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Confronting the Voter ID question: a modest proposal

Over at McGehee's site, I found this posting, which in turn linked to this story about a lawsuit over requiring voters to show an ID when they go to vote. (Bugmenot.com may let you bypass the pesky registration.)

Apparently, the idea of requiring a prospective voter to show some form of ID when they go to cast their ballots is horrifying and reprehensible to some people, who think that poll takers should simply take their word that they are who they say they are. After all, it's only the right to vote we're talking about here, not something important like buying cigarettes or beer, seeing an R-rated movie, or writing a check for a purchase.

A while ago, I had yet another if my "evil thoughts" on how to counter this sort of idiocy. If certain people, such as Tisha Tallman, regional counsel for the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, who is quoted in the case, have a problem with this, how would they react next election day if they showed up and found out that they had already voted several hours ago?

I think it would be an elegant form of civil disobedience if those who opposed having to show an ID found themselves unable to vote because someone else claiming to be them beat them to the polls and usurped their franchise.

(Mathematically speaking, I've never seen the difference between telling someone they can't vote, and allowing one who shouldn't be allowed to vote. Suppose I was planning to vote "yes" on a ballot question. Is there a difference in the end if I am denied the right to vote, or if an opponent is allowed to vote twice, or someone who should not be allowed to vote at all allowed to vote no? Not really.)

The only problem I see with my little idea is that it's a felony -- and I happen to be on the side that voter fraud, of any kind, is wrong.

Nonetheless, it's a fun thought.

So


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Comments (17)

I think that not only shoul... (Below threshold)
Ikkonoishi:

I think that not only should a photo id be required. I think we should have a signed photographic record of you when you vote. Make it so there is no way of linking your vote with your name though. So no time record, and no sequence number on your vote card.

Just to keep track of possible voter fraud.

Maybe I'm just naive. A per... (Below threshold)
Wanderlust:

Maybe I'm just naive. A person who (presumably) wants to protect him/herself from identity theft regarding financial issues would NOT want themselves to be ID'd for voting purposes?

Damn.

Almost makes you wish someone really *would* vote for them, to prove their stupidity, doesn't it?

/shaking head

Simple, ID let's you in the... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

Simple, ID let's you in the room/area where voting is conducted.

There is only one reason to... (Below threshold)
Jim Hines:

There is only one reason to oppose voter ID cards.

You want to commit voter fraud.

No voter ID what we need is... (Below threshold)
spurwing plover:

No voter ID what we need is a IQ test for our politicians see is they can put a round peg and put it in a square hole

Make a voter ID card free a... (Below threshold)
echibby:

Make a voter ID card free and then I'll support them... currently, government issued IDs cost money, and that smells like a poll tax to me. Let's put up obstacles to voting for American citizens!

Yes government ID's cost mo... (Below threshold)
Archie G:

Yes government ID's cost money. I think my last renewal cost 14 dollars over five years. That also includes a would you like to buy a beeer tax, rent a car tax, rent a hotel room tax, fly on an airplane tax, and rent a Blockbuster DVD tax.

Archie G, all of your examp... (Below threshold)
echibby:

Archie G, all of your examples are not activities required to participate in a democracy (i.e. vote). Why should I pay to vote? Voting should not cost anything, even $14 over 5 years (BTW- which state is this. Much cheaper than mine). Consider: how easy is it to renew? Over the web? Mail? In person? How far do you have to travel to renew? Is the renewal site open during non-work hours (evening, weekends)?

Every serious proposal on t... (Below threshold)

Every serious proposal on the table for requiring voter ID at the polls includes free IDs for anyone who needs one.

"But won't that cost the government a bundle of money?!?"

No. Most people have photo IDs already. Drivers licenses, passports, and so on. So there wouldn't be a huge demand for them. And a piece of plastic with a photo and a magnetic strip in it is CHEAP.

But at least it would take away the "poll tax" excuse for opposing this very reasonable reform.

Showing a drivers license o... (Below threshold)
Robert:

Showing a drivers license or state ID should be required to anyone who votes. Damn, if its good enough to get you into an R rated movie, buy booze, or drive...then it should be good enough to show proof of ID. Besides, in most states there is hardly anyway one can exist without some sort of identification. And, if you did not have identification to show, it would raise a red flag in my mind. And I used to work in the Registrar's office, as a poll worker, in California.

As a couple of people have ... (Below threshold)
John Anderson:

As a couple of people have mentioned, the most valid - perhaps the only valid - problem is cost.

In my state, a driving license is about $36/year. But an alternative picture ID can be gotten for $5/biannual from the Department of Elderly Affairs, if you know about it.

Sounds cheap enough, right? But I know people who would have to get, uh, creative to come up with five bucks.

And if government pays it might - not necessarily will, but may - be a boondoggle. I think it should be "free" but I want details. For example, the DEA and the Transit Authority take your picture and hand you the plastic card in about three minutes. The Transit bus pass is best: the picture is actually a chemical part of the card, not a single layer with plastic over it.

But the DMV... They take your picture and mail it to you three or four weeks later using some wierd multi-step process. Which is undoubtedly much more expensive than the desktop systems used elsewhere. Supposedly more secure because if you open the plastic sandwich to make an alteration the inks will deteriorate. Bah. The bus pass cannot be altered short of cutting up two and gluing the pieces - detectable by touch, if not sight.

I've been following a <a hr... (Below threshold)

I've been following a similar measure down here in Texas.

The "poll tax" canard is defeated handily by this language:


SECTION 11. Section 521.422, Transportation Code, is
amended by amending Subsection (a) and adding Subsection (d) to
read as follows:
(a) Except as provided by Subsection (d), the [The] fee for
a personal identification certificate is:
(1) $15 for a person under 60 years of age;
(2) $5 for a person 60 years of age or older; and
(3) $20 for a person subject to the registration
requirements under Chapter 62, Code of Criminal Procedure.
(d) The department may not collect a fee for a personal
identification certificate issued to a person who executes an
affidavit stating that the person is financially unable to pay the
required fee and:
(1) who is a registered voter in this state and
presents a valid voter registration certificate; or
(2) who is eligible for registration under Section
13.001, Election Code, and submits a registration application to
the department.

I would be willing to bet that similar language can be found, or placed into, any voter-ID act to put paid to the ridiculous "poll tax" canard echibby's spewing.

Actually, the commission th... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

Actually, the commission that just finished recommending election reform made the suggestion that there be made available FREE govenrment issued ID cards for the purpose of voter registration. Anyone without a driver's license or other ID would go down and get a FREE ID card.

This was immediately met with the Democratic response as being a new poll tax. Jimmy Carter did endorse the plan, but he was on the commission, so I don't know how much weight that carries.

Come to think of it, with Carter's track record, I don't know that his endorsement is such a good thing.

Finally, a "tax" that democ... (Below threshold)
wilky:

Finally, a "tax" that democrats object to. I'm thinking Chicago would be the most upset. And aren't the democrates the ones that complain about no paper trails using electronic machines? Typical.

I've read a number of artic... (Below threshold)
Rance:

I've read a number of articles on this story and the objections are:
1) There is a charge for the cards.

2) They are not available inside Atlanta. Sort of a Catch-22 -- you don't have a driver's license, but you have to travel outside the city to get the ID you need because you don't have a driver's license

3) The majority of the voter fraud that has actually been identified in recent elections is from absentee ballots, which don't require an ID to cast.

So far, the two examples we... (Below threshold)
echibby:

So far, the two examples we've heard from (TX and GA) offer high barriers to getting an ID card (charging, traveling far away from one's residence)... TX will waive the fee (thank you, Random Numbers), but a quick scan of the TX DMV web site (texas.dmv.org) doesn't have anything about a fee waiver, so it's not obvious as to how one proceeds in this regard, in terms of having the fee waived, proof of inability to pay, etc. We still have 48 states to hear from.
I support the notion of providing ID in order to vote, but obtaining an ID should be as easy/painless as possible with compromising the integrity of the ID. Why not have some sort of national ID or voter ID provided through the post office- they're located everywhere (unlike the motor vehicle offices), they are already set up to process passports, they're open on weekends (at least in my neck of the woods). Don't charge anything for the ID and we're in business!

So far, the two examples we... (Below threshold)
echibby:

So far, the two examples we've heard from (TX and GA) offer high barriers to getting an ID card (charging, traveling far away from one's residence)... TX will waive the fee (thank you, Random Numbers), but a quick scan of the TX DMV web site (texas.dmv.org) doesn't have anything about a fee waiver, so it's not obvious as to how one proceeds in this regard, in terms of having the fee waived, proof of inability to pay, etc. We still have 48 states to hear from.
I support the notion of providing ID in order to vote, but obtaining an ID should be as easy/painless as possible with compromising the integrity of the ID. Why not have some sort of national ID or voter ID provided through the post office- they're located everywhere (unlike the motor vehicle offices), they are already set up to process passports, they're open on weekends (at least in my neck of the woods). Don't charge anything for the ID and we're in business!




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