kindly to rules and regulations. But unless we want to move to election by “carousel,” can we at least agree on how to make sure that only people qualified and registered to vote can vote, and that they only vote once?

    “BREAK THE DEAL, FACE THE WHEEL!”

  28. On the other hand you **could** argue that “109th Congress” does have an expiration date.
    Without looking it up, what exactly is that expiration date?

    And what about all the Manhattanites who pride themselves on not having a driver’s license?
    What about ’em?

    “This ID is Valid Until the Cows Come Home.”

  29. Without looking it up, what exactly is that expiration date?

    January 3, 2007.

  30. You know I used to think that people were really overreacting to things. Hey big deal you have to show an ID when you vote, It’s not right but it’s not the worst thing that can happen.

    Now between this and the work permit thread I’m having second thoughts. How long is it going to be before some asshole suggests we all just get implanted with an RFID chip with all our data on it. And how long after that before all the assholes agree that it’s a wonderful fucking idea.

    God, this is one of those times I’m glad I’m fucking old.

  31. Would you deposit your money with a bank that let anyone withdraw it who signed an attestation claiming to be you?

    That’s basically how credit cards work. If you know someone’s card number (which is easy to get: you hand your card over to people whenever you pay for something) and their name and address (trivial), you can pay for things over the phone or on the web as if you were them. It’s the responsibility of the cardholder to constantly check their account for signs of identity theft.

  32. thoreau,

    If someone asks you what color your car is, and you say “red”, because you don’t own a car, but you drive a red motorcycle, you may very well be telling the person the answer he wanted, which was the color of your vehicle. You’re certainly not telling him the answer to the question he asked.

    If you build a system that has simple rules that are easily followed, then, in general, that system will work more efficiently than if you build a system with vague rules that require interpretation by people who are not necessarily qualified to make the interpretation.

    Doing things your way requires more knowledge than simply obeying the law. In this case, it requires the person to know that the 109th Congress is still in session. But it also requires the pollworker to know about every other possible way that an ID without an expiration date might be able to show that it’s still current.

    So if someone has a government ID that says “Good for X”, the pollworker now must determine whether X is something that is sufficiently close to an expiration date that it’s “good enough.”

    Furthermore, and this is pretty important to me, it now means that lawmakers who don’t want simple equivalences applied have to come up with new, more complex ways to state things so that the implicit conversions aren’t allowed. The law can no longer say “X is required” it must now say “X is required and by the way, these things which aren’t X but are close are not required.”

    Your way of doing things requires interpretation that is bound to lead to uneven results. In this case it may not matter much, because there probably aren’t a bunch of IDs that fit the characteristic of the problem one. I suspect that most government IDs that expire have an expiration date, but I can I don’t know. Maybe someone has a government issued photo ID that’s valid during duck hunting season. I’m sure the duck hunters know the duration of the season, but must pollworkers too?

    What would have been the downside of following the letter of the law?

  33. When my ID expires, am I not me anymore?

  34. As a practical matter, this probably means a state-issued ID.

    Which costs money. Which makes it a poll tax.

    I’m not asking you who’s on second…

  35. So make a free ID available to people who qualify.

    Who qualifies?

    If you are going to require people carry / show IDs to do basic things — then at the very least it should be completely free. Why should the public have to foot the bill for something the state is mandating?

    But even that isn’t the whole picture. You have to arrange to get the the Sec. of State’s office — usually during work hours (although many places have extended hours) and you have to pay for other documents to prove you are who you say you are. (Birth Certificates etc)

  36. David,
    I’m not sure if this was your point regarding DieBold handling it, but with banks, I get a paper reciept and statement monthly that I can use to verify that my balance matches what it should equal. The problem with the Diebold machines (at one point, not sure if it’s still true) is that there is no paper trail. I’m not alleging fraud, but it is an issue to consider.

  37. Tried this earlier but the squirrels had already been fed.

    Isaac:

    Here’s a quote for you….

    In the 19th century, it was sufficient to ask who you are. In the 20th century, it was sufficient to show who you are. In the 21st century you will have to prove who you are.–Tate Preston, VP at Datacard Group

    On voting: There has to be some mechanism to prevent the dead from walking on election day. It doesn’t have to be complex, but it does have to work. In my county, you show up on voting day, tell them your name and address, sign on the roster, then you vote. It isn’t difficult and it seems to me that for the most part it isn’t going to set up a huge fraud problem because there is just enough hassle to make fakery hard.

    IMO, the serious voter fraud is done behind the scenes with crooked government employees as when Kennedy bought Cook County using the Democratic Machine.

  38. Tom, speaking of birth certificates, I just paid 17.00 to get a copy of mine so when I come back from Cabo they’ll let me back into the country instead of sending me off to Gitmo or downtown Tijuana.

    Pissed me off too. The birthdate is wrong, my hospital issued birth certificate is not acceptable, and I pay a shitload of property taxes to the county every year for which I cannot even get a copy of my own birth certificate without paying.

  39. I agree that requiring a current ID is completely pointless. Why does it matter that the ID has expired? I live in sacramento and used to frequent downtown bars. My driver’s licence expired last year and (I don’t look under age, but i do look under 26 so they have to ID me) nobody would let me into a bar starting the day after the expiration date. I was slow about getting a new one and i couldn’t go to a bar for a couple of months. The law is that you can’t drink if you aren’t 21, I was so incredibly aggravated because the ID proves i’m 21 whether it has expired or not. I couldn’t even get into bars where the doorman recognized me because they were afraid of getting a ticket. They actually give the bar a citation if the cops find someone in there without a valid ID even if the person turns out to be old enough.

  40. Which costs money. Which makes it a poll tax.

    Not if the ID is free to people who can’t afford it. Sure, its paid with tax money somewhere, but sales/income/property tax money isn’t a poll tax.

    Who qualifies?

    Oh gosh, anybody who has qualified for state assistance in the past year. The state already has them on file, so this should be easy to administer.

    You have to arrange to get the the Sec. of State’s office — usually during work hours (although many places have extended hours) and you have to pay for other documents to prove you are who you say you are. (Birth Certificates etc)

    Cry me an effin’ river. If you can’t be bothered to do that much, you shouldn’t vote.

  41. Wow, maybe the govt should provide free transportation to the polls, since otherwise the poor would have to pay for gas, or bus fare, or shoes with which to walk. Any of those will cost as much as an ID card ($20 for a card valid for 8 years = $2.50/year).

    As for the actions of the poll worker, all I can say is that the fewer Congresspeople who vote, the better. In fact, why don’t we pass a law requiring state-issued ID for votes in Congress?

  42. ID’s expire because pictures become out of date, among other reasons. No sympathy here. Yes, you’re the same person, but expired ID’s have a tendency to get lost or borrowed, or whatever. Renewal by mail argues against the “obsolete photo” theory.

    In the 19th century, everyone was born and died in the same place. You didn’t need ID because you were related to everyone else. One of the interesting things about Wealth of Nations is how Adam Smith describes the enormous barriers to moving somewhere else and getting a job.

    So, require a photo ID for voting. Provide it for free. Yes, there are economic costs associated with getting an ID beyond the fee, but there are unavoidable costs to voting. At least with an ID you have months or years to get it done.

    Texas has attempted to address absentee fraud by making it more difficult to get an absentee ballot. Instead they offer early voting for 2 weeks or so prior to the election. Going out of town? Stop at a central location a week or two early and cast your vote in person.

  43. Why should the public have to foot the bill for something the state is mandating?

    You’re kidding, right, ChicagoTom? Who do you think foots the bill, one way or the other, for every single damn thing the state mandates?

  44. The reasoning for not accepting expired drivers’ licenses is because few people will look exactly like they did when the photo was taken eight years ago. An arbitrary limit, true, but otherwise you’d have to accept a 20-year-old license, whose picture barely resembles the bearer.

    Also, states tend to add new security features to licenses every few years, so getting older, less secure licenses out of circulation is essential.

  45. Yeah, what bubba said. 😉

  46. SO why not just have DNA testing at the polls…linked to the Homeland Security and SSA databases of course! It works in GATTACA

  47. Or, maybe Congress can send everyone a $20 check to reimburse for the cost of getting a state-issued ID.

  48. SO why not just have DNA testing at the polls…linked to the Homeland Security and SSA databases of course!

    Because that would be stupid.

  49. Instead they offer early voting for 2 weeks or so prior to the election.

    Yet another invitation to fraud. The longer the polls are open, the more opportunities for multiple voting and ballot box stuffing.

  50. Wow, maybe the govt should provide free transportation to the polls, since otherwise the poor would have to pay for gas, or bus fare, or shoes with which to walk. Any of those will cost as much as an ID card ($20 for a card valid for 8 years = $2.50/year).

    Most people can walk to their local polling place for their precinct, but not necessarily to the Sec. of State.

    And most get out the vote efforts do provide rides to polling places for many people.

    Cry me an effin’ river. If you can’t be bothered to do that much, you shouldn’t vote.

    What hubris.
    What gives you the moral auythority to judge who should and shouldn’t vote? Maybe they should have literacy tests too? Or maybe IQ tests? Or mabe require HS diplomas or a GED — I mean if you can’t be bothered learn to read or to get a simple HS equivalency, then you shouldn’t vote. Any more arbitrary things people should have to do before being allowed to vote??? Maybe you should have to own property too??

    Voting should be as convenient as possible. You shouldn’t have to be “bothered” at all. Just because obtaining an ID is trivial to you, doesn’t mean that it is trivial for everyone. Stop trying to apply your personal standards to the rest of the electorate.

    Nor should people be denied the vote on election day because their ID expired a couple of days ago and didn’t notice. Most people don’t make a habit of keeping informed of their ID expiration date, and in my state at least, we only get notifications when our license will expire — not our IDs.

    Whether they can be bothered or not isn’t the point. The point is that people shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to excersize their right to vote. We already have some of the lowest voter turnouts in the world, and now we add all these ID requirements — and somehow we are to believe that this wont in fact lower voter turnout even more?
    Uh-huh.

    And here’s the thing — if, as was stated in the original post, voter fraud isn’t really that widespread — then why add these requirements at all? Just for the sake of adding them?? How very libertarian of you.

    Could it possibly be because the people pushing these things (mostly republicans) know that the outcome is suppression of minority and low income votes and that is the actual goal??

    Naw — Im sure its just that these people want honest and fair elections — which is why the push for verified paper trails of electronic voting — or not

    You’re kidding, right, ChicagoTom? Who do you think foots the bill, one way or the other, for every single damn thing the state mandates?

    No Im not kidding at all. There is no reason, considering how much we are already taxed, that the government should charge extra fees to get something they are mandating we get from the government. Part of the states budget should be used to fund free ID cards to all residents of the state (or at the very least for anyone who doesn’t have a driver’s license). They can charge for replacement / duplicates, but they shouldn’t charge for the first one.

    Furthermore, why should there be means testing for waiving ID fees? Free IDs for everyone, not just for those who “qualify for public assistance”.

  51. Yet another invitation to fraud. The longer the polls are open, the more opportunities for multiple voting and ballot box stuffing.

    Right, and having the vote on a weekday for just that one day isn’t part of a plan to suppress the vote. Why not have the vote on weekends like many other countries?

    And when the lines to vote are 4 and 5 hours (urban Ohio 2004) and your choices are : either skip voting or wait for 4-5 hours on the only day you can vote despite maybe having to go to work or pick up the kids — that doesn’t suppress voter turnout??. That’s merely a innovative way to prevent fraud.

    I don’t see how giving people the ability to vote on more than just that one day adds to fraud. If you can prevent fraud on tuesdays, then you can prevent it on wednesday, thursday and friday too.

    Either you can minimize fraud or you can’t — don’t bullshit with the whole “more days is more chance to cheat” meme. It’s not like the “safeguards” are only available on the first tuyesday in November.

  52. Uh, since when did libertarians worry more about fraud by voters than they are worried about government intrusion into our fundamental rights?

  53. Most people can walk to their local polling place for their precinct, but not necessarily to the Sec. of State.

    Ah, but they still need shoes. Just because that seems like a negligible requirement to you does not make it so for a poor person who can’t afford to spend $2 a year for an ID card.

    And most get out the vote efforts do provide rides to polling places for many people.

    That may be true for urban areas; I’m sure it doesn’t hold in rural ones. Another reason for the Dems to support the status quo.

    Not to mention the fact that if get out the vote efforts can provide rides to polling places, they can provide rides to the Secy of State office too.

  54. crimethink – My driver’s license is good for about another 30 years. If I look the same in 30 years I should change my name to Dorian Gray. I never understood the “expired ID is not valid” thing, because expiration dates are all over the place, as we see.

  55. 364 days a year, the inconvenience and cost associated with government bureacracy gets RC Dean steamed.

    On election day, making sure Form 126 point 4 Slash D is filled out in blue ink and the check is attached with a paperclip is the most important thing is his world.

    Oh, by the way, it just so happens that people who vote against the Republican Party are more likely not to have the type of id in questions.

  56. That weenie, former (Acting) Gov. McCallum*, didn’t win election in his own right because Ed Thompson won 11% of the vote on the Libertarian ticket. Scottie’s troubles related to abuse of perks – using a state-owned airplane to fly to a sports tournament out-of-state that his son was to compete in – might have dragged him down a bit, too. If there had been no voter fraud at all, he’d probably still have punted the 2002 election.

    I’m also amused that someone from Chicago is giving us advice on identification. The scandals regarding the sale of drivers’ licenses in the Big Onion are still fresh in many minds.

    Kevin

    *OK, WI changed the law so that a Lt. Gov. succeeding a Guv who resigns is now called “Governor”, but SMcC never won the office in his own right.

  57. Nice strawman, joe.

  58. If you want fertile ground for an ad hominem, joe, I’ll admit that I favor restricting the vote to those who can pass a very easy constitutional test. Something along the lines of knowing the difference between the President and Congress, for instance. True, that would be a challenge for many voters, but seriously, does it make sense to have an electorate composed largely of people who don’t even know what they’re voting for?

    And yes, I know that it would be politically impossible, but I can dream.

  59. 1) I have to wonder just how common voter fraud is. Note that not all election fraud is voter fraud. Election fraud could also be committed by election officials.

    2) For every libertarian and conservative worried about voter fraud, there is a lefty who’s worried about voter intimidation. I’m not convinced that voter intimidation is nearly as common as lefties think it is, just as I’m not convinced that voter fraud is as common as libertarians and conservatives think it is.

    3) Each side of the spectrum just happens to advocate “remedies” that might have certain side effects that might, just might, give their side an advantage.

    Funny that.

    Obviously I agree that any act of fraud or intimidation is absolutely deplorable, yadda yadda. I just find it curious that each side of the spectrum is absolutely convinced that we must do everything possible to prevent/ameliorate the effects of these phenomena, even though they have very little in the way of numbers to buttress their concerns. (Sorry, guys, scary but unverified anecdotes don’t count. That goes for joe just as much as it goes for everybody else.)

    Personally, having managed a polling place (quick show of hands: How many other people here have any real experience administering an election?), I think voter fraud would be a rather time-consuming and inefficient practice compared with doing an inside job with bad equipment.

    I have no principled objection to reasonable ID requirements, but I have no illusion that it will produce any great effects either. I think that putting effort into improving the rosters will have a much greater impact than tightening ID requirements. I say that from experience. Keep in mind that poorly maintained rosters not only present opportunities for people to vote in multiple precincts, they also can make it harder for eligible, responsible people to vote because some idiot downtown fucked up.

    Finally, a plea to every person who intends to vote: Contact your local elections office two months before the election and verify that your name is on the roster and that your address is up to date. If there’s an error, get it fixed in advance. Save yourself and the poll workers some hassle. We’ve cleared our calendars for the day. You haven’t. We have doughnuts and bottled water with us. You don’t. So do yourself a favor and make sure your record is up to date so you don’t have to go through the hassle of a provisional ballot.

  60. thoreau,

    You’re saying you don’t share your donuts? 😉

  61. I’m a libertarian, crimethink. Of course I don’t share my donuts.

    I might, however, give you some soup. If you move through the line in an efficient manner, sign your name legibly, vote quickly, address me politely, and generally adhere to the procedures. Otherwise, NO SOUP FOR YOU!!!!

  62. thoreau,

    Perhaps you see what you want to see. There are plenty of libertarians who are concerned with voter intimidation and with election fraud. A good portion of the comments in this thread were concerning the behavior of the inspector who approved an ID that appears to not meet the requirements of the statute.

    The newspaper article itself said:

    Carson’s card does not have an expiration date as the new law requires of valid voter IDs, and Indianapolis poll workers tried to reach election officials before allowing the five-term Democratic congresswoman to cast her ballot shortly after her polling place opened at 6 a.m.

    “The inspector just went ahead and made the decision that it was OK because he couldn’t reach anybody to get authorization,” Carson said later. And she reasoned the expiration date should not have been an issue: “It says for the 109th Congress, so that takes care of that.”

    From that we can see that at least the Ken Kusmer, the reporter who wrote the article, sees that “for the 109th Congress” is not an expiration date. The article goes on to say:

    People without IDs can still cast provisional ballots and have them counted later if they acquire the IDs or licenses within 10 days and present them to county clerk’s office.

    which means that if Rep. Julia Carson truly was at the polling place without a driver’s license, she could still vote using a provisional ballot.

    Let’s say someone shows up and has a document that meets all the required criteria, except that instead of a traditional photo, the ID has a thumb-print on it. The potential voter says “Technically, the way the thumbprint got onto the card is a photographic process, besides you can look at my thumb and see how it matches what’s on the card.” I claim that the thing to do is to say “Sorry, but that doesn’t meet Sec. 40.5.(2). You’ll have to execute a challenged voter’s affidavit, sign the poll list and vote using a provisional ballot.” In fact, I think that is the procedure that should be followed in every case where someone presents a document that doesn’t meet the four criteria in the law.

    Does this mean I think the law itself was good? No. It just means I don’t want people playing favorites. Personally, I think Rep. Carson was pulling a stunt and that she could trivially have presented a driver’s license, but I am fully aware that my suspicion could be wrong. It doesn’t matter; there’s already a procedure in place that would have let her vote.

    What would have been the downside of following the law?

    The downside to not following it is that the precinct election board is now allowed free reign in determining which, if any, of the requirements for the voting document are truly needed. Rep. Carson should have set a good example, admitted that the situation was ambiguous at best and signed the affidavit. If she disagrees with the law, she could still use her actions to popularize the message that the law should be changed. If she believes its unconstitutional, she can still help getting it overturned. Instead, she just encouraged people to break the law.

    I’m not even against civil disobedience per-se. If people really are disenfranchised, they have a right to do more than turn away meekly. But that’s not what happened here, and “there is a date at which the card expires, therefore the document (card) includes an expiration date” is a dangerous game to play.

  63. 364 days a year, the inconvenience and cost associated with government bureacracy gets RC Dean steamed.

    Make that 365 days a year, joe.

    Its a long way from producing a laminated card to
    making sure Form 126 point 4 Slash D is filled out in blue ink and the check is attached with a paperclip is the most important thing is his world.

    Practically no one is opposed to voter registration, but it requires proof of identity, too. What is the difference between the horrendous burden of producing an ID to get registered, and producing the same ID to vote?

    Unless you think proving ID to register is too much trouble, joe? I can’t think of any objection to having IDs on voting day that doesn’t apply to requiring registration as well.

  64. I know, I know. They could tatto a barcode on the back of your hand.

    The Book of Revelation 13:17-18

  65. I saw this story on local TV. I’m skeptical of the fact that the cameras always happen to be there when Rep. Carson goes to the polls.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.