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A bomb-thrower at the ballot box

I've always had a bit of a libertarian streak in me, combined with a bit of a bomb-throwing instinct. Sometimes, when I am confronted with something that offends my sensibilities, I come up with a plan to fight it that, quite frankly, comes across as a bit of radicalism.

Here in Manchester, NH, a few years ago, school officials were considering random drug tests of athletes. I don't like such things; they smack of "unreasonable search and seizure." The officials have no grounds or suspicions for their actions; the students are presumed guilty until proven innocent. I called up a local talk show and wondered how long that policy would stand if some annoying person were to assemble a list of substances that result in "false positives" and give it to the athletes. Just how valid would those tests be after that?

Now, another bit of asshattery is starting to get on my nerves. As my sometime colleague Rob Port of Say Anything pointed out, another judge has struck down a requirement that a voter be required to prove their identity before casting their ballot.

I think that requiring people to prove their identity before voting is an incredibly obvious thing, and I find it ironic that the ones who usually argue most strenuously against it are usually the ones who howl about Diebold and rigging of electronic voting machines. Were I of a more cynical bent, I would say that they are worried that high-tech vote fraud will undermine their own attempts at low-tech voter fraud -- but I'm not quite that cynical.

My first impulse was to suggest a simple form of civil disobedience to point out the absurdity of these policies. Simply assemble a list of some of the most prominent voices against voter ID laws -- the people filing the suit, their attorneys, and the judge who ruled on it, for example. Then go through the voter records and find out their precinct, address, and party registration. Then, the next election day, simply show up at their polling place as soon as they open and say you're the official in question -- say, Judge Richard Callahan of Jefferson City, Missouri.

"I am Richard Callahan of 123 Main Street, and I'm here to vote."
"Um... I know Judge Callahan, and you're not him."
"Madam, under my most recent ruling, you are not allowed to demand to see my identification. I say I am Richard Callahan of 123 Main Street, and by law you are required to give me a ballot."

(The irony is enhanced if the impostor is not even of the same sex of the person being impersonated.)

Imagine Judge Callahan's reaction when he strolls into the polls and finds himself turned away, as he's already voted. Perhaps that might lead him to reconsider his ruling.

The only drawback with my plan is a rather harsh one: it's illegal. Now, I have no problems with violating stupid laws, especially to prove how stupid they are, but this one is a biggie. Voter fraud is a felony, and I can't quite justify breaking this law, even to make a point as important as this. My "fight fire with fire" instincts only go so far.

But I will say this: if I thought of it, so will many others. And some of them might not feel as inhibited or restrained as I am. Sooner or later, someone just might try this idea -- and then the sheer idiocy of the "no ID required for voters" policy will be shown to be the open invitation for fraud it is.

And on that day, I might be tempted to contribute to the violator's defense fund.


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Comments (30)

Great idea Jay. Co... (Below threshold)

Great idea Jay.

Come on you can take one for the team can't you?

The whole idea behind civil... (Below threshold)
Mark L.:

The whole idea behind civil disobedience as outline by Thoreau was not only to break the law, but to take the penalty for it. He believed that if the prisons and jails filled with honorable men violating a law out of principle that the law could not stand.

(The irony is enhanced i... (Below threshold)

(The irony is enhanced if the impostor is not even of the same sex of the person being impersonated.)

I was a Republican election challenger in 2004. Our instructions were very clear: if a nine-year-old kid comes in, identifies himself by name and birthday as a voter (with a birthdate that makes him over 18), and it matches what's on the voter roll, they vote. We were told that we could not go on looks for ANYTHING, no matter how obvious. The lack of voter ID requirements were silly, we agreed, but we had to follow the law as written to the letter, which is the whole point of election challengers in the first place.

The Democratic challengers were obviously trained to think of us as evil adversaries, out to prevent voters from excercising their rights. Most were nice after I spoke to them a while (one U. professor was particularly cool), though.

Let's not forget that the D... (Below threshold)
Rob:

Let's not forget that the Democrats who are opposed to the voter ID law are the same people who want their candidate listed on the ballot twice in Nebraska.

they are worried that hi... (Below threshold)
mesablue:

they are worried that high-tech vote fraud will undermine their own attempts at low-tech voter fraud -- but I'm not quite that cynical.

You should be, it has been perfected to an art form in Illinois and other places. It used to amaze me when the precinct captains would go around collecting voter cards (at least they checked those) for people who either couldn't or wouldn't go to the polls and "vote for them". Most dead folks don't carry ID either.

Can you blame the democrats... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

Can you blame the democrats for opposing the photo voter ID? It is difficult to get a photo ID for millions of people that have been dead for up to a hundred years. That is their entire voter base in some area's of the country. Can anyone say 'Chicago'?

Out of curiosity (because I... (Below threshold)
trb:

Out of curiosity (because I hate rulings like this), does the law state that it's a felony to impersonate someone and vote as them or to just impersonate someone? If the former, just get their ballot and don't cast a vote. I assume, if it's anything like Virginia, they check your name off when you first arrive but then you don't vote until later. If you never cast a vote, but they are forced to check the person off their list, it would be hillarious to have 1, 10, 100 people do that throughout the day and see how they handled it without using IDs.

--trb

"I was a Republican electio... (Below threshold)
Chuckg:

"I was a Republican election challenger in 2004. Our instructions were very clear: if a nine-year-old kid comes in, identifies himself by name and birthday as a voter (with a birthdate that makes him over 18), and it matches what's on the voter roll, they vote. We were told that we could not go on looks for ANYTHING, no matter how obvious."

... dear God. When I was a Cook County election judge in my local precinct in 2000, we were pulling photo IDs and/or voter registration cards and address checks on almost everybody we didn't recognize by sight.(*) That wasn't officially required of us... we were doing it largely because I'd nagged my fellow judges into it... but nobody officially forbade us from doing it either. Not even the poll watchers.

How did things go so insane in only 4 years?


(*) The busload of retired nuns from the local nursing home got a free pass. *g*

The main objection to the v... (Below threshold)
Nihilistic_Disintegration:

The main objection to the voter ID laws is that it places an undue hardship on poor or disabled people. If someone can't afford to get a drivers license or state ID, or can't get to the Secretary Of State's office, then they don't get to vote. This is, in effect, a poll tax.

How about if we make it so a person's voter registration card is no longer a piece of cardboard, but a laminated plastic card with their photo on it? That way, everyone who registers to vote gets a photo ID that they can present at the poll, without having to pay for it.

As usual, Jay Tea has misin... (Below threshold)
Herman:

As usual, Jay Tea has misintrepreted the situation. The judge struck down the law because of its similarity to the poll tax, which long ago the U.S. Supreme Court decreed was unconstitutional. From the website Jay Tea refers us to:

"The law required voters to show a federal or Missouri-issued photo ID at the polls, which Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan said was an unconstitutional burden on voters because the paperwork required to get those IDs is not free."

In a no-brainer situation, the judge said that those too penniless (e.g., the homeless) to buy the necessary paperwork cannot be denied the right to vote.

You conservatives may want to deny the destitute the right to vote, a right you yourself enjoy, but, alas, you lose.

You see conservatives, our U.S. constitution DEMANDS for ALL of us:

EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW

Get it? Got it? Good.

While I waited in line to v... (Below threshold)

While I waited in line to vote I was stunned to see that they weren't looking at any identification. When I got to the table I handed the guy my license. He said he didn't need that. I told him I wasn't moving until he verified my identity. I held up the line for 10 minutes.

In a no-brainer situatio... (Below threshold)
dodgeman:

In a no-brainer situation, the judge said that those too penniless (e.g., the homeless) to buy the necessary paperwork cannot be denied the right to vote.

So, we really want a govt. chosen by homeless people too poor to get a photo id? Nice.

We don't let 16 year old kids vote, or convicted felons, on illegal immigrants (yet), or non-citizens, etc. This is all deemed well and good, or at least constitutional. I think the very minimal fee required to get a photo id should not be considered a poll tax. Last time I got one, I think the fee was less than a bottle of MD20-20.

To add to Herman's generous... (Below threshold)
Malibu Stacy:

To add to Herman's generous offering of Facts over Funny Stories: following the 2000 elections, Missouri enacted a law requiring voters to present identification at the polls. Judge Callahan's ruling does not alter that requirement. A voter registration card continues to be acceptable proof, and that's free.

"So, we really want a govt.... (Below threshold)
Herman:

"So, we really want a govt. chosen by homeless people too poor to get a photo id? Nice." -- dodgeman

Would you perhaps prefer that the only people allowed to vote would be those with master's degrees or higher, i.e., a group which gave Kerry more votes than Bush? Still nicer.

Or maybe you would prefer allowing only American Nobel Laureates to choose our government? In the 2004 election, John Kerry received endorsements from close to sixty of this illustrious group. George Bush? He got six. We're getting very nice now.

But enough of this day-dreaming. We know what our constitution says. Let me just finish by stating that I know from personal experience having years ago lived on the streets of San Jose, California just what it's like to have but a couple dollars to one's name, not enough to buy any I.D. During my time of destitution, you wouldn't have denied me the right to vote, would you have, dodgeman?

Ah, big fans of democracy o... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Ah, big fans of democracy on this thread.

Out of curiosity (because I hate rulings like this), does the law state that it's a felony to impersonate someone and vote as them or to just impersonate someone? If the former, just get their ballot and don't cast a vote.

Still voter fraud. You can't steal someone else's ballot any more than you can vote for them. Next.

While I waited in line to vote I was stunned to see that they weren't looking at any identification. When I got to the table I handed the guy my license. He said he didn't need that. I told him I wasn't moving until he verified my identity. I held up the line for 10 minutes.

I'm glad I don't shop at the same store as you. What could possibly have been the point of that ridiculous exercise? Didn't you have a voter registration card? Weren't you on the rolls? How could it have taken ten minutes for the guy to glance at your license? Ah, whatever, you're full of shit.

So, we really want a govt. chosen by homeless people too poor to get a photo id? Nice.

Actually, we want our government chosen by citizens, regardless of their wealth. Assface.

As ND pointed out above, if people want to make photo id required, they have to give the photo ids away for free, just as they do the voter registration cards. How do you all feel about the government footing the bill for otherwise useless voter photo-id cards?

The required id should be f... (Below threshold)
kevino:

The required id should be free. For example, a driver's license for identification purposes or a voter registration card should be free.

However, the judge also said this: "Those whose name has changed, such as some married women, also must provide documents showing those changes. And some people may not have the knowledge of how to navigate bureaucracy to obtain a license, he said." That's disturbing: people who cannot work with the "bureaucracy" must be allowed to vote. I don't agree with that. The process of registering voters should be simple enough and verifiable enough for ordinary citizens to do. If you can't work within such a system, then you shouldn't be voting.

I would also suggest that we consider putting our thumbs in ink wells the way that the Iraqis did. This might help prevent some people from voting twice. Fraud is still possible in locations where election officials are in on the fraud or in absentee ballots, but it would help.

Mantis, that is what we all... (Below threshold)

Mantis, that is what we all want, of course if we are going to require photo id's then we make photo id's free of charge. Heck, let's allow for laminated photo ID. Any form of federal, local or state government photo ID should be valid, and if they cannot afford the paperwork and the hassle, then they should be provided. It's a small price to pay to prevent voter fraud (Washington State anyone?)

Herman, stop setting up a s... (Below threshold)

Herman, stop setting up a straw-man fallacy, you're blowing this way out of proportion. The cost of a form of Photo Identification is nowhere near the cost of earning higher education, or the other extremely difficult positions you mentioned.

How about we make it a different perspective..how about in order to earn the right to vote, you MUST serve in the countries' armed forces. How's that for pissing you off?

Voting is not a right, it is an obligation...

Henry,No argument ... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Henry,

No argument here. I have no problem with requiring identification as long as it's provided. My problem is with a poll tax, albeit one in disguise. And I suppose I wouldn't be so combative about it if everyone pushing for a photo id requirement were reasonable like yourself, but unfortunately many of them are only interested in making it harder, and more costly, to vote.

Keep up the good work over there in the Gulf, Henry.

I fail to see how a homeles... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

I fail to see how a homeless person can vote since they are 'homeless' and don't have a permanent residence in any location and can't be registered to vote in the first place.

Since our elections have a regional element, even the electoral college, it does matter where someone votes and therefore where they reside. (Buss in 2000 homeless to Ohio for the next election maybe?) So the homeless voting should be a non-issue and is in itself improper if it is being allowed.

Unless of course Herman is talking about the homeless impersonating other registered voters or some other form of voter fraud which he has no concern over.

I hope Wisbang will have as... (Below threshold)
Christie:

I hope Wisbang will have as passionate an article on electronic voter fraud as this article is on the possibilities of individual voter fraud when no voter ID is required. Consider this statistic: 300,000 votes were flipped in Ohio in 2004. This alone kept Bush/Cheney in office rather than being defeated.

Many elections officials apparently do not realize or will not admit that electronic voting machines can be programmed to record a vote for one candidate and give a paper receipt showing a vote for the other candidate. That can be done with one minute of access anywhere from the elections officials' offices to the machine at any voting location. We must insist on paper ballots and hand counting.

We  must confront this reality -- that past elections were fixed, and the 2006 elections are just as vulnerable. These findings deserve front-page treatment and they are not getting it. Electronic voting machine failure must have prominent and continual coverage. The people must address the serious ... catastrophic... issue of unreliable, unsecure and unverifiable voting machines. Two presidential elections have been stolen. If this trend continues America will be an empire not a democracy.

For an in-depth analysis of voter fraud via electronic voting machines, see:Brennan Center for Justice-Press Release
Or Search “voter fraud “ for numerous articles esp. the Princeton University professors test and report. Or read the book: “The Best Democracy That Money Can Buy” by Greg Pallast.

As Stalin famously said, it is not the votes that count, it is the vote counters. Let’s turn that around and make that work FOR democracy. If we watch the process, watch the exit polls, and demand accuracy, we will win for democracy no matter which candidates win.

Correction on typo.: That i... (Below threshold)
Christie:

Correction on typo.: That is Wizbang.

I am new on this Site. Is Wiz for wizard? As in genius, expert? Magical powers?

Christie,Please do... (Below threshold)
mesablue:

Christie,

Please don't trot out that tired old screed, it's been disproven so many times as to make you sound unbelieveably out of touch to bring it up again.

Where were the votes flipped? Where was fraud proven in Ohio? And who was in charge in those districts? Not Republicans.

Can't believe I even wasted my time replying to this.

Just make the required ID f... (Below threshold)
moon6:

Just make the required ID free. Then there's nothing to argue about.

Henry,Of course st... (Below threshold)
Herman:

Henry,

Of course states allow the homeless to vote. check out this site (or others):

http://www.veteransparty.us/homeless.htm

Sorry, my last message was ... (Below threshold)
Herman:

Sorry, my last message was meant for jpm100

Yeah, Christie, mesablue is... (Below threshold)
nihilistic_disintegration:

Yeah, Christie, mesablue is right. Who believes that the election was stolen in 2004? I mean come on, what kind of conspiracy nut would doubt the legitimacy of the Diebold-controlled election?

Oh, how about THE GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTING OFFICE.

But they're a bunch of partisan hacks, right, mesablue?

Please.

Nihilist, that link doesn't... (Below threshold)
moon6:

Nihilist, that link doesn't go to the GAO, it goes to some goofy organization that has Mumia Abu-Jamal and Ramsey Clark on their board of directors. However their posting does have a link to the actual GAO report.

I looked at that report. It mentions one error of 3,893 votes in Ohio that was caught in time and says it was a network error. The GAO points out that the system is vulnerable to fraud but I saw no assertion in that reoprt of fraud actually occuring in 2004. There's nothing there about "300,000 vote flips" or anything like that. Nothing about a "stolen election".

I gotta say though, I don't like the Diebold or Danaher voting machines.

Ah yes, the IED.A gr... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Ah yes, the IED.
A group that calls convicted cop killer Wesely Cook (Mumia Abu Jabar) "America's most famous political prisoner".
Very credible. So credible that ABC, NBC, CNN, CBS, NY Times, Washington Post and 100 US Senators all leapt into action.
No, wait, they never did.

nihilist, the Government Ac... (Below threshold)

nihilist, the Government Accounting Office is headed up by Ramsey Clark and Mumia Abu-Jamal? No wonder our goverment is so screwed up! I can't BELIEVE Bush and/or Congress allowed those two whackjobs anywhere near the GAO!

J.




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