Landslide Wynn

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How concerned are members of Congress about election fraud? First, they vote to require a photo ID from everyone showing up at the polls.

Republicans defended the legislation, saying it would help stem election fraud and keep illegal immigrants from casting ballots. They also said it would provide money to help poor citizens get identification.

It'd be easier to take seriously if one member hadn't gloated about stealing an election just a day before the vote. Texas Rep. Joe Barton (R) joked with Democrat Al Wynn (D-MD) about Wynn's close primary that he apparently won via voting cards found in an unguarded truck.

BARTON: Down in Texas, we had a Democratic primary about 50 years ago that Lyndon Johnson won by 54 votes. And he got the nickname "Landslide Lyndon." We have Mr. Wynn next. He had a little bit of a tussle last week, but he did win. And so, I want to recognize "Landslide Wynn" for any opening statement that he wishes…
WYNN: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. In fact, they're still counting, but we're quite optimistic. And I did take a couple pages out of Lyndon's book, so if I win, it can be attributed to Texas know-how.
(LAUGHTER)
(UNKNOWN): Did you (inaudible)?
BARTON: I hope not. I hope you win fair and square.
(LAUGHTER)
WYNN: A win is a win.

NEXT: U.S. Central Command Breached by Joyriding Teens; Al Qaeda Fails to Warn Us in Leaked Video

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  1. (LAUGHTER) (inaudible)

  2. Do you remember the laughter?

  3. Just a question: Doesn’t this law amount to Congress enacting a new qualification for voting, over and above those dictated by state law? The Supreme Court decision in Oregon v. Mitchell (1971) (ruling on Congress’s effort to lower the voting age by act of Congress) ruled that Congress could change the qualifications for federal elections (House, Senate, presidential electors) by virtue of the provision that says it can “by law make or alter” regulations on the “time, manner, and places” of House and Senate elections. (As far as I can tell, Justice Black just pulled out of his ass a comparable power for Congress to make rules about elections for presidential electors; the constitution itself says that electors shall be chosen “in such Manner as the Legislature [of the state] may direct.”)

    So if Oregon v. Mitchell is followed, this law should be valid only as a requirement for federal elections.

  4. One newspaper article I read state the new law applied to federal elections.

  5. Seamus,

    I think it might an that this probably can only be applied to federal elections.

  6. State and federal elections are combo affairs for the elections that people actually show up for, don’t forget.

    Why on earth anyone would oppose this type of legislation is beyond me. I heard some claptrap on NPR this morning about poor people not having driver’s licenses or state IDs, but that’s bunk. And the people saying it know that it’s bunk. As much as I hate the GOP and think it’s as corrupt as hell, the Democrats seem awfully hell-bent on making sure that we don’t check too closely on the identities of the voters. Living, dead, citizen, inmate, whatever.

    I really wish we had some other options. Real ones, I mean.

  7. Why on earth anyone would oppose this type of legislation is beyond me. I heard some claptrap on NPR this morning about poor people not having driver’s licenses or state IDs, but that’s bunk.

    It’s not bunk. My 17-year-old daughter was only able to get a Virginia ID because she’s younger than 19, and because I was able as her father to show my *own* ID, along with her birth certificate. If we’d waited until she was 19, we’d have been SOL, short of getting a private bill enacted by the General Assembly.

  8. One newspaper article I read state the new law applied to federal elections.

    Oh, never mind.

    (But this does raise the question that came up between the Supreme Court’s decision in Oregon v. Mitchell and the ratification of the 26th Amendment, whether there will have to be two kinds of ballots: one for state elections only (for those w/o photo ID) and one for all elections (including federal elections, for which ID is required).

  9. Seamus,

    Technically, showing the ID isn’t a “qualification for voting.” Being a citizen is a qualification for voting. Showing an ID is merely an administrative procedure for establishing that you meet that qualification.

    Pro Libertate, WTF?

    “I heard some claptrap on NPR this morning about poor people not having driver’s licenses or state IDs, but that’s bunk. And the people saying it know that it’s bunk.”

    You’ve discussed this with a lot of poor people? Gone down to the Housing Authority Tenants’ Association and chewed the issue over with them?

    Or do you just assuming that other people’s lives and interactions with the machinery of the government are pretty much like yours?

  10. The real issue is the steady march of the federal government towards mandating that all “citizens” carry a federally approved ID (think passport) at all times.

    It is only a matter of time before it will be a crime to be out in public without the appropriate documentation.

    Welcome to the soviet union.

  11. Wow, joe, how do you know anymore about it than me, then? What a ridiculous statement to make. You don’t know anything about what I know or who I know.

    I’m not assuming anything. I’ve known my share of poor people, including people living in the projects. I’m not saying that 100% of eligible voters have IDs, but the number that don’t aren’t some huge percentage of the population, either. We could always make IDs free, you know, if you think the cost is too high for some. Honestly, what kind of fraud do you want at the polls?

  12. I’m not the first person to notice the disconnect here, but – it seems the same people who are concerned about Diebold machines, dodgy paper ballots and other vote fraud dangers are the ones protesting the ID-for-voting legislation. So, you’re only concerned about voter fraud if it’s the other party doing the defrauding? How do you know that some Republicans don’t vote more than once, or show up to vote for dead people, or pay non-citizens to vote? You think only the Democrats do it?

    And are there really a lot of poor people who don’t have and can’t easily get IDs? What about people on public assistance? Don’t they need IDs to get services?

  13. Technically, showing the ID isn’t a “qualification for voting.” Being a citizen is a qualification for voting. Showing an ID is merely an administrative procedure for establishing that you meet that qualification.

    In practice, this will be a distinction without a difference. If I don’t have a photo ID (because my name is Boo Radley and I’ve rarely left my parent’s house in the decades since I was born), and I now can’t satisfy the requirements to get one (which means, under Virginia law, because I’m an adult and don’t already have a photo ID), I could get the entire population of Maycomb to come to the registrar’s office and swear out affidavits that I was born there (hell, the registrar might even be one of those who knows I was born there), but I still couldn’t get a photo ID under the applicable state regulations (and now the federal “Real ID Act”) and would be denied the right to vote.

    Unless the law was found to be unconstitutional as applied. Which I would hope it would be.

    We could always make IDs free, you know, if you think the cost is too high for some.

    For some, the problem isn’t the cost. It’s that, practically speaking, you can’t get ID if you don’t already have it. I especially like the rules in Virginia providing that you can’t get a copy of your birth certificate unless you send in a copy of your driver’s license or state-issued ID, and you can’t get a driver’s license or state-issued ID without a birth certificate. (See http://www.dmv.state.va.us/webdoc/pdf/dmv141.pdf)

  14. (For purposes of above hypothetical, assume that Boo Radley and the enire the town of Maycomb are moved to Virginia, or that Virginia’s laws apply in Alabama.)

  15. So what is your solution? I agree the DL/State ID requirement isn’t perfect but whats the alternative? You have to have some kind of verification process, and any such process is bound to be less than 100% perfect. Maybe Boo Radley is a loner and doesn’t have any friends in the town of Maycomb. What if no one on the face of the earth can vouch for his citizenship? Does this fact mean we just have to throw our hands up in the air and let millions of Mexican citizens vote in our elections?

  16. There’s always biometrics, but that would cost some change to roll out, and, of course, the whole national database vs. privacy issue would arise.

    IDs are necessary for a lot of things already. Like buying alcohol, cashing checks at the local payday lender or Wal-Mart, participating in various government programs, getting a number of jobs, etc. Not to mention driving cars and stuff. Also, IDs are pretty much required for getting loans from finance companies.

    Seamus, clearly any ID-to-vote requirement would make it impossible for a state to make it difficult to get an ID. In fact, I think that issue is the biggest single bar to going this direction. In order to protect each citizen’s right to vote, the federal government would almost certainly feel the need to standardize IDs and their procurement. . .which of course is a step towards the dreaded national ID.

    Maybe we should just pick one person who is really, really representative of all of us and let him vote for everything. With Multivac’s help, of course.

  17. it seems the same people who are concerned about Diebold machines, dodgy paper ballots and other vote fraud dangers are the ones protesting the ID-for-voting legislation.

    I’m not protesting this legislation, but it does make me wary. All calls for more use of government ID rub me the wrong way. Not sure what the solution should be, but I hear reports of low low voter turnout all the time, and I’m not convinced that this old-fashioned kind of voter fraud (the kind that requires a warm body for every stolen vote) is commonplace.

    On the other, modern hand – any individual partisan, criminal, terrorist or combination of all three with a rudimentary knowledge of computers can hack into one of these ridiculous voting machines or insert a virus which will alter hundreds of thousands of votes, leaving no evidence whatsoever.

    One sleazebag = possibly millions of stolen votes. That seems like a more serious threat to our democratic system, such as it is.

    Admittedly, it doesn’t sound as punchy as “millions of illegal Mexicans are voting for teh liberals!”

  18. Honestly, what kind of fraud do you want at the polls?

    well lets see joe is a democrat and they are renouned for tampering with elections so my guess would be fraud that puts democrats into power so they can accept more 10,000$ bribes then claim republicans are accepting bribes when someone picks up thier lunch bill. That is the kind of fraud joe wants.

  19. Couldn’t Seamus’s daughter get a passport? Va. laws don’t apply to that!

  20. Why are you dragging me into this? Besides, I have a photo ID and I don’t live with my parents. I live alone. So very, very alone.

  21. If I didn’t think a national ID was the very instrument of tyranny I would see this as a sensible bill. I believe at the same time they should make it a felony to vote when ineligible. Voting is violence by proxy and should be viewed with the same seriousness.
    One alternative to prevent illegals from voting is just have everyone swear the Citizenship Oath. when registering to vote.

  22. You’ve discussed this with a lot of poor people?
    Yup, in fact. Getting an ID is pretty trivial for anyone, and those extra-special ‘Poor People'(TM) are given quite a bit of help if they bother to ask for it (though they’re typically motivated by wanting someone else’s money, not wanting to vote). No problem at all.

    I especially like the rules in Virginia providing that you can’t get a copy of your birth certificate unless you send in a copy of your driver’s license or state-issued ID, and you can’t get a driver’s license or state-issued ID without a birth certificate.
    Not true:
    http://www.vdh.state.va.us/vitalrec/primary.asp,
    at the bottom.

    It’s not bunk. My 17-year-old daughter was only able to get a Virginia ID because
    Obviously it is bunk: she got her ID. So did everyone else. Please insert 25 cents to play again.

  23. Seaumus, I agree that it is, in practice, a distinction without a difference, and that such rules can be challenged on the grounds that they impose de facto conditions. I was just explaining why, on the face of it, an ID requirement isn’t a “condition for voting.”

    “I’m not the first person to notice the disconnect here, but – it seems the same people who are concerned about Diebold machines, dodgy paper ballots and other vote fraud dangers are the ones protesting the ID-for-voting legislation. So, you’re only concerned about voter fraud if it’s the other party doing the defrauding?” Requiring a clean, reliable method of tabulating votes doesn’t turn any legitimate voters away from the polls. Reforms to address the problems with ballots don’t come at a cost to anyone’s rights. ID requirements, on the other hand, result in some number of people who meet all of the qualifications for voting being refused their rights.

    Seamus lays out the problem with the ID requirement well – it’s not the cost, which could just be waived, but the administrative hassle, which can be particularly hard on people who don’t already have a footprint in the system.

  24. The disconnect I see is among people who spend their entire lives bitching about the bureacracy making people’s lives difficult, who suddenly dismiss such concerns when the people who find themselves screwed by the system are poor and immigrant would-be voters. Hey, man, what’s an afternoon at the DMV – the one that isn’t on public transit – that might or might not succeed in giving you an ID?

  25. “Hey, man, what’s an afternoon at the DMV – the one that isn’t on public transit – that might or might not succeed in giving you an ID?” – joe

    Wow, an argument AGAINST ID’ing voters and FOR public transit in one fell swoop. That is an impressive confusion of unrelated issues. It practically makes public transit sound like a Constitutional Right!

    Look, when citizenship is required to vote, you have to prove that 1) you are who you say you are and 2) who you say are is a citizen who therefore has the right to vote.

    Bottom line: What is joe’s suggested plan to prevent voter fraud?

    (It HAS to be better than joe’s Iraq solution of “evacuating US troops to nearly every other country in the region” plan.)

  26. I don’t much cotton to gubmint issued ID, myself. Why I couldn’t present an ID card issued by American Express, AAA or my insurance company, that meets some agreed-upon technical standard, just baffles me. Be that as it may, the attempts at requiring a state-issued ID for the purposes of voting have been met with the complaint that it would burden the poor. So the Republicans pushing the idea have countered by adding a waiver of the fee for the indigent to their bill in the state legislature. There still remains the objection to administrative hassles. But consider this: the gubmint library system in my town now requires of every patron who checks out materials either the presentation of a photo ID, or consent to have one’s picture taken and stored digitally in their systems. Five-year-old kids are having their photos stored in a gubmint database!

    Let’s put aside this obnoxious development, said to be made necessary by abuse of lending privileges by cardholders who claimed that they never took out materials that went missing, and that some friend, relation or acquaintence must have borrowed or stolen their cards. The fact remains that in my city there’s a neighborhood library much closer to everyone than the DMV is. If the city wanted to put their digital photo equipment at the disposal of the state government (perhaps for a fee), getting a State ID card of the non-driving variety would be nearly as easy as signing up for a library card. Have someone on staff sworn in as an elections registrar, and one could kill three birds with one stone. The only issues left to work out would be assuring that non-citizens and felons not yet “off paper” didn’t try to register to vote.

    I’d suggest that the Bookmobile could be run out to provide these services for such folks as the house-bound elderly, but the Library transferred it to the Police Dept. for use as a mobile command center. They could always raise funds for a replacement, equipped with the new photo gadgetry.

    In the Democratic primary just past in my State Senate district, a challenger to the incumbent withdrew from the race. He was caught double-voting in the 2000 presidential election: once in our state, and once in the state to our south.

    Kevin

  27. I especially like the rules in Virginia providing that you can’t get a copy of your birth certificate unless you send in a copy of your driver’s license or state-issued ID, and you can’t get a driver’s license or state-issued ID without a birth certificate.
    Not true:
    http://www.vdh.state.va.us/vitalrec/primary.asp,
    at the bottom.

    By “at the bottom,” I presume you are referring to the notation that says I can get a birth certificate by providing “a letter from the hospital (their letterhead) where the child was born along with a letter (their letterhead) from the health care provider who provided the mother prenatal care.” If you’d every dealt with the hospital where my first child was born, and tried to pry any records out of them, you’d realize what a joke this is. For my subsequent children, even this theoretical option wouldn’t be available, since they were all born at home. (The experience with the first child pretty much soured us on the whole hospital birth thing.)

    Couldn’t Seamus’s daughter get a passport? Va. laws don’t apply to that!

    On looking at the requirements for that, I see that it actually *would* be easier for people who’ve been off the grid up to age 19 to get a U.S. passport than to get a state-issued ID. That’s only because the feds give you the option of having someone who has known you for 2 years to swear to your identity. (This assumes you have a birth certificate. If you’ve los that, you’re still pretty much SOL.)

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