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April 10, 2012 9:43 AM   Subscribe

James O'Keefe's Project Veritas has revealed its latest hit piece where an unknown man purports to be Eric Holder and all but procures his vote.

There has long been a campaign to promote Voter ID laws among conservative circles. However, low income earners and minorities are far more likely to lack ID with up to 12% of Americans earning $25,000 or less without access to a U.S. passport, naturalization document, or birth certificate. Often low income earners cannot afford the time off work to procure valid ID either.

Voter ID laws have traditionally run afoul of Harper v. Virgina Board of Elections as most states charge for issuing ID making any voter ID requirement an effective poll tax. Most states work around this by giving a free ID for the purposes of voting which has been affirmed as constitutional in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board.

However, despite requirements to give out free state IDs for the purposes of voting government workers are asked not to offer information on them unless prompted and even when the laws are struck down misinformation, poorly trained and/or biased poll workers can still result in chaos at elections.
posted by Talez (267 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've said it before....
posted by Fizz at 9:44 AM on April 10, 2012


From the New York magazine article quoted:

" Could a group of hundreds or thousands of fraudsters be mobilized to go around to different polling stations on election day and vote for one particular candidate or issue, possibly altering the outcome of an election? It would be difficult to organize surreptitiously, but sure, it's probably doable. But it has never happened."

...Does the name "Boss Tweed" not mean anything to these people?...

Also, Edgar Allen Poe may have an opinion about that as well.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:50 AM on April 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Policy Brief on the truth about 'Voter Fraud': “Because voter fraud is essentially irrational, it is not surprising that no credible evidence suggests a voter fraud epidemic. There is no documented wave or trend of individuals voting multiple times, voting as someone else, or voting despite knowing that they are ineligible. Indeed, evidence from the microscopically scrutinized 2004 gubernatorial election in Washington State actually reveals just the opposite: though voter fraud does happen, it happens approximately 0.0009% of the time. The similarly closely-analyzed 2004 election in Ohio revealed a voter fraud rate of 0.00004%. National Weather Service data shows that Americans are struck and killed by lightning about as often.”

Voter fraud is not a problem. This video has clips of Eric Holder saying as much; he is absolutely correct. There is evidence that people have done stupid things like what James O'Keefe did in this video; but that means nothing, and Eric Holder didn't deny that. But there is no sense in which individual voter fraud has ever had any real and significant effect on a modern American election.
posted by koeselitz at 9:52 AM on April 10, 2012 [15 favorites]


If O'Keefe actually had balls he would have voted as Eric Holder and then gone to prison for 5 years in order to show his willingness to martyr himself for the righteous cause of defending democracy from fraud.

Of course, if you REALLY wanted to pass voter ID laws in order to prevent minorities from voting and were merely invoking "fraud prevention" as a not-so-subtle cover for this goal, it might be a little more difficult to justify prison time. But O'Keefe has pure intentions, doesn't he? Doesn't he?
posted by anewnadir at 9:54 AM on April 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Wait I just realized I need to make a Lorax sequel about election rigging called Boss Thneed.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:54 AM on April 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


Also, individual voter fraud has never had a real or significant effect on a modern American primary, either, but it should be emphasized as strenuously as possible that primaries are not elections.
posted by koeselitz at 9:55 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Vote fraud happens AFTER the election. Remember 2000?
posted by dunkadunc at 9:55 AM on April 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


I'm confused why he thinks his stunt matters with regards to voter ID laws. Does he think that acquiring a fake ID good enough to fool a random ballot volunteer is a difficult task? Did he not go to college?
posted by 0xFCAF at 9:56 AM on April 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm sure Eric Holder would like to talk to James O'Keefe about the voter fraud he's perpetrated here.
posted by Catblack at 9:56 AM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


You need photo ID to buy Sudafed in California.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:57 AM on April 10, 2012


The left should take a page from the conservative book re gun rights. Restrictions on voting? Oh no no no no---everyone should have an unlimited number of votes so honest citizens can collectively outvote the bad guys.
posted by Bromius at 9:57 AM on April 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


If O'Keefe actually had balls he would have voted as Eric Holder and then gone to prison for 5 years in order to show his willingness to martyr himself for the righteous cause of defending democracy from fraud.

It wasn't actually O'Keefe that did it. His organization organized it.

I suppose they specifically didn't procure the ballot and did everything up to perjury in order to prevent a repeat of his New Hampshire stunt where people were calling for his head on a platter for actually breaking the law.
posted by Talez at 9:58 AM on April 10, 2012


0xFCAF: “I'm confused why he thinks his stunt matters with regards to voter ID laws. Does he think that acquiring a fake ID good enough to fool a random ballot volunteer is a difficult task? Did he not go to college?”

Why are we not doing this? Someone do this, please. Someone go to Indiana and make a fake ID and vote with it, and make a video just like this. I promise I will link it several times a day on Facebook for weeks. Seriously, we need to get on this.
posted by koeselitz at 9:59 AM on April 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


christ, every time this little shit makes a video it's news, despite all the behind the scenes shenanigans that have come out about every other video he's done. Breitbart's dead but his despicable little toady keeps getting press.
posted by Dr. Twist at 10:00 AM on April 10, 2012 [19 favorites]


Why don't they stop pussyfooting around and just draft up a bill that repeals the 15 Amendment already?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:01 AM on April 10, 2012


Up here in Maine, we don't need dickbags like O'Keefe to give the government excuses to crack down on poor people. The Governor just gets emails from single mothers in other states asking about welfare in Maine, and is inspired to draft legislation for drug testing welfare and unemployment recipients.

And of course we all know these 'emails' and 'faxes' he receives are real and not any kind of strawman. Not at all.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:02 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why don't they stop pussyfooting around and just draft up a bill that repeals the 15 Amendment already?

Because those pesky Democrats still control the 1/6th of the senate and legislatures you need to get it over the line.
posted by Talez at 10:03 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


...Does the name "Boss Tweed" not mean anything to these people?...

Tweed's machine did not involve mobilizing hundreds or thousands to vote as someone else, which is the only type of fraud voter ID laws would ostensibly prevent. It consisted of buying votes from illiterate immigrants and by actual fraud committed by election officials at the time the votes were collected or counted, by, for example, throwing away votes for the other candidates (1871 NYTimes pdf).
posted by Partial Law at 10:05 AM on April 10, 2012 [24 favorites]


I had to sign for my ballot last week at the DC primary. The video does not show someone being offered Holder's ballot. It shows someone being asked to sign that they are Holder in order to be offered the ballot. If he'd signed, representing that he was Holder, it would have been a serious crime, he did not.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:06 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


So why doesn't someone get a fake James O'Keefe ID, do something requiring ID, and then be all "BUSTED!" about them doing whatever despite the obvious fake ID. With a little work "James O'Keefe" could be to a person operating under an alias as "John Doe" is to a person whose real name is unknown.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:07 AM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


No mention of O'Keefe is complete without this picture.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:07 AM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Tweed's machine did not involve mobilizing hundreds or thousands to vote as someone else, which is the only type of fraud voter ID laws would ostensibly prevent. It consisted of buying votes from illiterate immigrants...

What about the practice of "cooping", in which the aforementioned illiterate immigrants were often dressed in new clothes and sent to vote again a second time?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:09 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


The only vote fraud happening in the USA is the acts put on by these jackasses.
posted by notsnot at 10:09 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


So who's his sugardaddy now?
posted by Artw at 10:10 AM on April 10, 2012


Boss Tweed-style tactics are pointless these days. It is much, much cheaper to do caging, or to hire a phone bank to call registered [other party, oh why pussyfoot around it: Democrats] to lie to them about why they can't vote, or that their polling place has changed, or the date of election day is different.
posted by rtha at 10:11 AM on April 10, 2012 [10 favorites]


No mention of O'Keefe is complete without this picture.

The dollar bill makes that just absolutely priceless.
posted by griphus at 10:12 AM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Voter ID is a solution in search of a problem, which itself creates a major problem. No-one is going to risk jail to cast an individual vote which is almost certain not to be decisive. (Except James O'Keefe, of course.)

There is an entire class of people who, because they do not see their individual vote as likely to be decisive, have neither the time or inclination to jump through hurdles to get their vote cast and counted. (For any conservatives out there, this is called "rational self-interest".) Putting up even a seemingly minor hurdle such as the requirement to have valid government ID, means this entire class of individuals will not vote. THIS BREAKS DEMOCRACY. Voting needs to be as effortless as possible, or it suddenly reflects only the views of certain classes of people, not of all the people.

Of course, if you're a partisan Republican who only pays lip service to the democratic ideal, this is a great thing, because this class of people tends to vote for the other party.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:12 AM on April 10, 2012 [21 favorites]


In most places that I've lived you have to vote in your precinct so I'm not sure how realistic it is that someone is going to bother showing up at various polling places to vote under the names of nearby residents. A fraudulent voter would need the name of the resident and their specific polling station and while I realize that's not overly difficult, it seems like way more trouble than it's worth and not very effective.

We should be making it easier for people to vote and participate in the democratic process not harder.
posted by shoesietart at 10:13 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nah, I know that the Tweed tactics are tough to pull off now; I was reacting more to the assertion that such voter fraud "never happened". Because it did. Couldn't happen to the same degree today, but the reason why we have the voter ID laws we do was because it did happen once before in much cruder times.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:13 AM on April 10, 2012


Anyway, why does the right-wing need voter fraud when they have a Supreme Court to pick their winner?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:14 AM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


The dollar bill makes that just absolutely priceless.

Technically speaking it does exactly the opposite.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:14 AM on April 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


.Does the name "Boss Tweed" not mean anything to these people?...

Partial Law beat me to it-- the fact is that it's simply easier to bribe large numbers of people to (honestly) vote for you and to have the ballot counters manipulate the results later. Given the ease with which the other two methods were available, stealing an election through voter fraud wouldn't pay off the dividends.

I, too, voted in DC. I had to provide my last name, first name, middle name (none of which can be pronounced correctly by most people), and my specific address. Then I had to sign.

To commit fraud, what you'd have to do is have your own copy of the voter rolls and be told to impersonate a specific individual, given all of that individual's personal information, assuming that the poll worker didn't already know who you are and didn't know that specific registered voter. Then you'd actually have to sign an affidavit indicating this is you. And you'd have to do this thousands of times. And no one could get caught, because once a couple people got caught, the entire scheme involving thousands of people would be exposed.

Whereas it's easier just to bar people from voting if you want an advantage in an election.

The reason "voter fraud" laws are being passed is pretty simple-- just ask the supporters why they're being passed. The reason is because supporters of these laws complain that it's too easy to vote. You can register thousands of people relatively quickly. Then you can organize busloads of people to the polls on election day and get them to turn out for your candidate. This results in the candidate busing all those people to the polls with an advantage. Republicans simply want to prevent the ease of voter organizing from hurting them on election day.
posted by deanc at 10:15 AM on April 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Look if we have to pass laws disenfranchising 8 or so million poor and/or brown people in order to prevent 0.001% of people from committing voter fraud then that is just the cost of securing our democracy.

Requiring employee/student health care plans at a religious hospitals, universities or charities to cover birth control without a copay? Fucking fascism.
posted by ND¢ at 10:15 AM on April 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


A fraudulent voter would need the name of the resident and their specific polling station and while I realize that's not overly difficult, it seems like way more trouble than it's worth and not very effective.

And for this case as detailed in DCist, "the man was repeatedly told by a poll worker to fill out a “special ballot”—also known as a provisional ballot—which are used in any case in D.C. where there is doubt about a voter’s eligibility to cast a ballot"; these ballots can all be challenged.
posted by inigo2 at 10:17 AM on April 10, 2012


You need photo ID to buy Sudafed in California.

Sudafed isn't a constitutional right.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:17 AM on April 10, 2012 [19 favorites]


The dollar bill makes that just absolutely priceless.

Awww yeah, high roller 1832.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:17 AM on April 10, 2012


Came for the dark commentary about tossing O'Keefe et. al. in jail. Didn't leave disappointed.
posted by Infinity_8 at 10:17 AM on April 10, 2012


You can go to a gun show and purchase a gun without ID. This is protected by Mr O'Keefe, but not my right to vote without an ID.
posted by humanfont at 10:18 AM on April 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


No where in that video do O'Keefe or his minions actually receive a valid ballot. In the one instance where he does get close he is offered a "special ballot" which is not counted until after it has been verified by election officials. In the scenes where the official offers to initial the signature after him, again he is still having to represent that he is the person, which is the fraud. He's claiming that it is possible, and of course it is possible, but not without actually committing a serious crime (which he doesn't have the balls to commit). It's as if he's claiming that our monitary policy is foolish because it is theoretically possible to rob a bank.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:19 AM on April 10, 2012 [23 favorites]


So help me understand this, the ideas are basically:

- require ID to vote, which may lead to significant numbers of (especially low-income) voters becoming disenfranchised, and no guarantee on cutting down the already ridiculously low voter fraud rates because someone could still get a fake ID and vote anyway

or

- don't require ID to vote, not disenfranchising anyone through that requirement, and nigh-infinitesimally small numbers of voting fraud may still occur.


I guess I just don't understand how not having ID as a barrier to voting is a terrible horrible thing. I mean god knows no thorough check of IDs is going to occur on a polling day anyway.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 10:20 AM on April 10, 2012


I guess I just don't understand how not having ID as a barrier to voting is a terrible horrible thing

The big complaint from Republicans in 2008 was that Obama had unfairly won the election by getting millions of people to vote for him who would have otherwise not voted or would have voted for the Republican. This was considered an unfair advantage, and the way to take away that advantage is to make it harder for a politician like Obama to get more people to the polls.
posted by deanc at 10:23 AM on April 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Dan Amira: There are a lot of disruptive things that people are capable of doing that they nevertheless don't do, and which we consequently don't need to freak out about. Someone could, hypothetically, go to a local supermarket and lick all the apples, just to savor the essence of apple without coughing up 30 cents. That doesn't mean we should lock up all the apples behind a plexiglass barrier.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:24 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Project Verminus
posted by orme at 10:24 AM on April 10, 2012


I guess I just don't understand how not having ID as a barrier to voting is a terrible horrible thing.

From your own option 1:

require ID to vote, which may lead to significant numbers of (especially low-income) voters becoming disenfranchised

That is a terrible horrible thing.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:24 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Re provisions ballots: Yep. One year, I accidentally somehow signed myself up to vote absentee. I really like going to my polling place, so I probably did this by ticking a box I didn't mean to tick when renewing my drivers license or something similar. Anyway, on election day, I showed up at my polling place and they were all, nope, sorry, you're on the absentee list, and I was all "Nooooooo!" So they gave me a provisional ballot and I went into the little booth and worked my way through the three million initiative questions and such (fuck you, California!) and left with joy in my heart, because the polling place workers did exactly what they were supposed to do, patiently and politely. And I got a sticker that said "I voted!"
posted by rtha at 10:25 AM on April 10, 2012


Voting needs to be as effortless as possible

Indeed. Elections should be made a national holiday, and voting should be allowed for at least a full week in advance of the election day, even longer for absentees. Employers should be required to give every employee at least one of those seven days the day off with pay so that they can vote.

To encourage participation, voting should also be compulsory, on pain of a small fine. Or, alternatively, voting should entitle the voter to a modest (e.g. $50) refundable tax credit.

Finally, we ought to almost entirely eliminate the laws prohibiting convicted felons from voting. The only convictions that should prohibit someone from voting should be voter fraud and treason.
posted by jedicus at 10:25 AM on April 10, 2012 [29 favorites]


"It's too easy to vote" is a phrase that only a dick or a moron would ever utter.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:26 AM on April 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


The big complaint from Republicans in 2008 was that Obama had unfairly won the election by getting millions of people to vote for him who would have otherwise not voted or would have voted for the Republican.

Oh My GOD, that is so unfair! One side actually got more people to vote for them than the other!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:27 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


The 10th Regiment of Foot: “That is a terrible horrible thing.”

Right, so six-or-six-thirty's point stands. Why is it a terrible thing not to have barriers to voting?
posted by koeselitz at 10:28 AM on April 10, 2012


I'm exaggerating their reaction a little bit for comic effect, but, yeah, the highly organized GOTV operation of Obama's in 2008 was considered a sore point among the losing side that year. If you can get more people to vote for you by registering all of them and then getting them to the polls on election day, swamping the other side, the losers tend to take that pretty personally and will make an effort to ensure that it doesn't happen again.
posted by deanc at 10:30 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why is it a terrible thing not to have barriers to voting?

Because, ultimately, many people believe that voting is only appropriate for people of a certain class and temperament.
posted by deanc at 10:31 AM on April 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


to pass laws disenfranchising 8 or so million poor and/or brown people

You're claiming 8 million poor and or brown Americans of voting age have no access to free state issued IDs? I don't understand why you think poor and or brown people are not smart enough to claim a free state issued ID.

Just how do these no state issued ID having Americans of voting age somehow get around in this country without driving, saving, spending, schooling, getting jobs, dealing with banks or governments, marrying, traveling, sueing, borrowing, buying or sniffling?

Because all require a form of state-issued ID?
posted by lstanley at 10:33 AM on April 10, 2012


Right, so six-or-six-thirty's point stands. Why is it a terrible thing not to have barriers to voting?

Doh! I so read that in reverse.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:35 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


'os America is a fucked up place, dude.
posted by Artw at 10:35 AM on April 10, 2012


Just how do these no state issued ID having Americans of voting age somehow get around in this country without driving, saving, spending, schooling, getting jobs, dealing with banks or governments, marrying, traveling, sueing, borrowing, buying or sniffling?

It's almost as though not everyone lives a middle class metropolitan lifestyle with a checking account and a 9-5 job!

I might also add that many of these voter ID laws aren't about requiring photo ID. They're about requiring a specific form of photo ID. So even if they had one kind for necessary paperwork, they now have to get another kind just to vote.
posted by deanc at 10:36 AM on April 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


The big complaint from Republicans in 2008 was that Obama had unfairly won the election by getting millions of people to vote for him who would have otherwise not voted

Hence why O'Keefe's first foray into combatting "voter fraud" did not lead to voter law reform, but instead destroyed a nonprofit organization that just happened to organize massive GOTV operations for poor blacks and college students.

This is one of those legendary mannerisms of the Republican Party: finding a sadistic pleasure in teasing how they're doing something by pretending they're not. "We're making sure mothers make informed decisions." No you're not. You are trying to ban abortion. "Protecting job creators." No you're not. You are giving tax cuts to rich campaign donors.

It's the same thing here. "Voter fraud" means "black people are voting." Black people and college students, who also vote heavily Democrat, hence why many states passing "voter reform" have banned college IDs as valid forms. And they say all of this with that evil smile because they know they are full of shit but if you say "you're trying to stop letting black people vote" they get to pretend to be outraged.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:37 AM on April 10, 2012 [13 favorites]


Just how do these no state issued ID having Americans of voting age somehow get around in this country without driving, saving, spending, schooling, getting jobs, dealing with banks or governments, marrying, traveling, sueing, borrowing, buying or sniffling?

I dunno. Why don't you ask the 11% of all Americans who fall into this category.

With that many, it may even take less time to find one than it did for me to Google that.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:39 AM on April 10, 2012 [14 favorites]


lstanley:

Studies show that as many as 11 percent of eligible voters do not have government-issued photo ID. That percentage is even higher for seniors, people of color, people with disabilities, low-income voters, and students. Many citizens find it hard to get government photo IDs, because the underlying documentation like birth certificates (the ID one needs to get ID) is often difficult or expensive to come by.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:40 AM on April 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


coke plz
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:40 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is actually kind of old news, and the lib blogshpere has pointed out, as notsnot said, Okeefe and co. seem to be the ones perpetrating most of these attempts at illustrating voter fraud. Although an election official, republican btw, did get convicted of fraud for misrepresenting where he lived so he could vote in the district of his choosing. I don't think Fox gave that a lot of coverage.

Others have pointed out that he is not committing voter fraud at as as the person in question doesn't vote.

Why is it a terrible thing not to have barriers to voting?

Who says there aren't already barriers? You just can't walk into a polling place and vote. You have to register. Remember that part? Usually done at a DMV where you have to show proof of identity AND citizenship. You can also go to the county seat still, I believe, it's where I first registered; or through drives like acorn was doing, all legal. Nevertheless, once registered it's been assumed that YOU ARE WHO YOU CLAIM.

When you show up to vote your name will be on a list of registered voters. Why should you have to prove who you are again? When is the last time you heard of someone complaining that they couldn't vote because someone had already voted in their name?
posted by Max Power at 10:41 AM on April 10, 2012


I don't understand why you think poor and or brown people are not smart enough to claim a free state issued ID.

The Government tends to be open during work hours, 9-5. Poor people have shitty, exploitative jobs. I don't know if you've ever had a shitty, exploitative job but said jobs probably look too kindly to people taking time off to go get ID, free or not.

Just how do these no state issued ID having Americans of voting age somehow get around in this country without driving, saving, spending, schooling, getting jobs, dealing with banks or governments, marrying, traveling, sueing, borrowing, buying or sniffling?

Voter ID laws require separate documentation that proves you're a citizen who can legally vote. A driver's license does not. A bank account does not. Getting a child in school does not. Marrying does not. Travelling does not.
posted by griphus at 10:41 AM on April 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


Just remember that your vote does not derive it's authority from the state, the state derives it's authority from your vote.
And anyone that tells you they have authority over your ability to vote should be considered an enemy of all free Americans.

That is what I tell my libertarian conservative friends anyway.
posted by The Violet Cypher at 10:42 AM on April 10, 2012 [22 favorites]


Vote fraud is not a real problem, but it's a symbolic problem and no less worth addressing than other symbolic problems we spend money on. The fact that it's difficult or expensive to get an ID if you're poor/an immigrant/elderly is a flaw in the ID issuance system, not the idea of ID. You shouldn't have to wait in line for hours at the DMV because the DMV ought to be more efficient, not because of your right to vote.

The claim that voter ID is a plot designed to disenfranchise people is, IMHO, nonsense. Every voter ID proponent I've ever met, and I've met a lot, is genuinely worried about the possibility of voting by undocumented immigrants (or illegal aliens, if you prefer). This does happen. I am such an individual and although I have never voted I know a lot of people without papers who have. Often they're not aware it's a big issue, because paid signature-gatherers love registering people to vote and make the process easy, so people do, and later they get ballot instructions in the mail. In my heart of hearts I think more cities, counties, etc. should consider extending the franchise or just bite the bullet and reform the whole immigration process, but immigration reform is a too big a topic for this thread so I'm not going to discuss it further.

To those saying it's not enough of a problem that it should be discussed at all: Diebold. Voting machine fraud isn't a big problem either, but that hasn't prevented to formation of umpteen conspiracy theories among Democratic partisans. And as for O'Keefe being a good or bad guy: the Yes Men, or any other liberally-minded media pranksters. I don't care for James O'Keefe but the tradition of journalistic stings is a long one, and is not confined to one end of the political spectrum. Stop being such hypocrites.
posted by anigbrowl at 10:43 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


...other symbolic problems we spend money on.

Yeah that War on Drugs really paid off.
posted by griphus at 10:44 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Doh! I so read that in reverse.

Yes, sorry 10th Reg... I knew when I wrote it that the phrasing was all bad. Food might help brain make words better.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 10:45 AM on April 10, 2012


It's too easy to vote" is a phrase that only a dick or a moron would ever utter.

Yep.
posted by Vectorcon Systems at 10:45 AM on April 10, 2012


Checking it up, Holder is the #857th most common last name in the US, 1 in 742 families have that surname. So, I'd place that, conservatively, about 500 people in District of Columbia share that name. It should not have raised an eyebrow that one of them might be young and white and have a common name like Eric.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:45 AM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Vote fraud is not a real problem, but it's a symbolic problem and no less worth addressing than other symbolic problems we spend money on.

Addressing this symbolic problem is less worth addressing than other symbolic problems when "addressing" that symbolic problem interferes with individual and Constitutional rights.

This symbolic problem was supposed to be addressed by the registration and affidavit system. There is no end to the levels of symbolic problems that will exist. That's their nature-- it's inherently symbolic, so you can always find some other solution in search of a problem.
posted by deanc at 10:47 AM on April 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Anigbrowl: Okay, so fix the DMV first. Arguing that it's okay to require photo ID to vote because it should be easy for poor people to get photo IDs is like arguing that it's libertarian for the government not to recognize gay marriage because the it shouldn't be the government's business to recognize any marriages. You're putting the cart before the horse in a blatantly transparent way.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:48 AM on April 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


lstanley: “You're claiming 8 million poor and or brown Americans of voting age have no access to free state issued IDs? I don't understand why you think poor and or brown people are not smart enough to claim a free state issued ID.”

It is not an issue of whether they're smart enough, or whether they're too busy, or even whether they're afraid to involve themselves in local or state government or whatever. The issue is they do not have IDs. They don't have them right now. So enacting voter ID laws immediately disenfranchises them.

But let's be clear on this. Let's remove it from the racial or class element, since I know that always bothers conservatives. I am white. I am middle class (I like to think.) I do not have a state-issued ID, for various unfortunate reasons.

So you're saying you don't want me to vote.

“Just how do these no state issued ID having Americans of voting age somehow get around in this country without driving, saving, spending, schooling, getting jobs, dealing with banks or governments, marrying, traveling, sueing, borrowing, buying or sniffling?”

I am legally licensed to drive by the state of Colorado, if you'd like to know, but since I moved before Colorado could send me my license, I don't have the piece of plastic. I drive, at the risk of getting a small ticket for not carrying my license. I spend easily; stores rarely ask for ID. I don't sue, so that's not a problem. But I am not a fluke or a rare exception. There are millions of people just like me. We might just be too busy to get an ID; or we might have a bunch of hoops we have to go through to get one, like getting a birth certificate or social security card or something like that; or we might just not have wanted to. There are a lot of reasons why we don't have IDs, but that fact is no reason to take away our basic rights.

Even so, on behalf of all of us who don't have state-issued ID cards, let me say this: we're willing to make a deal with you. We don't mind voter ID laws in principle. Sure, go ahead – require every citizen to present an ID card when voting. That's fine with us. We hate voter fraud, too. We only ask one thing: before you make this a legal requirement, just give us the stupid ID cards already. Don't pass these laws until you can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that every single citizen has one of these IDs. It shouldn't be that hard, right? You're already offering to give us ID cards. So just give them to us. Work with local municipalities and make sure everyone is documented and given a card. Then, fine, require whatever you want. But don't make silly requirements like this just to keep us from voting, because we can see through the ruse just fine, thanks very much.
posted by koeselitz at 10:48 AM on April 10, 2012 [13 favorites]


You need photo ID to buy Sudafed in California.

Sudafed isn't a constitutional right.


"The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States unless and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to implement its power to appoint members of the Electoral College. U.S. Const., Art. II, §1. "

- Bush v. Gore
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 10:49 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Voter ID laws require separate documentation that proves you're a citizen who can legally vote. A driver's license does not. A bank account does not. Getting a child in school does not. Marrying does not. Travelling does not.

This is why it blows my mind when people who will fight tooth and nail against a "national ID" will support voter ID laws!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:49 AM on April 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


And as for O'Keefe being a good or bad guy: the Yes Men, or any other liberally-minded media pranksters.

So just checking, do you actually believe The Yes Men are on the same level as a person whose right-wing group-funded activities led to actual legislation on the floor of Congress being passed specifically to de-fund a national voting assistance group, and that there is a legitimate chance their actions will ever be treated by media and Congress the way O'Keefe's was, or was this one of those analogy comments meant solely to Win At Internet™?

I don't care for James O'Keefe but the tradition of journalistic stings is a long one, and is not confined to one end of the political spectrum. Stop being such hypocrites.

I know, how hypocritical of me to feel that selectively editing video and lying about it doesn't constitute "journalism." Hey remember that time Mike Wallace tried to lure a CNN reporter on a boat to date-rape her? His legacy is truly in good hands.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:52 AM on April 10, 2012 [13 favorites]


The Government tends to be open during work hours, 9-5. Poor people have shitty, exploitative jobs. I don't know if you've ever had a shitty, exploitative job but said jobs probably look too kindly to people taking time off to go get ID, free or not.

Then government needs to be more responsive. Why don't we have DMVs open until 9pm or suchlike, the way many retail businesses are? I think much of it has to do with unions in government service, which I think, like FDR, to be a bad idea. I have lived in countries where there are heavy restrictions on business opening hours, such as Germany. Nothing is open in the evening or on Sundays. Most people don't like it and such laws are becoming a thing of the past.

Voter ID laws require separate documentation that proves you're a citizen who can legally vote. A driver's license does not. A bank account does not. Getting a child in school does not. Marrying does not. Travelling does not.

Disingenuous. Most of those things do require documentation of identity, and it's just as time-consuming and expensive to get such documentation if you're a foreign national as it is if you're an American, often more so, notwithstanding the absence of a need to prove American citizenship. Correspondingly, for citizens the marginal inconvenience of proving citizenship in addition to identity is close to zero for most people. again, if it's difficult or inconvenient for people to get things like birth certificates or naturalization papers, then it's government that needs to become more responsive, because everybody should be able to get that information about themselves quickly and easily. Refusing to meet that need by saying the need shouldn't exist is bullshit. We're digitizing most of the rest of the government and we can digitize this part too.
posted by anigbrowl at 10:53 AM on April 10, 2012


I was part of the Obama GOTV operation in 2008, as a volunteer Neighborhood Team Leader. The team I was on registered thousands of voters in my working-class neighborhood. I personally registered hundreds.

One thing that I doubt many people know: we were explicitly instructed by campaign leadership to register EVERYONE. Every eligible person willing to fill out the paperwork, regardless of their political affiliation or their opinions on Obama. I personally registered several voters who told me they were not planning to vote for Obama. We were very careful and serious about submitting every single registration application we got, and doing everything by the book. And so were the volunteer leaders above us, and the paid campaign organizers above them. Our goal was to increase the number of voters in our region, regardless of who those people were planning to vote for.

This is a key difference between the way the current Democratic establishment operates and the current Republican establishment operates: Democrats want as many Americans to vote as possible, regardless of their political affiliation. Republicans want to restrict voting rights to a select few.

The cynic in me knows that there are very practical reasons for this gulf in strategy: It's a numbers game. Current demographics favor the Democrats. Young people, women, minorities and the poor all skew Democratic, and together they outnumber the Republicans' base. If more people people vote more often, the Democrats will win more often. So it's advantageous for the Democrats to do the right thing and try to enfranchise as many Americans as possible.

But my idealist bleeding heart liberal side was damned proud of taking all comers, nonetheless. At a county fair, I registered a woman in her 50s who had never voted in her life. I cared far more that I helped that woman finally exercise her right to vote than that she probably voted for McCain.

That the Obama organization promoted an atmosphere that supported that attitude is a primary reason I was willing to dedicate hundreds of hours to the campaign.
posted by BlueJae at 10:57 AM on April 10, 2012 [22 favorites]


anigbrowl: “And as for O'Keefe being a good or bad guy: the Yes Men, or any other liberally-minded media pranksters. I don't care for James O'Keefe but the tradition of journalistic stings is a long one, and is not confined to one end of the political spectrum. Stop being such hypocrites.”

I find it more than a little obnoxious when people look at me, brand me as "liberal" in their mind, and then assume that I must support a laundry list of things that "typical liberals" support. I am no fan of the Yes Men, if you'd like to know – not that you asked any of us how we felt about them. If they have repeatedly gotten people fired and destroyed their reputations like James O'Keefe has done, then I'll actively speak against them happily.

anigbrowl: “Then government needs to be more responsive. Why don't we have DMVs open until 9pm or suchlike, the way many retail businesses are? I think much of it has to do with unions in government service, which I think, like FDR, to be a bad idea.”

This is a misinformed assertion, I think. In fact, most sectors of government work aren't unionized anyway. Most instances of collapsing hours and decreasing service in branches like the DMV have to do with politicians bent on cutting taxes who slash budgets.
posted by koeselitz at 10:59 AM on April 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


So you want to expand the hours of government offices and create an entire new function of government to ensure everyone has ID's and then check those ID's to solve a problem that doesn't even exist? I suppose you plan to tax someone to pay for this? Just another big government tax and spend program. No thanks!
posted by The Violet Cypher at 10:59 AM on April 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


Then government needs to be more responsive. Why don't we have DMVs open until 9pm or suchlike, the way many retail businesses are?

This requires increased state revenue, which (not coincidentally) conservatives also oppose. Is it any surprise that Texas, which has no state income tax, also has really shitty access to government facilities which can provide state-issued IDs? This is a really, really complex problem that is not solved by passing laws which disenfranchise voters.

Personally, I don't give a shit if a couple undocumented workers end up voting, if in exchange that means that documented citizens of the United States also get to vote.
posted by muddgirl at 11:00 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's almost as though not everyone lives a middle class metropolitan lifestyle with a checking account and a 9-5 job!

No one in their right mind would suggest that between now and November 2012 your non-middle class, non-metropolitian, non-checking account owning, non-9 to 5 having job person couldn't make it to the government offices that issue free voting IDs.
posted by lstanley at 11:00 AM on April 10, 2012


I meant undocumented citizens.
posted by muddgirl at 11:01 AM on April 10, 2012


Anigbrowl: Okay, so fix the DMV first. Arguing that it's okay to require photo ID to vote because it should be easy for poor people to get photo IDs is like arguing that it's libertarian for the government not to recognize gay marriage because the it shouldn't be the government's business to recognize any marriages. You're putting the cart before the horse in a blatantly transparent way.

Actually, these things can be done in parallel and usually are. If there's a voter ID bill in front of a legislature, then people who have reservations can demand that it include funding for keeping DMV offices open later, or similar changes to make government services more responsive to citizens' needs. If public-facing government offices were businesses, they'd have gone into chapter 11 a long time ago because the quality of service is often so poor. Places like the post office and DMV are painfully slow and inefficient compared to commercial offerings of similar administrative complexity. This needs addressing

As for symbolic issues, there's not confined to one end of the political spectrum either, as my interlocutors well know. Political scientists call these 'gestural politics' and everyone does it because it's a way of Showing You Care.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:01 AM on April 10, 2012


So I work at a clinic in a needle exchange up in North Philadelphia. The exchange is sort of a gateway place to access all kinds of social services, running the gamut from medical care to subsidized heating oil, and the patient population includes a large number of homeless folks-- folks who are directly affected by the new voter ID laws. In Pennsylvania, the process to get a "free" voter ID is absolutely byzantine and often times insurmountable for the majority of the people we serve. So let's try to navigate it together.

Let's say your're one of my homeless patients who's interested in voting. You don't have a photo ID, so I send you to one of the social workers on staff, and she refers you to a PennDOT location (Bus fare: $2). Well, don't spend those $2 just yet there, friend, because you need the following documentation to get your ID:
To obtain a Pennsylvania Photo Identification card, an individual needs to visit a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Driver License Center with a completed Application for an Initial Photo Identification Card; form DL-54A, and the following:



  • Social Security Card

    AND

    One of the following:
  • Certificate of U.S. Citizenship
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Valid U.S. Passport
  • Birth Certificate with a raised seal


    PLUS


  • Two proofs of *residency such as lease agreements, current utility bills, mortgage documents, W-2 form, tax records
  • Let's start with your social security card. Well, four months ago PennDOT broke up your homeless encampment. You were away so they took your tent, your blankets, all your clothing, and, most importantly, your papers. Now how are you going to prove who you are?

    Let's start by getting you a new copy of your social security card. Replacements are free, but you need to prove your identity and your citizenship status to get one, which requires (at the very least) a certified copy of a medical record and a birth certificate. The medical record is easy enough-- you had an abscess drained at the ER just last week and can go get a free copy there (Bus fare: $2). The birth certificate is more tricky. Because you don't have a photo ID, you need to have a family member, social worker, or other " eligible requestor" vouch for you, and maybe also lend you the $10 processing fee. Of course, you'll also need two documents with your name and address on them. OOPS YOU'RE HOMELESS. SORRY.

    But for the sake of completeness, let's continue with our thought experiment. Maybe the needle exchange allows you to use their mailing address and you, somehow, manage to generate two pieces of official mail with your name on them. You send that stuff in (Stamp: $0.44) and wait a couple weeks. The birth certificate arrives, so you take that, along with a couple pieces of junk mail to the social security office (Bus fare: $2), and they give you a new card. Now you're cooking with gas. It's pretty expensive gas, considering that you've already spent $14.44 to get to this point (damn Obama!). But here you are. You, with your birth certificate, your social security card, and a few pieces of what everyone else calls "junk mail" but is all of a sudden so precious that THREE government agencies need to see it. Time to go down to PennDOT and claim what's rightfully yours (Bus fare: $2).

    You arrive at the office, too excited to contain yourself. It's time for you to exercise your franchise. You wait in line for an hour and eventually find yourself standing in front of a PennDOT representative. You try not to think of their colleagues tearing apart your campsite under the bridge as you smile and say, "I'm here to get my voter ID."

    "That'll be $13.50," says the clerk. AH AH AH YOU DIDN'T SAY THE MAGIC WORD! See, you were supposed to say the word "free" in order to have your fee waived. Saying anything other than "I need a free ID so that I can vote" could be interpreted as "please charge me $13.50 for something that should have been free." Well, you didn't need that $13.50 anyway, just like you didn't need the $10 for your replacement birth certificate or the $6 you spent on bus fare. You're an unemployed homeless person, so it was totally reasonable for you to pay $29.50 and spend several days to get your free voter ID.

    Congratulations. You've made it. Now go exercise your franchise. Or maybe you didn't have $13.50 and didn't make it. Well, here's hoping that there are folks out there who will exercise their franchises with your interests in mind. Without wanting to come off as harsh, your prospects do not look so good.
    posted by The White Hat at 11:03 AM on April 10, 2012 [274 favorites]


    Dude, I'm a middle-class suburbanite with a six-figure household income and a 9-to-5 job, and until I decided to suck up the extra expense and start driving to work, I still couldn't make a DMV run without missing half a day. I took the bus to work, and that meant an 80-minute commute each way. No way to go to the office before work, because I had to be at the bus stop before they opened. No way to go there after leaving, because I didn't get back home until they were closed. Somehow I doubt I'm the only one in that boat.

    My workplace has a forgiving tardiness policy, so that wasn't a problem for me. But if I was working hourly and needed every dime, or had to risk getting fired for taking the time to go to get my ID, I still wouldn't have a driver's license.
    posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:06 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    The claim that voter ID is a plot designed to disenfranchise people is, IMHO, nonsense.

    Going through a constitutional amendment process in Minnesota right now with the goal being a requirement of photo ID to vote.

    The legislature split along party lines (R-for D-against) and the only explanation for this type of partisan preference is the end goal of limiting political participation of a segment of the population.

    To think otherwise is, IMHO, nonsense.

    I am who I say I am and I don't need a government ID form the nanny state to prove I'm not a liar.
    posted by mygoditsbob at 11:07 AM on April 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


    anigbrowl said: voting by undocumented immigrants (or illegal aliens, if you prefer). This does happen. I am such an individual and although I have never voted I know a lot of people without papers who have. Often they're not aware it's a big issue...

    This is news to me, but let's assume that what you've described is a widespread problem. The solution is to have this printed in block capitals at the top of every ballot sheet, in English and Spanish:

    IF YOU ARE NOT A U.S. CITIZEN YOU MAY BE JAILED OR DEPORTED FOR VOTING.

    This would solve the problem, if such a problem exists, without disenfranchising anyone.
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:10 AM on April 10, 2012


    I know, how hypocritical of me to feel that selectively editing video and lying about it doesn't constitute "journalism."

    Oh please, like nobody on the left has ever done this. I loathe advocacy journalism and if I had my way headshots of journalists and bylines would be banished from news coverage altogether, but sadly the preachy journalist is a staple of the American media marketplace. Selective editing and contextual reframing is the norm in agenda-driven documentaries. Just a few weeks ago we were dicussing the director of Gasland getting himself ejected from a Congressional hearing on fracking; I'm betting his next documentary won't feature the committee chair asking 3 times to turn off his camera or mentioning that the hearing in question was being recorded by C-span or how easy it is to get a media permit if you apply in advance instead of less than 24 hours ahead of time.
    .
    posted by anigbrowl at 11:10 AM on April 10, 2012


    Bravo, The White Hat.
    posted by activitystory at 11:10 AM on April 10, 2012


    Just how do these no state issued ID having Americans of voting age somehow get around in this country without driving, saving, spending, schooling, getting jobs, dealing with banks or governments, marrying, traveling, sueing, borrowing, buying or sniffling?

    Well, for a little bit, I was one of those no-state-issued-ID-having-Americans, so let me see:

    1) Can't drive.
    2) Saving: pretty sure my ING account required only my SS and current address, etc.
    3) Schooling: my college never required me to produce my then-learner's permit.
    4) Getting jobs: my job has definitely, definitely never required this.
    5) See (2)
    6) Not really sure what this actually means, as most people don't need to go through metal detectors.
    7) Marrying: surely this is not really a routine issue.
    8) Traveling: Amtrak doesn't even usually ask me for ID unless I'm at the counter.
    9) Legal issues: Do you actually need ID to sue someone?
    10) Borrowing: see (2)
    11) I have had to show my ID twice in the two years I've had credit cards.
    12) Sniffling: I buy Sudafed in bulk in a state that doesn't require this.


    Mainly, most of these are things that don't matter to most people on a regular basis. I didn't have a state ID because my idiotic state decided that in order to get a non-driver ID, you need to go to the big DMV hub, which is not accessible by public transportation, unless you have $12 dollars and approximately six hours to spend getting to and from the DMV. So I had to wait until a nice car-owning friend could give me a lift, so that I could take my three hours off and my check and my various official forms of paper, many of which I have only because I have a steady job, a lease, and parents who paid for my replacement SS card before college. I'm lucky, in that I could use my (pricey!) passport to get drinks with friends, which was seriously the only time I needed a form of ID in that period. Philly has not had great luck with the whole "free voter's ID" events (see The White Hat's excellent comment,) and out here in the suburbs, there has been no word or sign of equivalent opportunities for those in need of ID.

    And sure, between now and November, I bet most people could pony up the money for transportation or cadge a friend into watching their kids for that period of time. If they know they now need to have ID to vote. If they figure it's worth it. If nothing changes in that period of time, requiring a move or change of address or anything like that. Seriously, so few people who are eligible to vote actually bother to vote. I'm not really that worried about nearly-non-existent voter fraud.
    posted by jetlagaddict at 11:11 AM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Millions of provisional ballots destroyed. Lines to vote as long as six hours - in poor, black neighborhoods, not in rich white ones. Votes counted by machines, machines built by companies owned by fanatical Republicans, machines that could be hacked by anyone able to use Microsoft Excel, machines whose software is a proprietary secret so experts have literally no way to tell if it's secure or not. And a Supreme Court which claims that US citizens do not have a right to vote!

    The very same people who implemented all of this are exactly and precisely the same people who want to put in voter IDs - IDs which do not solve any real problem but will unarguably disenfranchise millions of Americans.

    There is one and only one reason that anyone would rationally want to do that - to prevent US citizens from voting for the Democratic party.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:11 AM on April 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


    > > I know, how hypocritical of me to feel that selectively editing video and lying about it doesn't constitute "journalism."

    > Oh please, like nobody on the left has ever done this.

    You've got to stop doing this. Give us a comparable example, or don't make the claim in the first place.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:12 AM on April 10, 2012 [12 favorites]


    No one in their right mind would suggest that between now and November 2012 your non-middle class, non-metropolitian, non-checking account owning, non-9 to 5 having job person couldn't make it to the government offices that issue free voting IDs.

    I'm going to argue another thing-- maybe it should be the obligation of the government to prove that someone's voter registration and signed affidavit is false, not the obligation of a voter to offer incontrovertible evidence that it's true.

    If there is a significant amount of voter and registration fraud, then a simple audit would uncover it. And it may well just be cheaper to audit and follow up on reports of bad behavior for evidence of fraud than it is to create a system to hand out IDs to everyone that the government doesn't actually want to hand out in the first place.

    Providing a name, address, and DOB (and perhaps a birthplace) when you register gives the government enough to "go on" to confirm your citizenship and identity. Once you've handed over all that personal info, it's pretty easy for the government to find out if you've lied and catch you for it.

    An earlier conservative opposition to voter access laws was the "motor-voter" bill, which allowed you to register to vote when you got your driver's license. As everyone knows, getting a driver's license requires a lot of documentation, including evidence of citizenship. And Republicans were opposed to this law. Why? Because it made registering to vote too easy, even in a case where the entire registration process itself depended on the possession of several forms of identification.

    Are you noticing a pattern here?
    posted by deanc at 11:14 AM on April 10, 2012 [16 favorites]


    anigbrowl: “The claim that voter ID is a plot designed to disenfranchise people is, IMHO, nonsense. Every voter ID proponent I've ever met, and I've met a lot, is genuinely worried about the possibility of voting by undocumented immigrants (or illegal aliens, if you prefer). This does happen. I am such an individual and although I have never voted I know a lot of people without papers who have. Often they're not aware it's a big issue, because paid signature-gatherers love registering people to vote and make the process easy, so people do, and later they get ballot instructions in the mail. In my heart of hearts I think more cities, counties, etc. should consider extending the franchise or just bite the bullet and reform the whole immigration process, but immigration reform is a too big a topic for this thread so I'm not going to discuss it further.”

    I actually agree with this point; most people in favor of voter-ID laws, in my experience, are actually afraid that individual voter fraud is a big problem, particularly when it comes to illegal immigrants. To that, there are two responses.

    First of all: it isn't. Many, many very careful and scientific studies have been done demonstrating that incidences of illegal immigrants voting even though they shouldn't be are actually extremely rare. Like you, I know people who have done this; however, I also know illegal immigrants who would be scared to death to go down to city hall and put their name on a piece of paper for something as piddling as the ability to vote, and statistically these people seem to be the vast majority among illegal immigrants. If you want citations, please see the first link I posted in this thread.

    Second – this is actually not the issue. The claim is not that voter ID laws are intended or designed to disenfranchise voters. The claim is that they do disenfranchise voters, and that claim is pretty much impossible to dispute. It doesn't really matter what the intention is. This is the effect.

    “Oh please, like nobody on the left has ever done this.”

    I'll say this again – we are not a single-celled organism. We do not endorse every action by anyone ever to have claimed to be a liberal. The fact that we have a problem with James O'Keefe doesn't mean we give a pass to people who use his tactics in support of our ideals. Enough with the ad hominems that aren't even ad hominem.
    posted by koeselitz at 11:14 AM on April 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


    No one in their right mind would suggest that between now and November 2012 your non-middle class, non-metropolitian, non-checking account owning, non-9 to 5 having job person couldn't make it to the government offices that issue free voting IDs.


    No one who has said this at least twice in a thread and is actually trying to debate seriously would refuse providing a citation about these "free voting IDs."

    Seriously. Please, pick a single state that passed voter ID laws. Your choice. Provide their "free voting ID" procedure. Do you just show up? Do you need OTHER accompanying documents to get said ID? Does your birth certificate not have an official seal on it, which requires an official notarized stamp (which guess what, costs a fee)?

    Oh, and about those "government offices." How about telling me where that is? It it less than 50 miles? 25? What's the bus route like, what with this registrant, you know, obviously not having a driver's license. How long's the wait?

    And of course, these are just the first handful of questions I thought of in a good minute or two. Thankfully I can't think of any more if I had more time, because obviously I'm ignoring how this is really just a very simple, non-intricate matter of poor and/or elderly and/or disabled and/or destitute persons being lazy.

    I look forward to you providing your answers to these questions, lstanley, because I value you being in such a right mind about it.

    Bow howdy, do I so enjoy when we always get to the part of these conversations where people are shocked to discover that there are poor people in America and there may actually be a small chance the government doesn't do a very good job to make their lives easier.
    posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:15 AM on April 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


    . The claim is not that voter ID laws are intended or designed to disenfranchise voters.

    That's my claim, actually.
    posted by deanc at 11:16 AM on April 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


    lstanley: “No one in their right mind would suggest that between now and November 2012 your non-middle class, non-metropolitian, non-checking account owning, non-9 to 5 having job person couldn't make it to the government offices that issue free voting IDs.”

    So as one of the millions upon millions of middle-class, metropolitan, checking-account-owning, 9-to-5-job-having people who do not have state-issued IDs, I ask you – what about us?
    posted by koeselitz at 11:16 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


    > Every voter ID proponent I've ever met, and I've met a lot, is genuinely worried about the possibility of voting by undocumented immigrants

    Again, I'd say, "Name one." Name one public figure who's a voter ID proponent and genuinely worried about threats to the voting system.

    The only public figures I know are Republican scumbags who are systematically trying to suppress the vote by any means possible. There might be other people - you need to prove it, not just claim it.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:18 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I find it more than a little obnoxious when people look at me, brand me as "liberal" in their mind, and then assume that I must support a laundry list of things that "typical liberals" support.

    Koeselitz, it's not about you. I'm addressing the entire audience for the thread in the comment you quoted, and using stereotypes and tropes to do so because generality of audience means generality of topic. Of course general remarks don't always line up with individual views. If I addressed those generalities to you as an individual as part of an ongoing conversation (like here, where I've begun by quoting you), then you would be quite right to complain that I am ascribing views or preferences to you which you have not expressed and may not hold. But to make such a complaint about a general address is foolish and, frankly, disingenuous. You know perfectly well that there are many examples of pranksterism and sting journalism that enjoy popularity among many people on the left of the political spectrum because they harmonize with preconceived political viewpoints. You don't personally have to like it to acknowledge that such exists.
    posted by anigbrowl at 11:18 AM on April 10, 2012


    jetlagaddict: "you need to go to the big DMV hub, which is not accessible by public transportation"

    There's the fucking problem right there.
    posted by notsnot at 11:18 AM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


    me: “The claim is not that voter ID laws are intended or designed to disenfranchise voters.”

    deanc: “That's my claim, actually.”

    It's still an ancillary claim that doesn't matter much, though. "Intentions" are always going to be murky. People will always be able to say "that's not my intention!" But people cannot dispute that voter ID laws prevent millions of people from voting.
    posted by koeselitz at 11:18 AM on April 10, 2012 [4 favorites]



    You need photo ID to buy Sudafed in California.

    Sudafed isn't a constitutional right.

    "The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States unless and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to implement its power to appoint members of the Electoral College. U.S. Const., Art. II, §1. "

    - Bush v. Gore


    Philosopher Dirtbike, you may be surprised to learn that voting rights other than for direct election of the president are established constitutional rights.

    The More You Know!
    posted by IAmBroom at 11:19 AM on April 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


    Notsnot, even better, there's a satellite facility by me that's readily accessible by bus routes and regional rail. It has late hours! Often it's empty during off-peak times!

    Sadly, you can only renew your license or non-driver's license there. They will laugh at you if you walk in for a new permit, and tell you that the big facility is definitely accessible by public transportation, although they've never had to try.
    posted by jetlagaddict at 11:22 AM on April 10, 2012


    I am who I say I am and I don't need a government ID form the nanny state to prove I'm not a liar.

    I bet you don't take that attitude when you get behind the wheel of a car* or when you buy booze** if you look below a certain age.

    * Assuming you are able to operate a motor vehicle legally and choose to do so, and assuming that 'getting behind the wheel' is understood as a synonym for 'driving on the public highway' and assuming that we can agree that voting is a right of citizenship while driving is technically a privilege but for practical purposes a driving license is primarily employed as an identification document and anyway the functional question of your personal probity is equally relevant when questioned by a police officer about your eligibility to drive.

    ** assuming you purchase alcohol, and see above.
    posted by anigbrowl at 11:22 AM on April 10, 2012


    So as one of the millions upon millions of middle-class, metropolitan, checking-account-owning, 9-to-5-job-having people who do not have state-issued IDs, I ask you – what about us?

    You? Grow up and get a state-issued ID like a big boy. It's not all about you.

    America is a country with a significant amount of both rural and urban poverty. Many people were born in the last century in what we would call pre-modern conditions. Heck, I think Jimmy Carter was the first American president born in a hospital. To demand a track record of identification dating back to one's birth to prove one's citizenship simply to vote is essentially not the job of an individual citizen. Insofar as it is anyone's job, it is the job of the government to disprove it if there is some kind of problem. And it is the job and obligation of the government to provide that documentation to everyone in this country if it has not done so already.
    posted by deanc at 11:22 AM on April 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


    anigbrowl: “You know perfectly well that there are many examples of pranksterism and sting journalism that enjoy popularity among many people on the left of the political spectrum because they harmonize with preconceived political viewpoints. You don't personally have to like it to acknowledge that such exists.”

    I know that perfectly well, yes. So I would be in total agreement if you'd said "a lot of people on the left are hypocrites about this." You could even have quoted examples of people who had supported pranksterism and decried James O'Keefe.

    But that is emphatically not what you said. You accused liberals here of being hypocrites, with no basis and no evidence. You might have at least just asked if people supported pranksterism, and then pointed out that doing so while being against O'Keefe's methods is hypocritical. You didn't; you just assumed that everyone here who is liberal must be a supporter of pranksterism and then came out with an accusation of hypocrisy. Can you see why that seems a bit unfair?

    All this is a side issue, anyway. Hypocrisy is not an indication of the falsity of claims. If James O'Keefe is bad for using these tactics, the fact that people support the Yes Men for using the same tactics doesn't make it all okay. That fact means that both should be condemned. This thread would be the place to do that, no?
    posted by koeselitz at 11:23 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


    anigbrowl: “I bet you don't take that attitude when you get behind the wheel of a car* or when you buy booze** if you look below a certain age.”

    Again, none of those things are constitutional rights. Do I have to show my ID before exercising my freedom of speech? No. Should I have to? No, that would lead to unconstitutionalities pretty quickly.
    posted by koeselitz at 11:25 AM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


    the process to get a "free" voter ID is absolutely byzantine

    Agreed, and this is bad. So instead of saying that people shouldn't have to do it in the first place (although this is true to a greater or lesser degree for many things), make the process simpler and more responsive to the needs of the public; at the legislative level use this as a bargaining chip, providing an opportunity for reform that makes government more responsive and inclusive in general.
    posted by anigbrowl at 11:25 AM on April 10, 2012


    I would support voter ID laws if they eliminated voter registration cards.

    If anyone with any form of state-issued ID could just walk into a polling place on election day and vote, with no extra paperwork, then I believe more people overall would vote. It would certainly disenfranchise some people, but it would enfranchise more.

    The real evidence that the voter ID advocates are seeking to decrease turnout is that they want there to both be an ID requirement and separate voter registration.
    posted by miyabo at 11:26 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I bet you don't take that attitude when you get behind the wheel of a car* or when you buy booze** if you look below a certain age.

    Because those are both highly regulated activities that are not constitutional rights and situations where we, not the government, bear the burden of proof.

    The government really does have the "keys to the kingdom" from me in my voter registration. They can, at any time, look me up and find out if there's evidence that I'm lying about my eligibility to vote. Heck, my registration has been sitting there for almost two years, and they know exactly where I live. If they haven't disproven my eligibility in all that time, why should they start asking for additional documentation now?
    posted by deanc at 11:27 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Let's remove it from the racial or class element, since I know that always bothers conservatives.

    Please don't whitewash all conservatives as being uncomfortable or unable to have a racial or class discussion, that's ridiculous. Besides, the only people using loaded racial language and class language in this thread that I have responded to are those against Voter ID.

    So you're saying you don't want me to vote.

    Nope, you said that. I am saying I don't understand why it is so hard to procure, at very minimum, a free state issued ID that would provide some level of guarantee as to who you are.

    We might just be too busy to get an ID; or we might have a bunch of hoops we have to go through to get one, like getting a birth certificate or social security card or something like that; or we might just not have wanted to.

    All of us are busy and daily jump through hoops. As the state makes available a myriad of tools for its citizens to arrange all manner of IDs. If you are too busy to take advantage of the state or federal government's programs to issue you an identity document, that is an issue that you will have to address. You have made the choice to not have an ID

    just give us the stupid ID cards already.

    You can easily, and can by all accounts with few limitations or monetary outlay, apply and receive a state issued ID card.
    posted by lstanley at 11:28 AM on April 10, 2012


    Stopping voter fraud begins at home. Which is why I don't vote.
    posted by chasing at 11:28 AM on April 10, 2012


    Agreed, and this is bad. So instead of saying that people shouldn't have to do it in the first place (although this is true to a greater or lesser degree for many things), make the process simpler and more responsive to the needs of the public; at the legislative level use this as a bargaining chip, providing an opportunity for reform that makes government more responsive and inclusive in general.

    Isn't that antithetical to the conservative "starve the beast" big gummint don't work mantra as a whole?
    posted by Max Power at 11:29 AM on April 10, 2012


    Yes, which is why such an offer will never actually be made.
    posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:30 AM on April 10, 2012


    All of us are busy and daily jump through hoops.

    The hoop required in this case is called "voter registration," which voters go through. You cannot vote unless you are registered to vote. What is it about registering to vote that you consider insufficient?
    posted by deanc at 11:31 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    How about this compromise: if the number of fraudsters exceeds the number of urban and rural poor who are unable to get "free" ID, then I will concede to your suggestion that we reform the documentation policies at the Social Security administration, the DMV, and the PA Department of Health. If, however, the number of fraudsters is smaller than the number of folks I serve, then maybe we oughta just repeal the damn law and go the audit route.
    posted by The White Hat at 11:31 AM on April 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


    lstanley: " I am saying I don't understand why it is so hard to procure, at very minimum, a free state issued ID"

    Even if it were as easy as shitting on the floor, why is it necessary?
    posted by notsnot at 11:31 AM on April 10, 2012


    I don't understand why it is so hard to procure, at very minimum, a free state issued ID

    In every state, a DMV worker takes your picture and mails an ID to you 4-6 weeks later. (It is no longer possible to print IDs on the spot due to the REAL ID act.)

    What if you don't have a fixed address at which you can receive mail for 4-6 weeks, because you are homeless, live in slum housing where you can't receive mail, or move frequently?
    posted by miyabo at 11:31 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Second – this is actually not the issue. The claim is not that voter ID laws are intended or designed to disenfranchise voters. The claim is that they do disenfranchise voters, and that claim is pretty much impossible to dispute. It doesn't really matter what the intention is. This is the effect.

    There are parallel claims; several people in this thread do claim that a wicked motivation exists for such propositions, and it is (obviously) that contention which I'm addressing.

    I agree that such laws often do end up disenfranchising people who are entitled to vote, even though that may not be the intention; to which my response is that the whole process of getting an ID should be simpler, cheaper, faster, and more supportive, because it is the job of government to make the lives of ordinary people easier. If people on the right are worried about voter fraud, even incorrectly, then use their fear as a bargaining chip to extract funds for making public-facing government offices operate more efficiently and be more responsive to the needs of the general public. It's good old political horse-trading, and liberals seem to have forgotten how to do it.

    I'm liberal, but I'm also pragmatic. It's not selling out to log-roll on behalf of your own interests.
    posted by anigbrowl at 11:32 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    OK, here's what bugs me about this. It's not like this is an unknown flaw in the system that's being revealed, it's just that the security mechanism protecting it is legal. The "correct" followthrough here is to charge James with voter fraud.
    posted by odinsdream at 11:35 AM on April 10, 2012


    When I think of someone taking the position that fraudulent voting is even miniscully responsible for any problems this country is experiencing, I laugh and laugh and laugh.
    posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:38 AM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


    anigbrowl, I think it is an obligation of yours to look outside yourself and consider that not everyone is in the same position you are when it comes to the ability to fulfill the (ever changing) voter ID requirements.

    If we were a small, heavily middle class and heavily urbanized country where everyone was issued a national ID at birth that they are compelled to use for the most basic of public transactions, then I would likely feel differently about these requirements. We are not that country, and until we become that country, these voter ID laws are going to serve as pernicious barriers to voting, especially considering the fact that they are over and above the traditional registration process.

    Not everyone is a middle class software engineer who lives in Boston. Some people are poor senior citizens in the mountains of eastern Tennessee. It might behoove you to understand that the ease of fulfilling these voter ID requirements might be different for those two groups.
    posted by deanc at 11:39 AM on April 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


    But that is emphatically not what you said. You accused liberals here of being hypocrites, with no basis and no evidence. You might have at least just asked if people supported pranksterism, and then pointed out that doing so while being against O'Keefe's methods is hypocritical. You didn't; you just assumed that everyone here who is liberal must be a supporter of pranksterism and then came out with an accusation of hypocrisy. Can you see why that seems a bit unfair?

    Oh FFS Koeselitz, you are perfectly well able to infer the rhetorical context from my first post and know full well well that it wasn't addressed to you as an individual or meant to be all-inclusive. You're one of the most literate people on MeFi, we know each other well through our posts, and you are eminently capable of spotting a generality for what it is.


    anigbrowl: “I bet you don't take that attitude when you get behind the wheel of a car* or when you buy booze** if you look below a certain age.”

    Again, none of those things are constitutional rights. Do I have to show my ID before exercising my freedom of speech? No. Should I have to? No, that would lead to unconstitutionalities pretty quickly.


    Oh come on, I wrote two footnotes to qualify the context of those remarks on exactly the sort of grounds you mention and you just ignored those qualifications in order to raise your objection. Now you as an individual are being a hypocrite.
    posted by anigbrowl at 11:41 AM on April 10, 2012


    Citizens need a Social Security number to work and pay taxes.

    I cannot understand why, with 12 or 20 million illegals in the country, an ID to vote is not the norm.

    Perhaps you anti-ID folk could agitate to make a free State photo ID acceptably easy, in your opinion, to obtain. Perhaps one should be issued with the Social Security card.
    posted by caclwmr4 at 11:41 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    You can easily, and can by all accounts with few limitations or monetary outlay, apply and receive a state issued ID card.

    "By all accounts" not including the two accounts posted in the last half-hour about people who couldn't apply for and receive a state-issued ID card?
    posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:42 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


    You accused liberals here of being hypocrites, with no basis and no evidence. You might have at least just asked if people supported pranksterism, and then pointed out that doing so while being against O'Keefe's methods is hypocritical.

    It's a rare case in politics where "pranksterism" isn't merely juvenile at best and counterproductive at worst. And when the "pranks" start to involve rape boats and destroying the livelihoods of ordinary people, you've passed into outright thuggery.

    No, I don't think that kind of behavior by any one is very cool and I resent it being assumed that I do. Your apology can start now, angibrowl.
    posted by octobersurprise at 11:43 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I cannot understand why, with 12 or 20 million illegals in the country, an ID to vote is not the norm.

    Please demonstrate that A) non-citizens voting is a problem and B) that requiring ID (which many non-citizens who work here illegally have! You know, the fake kind!) would solve this problem.
    posted by rtha at 11:44 AM on April 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


    Voting machine fraud isn't a big problem either

    Maybe. Without auditability, how can you claim to know?
    posted by Zed at 11:45 AM on April 10, 2012


    Please demonstrate that A) non-citizens voting is a problem and B) that requiring ID (which many non-citizens who work here illegally have! You know, the fake kind!) would solve this problem.

    Exactly. For anyone who thinks that the problem in this country is that too many people are voting. I have one number for you. 114
    posted by lumpenprole at 11:45 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Given that political parties can institute almost any rule they want in the own primary it seems odd that the GOP hasn't just gone straight out 'Voter ID required to participate in the Republican primary'. It would be an interesting test case to see how it affects their voter turnout, and would put their money where their mouth is.
    posted by edgeways at 11:46 AM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Citizens need a Social Security number to work and pay taxes.

    I cannot understand why, with 12 or 20 million illegals in the country, an ID to vote is not the norm.


    12 or 20 million "illegals" who, apparently don't work or pay taxes at all because they don't have Social Security numbers. They just cross the border and vote for Obama. The devils.
    posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:46 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I sure am glad that conservative circles are so interested in the integrity of the voting process!!!

    Any day now, Fox News will certainly produce a damning expose on the IMPOSSIBLE TO DETECT, MASSIVELY SCALABLE, INEXPENSIVE VOTING FRAUD made possible by all of the e-voting systems whose makers contribute heavily to Republican state officials! Yessir, any day now.
    posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 11:46 AM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


    The government really does have the "keys to the kingdom" from me in my voter registration. They can, at any time, look me up and find out if there's evidence that I'm lying about my eligibility to vote. Heck, my registration has been sitting there for almost two years, and they know exactly where I live. If they haven't disproven my eligibility in all that time, why should they start asking for additional documentation now?

    The burden of proof is not on the government to disprove your eligibility in the first place, because the difficulty of doing so is highly asymmetric. I personally think that registration to vote should involve somewhat stricter verification than it does, because it's obvious that the process is amenable to fraud and this drastically lowers some people's confidence therein.

    Agreed, and this is bad. So instead of saying that people shouldn't have to do it in the first place (although this is true to a greater or lesser degree for many things), make the process simpler and more responsive to the needs of the public; at the legislative level use this as a bargaining chip, providing an opportunity for reform that makes government more responsive and inclusive in general.

    Isn't that antithetical to the conservative "starve the beast" big gummint don't work mantra as a whole?


    Yes, but I don't subscribe to that mantra. I'm saying that if conservatives really, really want voter ID laws, then the smart tactics for liberals is not to wring their hands but to extract concessions from them in order to make the process of getting an ID much, much easier. Because those ~12% of poor people who have IDs are not better off without them. They would find it much easier to access social and commercial services with an ID, and it would be much easier for the public sector to efficiently target and deliver those services if ~12% of the population weren't administratively invisible.
    posted by anigbrowl at 11:49 AM on April 10, 2012


    I'm saying that if conservatives really, really want voter ID laws, then the smart tactics for liberals is not to wring their hands but to extract concessions from them in order to make the process of getting an ID much, much easier.

    And what about allowing conservatives to set the terms of the debate has worked for us in the last 20 years?
    posted by lumpenprole at 11:51 AM on April 10, 2012


    me: “Let's remove it from the racial or class element, since I know that always bothers conservatives.”

    lstanley: “Please don't whitewash all conservatives as being uncomfortable or unable to have a racial or class discussion, that's ridiculous. Besides, the only people using loaded racial language and class language in this thread that I have responded to are those against Voter ID.”

    That's actually what I meant; I'm sorry, I was very unclear. By "that always bothers conservatives," I meant that, in my own personal discussions with conservative friends, I've noticed that it really bothers them that liberals frequently bring up race and class as major issues. That's because liberals believe these things are major issues, but in my experience conservatives disagree; they see these as red herrings and complicating factors that aren't necessarily part of the issue at hand.

    I actually agree with them somewhat in this instance. This has little to do with class or race. If the millions upon millions of people who don't have IDs were rich white people, it wouldn't matter much to me. They still shouldn't have their voting privileges taken away.

    me: “So you're saying you don't want me to vote. ”

    lstanley: “Nope, you said that. I am saying I don't understand why it is so hard to procure, at very minimum, a free state issued ID that would provide some level of guarantee as to who you are.”

    The central and primary issue is that there are millions of people who don't have state-issued ID cards, even in states where those ID cards are supposed to be free. Why don't they have ID cards? There may be a lot of different reasons; we don't know. There have been suggestions that it's more difficult in some quarters than one would think to actually procure those ID cards. But regardless of the difficulty or ease of acquiring these IDs, millions upon millions of people simply haven't. So it would be removing millions of people from the electorate to pass an ID law in that situation.

    In summary of how I feel about this thus far: as anigbrowl said in this comment, this is about political horse-trading. It's fair to say you're worried about voter fraud, even though, as we've seen, it is not a huge problem; as anigbrowl has said, it's a major symbolic issue, and the electorate deserves the added guarantee of freedom from fraud that ID laws would provide. That's fine with me. On the other side, liberals want to make sure the entire eligible electorate can vote and is not barred from doing so. That also seems like a reasonable demand.

    So, to make this suggestion again, lest anybody think I was being sarcastic: go ahead. Pass voter ID laws. But as a condition of their enforcement, require that at least 99% of the eligible electorate be physically presented with ID cards. I don't really care if you hand them out to people, or just somehow manage to get them all to walk into the DMV, as long as they actually have been handed the cards. Then, voter ID laws will make perfect sense. I don't see why this compromise isn't being discussed in state congresses.
    posted by koeselitz at 11:51 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I live in Minnesota. I would believe the Republican clamoring for a better voting system if, last election, there hadn't been a three hour line outside all the polling stations at the University of Minnesota. Hundreds of students were still waiting outside when the station closed. Then thousands of ballots from that one precinct were lost in transport before being counted.

    Mysteriously, suburbanites had 5-minute waits and none of their ballots were lost.
    posted by miyabo at 11:52 AM on April 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


    The birth certificate is more tricky.

    Especially because of the requirement that the birth certificate have a raised seal. It is not even possible to get this in the state where I was born.
    posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:53 AM on April 10, 2012


    At this point, I consider the "compulsory ID" people here to have not presented any form of solid argument at all.

    No one has provided the slightest evidence of voter fraud involving unqualified voters of any significance since the nineteenth century - in fact, I don't see anyone here claiming that it's an actual problem at all, only that it "should be eliminated".

    And then there's the claim that this isn't being done to disenfranchise people - yet we haven't seen even one example of a public figure who is a public supporter of voter ID laws and hasn't done other things to disenfranchise US citizens who should be allowed to vote.

    Despite the fact that two people in this very thread, whose contributors are undoubtedly more educated, affluent and white than most people in the US, have reported their own troubles getting this ID, posters here are still saying that millions of people, many of them dirt-poor, should take time off work to do a favor for the government that doesn't solve any actual problem at all.

    At this point, barring some factual evidence, I don't feel any need to treat the contributions of the "compulsory ID" crew as having any validity at all, or requiring further rebuttal on anyone's part.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:54 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


    anigbrowl: “... we know each other well through our posts, and you are eminently capable of spotting a generality for what it is.”

    Indeed. I still believe that it was an unfair generality. But I should have let it go before now, and I'm happy to now. Sorry for taking things so personally.
    posted by koeselitz at 11:56 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    The burden of proof is not on the government to disprove your eligibility in the first place, because the difficulty of doing so is highly asymmetric.

    It's pretty easy, actually. They know my name and DOB. Maybe from my registration they have my birthplace or whatnot. If it is so easy for me to prove my citizenship by getting out my birth certificate, then it should be even easier for a government with trillions of dollars in resources to confirm what I submitted, no? And even a simple audit would be able to turn up thousands and thousands of fraudulent registrations if it were the case that there were significant amounts of fraud involved. If there's something suspicious, they can come to my door, because they know where I live.
    posted by deanc at 11:56 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I wonder where you live caclwmr4?

    I live in a small city that is surrounded by huge swaths of rural area.

    Voter-ID disproportionately affects segments of society. Elderly, poor, disabled, rural. That is a pretty uncontroversial statement. When a law affects the rights of swaths of people disproportionally it is discriminatory.

    For many people getting to a polling place is a lot easier than getting to a government office in the middle of the day, producing the ancillary documents just to get an ID that they would use every two to four years.

    There has not been any significant evidence that voter fraud is a problem, and yet there is a massive push to implement expensive to carry trough laws that.... wouldn't solve any fundamental problems IF THERE WHERE ANY!

    But you know jobs jobs jobs hey look over there!

    America, land of the sledgehammers to kill houseflies.
    posted by edgeways at 11:56 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Look if we are going to massively reform government and create entire new branches that will need to be financed by new taxes, why don't we do it for something useful instead of making people less fearful of a boogeyman.

    I say we do voter ID after universal healthcare and a decent social safety net is established.
    posted by The Violet Cypher at 12:02 PM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


    In every state, a DMV worker takes your picture and mails an ID to you 4-6 weeks later. (It is no longer possible to print IDs on the spot due to the REAL ID act.)

    Most states are not compliant with REAL ID and have secured opt-outs. In any case, my point is that waiting 4-6 weeks to get your ID is a bad thing, and exactly the sort of inefficiency and low quality-of-service that makes people cynical about government in the first place. No law mandates that the process should take 4-6 weeks, it just ends up being that slow for a variety of reasons - many to do with funding. I'm saying that it ought to be easy and pleasant and fast, which in 99% of cases is possible without compromising security.

    What if you don't have a fixed address at which you can receive mail for 4-6 weeks, because you are homeless, live in slum housing where you can't receive mail, or move frequently?

    Then your life would most likely be a hell of a lot easier if you had proper ID.


    anigbrowl, I think it is an obligation of yours to look outside yourself and consider that not everyone is in the same position you are when it comes to the ability to fulfill the (ever changing) voter ID requirements.

    Not everyone is a middle class software engineer who lives in Boston. Some people are poor senior citizens in the mountains of eastern Tennessee. It might behoove you to understand that the ease of fulfilling these voter ID requirements might be different for those two groups.


    I'm an illegal alien who lives in California and is married to an American who is a naturalized citizen. I am abundantly aware of how different things are for people who are outside the system vs those who are inside it, having first-hand experience of the former and second-hand experience of the latter (I have been to the DMV with my wife, who does not drive and therefore needs ID but not a driving license, and have often accompanied her when she goes to vote).

    American government offices like the Social Security Administration and the DMV are laughably inefficient. At least, it would be laughable if it didn't make life insanely difficult for poor people. Now, while I don't think voter fraud is a real problem, I also think that most of the people who don't have ID have way, way bigger problems than not being able to vote - they're often cut off from services, are unable to establish a credit record or similar, making participation in economic life more difficult. The process of getting ID should be made much more efficient, not because I really care about voter fraud but because allowing those people to stay outside the ID system because they have a 'right' to do so is a major part of what keeps them poor and disadvantaged. If people can't get to government offices because the offices are typically only open 5 days a week from 9-5 and going there takes many hours of unproductive waiting, the solution is to change the government offices and have them open for longer hours to serve more people more quickly.

    If conservatives are banging on about voter fraud, then use that to pry funding out of them for better services. Is this really so hard to understand?
    posted by anigbrowl at 12:06 PM on April 10, 2012


    "By all accounts" not including the two accounts posted in the last half-hour about people who couldn't apply for and receive a state-issued ID card?

    Illinois State ID for the Homeless A person qualifies for the no-fee identification card, if he or she is considered homeless as defined by the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. 11302 or 42 U.S.C. 11434a(2). This card is issued free of charge with the proper documentation to show proof of legal name, date of birth, social security number, and signature. The individual must also bring a completed Homeless Status Certification.

    If indeed between 8 million and 11 million Americans of voting age do not have a picture ID, if anti-ID proponents want to boil down the ID card issues to a few cases of homeless people or people that move a lot, you've lost the big picture.

    Please, pick a single state that passed voter ID laws. Your choice. Provide their "free voting ID" procedure. Do you just show up? Do you need OTHER accompanying documents to get said ID? Does your birth certificate not have an official seal on it, which requires an official notarized stamp (which guess what, costs a fee)?

    FREE Wisconsin ID cards for voting. If you are a U.S. citizen, will be at least 18 years of age by the next election, and require a Wisconsin ID card to vote, please check the ID for FREE box when completing the MV3004 (405 KB) Google the rest if you demand details.

    Oh, and about those "government offices." How about telling me where that is? It it less than 50 miles? 25? What's the bus route like, what with this registrant, you know, obviously not having a driver's license. How long's the wait?

    What? Seriously? I didn't tell you where to live, I didn't tell you that you had to take the bus there, and the wait could be 30 seconds or a bajillion Mars days, I don't know. A simple call to any of the myraid of voter registration organizations would get you the information you need, a ride to the DMV right quick, and they'll probably drive you home as well.

    The government has provided the ability for its citizens to easily gather identification. If you or your examples are somehow hamstrung in your abilty to gather this documentation, then the problem is yours and yours alone.
    posted by lstanley at 12:11 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Citizens need a Social Security number to work and pay taxes.

    Nope. Nope nope nope nope nope. You work under the table and pay taxes using ITIN. Because the IRS doesn't give a shit if you're here legally or illegally. They just want you to pay your damn taxes.
    posted by Talez at 12:13 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    And you post this apparently without reading White Hat's firsthand description of what "issued free of charge with the proper documentation to show proof of legal name, date of birth, social security number, and signature" actually means. Or you did read it and you don't care. Either way, you don't seem interested in a discussion.
    posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:14 PM on April 10, 2012


    If conservatives are banging on about voter fraud, then use that to pry funding out of them for better services. Is this really so hard to understand?

    I take it you don't have much experience with right-wing dialogue on this issue. Of course there's no problem with the voter ID requirements, because anyone who's eligible to vote can just go get a compliant ID card if they don't already have one. No problem to solve!
    posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:14 PM on April 10, 2012


    Sorry for taking things so personally.

    OTOH, anigbrowl, I'm still waiting for my apology. Because the only thing worse than a half assed bullshit defense of O'Keefe is a half assed bullshit defense of O'Keefe that calls me a hypocrite at the same time.
    posted by octobersurprise at 12:17 PM on April 10, 2012


    > If conservatives are banging on about voter fraud, then use that to pry funding out of them for better services.

    How?

    I'm dead serious. How are we supposed to "pry funding for better services" out of conservatives? Their supporters are just fine with the idea that people without IDs get disenfranchised - because they see them as poor black people - and they're just fine with the fact that they get shitty service - because they see them as poor black people.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:17 PM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


    I fail to understand why any of you are bothering to argue with anigbrowl et al who has failed to provide a single piece of factual evidence.

    There has been no evidence provided that voter fraud due to unqualified voters is a problem that is so important that the US should disenfranchise millions of voters.

    In fact, there has been no evidence provided that this form of voter fraud has been a problem at all in the last century.

    No one has denied that millions of legitimate voters would be disenfranchised if these laws were passed - the claim is rather that they would deserve to lose their votes because it isn't very hard to get ID.

    And no one has exhibited even one public figure who's for voter IDs and isn't also an active supporter of other forms of vote suppression.

    This is the third time I've raised these perfectly reasonable objections in this thread. Put up, or shut up.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:22 PM on April 10, 2012 [12 favorites]


    In summary of how I feel about this thus far: as anigbrowl said in this comment, this is about political horse-trading. It's fair to say you're worried about voter fraud, even though, as we've seen, it is not a huge problem; as anigbrowl has said, it's a major symbolic issue, and the electorate deserves the added guarantee of freedom from fraud that ID laws would provide. That's fine with me. On the other side, liberals want to make sure the entire eligible electorate can vote and is not barred from doing so. That also seems like a reasonable demand.

    So, to make this suggestion again, lest anybody think I was being sarcastic: go ahead. Pass voter ID laws. But as a condition of their enforcement, require that at least 99% of the eligible electorate be physically presented with ID cards. I don't really care if you hand them out to people, or just somehow manage to get them all to walk into the DMV, as long as they actually have been handed the cards. Then, voter ID laws will make perfect sense. I don't see why this compromise isn't being discussed in state congresses.


    OK, now we are back on the same page. This is exactly what I'm suggesting. As someone who can't get normal ID and has spent many years living 'outside the system' (although I do file and pay taxes, because the IRS provides a legal mechanism for people in my position to do so), I'm acutely aware of how much easier it is to live in the US if you have a regular state ID such as a driver's license. I think it's terrible that so many people in the US who are entitled to such don't have it, and that there are so many administrative and economic barriers to their getting ID.

    Voting is a really important right, but it's not the only civil right, and it's not much of an economic right. It's no good registering people to vote and then patting oneself on one's back for having safeguarded the civil rights of others if those people are no better off on an everyday level; let's face it, voter registration is as often conducted for the benefit of the registrar as much as that of the registrant. The ~12% of people who don't have ID would mostly derive far more economic benefit from having ID than they do from exercising their electoral franchise, and the benefit would accrue to them on an ongoing basis rather than once a year on election day.
    posted by anigbrowl at 12:25 PM on April 10, 2012


    lstanley: "Google the rest if you demand details.

    Oh, and about those "government offices." How about telling me where that is? It it less than 50 miles? 25? What's the bus route like, what with this registrant, you know, obviously not having a driver's license. How long's the wait?

    What? Seriously? I didn't tell you where to live, I didn't tell you that you had to take the bus there, and the wait could be 30 seconds or a bajillion Mars days, I don't know. A simple call to any of the myraid of voter registration organizations would get you the information you need, a ride to the DMV right quick, and they'll probably drive you home as well.

    The government has provided the ability for its citizens to easily gather identification. If you or your examples are somehow hamstrung in your abilty to gather this documentation, then the problem is yours and yours alone.
    "

    A lot of other people in this thread have torn this bullshit argument to shreds as it rightly deserves, but Googling and phone calls are often beyond the means of a lot of people who don't have ID.
    posted by dunkadunc at 12:35 PM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Does your birth certificate not have an official seal on it, which requires an official notarized stamp (which guess what, costs a fee)?

    Just annecdotal, but I was turned down for a Maryland drivers licence in an extremely conservative county because the official paper with my birth information and a big, raised seal from the county clerk said across the top, "Certificate of Live Birth" rather than "Birth Certificate". No foolin'.

    I went to a neighboring county and applied using the same documents, no problem.
    posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:35 PM on April 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


    lupus_yonderboy: “I fail to understand why any of you are bothering to argue with anigbrowl et al who has failed to provide a single piece of factual evidence.”

    anigbrowl hasn't made a lot of factual claims that require evidence. For one thing, he didn't claim that individual voter fraud is a major problem; just the opposite, he conceded that it's not. His claim is that there are a lot of voters who worry that it may become a problem. This is beyond dispute, I think; there are plenty of people worried about that. Their fears may be irrational, but it's not insane to ask for a voter identification system to make sure things are on the level. And I don't think liberals would be against such a system if it didn't disenfranchise voters. Compromise is clearly called for here.

    And I happen to agree that state-issued IDs need to be a lot easier for people to procure. That's really important, even if there were no such thing as voter ID laws.
    posted by koeselitz at 12:35 PM on April 10, 2012


    Voting is a really important right, but it's not the only civil right, and it's not much of an economic right. It's no good registering people to vote and then patting oneself on one's back for having safeguarded the civil rights of others if those people are no better off on an everyday level; let's face it, voter registration is as often conducted for the benefit of the registrar as much as that of the registrant. The ~12% of people who don't have ID would mostly derive far more economic benefit from having ID than they do from exercising their electoral franchise, and the benefit would accrue to them on an ongoing basis rather than once a year on election day.

    I agree with you here. Pragmatically. But enfranchisement is not about pragmatism, nor should it be.
    posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:36 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    said across the top, "Certificate of Live Birth" rather than "Birth Certificate"

    I should add, I was not born in Hawaii nor Kenya and I am not Barak Obama.
    posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:37 PM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


    And you post this apparently without reading White Hat's firsthand description of what "issued free of charge with the proper documentation to show proof of legal name, date of birth, social security number, and signature" actually means. Or you did read it and you don't care. Either way, you don't seem interested in a discussion.

    Ya know, there's sort of a lot going back and forth in this thread, so I don't follow your comment about me not interested in the discussion. I have stated an opinon and defended against many detrators without weasel words or being passive aggresive. If it doesn't change your mind, I am OK with that.....

    I went back and read White Hat's comment again. If you want to take the example of what a drug using homeless person must go through to pay $29.50 (or as little as $16) and spend several days to get a free voter ID, have at it.....
    posted by lstanley at 12:37 PM on April 10, 2012


    Just annecdotal, but I was turned down for a Maryland drivers licence in an extremely conservative county because the official paper with my birth information and a big, raised seal from the county clerk said across the top, "Certificate of Live Birth" rather than "Birth Certificate". No foolin'.

    Yep. My wife had to prove her identity for something not too long ago, and one of the acceptable forms of ID was a marriage certificate. The clerk wouldn't accept our certificate because it was recorded in CANADA. Seems you can't trust any Amurrican that would slink off and get married in Canuckistan.
    posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:41 PM on April 10, 2012


    The ~12% of people who don't have ID would mostly derive far more economic benefit from having ID than they do from exercising their electoral franchise

    I'll bet the GOP could get behind a plan to provide this 12% with free IDs in return for a promise not to exercise their electoral franchise.
    posted by octobersurprise at 12:44 PM on April 10, 2012


    I love pranksterism, but I don't like lies presented as truth and it doesn't matter if they come from a dry news show, an e-mail forward, or a man in a pimp suit.
    posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:46 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    It's pretty easy, actually. They know my name and DOB. Maybe from my registration they have my birthplace or whatnot. If it is so easy for me to prove my citizenship by getting out my birth certificate, then it should be even easier for a government with trillions of dollars in resources to confirm what I submitted, no?

    No, because there are some 300 million people who are US citizens so when you scale it up the burden of proof is more economically distributed to the indvidual. Likewise, when you are driving it's mroe efficient to require that you have a license and carry it for inspection rather than making the police work out who you are and establish your eligibility to drive.

    Look if we are going to massively reform government and create entire new branches that will need to be financed by new taxes, why don't we do it for something useful instead of making people less fearful of a boogeyman. I say we do voter ID after universal healthcare and a decent social safety net is established.

    Both of which require ID to access. The 'let's do things in this order' argument ignores the possibility of doing things in parallel, and nobody is talking about creating new branches of government - just making existing branches like SSA and DMV offices more accessible, efficient, and responsive. Everyone's life would be enhanced if the DMV was open later in the evening and on weekends and you could be in and out in 20 minutes.

    OTOH, anigbrowl, I'm still waiting for my apology. Because the only thing worse than a half assed bullshit defense of O'Keefe is a half assed bullshit defense of O'Keefe that calls me a hypocrite at the same time.

    I don't owe you an apology and have no plans to make one.

    The government has provided the ability for its citizens to easily gather identification. If you or your examples are somehow hamstrung in your abilty to gather this documentation, then the problem is yours and yours alone.

    lstanley, my wife is a US citizen and she had to get ID before we were married (previous ID had expired) and afterwards (name change). It's not easy or efficient, and I can well understand why large numbers of people would not want or be able to get ID. IDs often seem to be issued by inflexible unhelpful bureaucrats who are, frankly, not very bright. This is a problem, and as I said above it's the sort of thing that makes people dislike government in general. The process should be simpler, easier, and faster, and the ID-issuance service should be more focused on the needs of the citizen the obligation to provide him or her with the best possible service. This doesn't happen right now, and the proponents of voter ID who introduce legislation with highly specific requirements (eg birth certificates with raised seals) should be required to set aside sufficient funding to make the ID issuance process more responsive. There are lots of reasons that a person may encounter difficulty with getting ID, from poverty to geography to losing all one's paperwork in a fire, flood, hurricane or earthquake. It is disingenuous of anti-ID people to minimize the importance of having ID to function in a 21st century society, and it is disingenuous of pro-ID people to minimize the administrative burden involved in procuring ID for some people.

    I fail to understand why any of you are bothering to argue with anigbrowl et al who has failed to provide a single piece of factual evidence. There has been no evidence provided that voter fraud due to unqualified voters is a problem that is so important that the US should disenfranchise millions of voters. [...]

    Well, see, Lupus_yonderboy, I'm not making the claims you ascribe to me and that's why I haven't attempted to provide any evidence for them. I do not, in fact, believe voter fraud to be a serious problem that has any significant impact on the electoral process. In fact, I began my participation in this thread by describing it as a symbolic problem.

    This is the third time I've raised these perfectly reasonable objections in this thread. Put up, or shut up.

    Maybe everyone is ignoring you because we're discussing a different concept from the one you're objecting to?
    posted by anigbrowl at 12:49 PM on April 10, 2012


    The irony is that you actually don't need a photo ID to get a photo ID.....
    posted by mygoditsbob at 12:50 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I went back and read White Hat's comment again. If you want to take the example of what a drug using homeless person must go through to pay $29.50 (or as little as $16) and spend several days to get a free voter ID, have at it.....

    There are plenty of folks down at the exchange who haven't put a drug into their bodies that wasn't prescribed to them by a physician or purchased from a pharmacy. Like I mentioned, the clinic has social workers and doctors for all manner of folks, at the ready and without judgement for how they might spend their waking hours. Additionally, there are more of them than you may think. 4,000 a day by most estimates, ~15,000 used a shelter in 2005. This excludes a large swath of folks who meet the technical definitions of homelessness but refuse to use the shelter systems for fear of their own personal safety. Elections have been won and lost by smaller margins than that. So, yes. If you mean to ask whether or not I'll use a significantly large population as proof that "free ID" legislation is nowhere near adequate at covering some of the most vulnerable folks in our society, then yeah, that's exactly what I'll do.
    posted by The White Hat at 12:50 PM on April 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


    The claim that voter ID is a plot designed to disenfranchise people is, IMHO, nonsense. Every voter ID proponent I've ever met, and I've met a lot, is genuinely worried about the possibility of voting by undocumented immigrants (or illegal aliens, if you prefer).

    Then they're deranged.

    There are really only two reasons to support voter ID laws, because the facts are that there is no problem with that kind of voter fraud. The US doesn't have a problem with voter fraud any more than it has a problem with wild animals mauling people in line to vote.

    One is that it's a plot designed to disenfranchise people.

    The other is that the person is so deranged that their opinion on the matter is worthless, just as the opinion of someone who urged states to post automatic sentry guns from _Aliens_ at all polling places to protect against wild animals would be too delusional to take remotely seriously.

    So, to make this suggestion again, lest anybody think I was being sarcastic: go ahead. Pass voter ID laws. But as a condition of their enforcement, require that at least 99% of the eligible electorate be physically presented with ID cards. I don't really care if you hand them out to people, or just somehow manage to get them all to walk into the DMV, as long as they actually have been handed the cards. Then, voter ID laws will make perfect sense. I don't see why this compromise isn't being discussed in state congresses.

    It's not being discussed because the point of voter ID laws is not to reduce vote fraud. It is to reduce the black and poor vote.
    posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:54 PM on April 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


    Seems like a problem easily solved with a very, very simple security measure.

    Of course, that doesn't solve the xenophobic issue of wanting to bar "the illegals" from voting on matters that certainly affect them just as much as other residents.
    posted by odinsdream at 12:55 PM on April 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


    There are plenty of folks down at the exchange who haven't put a drug into their bodies that wasn't prescribed to them by a physician or purchased from a pharmacy.

    Amen, but by the same token, so what if they haven't? Hell, if going to a club where you drink a little and eat something and have hallucinations were cause to bar you from voting Rick Santorum would have been out of politics a long time ago!
    posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:56 PM on April 10, 2012


    anigbrowl: > I'm not making the claims you ascribe to me

    If you concede all the points I made, it seems to me that you must logically be against the new voter ID laws.

    If you really concede that voter fraud due to unqualified voters is not a problem, that millions will inevitably be disenfranchised by voter ID laws, and that all the public figures who support voter ID laws also publicly support other forms of voter suppression, then how can you possibly argue for voter ID laws?
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:57 PM on April 10, 2012


    I bet you don't take that attitude when you get behind the wheel of a car* or when you buy booze** if you look below a certain age.

    ...or buying Sudafed.

    But if you are making this argument you are revealing a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the right to vote as compared to these other trivial activities which fall under the category of privilege, which the government has the right to restrict or even prohibit.

    Please tell me that you understand that the right to vote is the most important right that a citizen possesses in the US and then we can talk about how the government can restrict that right.
    posted by mygoditsbob at 12:58 PM on April 10, 2012


    Regarding "fix them in parallel," I'm glad it's not on the table, because while that sounds great in theory, in practice "accessibility" reforms aren't going to make the great strides they're designed to, any more than tax reforms are easily available to people who can't afford accountants. Service at the DMV will still stink and leave people waiting in line longer than is practicable, and they'll have to leave so they can get their kids some dinner, or get enough sleep to wake up and go to work tomorrow. Or the buses still won't run to the building, or they'll run but in order to get to the right route you have to take three connections and it's almost two hours each way, not to mention the bus fare that was going to go toward dinner that isn't ramen. Or the "free" part will be buried in the kind of byzantine bullshit that The White Hat describes.

    Meanwhile, the "no ID, no vote" requirement - which is simple, straightforward and requires no change in infrastructure or funding - will go into effect immediately. This is how government works.
    posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:04 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Especially because of the requirement that the birth certificate have a raised seal. It is not even possible to get this in the state where I was born.

    When my birth certificate was issued in 1967 it had a raised seal. Even though it has sat in a safety deposit box and other places, it is literally falling apart and that raised seal is no longer there.

    My birth certificate was issued by the state of Arizona. What was funny in Arizona's quest for being the craziest state in the union, they had proposed requirements for needing the long-form birth certificates of candidates for national office. My original birth certificate issued by that state would not qualify. I would need to get a replacement, which like Obama's Hawaiian birth certificate would be an official copy and held not the same "it looks fake, I can tell by the pixels" bullshit.

    I bring that derail up to highlight the problem that there's 50 states with 50 separate ways to record your birth and issue ID. Each state is charged with establishing the rules for voting. It is a system ripe for either accidental or purposeful disenfranchisement. Add to it that at the local level, the counting of votes isn't consistent and subject to cheating as well. It is a wonder the UN hasn't stepped in to monitor our elections.

    Personally, I see the voter ID laws as something that is designed to stop people that lean Democrat to vote. A poor or homeless person is not going to vote straight Republican. Most illegal immigrants I know wouldn't subject themselves to government scrutiny by voting. When you live under the radar, it is stupid to bring attention to yourself. Voters that would vote twice are also such a slim minority as well. It is far easier to cheat by "losing" ballots or "accidentally" having only one voting machine for a precinct that has thousands of residents that may vote for the wrong candidate.

    We could have a system that would make getting an ID easy and accessible to everyone. We could have a process to validate a worker's right to work in the US easy. We could make voting completely transparent and audit-able. But we don't' because it is in the interest of the people making the rules to keep the status quo. If anything, voting will become less inclusive depending on which direction the wind blows politically.
    posted by birdherder at 1:05 PM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


    There are really only two reasons to support voter ID laws, because the facts are that there is no problem with that kind of voter fraud. The US doesn't have a problem with voter fraud any more than it has a problem with wild animals mauling people in line to vote.


    Respectfully, nobody has really demonstrated a persistent pattern of voting machine fraud either, but the degree of concern is much larger that the the incidence might justify because of the principle involved. The fact is that there is a long and ignoble history of electoral fraud in the US, and so people on all sides of the debate are irrationally worried about it.

    It's not being discussed because the point of voter ID laws is not to reduce vote fraud. It is to reduce the black and poor vote.

    I am not at all sure about this. Take Kris Kobach, prime mover of Kansas efforts to enforce voter ID, I think he is in fact deranged. The guy is convinced the US is the subject of an illegal alien invasion, which is crazypants but there you go. I'm saying that speculation on motivations is a) unprovable, and therefore b) pointless; and furthermore that it is c) irrelevant, because whether or not one side is proposing a law as an instrumentality does not limit the ability of the other side to do the same - ie, require that the process of obtaining ID become easier and more responsive to the needs of the public as a condition of legislative passage.
    posted by anigbrowl at 1:06 PM on April 10, 2012


    A lot of people are concerned about illegal aliens being criminals, drug users, and gang members who are just here to have anchor babies. That is bullshit and the stats prove it. The folks I've worked with are some of the most friendly, decent, and hard working around.

    Of course, there are a minority of cases in which the immigrants are bad apples and some people are really concerned about this and think it's an epidemic. Of course, there are some economic issues if we deport them all but when you get right down to it they are breaking the law.

    We should negotiate with the Republicans to deport all the illegal aliens, as long as we can also horse trade so that we get strong labor protections for the Americans who will be taking over the jobs previously handled by illegal immigrants. If the jobs pay a decent wage and have good conditions, Americans will do them. It will be a benefit for all of us and will make both Republicans and Democrats happy.
    posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:06 PM on April 10, 2012


    A lot of other people in this thread have torn this bullshit argument to shreds as it rightly deserves, but Googling and phone calls are often beyond the means of a lot of people who don't have ID.

    No, I don't think anyone has "torn this bullshit argument to shreds." I have been clear that the various states make ID available for little or no hassle or cost. The individual examples posted back to me have included some variation of "I'm very busy," "I have a job that never lets me get away from the office ever during a weekday or early Saturday," "It's very far to the DMV," and now from you, that people can't even make a phone call?

    There are so many social services available to people in the country, so many charities, churches, friends and family, NGOs, neighborhood organizations, even government agencies who can assist in the process to gather an ID. Indeed, many of the posters who are saying it is hard to get IDs still do admit that it is possible to get those IDs!

    I haven't claimed voter fraud, and I haven't claimed it is as easy as apple pie to gain ID. But I've made my case, well received here or not, that it is not that terribly onerous or expensive to gather ID.
    posted by lstanley at 1:07 PM on April 10, 2012


    There are so many social services available to people in the country, so many charities, churches, friends and family, NGOs, neighborhood organizations, even government agencies who can assist in the process to gather an ID.

    Which one do you work at? At mine, the client still needs to pony up the cash and get herself to the Social Security office and DMV. Our budget is so tight that we can afford to do little more than help fill out forms and point clients in the right direction.
    posted by The White Hat at 1:11 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Service at the DMV will still stink and leave people waiting in line longer than is practicable

    That's because of "the unions". Try to keep up.
    posted by inigo2 at 1:18 PM on April 10, 2012


    There are so many social services available to people in the country, so many charities, churches, friends and family, NGOs, neighborhood organizations, even government agencies who can assist in the process to gather an ID.

    Yes, America does have a lot of churches and charities. Are most of the churches around you equipped to help with gathering suitable forms of ID? Do they come with vans to the DMV? Many of us who have had issues getting state ID have had to rely on our friends and family. I am lucky. I had multiple forms of identification, and multiple pieces of paper with my legal address on them. (Fun fact: not a utility bill, because in order to sign up for PECO, you need a driver's license number! So that's out.) Oh, and one local friend with a car and time to drive me. Look, if all it took was a phone call or a single email form, I think we would probably be less feisty about this whole issue.

    I'm confused about how all of that negates the very real issues of getting a state ID. I'm not sure how you think "the DMV is very far and inaccessible by all of the available means of transportation as well as relatively expensive to those on fixed incomes" is somehow a bogus problem. You've posted sporadic quotes from laws which, it turns out, don't actually create practical solutions to this issue. For many people, having to take several days off of work to get documents or get to different departments is, in fact, onerous. For many people, taking several days off of work and spending $30 on the process to get a "free" card is an expensive proposition, and one that presents a very, very real barrier to voting.
    posted by jetlagaddict at 1:18 PM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Sorry, the "not very bright" union employees.
    posted by inigo2 at 1:18 PM on April 10, 2012


    lstanley: the reason your argument is ridiculous is that you are skirting around the central issue, which is that if voter ID laws are passed, millions of potential voters will in fact be unable to vote.

    You're not arguing that this won't happen - because you and everyone else believe that this would happen. You're simply saying that these people deserve to lose the vote because they're lazy.

    But you cannot get around the central fact, that if all these voter ID laws are passed, millions of voters will lose their vote, and for no apparent benefit to the voting system, since as every has conceded, voter fraud due to ineligible voters is not any sort of a problem at all.

    So you want the government to spend money to force millions of people to do a lot of work and to prevent millions of others of legitimate voters from voting at all to solve a problem that doesn't exist - simply to punish these lazy poor people who before the ID voting law came in were doing nothing wrong at all.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:20 PM on April 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


    I have been clear that the various states make ID available for little or no hassle or cost.

    Losing an entire day of work, or having to spend money you don't have, is not "little or no hassle or cost." What's clear is that your claim is at odds with the facts.
    posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:23 PM on April 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


    And moreover, losing an entire day of work when you're making minimum wage is a lot more likely to be catastrophic rather than just annoying.
    posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:24 PM on April 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


    I bring that derail up to highlight the problem that there's 50 states with 50 separate ways to record your birth

    50? I wish! I work with a hell of a lot of documents and can tell you that there are at least one way, per state and territory per year since they've been doing these forms. Then you've got all those states that only recently got on board with issuing a "birth certificate" at all, so prior to that you've got stuff like church records or ship manifests to pore over, and that's just for the "natural born" 'mercans!
    posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:26 PM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


    We should negotiate with the Republicans to deport all the illegal aliens, as long as we can also horse trade so that we get strong labor protections for the Americans who will be taking over the jobs previously handled by illegal immigrants. If the jobs pay a decent wage and have good conditions, Americans will do them. It will be a benefit for all of us and will make both Republicans and Democrats happy.

    Until quite recently, this was the exact position of organized labor and I've had quite a lot of people on the left make that exact argument to me in all seriousness.

    I know you're being sarcastic, but the difference between the above and what I'm advocating is that I'm saying the benefits (easier access to ID for poor people and the disadvantaged) should accrue to the same people on whom a new duty (of presenting ID when registering or voting) is being laid. Now, it is quite true that some voter ID laws are designed to reduce civic participation by imposing additional requirements, eg upon students who are domiciled upon campus but whose student ID may not be considered sufficient proof of identity to vote. But such elements of a legislative proposal are often bargaining chips designed to be traded away (by the proponent of the legislation). I am not endorsing such policies.
    posted by anigbrowl at 1:28 PM on April 10, 2012


    furiousxgeorge, they already tried that, it had 'unintended' consequences.
    posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:29 PM on April 10, 2012


    [Comment removed - let's be clear, at the point at which you start calling people assholes you are firmly in the "we might give you the day off just because you don't seem to be able to handle discussion here" zone. We'd like to keep this civil. It's your decision.]
    posted by jessamyn at 1:30 PM on April 10, 2012


    Conservatives continue to live in upside down world. "We want small government!" We need more regulations around voting though. "Small Government!" We have to build a system to verify that doctors perform trans-vaginal ultrasounds and force patients/victims to look at a fetus.

    /please fragment already GOP!
    posted by zerobyproxy at 1:38 PM on April 10, 2012


    I have been clear that the various states make ID available for little or no hassle or cost.

    It's really incredible to me that people consider it no big deal to just "go get your free ID." I want to know where people who think this work, and how they get time off for stuff. I have a very friendly job that pays very well, and I literally have no time during work hours to run errands. The post office is literally a block walking distance, and I have failed to mail some letters for weeks due to simply not having time because of work commitments.

    I cannot even begin to imagine why you'd think it reasonable to ask someone working, likely, two jobs, without their own transportation, with multiple children, to do anything outside of work. It's incredible the amount of time required to stay afloat in the U.S., and I wonder about people for whom this is no big deal.
    posted by odinsdream at 1:38 PM on April 10, 2012


    'I don't owe you an apology and have no plans to make one.'
    That's because you're an asshole.


    And you are a wonderful, special snowflake.

    'Service at the DMV will still stink and leave people waiting in line longer than is practicable'
    That's because of "the unions". Try to keep up.


    I honestly do think that unionization of the public sector is a contributing cause to bureaucratic inertia, but it's likely a surmountable one. One thing everyone does agree on is that DMV and similar institutions are very slow and unpleasant to deal with in most cases. This is bad, but my view is that the solution is to make the service better rather than arguing that people shouldn't need to use it.

    Sorry, the "not very bright" union employees.

    Sorry, but some people are dumb, and they shouldn't be in customer-facing jobs where they're required to think on their feet and be responsive to a wide variety of problems. That's true for both the private and public sector, but in the private sector I usually have a choice of vendors. (not always; poor service and inflexible bureaucracy is a perennial problem in medical services and health insurance, where people often do not have much choice.)
    posted by anigbrowl at 1:39 PM on April 10, 2012


    [For future reference, I'll keep in mind that calling someone an asshole is a bannin' and stick to calling them a hypocrite. Thanks!]
    posted by octobersurprise at 1:40 PM on April 10, 2012


    I know you're being sarcastic, but the difference between the above and what I'm advocating is that I'm saying the benefits (easier access to ID for poor people and the disadvantaged) should accrue to the same people on whom a new duty (of presenting ID when registering or voting) is being laid.

    Well of course, we do everything in parallel. After we deport everyone we set up a new, more efficient legal immigration system too. The Republicans will of course agree to this in their horse trading.
    posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:43 PM on April 10, 2012


    Actually, I've found service at the DMVs in California that I've had to go to to be quite painless. You make an appointment, show up, wait two minutes, and voila, you're done. Assuming you've brought all the right docs with you to begin with, of course.

    The local Social Security office, though....much less pleasant. Also only open during the weekdays, from 9-3. My work was patient and allowed me, a new employee, to take the time off to go sit in the office and wait.
    posted by rtha at 1:43 PM on April 10, 2012


    Look, don't call people an asshole or a hypocrite. I'd frankly rather be called an asshole.

    I'm just as displeased by some of the "arguments" presented here - but the way to refute them is not to call names - the way to refute them is to use facts and logic and force the individuals to admit what they are proposing will cause a great deal of hardship, cost a lot of money, disenfranchise a lot of legitimate voters, and not benefit anyone at all (or in a worst case, that they leave us rationalists with the last words).

    Play hard, but play fair!
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:44 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I cannot even begin to imagine why you'd think it reasonable to ask someone working, likely, two jobs, without their own transportation, with multiple children, to do anything outside of work. It's incredible the amount of time required to stay afloat in the U.S., and I wonder about people for whom this is no big deal.

    Most people manage, and people without ID are just as likely to be unemployed as they are to have 2 jobs - more so, because filling out an I-9 form at a new job requires presenting two forms of ID documenting one's eligibility to accept employment. I can't square your mention of being a friendly job with your assertion that you simply can't find time to go one block to the post office.

    But yes, this kind of thing is excessively time-consuming and the loss of time is disproportionately expensive to those at the lower end of the income scale. Which is why the DMV, SSA offices, post offices, etc. ought to be open 6 or 7 days a week and for much later into the evening, like many businesses are. This would cost money, of course, but that's the price to be extracted from proponents of voter ID.
    posted by anigbrowl at 1:46 PM on April 10, 2012


    Actually, these things can be done in parallel and usually are. If there's a voter ID bill in front of a legislature, then people who have reservations can demand that it include funding for keeping DMV offices open later, or similar changes to make government services more responsive to citizens' needs.

    I'd like to point out that this is exactly what the (powerless) Democrats in the Texas State Legislature tried to do during the Voter ID debate, and of course most mitigating amendments were voted down. So how, exactly, does the minority party horse trade in states where they have no power to do so?
    posted by muddgirl at 1:47 PM on April 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


    > This would cost money, of course, but that's the price to be extracted from proponents of voter ID.

    Do you honestly believe that this is even faintly possible?

    Can you name even one proponent of voter ID who would all such a price to be extracted?
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:48 PM on April 10, 2012


    This would cost money, of course,

    The taxes that would pay for this are consistently voted down by the same people who like to restrict who can vote. It's awesome like that. For them.
    posted by rtha at 1:49 PM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


    For example:
    W.Davis – Would mandate that DPS officials offer ID’s for free instead of making people ask for them. Tabled 19-11

    DPS must put centers into inner city areas to make it easier for people to get their Photo ID’s. Tabled 19-11.

    Gallegos – DPS centers within five miles of mass transit lines Tabled 19-11.

    Gallegos – Requires DPS offices to offer extend hours and Saturday hours to make it easier for people to get in line. Tabled by a vote of 19-11
    19-11 is exact party lines, Republican-Democratic.
    posted by muddgirl at 1:50 PM on April 10, 2012 [10 favorites]


    Well of course, we do everything in parallel. After we deport everyone we set up a new, more efficient legal immigration system too. The Republicans will of course agree to this in their horse trading.

    I don't think you understand what 'parallel' means.

    Actually, I've found service at the DMVs in California that I've had to go to to be quite painless. You make an appointment, show up, wait two minutes, and voila, you're done. Assuming you've brought all the right docs with you to begin with, of course.

    Where is this? In San Francisco it takes 3 hours, minimum. There's a long line outside at 8am every day because they're so slow that you can't take the risk of just dropping by unless you're prepared to spend a long time waiting. I think part of the problem is that in SF they have it centralized into one large office instead of a bunch of small ones.

    force the individuals to admit what they are proposing will cause a great deal of hardship, cost a lot of money, disenfranchise a lot of legitimate voters, and not benefit anyone at all

    Having valid and current ID - if it can be got easily - is an enormous benefit for the ID holder.
    posted by anigbrowl at 1:54 PM on April 10, 2012


    I don't think you understand what 'parallel' means.

    Well the people we deport can't come to the front of the line, they came illegally and should not jump in line over people who obeyed the law and waited to do it legitimately.
    posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:57 PM on April 10, 2012


    I'd like to point out that this is exactly what the (powerless) Democrats in the Texas State Legislature tried to do during the Voter ID debate, and of course most mitigating amendments were voted down. So how, exactly, does the minority party horse trade in states where they have no power to do so?

    Steal your opponents' arguments - accuse the Republicans of creating bloated and inefficient bureaucracies that will cost lots of money, kvetch about how long the lines at the DMV are, and demand to know why they don't adopt your more efficient solution. At the next election cycle accuse them of being a bunch of lazy rent-seekers and campaign on making government service mean service.
    posted by anigbrowl at 1:59 PM on April 10, 2012


    Where is this?

    One time in San Francisco, maybe eight-ish years ago? Made an appointment, in and out, done. Another time, somewhere in Oakland - same deal: made an appointment, it took a little longer, but still, pretty painless.

    The Social Security office in Redwood City was a Not Fun.
    posted by rtha at 2:00 PM on April 10, 2012


    > This would cost money, of course, but that's the price to be extracted from proponents of voter ID.

    Do you honestly believe that this is even faintly possible? Can you name even one proponent of voter ID who would all such a price to be extracted?


    Of course it is. How do you think anything gets negotiated? The basic idea is that you identify what you want in return for the added cost, add in some other things that you don't really care about as much, and then make a show of giving those things up so you can the things you really want. So Joe Conservative wants voter ID, OK - then I want max wait at the DMV to be reduced to an hour under your GOP administration, funding to have the DMV open on Saturdays, and I want Ronald Reagan Street renamed in honor of Jimmy Carter and environmental protection for the common pigeon. Oh, you won't go for all that? OK, scratch the last two.
    posted by anigbrowl at 2:07 PM on April 10, 2012


    > Having valid and current ID - if it can be got easily - is an enormous benefit for the ID holder.

    No one here - not one person - has said they're against having a better way for poor people to acquire IDs. But there is no such proposal. Indeed, the very same people who have consistently pushed for voter ID have consistently pushed to make it harder for poor citizens to get that same ID, with limited service hours, user fees and that sort of thing.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:07 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    In theory, yes.

    In practice, remember the "supercommittee"?
    posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:09 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Well the people we deport can't come to the front of the line, they came illegally and should not jump in line over people who obeyed the law and waited to do it legitimately.

    Jesus christ, fxg. There's no line. There's no gate where people wait in line because the fire marshall says there's too many people in the United States.

    Shit like this is why 9th grade civics should include a mock-immigration exercise.
    posted by Talez at 2:15 PM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


    > Of course it is. How do you think anything gets negotiated?

    You read the same newspapers we do. Who, specifically, are these Conservatives who will concede to new spending programs under any circumstances - particularly new programs that will make it easier for people to vote?

    You keep claiming such people exist - point to them. Show us when this happened - or show us a Republican who you feel has the slightest chance of doing that.

    The Republicans keep a very tight line, and on no new non-military, non-police, non-security spending, there is no light between any of them.

    Your arguments are fantastic - and I mean that literally, you fantasize about programs to help the poor get ID that have not existed, do not exist and that there is no evidence will ever exist, while we are talking about real legislation, now, today, that will affect real people.

    But worse, the whole argument itself is a diversion. Whether or not poor people getting ID is a good thing or not has nothing whatsoever to do with the question of whether it's a good idea to prevent people from voting who don't have proper ID, particularly when it will cost money to enforce and does not solve any voting problem that actually exists.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:16 PM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Jesus christ, fxg. There's no line. There's no gate where people wait in line because the fire marshall says there's too many people in the United States.

    The point is even with the open and legal and quick immigration the Republicans are going to agree to we will not be allowing the people who broke the law to come here to come before those who waited to work through the process. It would simply not be fair, and we are going to have to process a flood of millions of immigrants. There will be delays.
    posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:20 PM on April 10, 2012


    I mean, if we just let them back in why deport all of them in the first place? Don't be silly.
    posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:21 PM on April 10, 2012


    Where is this? In San Francisco it takes 3 hours, minimum. There's a long line outside at 8am every day because they're so slow that you can't take the risk of just dropping by unless you're prepared to spend a long time waiting. I think part of the problem is that in SF they have it centralized into one large office instead of a bunch of small ones.

    I had to go to the DMV once in San Jose. I made an appointment. My waiting time was two minutes. For the first thing.

    Then it was line, line, line, line. Four lines and an hour and a half later I emerged battleworn.
    posted by Talez at 2:28 PM on April 10, 2012


    Steal your opponents' arguments - accuse the Republicans of creating bloated and inefficient bureaucracies that will cost lots of money,

    They tried this

    kvetch about how long the lines at the DMV are

    Definitely tried this

    and demand to know why they don't adopt your more efficient solution.

    Yep

    At the next election cycle accuse them of being a bunch of lazy rent-seekers and campaign on making government service mean service.

    But the only people who are voting are people who already need a state ID for some other reason, so how can we argue the government is full of lazy rent-seekers? And all the services that improve access for the poor don't really benefit people who have cars and stable addesses.

    But my original point was that, for current legislative Democrats who are dealing with irrational Voter ID laws, attempting to mitigate those laws HAS been one of their strategies. Fighting for better access to state agencies IS a top concern of many social welfare organizations. But these laws are still incredibly ineffective at their stated purpose and incredibly effective at violating people's constitutional right to vote.
    posted by muddgirl at 2:29 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Steal your opponents' arguments - accuse the Republicans of creating bloated and inefficient bureaucracies that will cost lots of money, kvetch about how long the lines at the DMV are, and demand to know why they don't adopt your more efficient solution. At the next election cycle accuse them of being a bunch of lazy rent-seekers and campaign on making government service mean service.

    Heh. That's pretty funny. Have you seen how the GOP has been acting for the past few years? They will pass voter ID laws and not do a damn thing about DMV wait times and office hours. In fact, they'll probably close offices and cut hours at other offices.
    posted by NoMich at 2:29 PM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


    No one here - not one person - has said they're against having a better way for poor people to acquire IDs. But there is no such proposal. Indeed, the very same people who have consistently pushed for voter ID have consistently pushed to make it harder for poor citizens to get that same ID, with limited service hours, user fees and that sort of thing.

    Yes, and their opponents keep failing to negotiate effectively, instead stating themselves to be implacably opposed to the whole concept of voter ID instead of entertaining the concept and bargaining at the margin for universal easy access. This is bad strategy, and this kind of thing is why Washington is so hopelessly polarized. People who complain about negotiating being a horrible trick played by evil machiavellians are people who can't negotiate.

    The Republicans keep a very tight line, and on no new non-military, non-police, non-security spending, there is no light between any of them.

    Duh - you frame it as a security issue. Your problem is that you start out by refusing to even give lip service to the idea, so you have nothing left to bluff your opponent with because you've already tipped your hand.

    Whether or not poor people getting ID is a good thing or not has nothing whatsoever to do with the question of whether it's a good idea to prevent people from voting who don't have proper ID, particularly when it will cost money to enforce and does not solve any voting problem that actually exists.

    It is, it does, it is, it won't, and it does.

    Poor people getting IDs is a good idea because it will make their lives easier, which ought to be self evident. If it isn't, lock yours away for 3 months and see how much fun it is not to have any.

    It has something to to with the voter ID question because everyone wants to vote, but not everyone has ID.

    Do we want people voting illegally? No, which is why there are very, very stringent legal penalties against people who do so - it's one of the few justifications for revocation of citizenship post naturalization, for example.

    It costs relatively little to enforce because people are used to producing/checking ID in most other contexts. The costs of enforcement fall upon the people who don't have the ID

    The problem actually exists insofar as it lowers the confidence of many people in the voting process. I gave the example of worries about voting machine fraud as a similar alternative - most complainants about that focus on the possibility rather than the incidence, just like the complainants about voter fraud. As a matter of fact, auditability and possibly open-sourcing of voting software and suchlike would be the perfect legislative tradeoff for an ID requirement.

    tl;dr denyint he problem is a weak strategy. Offering a better solution is a strong strategy. This is politics, not logic.
    posted by anigbrowl at 2:30 PM on April 10, 2012


    Yes, and their opponents keep failing to negotiate effectively, instead stating themselves to be implacably opposed to the whole concept of voter ID instead of entertaining the concept and bargaining at the margin for universal easy access.
    posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:32 PM on April 10, 2012


    This is politics, not logic.

    Republican voters don't want shorter lines at the DPS, if it means their taxes go up. They don't want DPS offices on bus lines, if it means their taxes go up. They don't want better government services period, if it means their taxes will go up. This is politics, not logic.
    posted by muddgirl at 2:35 PM on April 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


    NoMich: “Heh. That's pretty funny. Have you seen how the GOP has been acting for the past few years? They will pass voter ID laws and not do a damn thing about DMV wait times and office hours. In fact, they'll probably close offices and cut hours at other offices.”

    Meanwhile, they will get votes, because there are many people who are still concerned about voter fraud, even if those people are crazy or stupid.

    If Democrats were smart, they'd find a way to enact some protections against voter fraud (and get the votes of that crowd) without disenfranchising any large proportion of the electorate.

    That's what anigbrowl and I are arguing for. I think it's a good idea. It would be nice if somebody tried it.
    posted by koeselitz at 2:36 PM on April 10, 2012


    Considering that it is already illegal, and already not a major problem, don't we already have enough protection?
    posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:37 PM on April 10, 2012


    If Democrats were smart, they'd find a way to enact some protections against voter fraud (and get the votes of that crowd) without disenfranchising any large proportion of the electorate.

    And I'm arguing that Democratic legislators all over the US are already trying this! But if the Republican party has a majority large enough to pass a Voter ID law, they generally have a majority large enough to block all such efforts. What then? Remember: we've already changed the law making it harder to elect Democratic politicians.
    posted by muddgirl at 2:38 PM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Heh. That's pretty funny. Have you seen how the GOP has been acting for the past few years? They will pass voter ID laws and not do a damn thing about DMV wait times and office hours. In fact, they'll probably close offices and cut hours at other offices.

    Yeah they already beat you to it on that one.
    posted by Talez at 2:38 PM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


    But the only people who are voting are people who already need a state ID for some other reason, so how can we argue the government is full of lazy rent-seekers? And all the services that improve access for the poor don't really benefit people who have cars and stable addesses.

    Complain that busy car owners are having to wait in line too long. You pretend to be primarily worried about the plight of your opponents' core voters.

    Heh. That's pretty funny. Have you seen how the GOP has been acting for the past few years? They will pass voter ID laws and not do a damn thing about DMV wait times and office hours. In fact, they'll probably close offices and cut hours at other offices.

    So campaign on a platform of greater efficiency and reducing waiting times. Rome wasn't built in a day, and nothing prevents the Democrats playing the quality-of-service card and blaming poor management for long wait times.
    posted by anigbrowl at 2:39 PM on April 10, 2012


    Remember: we've already changed the law making it harder to elect Democratic politicians.

    In Texas. In some blue states, Democrats have done the same thing to Republicans. So if you're at a disadvantage in one place, compromise. It can work, even in Texas.
    posted by anigbrowl at 2:43 PM on April 10, 2012


    me: “If Democrats were smart, they'd find a way to enact some protections against voter fraud (and get the votes of that crowd) without disenfranchising any large proportion of the electorate.”

    muddgirl: “And I'm arguing that Democratic legislators all over the US are already trying this! But if the Republican party has a majority large enough to pass a Voter ID law, they generally have a majority large enough to block all such efforts. What then? Remember: we've already changed the law making it harder to elect Democratic politicians.”

    I don't think they are – not based on the examples I've seen, and not based on the cases you've mentioned. In all the cases I've seen and the ones you've talked about, Democrats in states where they are in the minority (like Texas) have attempt to lessen the damage they see being done by voter ID laws by sticking in amendments.

    I don't think that will work. It hasn't worked so far.

    The only thing that will work is if Democrats take over the issue. I understand that this isn't an easy thing to do a lot of the time, but it seems to me to be the only way to move past it and actually satisfy voters while avoiding the damage these laws have done.
    posted by koeselitz at 2:45 PM on April 10, 2012


    Exactly. I'm out - I need to file my taxes today and can't spend more time on this.
    posted by anigbrowl at 2:48 PM on April 10, 2012


    I really do think we are over-estimating how much middle-class and rich voters care about things like 'long lines at DPS'. I've been to DPS exactly twice in the last 6 years. Many of my coworkers have been 1 time.
    posted by muddgirl at 2:49 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    In their entire life.
    posted by muddgirl at 2:49 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I am saying I don't understand why it is so hard to procure, at very minimum, a free state issued ID that would provide some level of guarantee as to who you are.

    Because not every state offers such an ID for free. How are you not getting that? I can tell you that there is no way to get a free state-issued ID in Massachusetts.

    A non-driver ID in Massachusetts costs $25. Plus whatever it costs you to get an original copy of your birth certificate; that costs $18 here in Massachusetts if you can get to the Department of Vital Records, $45 if you have to order it on the Internet.

    So let's say I'm an elderly person who no longer drives a car, who doesn't have a passport, and who lives in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. It's going to cost me at least $70 to get a non-driver's ID, even if I can get someone else to drive me to the nearest Registry of Motor Vehicles.

    If you think $70 isn't a significant investment for someone on a fixed income, think again.

    Now, Massachusetts's voter ID law accepts things like Social Security checks and bank statements as proof of ID if the voter's identity is challenged.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 2:50 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Sorry that I'm posting late to this conversation but this took a bit of research. The main point of what I list below is that the documentation for the following is often circular: a birth certificate gets you a Social Security Card or gets you a driver's license but you may need an ID to get the birth certificate or Social Security. This is not exhaustive, a lot of these sites have special circumstances which leads to other pages with special circumstances. I highlighted those that needed birth certificates.

    Regarding the Pennsylvania state law. From above, the following is required to get the voter's ID.

    Social Security Card

    AND

    One of the following:
    Certificate of U.S. Citizenship
    Certificate of Naturalization
    Valid U.S. Passport
    Birth Certificate with a raised seal

    PLUS

    Two proofs of residency such as lease agreements, current utility bills, mortgage documents, W-2 form, tax records.


    Okay to get a Social Security Card.

    Original. As proof of age and citizenship: US Birth Certificate or US Passport.
    AND
    As proof of identity one of the following: Driver's License, State Issued Non-Driver's Identification, US Passport, School ID, Employee ID, Health Insurance Card (not Medicare) or Military ID.
    You must supply at least two documents of the above (using the Passport for everything is not allowed). All documents must be original or certified.

    If you are not US born, but are a citizen you must provide:
    Consular Report of Birth, Certificate of Citizenship, or Certificate of Naturalization.

    If you are not a citizen but are still eligible for a social security card you must provide unexpired DHS documentation of your status.

    Replacement. One document (above) to prove identity. Proof of citizenship if you were born outside of the United States.

    ----------
    To get a Certificate of U.S. Citizenship Form N-600.

    Filing Fee: $600. All of the following are required.

    Certified birth certificate and birth certificates of parent or parents being used to claim citizenship.
    Marriage certificate for yourself and parents, if married.
    Divorce documentation for yourself or parents, if applicable.
    Additional documents if you are illegitimate, adopted, if your parents are permanent residents, have changed names, or you are under 18.

    AND

    As Proof of Citizenship, one of the following: Certificate of Naturalization (below), US birth certificate, Report of Birth Abroad of US Citizen (Form FS-240 with all of its requirements, not mentioned because this could go on forever), valid unexpired passport or Proof of Citizenship via Form N-560. Although it asks for this, there is no N-560 on their website.
    ----
    To get a copy of Certificate of Naturalization the Filing Fee is $345. The only requirements are that you have been previously naturalized (that was when they required a lot of evidence into your background, birth certificates, etc.) and provide 2 passport sized photos.

    -------------

    To get a Valid U.S. Passport:

    Fee: $110.
    AND
    Submit one of the following as proof of citizenship: Previously issued, undamaged U.S. Passport; Certified birth certificate issued by the city, county or state; Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth; Naturalization Certificate; or, Certificate of Citizenship. (long list of possible secondary proofs for those whose birth certificates do not qualify).
    AND
    Submit one of the following for identification: Previously issued, undamaged U.S. passport; Naturalization Certificate; Valid Driver's License; Current Government ID (city, state or federal); Current Military ID (military and dependents). (Again long list of possible secondary identifications).

    --------

    Birth Certificate with a raised seal.

    The process to get birth certificates and their costs vary from state to state. Not all states provide birth certificates with a raised seal. I can not find the specific details, but most websites providing birth certificates or organizations requiring them say raised seal, embossed seal or watermark. Virginia and Hawaii seem to be two states with watermarks.

    For a birth certificate in Pennsylvania the fee is $10.
    AND
    Applicant must submit legible copy of his or her valid government issued photo identification. Examples of acceptable identification are a state issued driver's license or non-driver photo ID that verifies the person's name and current address. OR Have an eligible relative or someone with the power of attorney submit their photo identification along with two documents showing the current address.
    -----------
    Two proofs of residency such as lease agreements, current utility bills, mortgage documents, W-2 form, tax records.

    These are kind of self-explanatory but what is necessary to fulfill them is to have a home/apartment in your name and utilities in your name or recent tax documents at that address. Since it includes the statement "such as" it is hard to fully evaluate.
    posted by dances_with_sneetches at 3:01 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Democrats in states where they are in the minority (like Texas) have attempt to lessen the damage they see being done by voter ID laws

    I hate to ask anyone a question when the've indicated that they've left the thread, but I'm confused. Isn't this exactly what anigbrowl was arguing for earlier? That Photo ID laws are irrational but we can mitigate the damage by making IDs easier to access?
    posted by muddgirl at 3:02 PM on April 10, 2012


    So campaign on a platform of greater efficiency and reducing waiting times. Rome wasn't built in a day, and nothing prevents the Democrats playing the quality-of-service card and blaming poor management for long wait times.

    In a saner time, sure, but this ain't that time. We live in interesting times now.
    posted by NoMich at 3:05 PM on April 10, 2012


    muddgirl: “I hate to ask anyone a question when the've indicated that they've left the thread, but I'm confused. Isn't this exactly what anigbrowl was arguing for earlier? That Photo ID laws are irrational but we can mitigate the damage by making IDs easier to access?”

    He was arguing for that, I think. I wasn't. My personal desired outcome is this: voter ID laws that have built-in required percentages; that is, laws that do not kick in until 99% (or some proportion) of the voting population (by census) has ID cards. If Democrats enacted laws like that, it'd be hard for Republicans to enact anything over them, and it would at least begin to satisfy those who have a problem with the current protections and force reform in the direction of fixing DMV processes.

    I admit this isn't highly likely, but it still seems like the best solution to me.
    posted by koeselitz at 3:10 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"
    posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:10 PM on April 10, 2012



    If Democrats were smart, they'd find a way to enact some protections against voter fraud (and get the votes of that crowd) without disenfranchising any large proportion of the electorate.


    In the modern era, voter fraud has never been shown to exist at any level that is outcome determinative. It has never been shown to exist at a level that even comes close to the number of illegible or spoiled ballots.

    As soon as you accept the myth that there is a problem that needs fixing, you've lost the battle.
    posted by mygoditsbob at 3:32 PM on April 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


    The burden of proof is not on the government to disprove your eligibility in the first place -- anigbrowl

    I have a serious problem with this claim. Yes, the burden of proof is absolutely on the government if you are going to be denied a fundamental, constitutional right such as the right to vote. The constitution doesn't say that every citizen has the right to vote so long as it doesn't cost too much to implement. It says that every citizen has the right to vote. Period.
    posted by eviemath at 3:45 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Regarding lstanley's comment,
    I went back and read White Hat's comment again. If you want to take the example of what a drug using homeless person must go through to pay $29.50 (or as little as $16) and spend several days to get a free voter ID, have at it.....

    Also yes, I do want to take that example. A drug using homeless citizen has exactly the same right to vote as any other citizen. Do you disagree?
    posted by eviemath at 3:52 PM on April 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


    if O'Keefe were a black "investigative reporter" he would have been thrown in jail a long time ago. white privilege is a heck of a drug.
    posted by liza at 3:59 PM on April 10, 2012


    Re. Burden of proof - that should have included 'pre-emptively, rather than retroactively'. IOW it's impractical to expect the government to audit the whole voter roll every year. Not talking in the prosecution sense.
    posted by anigbrowl at 4:50 PM on April 10, 2012


    If Democrats were smart, they'd find a way to enact some protections against voter fraud (and get the votes of that crowd)

    I challenge you to find me three- three- Republican voters or people of eligible age who didn't vote in 2008 who would vote for Obama instead if he promised to enact voter fraud protection laws. In fact, find me one as I will front you Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

    "Stopping voter fraud" from the conservative right of America started the day after the black president was elected. That we are pretending we don't know what this is about to most of the people for whom this is a top tier issue is starting to get really irritating.
    posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:54 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    IOW it's impractical to expect the government to audit the whole voter roll every year. Not talking in the prosecution sense.

    Well here's what you do.

    During Enrollment

    Check the address to make sure it's valid since it's gotta be in the district anyway. Any more than five enrollments from the same address and you check it manually. You know who died. Get the list from the county and unenroll them.

    During the Election

    We have a giant book of people who live in the district. Every name has a two lines next to it like so:
    ___    ___      John Q. Voter
    When the poll worker confirms the voter's name and registered address they connect the line.

    After the election the books get sent back to AEC HQ, they run it through an automated system to see if there were any duplicate votes. If there are then holy shit something's up and they need to investigate it.

    If the person is voting out of district they go in a separate line who have staffers that report the voter directly to AEC HQ and also to get their district's ballot paper.

    The AEC can calculate whether the margins would affect the outcome of the election and declare it void if necessary setting the state for a by-election. There's never been one.

    Problem solved.
    posted by Talez at 5:04 PM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Why are people arguing to spend money and time for a solution that:
    - "solves" a problem that isn't a problem (see above survey on actual rates of voter fraud)
    - disenfranchises people as a side-effect

    This is a no-brainer. It's not a problem, so it doesn't need a "solution" which has worse side-effects than simply continuing with the existing functioning system!
    posted by introp at 5:04 PM on April 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


    It was an issue long before Obama. Immigration restrictionists have been harping on this since the 90s.
    posted by anigbrowl at 5:14 PM on April 10, 2012


    IOW it's impractical to expect the government to audit the whole voter roll every year. Not talking in the prosecution sense.

    That's why you do a random sampling along with following up on tips for audits, like the IRS does. The benefit here is that if there is any mass, organized fraud of the sort that would overturn the election results, a randomized audit of this sort would expose that kind of operation (which, to our knowledge, has never existed).
    posted by deanc at 5:20 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    "Stopping voter fraud" from the conservative right of America started the day after the black president was elected.

    Oh no, it started as soon as the black man got the vote.
    posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:25 PM on April 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


    Not sure why O'Keefe wants to keep being a jackass...
    posted by nickgb at 5:50 PM on April 10, 2012


    All the effort given to fighting the "problem" of potential voter fraud is shameful when the most serious problem our democracy has is low voter turnout. If only the right worked as hard to get the vote out as they do to make sure we are all properly identified, then I might believe that what they cared about was fair elections.
    posted by Miko at 6:33 PM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


    disenfranchises people as a side-effect

    Disenfranchisement is the goal, not a side effect. O'Keefe doesn't give a rat's ass about voter fraud. He, or more properly the people supporting him, know that putting another layer of bureaucracy between a potential voter and the voting booth will disproportionately discourage the poor and minorities, exactly those populations that are more likely to vote Democrat instead of Republican.
    posted by plastic_animals at 6:37 PM on April 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


    A poll tax of $16 or $20 or $80 is still too high.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 6:56 PM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


    The real evidence that the voter ID advocates are seeking to decrease turnout is that they want there to both be an ID requirement and separate voter registration.

    Just wanted to note that the predominantly Republican state of North Dakota does not require voter registration at all.
    posted by jonp72 at 8:20 PM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I was witness to the Republican Party doing what I considered Voter Fraud in 1972.

    My mother was a longtime "Republican Women's" volunteer and she pushed 17-year-old me (too young to legally vote) to 'get involved with the system', so I put in a few hours at a GOP phone bank reading a 'Re-Elect The President' script and told not to mention my age (or the fact that The President was named Nixon, honest!) One Team Leader took a liking to me and asked me if I'd like to work on their 'Senior Outreach' program, which consisted of going to Retirement and Nursing Homes to 'help' the residents fill out Absentee Ballots. It was pretty clear I would've been filling in the ballots for those incapable of doing so, and if they were unable to elucidate their preferences, well, they're all registered Republicans there, right? (I didn't know who registered them as Republicans or when...) That whole thing smelled so bad to me, I just sheepishly backed away and promised never to register as a Republican. It did explain to me why the GOP has gotten the majority of Absentee Ballots in liberal California for over 50 years...

    If you're going to do Voter Fraud, do it right.
    posted by oneswellfoop at 8:25 PM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


    The claim that voter ID is a plot designed to disenfranchise people is, IMHO, nonsense. Every voter ID proponent I've ever met, and I've met a lot, is genuinely worried about the possibility of voting by undocumented immigrants (or illegal aliens, if you prefer).

    Just to provide a counter-example, on Monday I happened to stumble across the local AM radio affiliate of Focus on the Family. The host, Bob Dutko, talked about the O'Keefe video and said that he supported voter ID laws because they prevented "inner-city blacks" (his term) from voting. He's apparently nationally syndicated, so the narrative that voter ID laws are intended to disenfranchise people does circulate among conservative, religious voters who vote for the Republicans who pass voter ID laws. Not everyone who supports voter ID laws does so with the intent to disenfranchise, but there are also many who do.
    posted by fogovonslack at 7:23 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


    anigbrowl: “The claim that voter ID is a plot designed to disenfranchise people is, IMHO, nonsense. Every voter ID proponent I've ever met, and I've met a lot, is genuinely worried about the possibility of voting by undocumented immigrants (or illegal aliens, if you prefer).”

    fogovonslack: “Just to provide a counter-example, on Monday I happened to stumble across the local AM radio affiliate of Focus on the Family. The host, Bob Dutko, talked about the O'Keefe video and said that he supported voter ID laws because they prevented "inner-city blacks" (his term) from voting. He's apparently nationally syndicated, so the narrative that voter ID laws are intended to disenfranchise people does circulate among conservative, religious voters who vote for the Republicans who pass voter ID laws. Not everyone who supports voter ID laws does so with the intent to disenfranchise, but there are also many who do.”

    I fall somewhere in between these two positions, really. I mean that I don't think Bob Dutko, an AM radio talk host on the far right of the spectrum, represents most people who are in favor of voter ID laws. I know that, as liberals, it's tempting for us to believe that everybody who votes for a Republican at some point is secretly a crypto-fascist superconservative. However, that doesn't seem true to me. And I can see where anigbrowl is coming from, and I agree with him to a degree. I've had long, protracted arguments with people who believe in voter ID laws who say they believe in these laws not because of race or class but actually because they believe voter fraud should be eliminated, no matter how rare it might be, and because (as one of my friends put it) they believe voting is "much more important than driving or drinking" and should be verified and checked to the same degree.

    At the same time, I think there is an undercurrent of something else here. It is emphatically not racist, as far as I've seen. But many voter ID proponents I've met, if you argue with them long enough, will say something like: "well, if people can't be bothered to go down to the DMV and pick up their free ID card, then we don't really need those people voting." What they seem to mean by this is that voting is important to them, damned important, and they feel (like a lot of grassroots conservatives today feel) as though people really don't seem to take seriously the conditions and benefits of citizenship any more. To a degree, this is because, as they see it, people keep electing idiots who waste public dollars and bankrupt our nation; but it's also something they see in how people act, how people treat each other. There is, as they see it, very little respect of public institutions or the functions of being a citizen. So, they reason, if you had to put some effort into voting – if you had to go to at least some length to prove that you actually valued the privilege – that would be a very good thing.

    The thing I usually try to explain to people that voice that sentiment is this: that's not a constitutional perspective. Yes, it's a fine thing for people to respect their citizenship and value it. But setting up tests and conditions as barriers to the right to vote is an unconstitutional way to go about instilling that respect; it's undemocratic. Democracy means sharing a nation with other people, even if you don't like those people or how they live their lives. Most importantly, I try to point out (sometimes using myself as an example) that possession of a state-issued ID card is not a very good test of a person's commitment to their citizenship.
    posted by koeselitz at 7:50 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


    How do voter ID laws handle absentee voting?
    posted by stopgap at 8:20 AM on April 11, 2012


    Urg, forgot to click "Send" before going to see Kraftwerk last night (had to throw that last part in).

    > Poor people getting IDs is a good idea

    For the very last time, this is a straw man. No one, not one single person in this thread, has ever claimed that this was not a good idea.

    > It has something to to with the voter ID question because everyone wants to vote, but not everyone has ID.

    It's a shame you ran off, because I now see what you are saying, and I think it's an ugly, ugly idea, and I want to "correct me if I am wrong": you are saying

    1. Poor people getting IDs is a good idea.
    2. Everyone wants to vote but not everyone has ID.
    3. So let's tie the voting to the ID.
    4. Let's encourage them to get an ID by not letting them vote unless they have it.
    5. Since "everyone wants to vote", this is a punishment.
    6. In other words, let's encourage them to get an ID by punishing them if they don't have it.
    7. Perhaps if the Democrats work really, really hard, then the Republicans will let a few of these people get IDs more easily.
    8. And what's the big deal, it's at most a hundred bucks and a day off work.
    9. The fact that this will disenfranchise millions of mostly-Democratic voters is a pure coincidence.

    This is both an ethically deplorable and logically ridiculous argument.

    It's unethical to deprive people of their vote when they have done nothing wrong. It's unethical to punish people who have broken no law. It's unethical to rob people of their civil rights to encourage voluntary behavior that you feel is somehow desirable.

    It's logically ridiculous because you're conflating two entirely different goals.

    One goal is "getting poor people IDs", the other goal is "good elections" - to make sure that everyone who has the right to vote gets the opportunity to vote, and to make sure that people who don't have the right to vote, don't.

    As has been repeatedly pointed out in this thread, there is no problem of any significance whatsoever regarding unauthorized voters.

    On the other hand, millions of provisional ballots are simply discarded without ever being examine. An unknown number of people, but certainly in the hundreds of thousands, don't get to vote each election because lines are far too long - and this is overwhelmingly if not entirely in poor areas. The voting machine system, let's not even start. And US voter turnouts are amongst the lowest in the Western world.

    So there's a huge problem with the voting system already, but there is no problem at all with the voting system that IDs can solve - in fact, it's a certainty that introducing voter IDs would reduce the number of votes cast some more and exacerbate the underlying issue, that many Americans don't vote, that many Americans attempt to vote and are prevented from doing so, and that those Americans are overwhelmingly poor.

    Let me repeat this. The American voting system is fucked up, this is a huge issue, and you want to fuck it up more in order to solve the problem of "poor people not having IDs", which, frankly, is not in my list of "top 10 problems facing America".

    If you want to get poor people IDs, do that - don't rob them of their civil rights in order to force them to expend their limited resources to jump through hoops from you for, as I shouldn't have to repeat, a negative benefit to the voting system.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:25 AM on April 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


    How do voter ID laws handle absentee voting?

    Not sure about showing any proof of ID in person to get your ballot, but it will only be mailed to whatever address you have officially registered with your voter registration thingy. I had trouble getting them mailed to me directly overseas and had to depend on less than dependable relatives to get them to me in time.
    posted by elizardbits at 9:24 AM on April 11, 2012


    Even taking the video in the spirit it is offered, I do not see that anything follows from it.

    And though I haven't read every comment here, I do find the discussion interesting in two respects in that it makes two important assumptions: that (1) the right to vote is of fundamental and constitutional importance and (2) voting has value. But those assumptions should be question as to (1) whether there is a federal constitutionally protected right to vote and (2) whether it is economically rational to even vote in the first instance.

    There is, of course, no federal constitutional right to vote. Voting is a franchise, not a right (hence the reference to "disenfranchisement"), and the Constitution protects your right to not be denied the franchise based on certain metrics (raced, gender). To the extent you have any right with respect to voting in the federal constitution, it is something more along the lines of "a right of all qualified citizens to vote without any discriminatory limitation and with equal protection of the laws." Certain state constitutions provide an affirmative right to vote; other states do not. From a federal constitutional perspective, there is no support for the idea that the right is fundamental and important. The government is actually free to regulate voting and not allow voting to the extent it sees fit, provided only that the regulation does not have a disparate and discriminatory impact.

    Also, there is a body of literature on the economic rationality of voting that strongly suggests there is no rational reason to vote from a cost/benefit perspective of the individual.

    In this voter id argument, both sides seem to stress the importance of voting. One side suggests that voting is so important that we must diligently act to ensure that it is done correctly and fastidiously; the other side suggests that voting is so important that we must not raise barriers to keep people from doing it.

    If you discard that assumption and view voting as not a right and of no individual utility, how does the voter id argument cut? I think it cuts in favor of not requiring voter id. If you demystify voting and suggest that states and the federal government can do what they want on allowing people to vote, you take away the argument from voter id advocates that it "must be protected!" It becomes just another governmental service in which the assumption has always been to do the minimal amount of work and regulation necessary. And if a few people vote that shouldn't, who cares because voting has no real impact and the cancellation of your vote has no utility impact upon you.

    I wonder if the government adopted a "who cares" view of voting whether we would quickly see the first amendment in 20 years protecting a universal suffrage-premised affirmative right to vote.
    posted by dios at 9:37 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


    lupus_yonderboy: “It's a shame you ran off, because I now see what you are saying, and I think it's an ugly, ugly idea, and I want to "correct me if I am wrong": you are saying

    1. Poor people getting IDs is a good idea.
    2. Everyone wants to vote but not everyone has ID.
    3. So let's tie the voting to the ID.
    4. Let's encourage them to get an ID by not letting them vote unless they have it.
    5. Since "everyone wants to vote", this is a punishment.
    6. In other words, let's encourage them to get an ID by punishing them if they don't have it.
    7. Perhaps if the Democrats work really, really hard, then the Republicans will let a few of these people get IDs more easily.
    8. And what's the big deal, it's at most a hundred bucks and a day off work.
    9. The fact that this will disenfranchise millions of mostly-Democratic voters is a pure coincidence.

    This is both an ethically deplorable and logically ridiculous argument.”


    I hate to speak for anigbrowl, but – that is emphatically not what he was saying. At no time did he say that we should institute harsh voter ID laws right now to punish people into getting IDs. That's crazy, and I have no idea how you read that into his argument.

    The trouble here is that you're still talking as though this is a simple question: should we have strict voter ID laws or not? It isn't that simple. Voter ID laws are a good idea in themselves; verification that voter fraud isn't happening is a fine thing. The problem with voter ID laws is that not everybody has an ID. anigbrowl was talking about ways to fix that problem. And moreover he's said that voter ID laws should be conditional on those fixes – that we shouldn't demand to see ID from voters unless and until IDs are made much, much more available than they are now.

    And, for what it's worth, I agree with him. The difficulties people have in obtaining an ID card in this country today are appalling, and they are responsible for a good deal of problems for people who, for example, can't open a bank account or can't apply for a job. And yes, this is a very pressing problem. You worry about poor people being "punished" because they get their voting rights taken away – and that's a fair concern, I don't think anybody's rights as a citizen should be abrogated. But there are complicating factors. For one thing, poor people are being punished NOW because they don't have IDs. State-issued IDs are essential for many functions in life. For another thing, I have a feeling a lot of poor people aren't informed enough to know that they can vote without an ID anyway. These are things that need to be fixed.
    posted by koeselitz at 10:03 AM on April 11, 2012


    for what it's worth, I agree with him.

    I agree too. Unfortunately, the notions that have been put forth in this thread that (for example) Republicans will allow tax increases to pay for extended DMV hours or other methods of making IDs easier to acquire are simply not realistic. And responding to complaints like that with (paraphrasing) "well, Democrats just need to learn to bargain better, otherwise too bad" is, in my opinion, not helpful in the real world environs these issues are occurring. We might as well promise everyone a flying pig to ride to the polling stations.

    In the current scenario, to "solve" a "problem" of voter fraud that even even the people arguing against it in this thread admit doesn't exist, the answer is not giving support or screentime to people like O'Keefe.

    “Just to provide a counter-example, on Monday I happened to stumble across the local AM radio affiliate of Focus on the Family. The host, Bob Dutko, talked about the O'Keefe video and said that he supported voter ID laws because they prevented "inner-city blacks" (his term) from voting.

    Thank you for mentioning this. Actual examples are more interesting than "a lot of liberals I know".
    posted by inigo2 at 12:04 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


    The thing I usually try to explain to people that voice that sentiment is this: that's not a constitutional perspective. Yes, it's a fine thing for people to respect their citizenship and value it. But setting up tests and conditions as barriers to the right to vote is an unconstitutional way to go about instilling that respect; it's undemocratic.

    I can't make up my mind about that part. Australia makes voting mandatory, which is a very weird regime by US standards, but I'm not sure that I'd call Australia undemocratic on that basis. As for being constitutional, I'm often surprised at how vague the constitution is on the mechanisms of voting - or rather, I used to be until I read the Federalist Papers and realized the framers were quite conflicted about the reach of the electoral franchise.

    Moving on...

    It's a shame you ran off, because I now see what you are saying, and I think it's an ugly, ugly idea, and I want to "correct me if I am wrong": you are saying

    1. Poor people getting IDs is a good idea.
    2. Everyone wants to vote but not everyone has ID.
    3. So let's tie the voting to the ID.
    4. Let's encourage them to get an ID by not letting them vote unless they have it.
    5. Since "everyone wants to vote", this is a punishment.
    6. In other words, let's encourage them to get an ID by punishing them if they don't have it.
    7. Perhaps if the Democrats work really, really hard, then the Republicans will let a few of these people get IDs more easily.
    8. And what's the big deal, it's at most a hundred bucks and a day off work.
    9. The fact that this will disenfranchise millions of mostly-Democratic voters is a pure coincidence.


    It's wrong. I'm making a much simpler argument:

    1. All US citizens over 18 have a right to vote
    (Unless they're felons, in some states, but that's a separate issue I'm going to leave aside for now)
    2. We don't want non-citizens voting, or a perception that they're easily able to do so
    3. About 10% of people resident in the US are not citizens
    4. So we'd like documentation of people's eligibility to vote
    5. And that documentation should be made freely available to any citizen

    I agree too. Unfortunately, the notions that have been put forth in this thread that (for example) Republicans will allow tax increases to pay for extended DMV hours or other methods of making IDs easier to acquire are simply not realistic.

    The weak strategy by Democrats is to play a violin about it. A more effective approach is to say that the DMV is inefficient and blame the a GOP administration (if that's what they have in the state) for expecting the private sector to absorb the cost of DMV efficiency. Demand performance data and targets for on maximum wait times. Seriously, most people hate going to the DMV or similar government offices. I submit that this is because they do not meet the needs of the citizenry, and therefore need to be operated in a different fashion. This will mean a lot of extra work for the employees of those offices, but that's what they're paid for. Their job is to serve the public, and public expectations about opening hours and service levels are changing. Government offices need to change with them.
    posted by anigbrowl at 4:11 PM on April 11, 2012


    Also, there is a body of literature on the economic rationality of voting that strongly suggests there is no rational reason to vote from a cost/benefit perspective of the individual. In this voter id argument, both sides seem to stress the importance of voting. One side suggests that voting is so important that we must diligently act to ensure that it is done correctly and fastidiously; the other side suggests that voting is so important that we must not raise barriers to keep people from doing it.

    Quite. The utility of voting accrues to political actors rather than citizens, in the main. It's cynical of me to say so, but the utility of having current ID is way, way higher for the individual than the ability to cast a ballot - which is not to suggest that the latter is unimportant, as some people seem to think I am doing. As someone who can't vote, but who reads every word of the text and arguments for every ballot proposition in every election pamphlet, it bothers me a bit that so many people take voting so lightly or repeat truisms about 'not living in a democracy'. American voters have more opportunities for the exercise of their electoral franchise than those of any other country I know about.
    posted by anigbrowl at 4:26 PM on April 11, 2012


    2. We don't want non-citizens voting

    As a quick aside, I do. The vote shouldn't be restricted to white male landowners, to serve its intended purpose it must be available to stakeholders of society, so the people of society have a voice in their own future. Women are stakeholders. As are greencard holders, etc. The difference between excluding women and greencard-holders is only one of degree, not type. They're the same thing. (Obviously this is not a popular view among the already-privileged - nothing new under the sun there).

    most people hate going to the DMV or similar government offices. I submit that this is because they do not meet the needs of the citizenry, and therefore need to be operated in a different fashion. This will mean a lot of extra work for the employees of those offices, but that's what they're paid for. Their job is to serve the public, and public expectations about opening hours and service levels are changing. Government offices need to change with them.

    They're probably not paid to do this. My hunch is that the DMV has less funding to do what it does than what a private company would require to deliver the same inadequate service.
    A solution to DMV not providing enough staff-hours is, as you suggest, more staff hours. but I suspect this probably means more funding rather than staff having to work an extra day a week without pay. (DMV clerks already aren't high on the list of people whose income-to-hours ratio is something I'd want). More funds for the DMV without cutting services elsewhere means more taxes, and at least one party ain't got no interest in that.
    posted by -harlequin- at 9:24 PM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


    The weak strategy by Democrats is to play a violin about it. A more effective approach is to say that the DMV is inefficient and blame t

    how about "what the fuck does the Department of Motor Vehicles have to do with my fucking right to vote?"
    posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:54 AM on April 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


    No jury trial for you, improper boat license! Oh, I'm sorry, your lack of a hunting license means no protection from cruel and unusual punishment for you! You mean you don't have a restaurant liquor license!? Oh my, that means I can quarter troops in your house!
    posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:58 AM on April 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


    So essentially you have people who:

    1) Can't prove residence.
    2) Can't prove citizenship.
    3) Have no money.
    4) Can't go anywhere they can't walk to.

    Is there any voter ID system that would work for these people?
    posted by smackfu at 8:05 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Is there any voter ID system that would work for these people?

    Having babies micro-chipped at birth. But I don't think the GOP base will like that :)
    posted by -harlequin- at 3:38 PM on April 13, 2012


    A more effective approach is to say that the DMV is inefficient

    FYI, trips to the DMV in my own backwards-ass state have never been less than pleasant and efficient. I've had more trouble finding items at Wal-Mart than I've ever had at the DMV.

    And yet, after the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 was passed, the state filed a lawsuit to block the government from forcing it to comply with the legislation.
    posted by octobersurprise at 11:20 AM on April 14, 2012


    (2. We don't want non-citizens voting)
    As a quick aside, I do.


    Yes, but you are sadly, and extremely, atypical.

    More funds for the DMV without cutting services elsewhere means more taxes, and at least one party ain't got no interest in that.

    So you cut something the GOP wants...although taxes are not the only means of raising revenue. But yes, public-facing government offices should be appropriately funded to be efficient and responsive.

    how about "what the fuck does the Department of Motor Vehicles have to do with my fucking right to vote?"

    Because that's the agency all states have decided to delegate their identification issuance to. Why? I don't know, you'd need to investigate the early history of the automobile and compare with what they did in the days of horse-drawn carriages. There's nothing in the constitution about the Social Security Adminstration either, but everyone gets an SSN.
    posted by anigbrowl at 11:52 PM on April 15, 2012


    Well, I guess some real voter fraud was found...
    posted by Artw at 9:30 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Because that's the agency all states have decided to delegate their identification issuance to.

    ...and it's still a nonsense result in regards to voting rights. Delegate it to the health department and now everyone is going there for the right to vote. There should be no more hoops to jump through for this right until there is an actual concern that an election results could really be altered without anyone finding out.

    Non-citizen workers should definitely not have the right to vote. Economic concerns are already diluting the voice of the citizens in this country to an intolerable degree, and folks here primarily for economic reasons voting would just be an extension of that.
    posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:14 PM on April 19, 2012


    Non-citizen workers should definitely not have the right to vote. Economic concerns are already diluting the voice of the citizens in this country to an intolerable degree, and folks here primarily for economic reasons voting would just be an extension of that.

    Do non-citizen workers not (by and large) also live in the US, and have other, non-economic concerns? I emigrated to Canada for an economic reason (that's where I got a job), but I certainly care about and speak up on many issues, both economic and non-. (Not being a Canadian citizen yet, I don't vote in Canadian elections).

    I think the problem with the influence of money in politics is that a very small number of actors have a very disproportionate interest due to their large amounts of money. This would not apply to your average non-citizen worker-resident, who as I understand it, is either an unskilled laborer or an academic/professional (who tend to eventually get citizenship, in my experience). There's of course a significant difference between the two categories, but neither one are capitalists, those with the disproportionate influence on political decision-making.

    Personally, I believe that everyone who resides in a community should have a voice in decisions that influence that community.

    I think that part of the problem with the current state of politics in the US is that we've moved away from the ideal of "government of the people, by the people, for the people" (not ever fully instantiated, but at least held up as an ideal, and reflected in political processes such as New England town meetings and caucuses) -- a view of government not as the traditional State, where people cede authority to a bureaucracy or elite governing group of individuals (aka politicians); but something more grassroots and direct, where people come together to make decisions that influence their communities, and work together on larger public initiatives that no one could do on their own and that benefit the community as a whole. Thus, instead of thinking about who is a member of our community and has a stake (and thus should have a voice) in communal decisions, we think of voting rights in terms of the bureaucratic distinctions of citizens versus non-citizens, with denial of voting franchise being held as a stick over the heads of criminalized communities.
    posted by eviemath at 10:01 AM on April 20, 2012


    I've lived in towns that allowed legal resident non-citizens to vote in local (town-resident-only) elections, like for school board or whether or not sewer taxes should be raised, etc. Everyone always seemed fine with that.
    posted by rtha at 11:36 AM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I bring that derail up to highlight the problem that there's 50 states with 50 separate ways to record your birth and issue ID. It is a system ripe for either accidental or purposeful disenfranchisement.

    Late to this, but until not that long ago (i.e. very much within living memory, meaning that it applies to current voters) vital records were still handled on a county-by-county basis.

    There have been a number of studies to estimate the number of American citizens who have simply no birth record on file, having been born in an era of legal segregation or simply isolated from the machinery of government. (a href="#4287000">deanc's point upthread.) It's not a small number.

    On smackfu's point:

    Is there any voter ID system that would work for these people?

    Not as currently conceived, which relies upon a paper chain. But proving identity is never just a paper chain: the paper exists in lieu of inherent trust -- friend-of-a-friend vouching -- and it's very easy for the distrust to be so great that not even the paper suffices. Americans seem loathe to institute an comprehensive fix: a unified federal identity database with documentation linked to it, obtainable without cost or burden. (The federal government already issues an incredibly intricate identity card, just not to citizens.)

    Instead, voter ID advocates seem happy with multiple half-arsed alternatives -- call it "identity theatre" -- which makes me in turn believe that that they're not really interested in solving the identity problem, but are happy with the side-effects.
    posted by holgate at 9:43 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Voted in PA today, they checked my ID so that problem is solved. On the other hand, this happened. This might confuse one or two voters, and I have an insane paranoid fantasy that the problem might be more widespread which is not theoretically impossible, so the only sensible solution is a $10 billion program to register every pen with the Pennsylvania State Wildlife Management Agency so we can track for voting machine graffiti.
    posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:55 PM on April 24, 2012


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