The Enemy of my Enemy is . . . Richard Posner?
October 14, 2014 1:19 PM   Subscribe

Richard Posner last week issued a remarkable dissent destroying every rationale for photo voter ID laws. This is particularly notable because Judge Posner, a brilliant but conservative Ronald Reagan appointee to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, authored a 2007 decision later affirmed by the United States Supreme Court which upheld Indiana's voter identification law -- a decision he appears now to regret. Read Posner's powerful and persuasive dissent decimating the rationale for such laws here (beware, pdf format.)

Previously on MetaFilter.
posted by bearwife (245 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
 
Whatever you want to make of Posner, he is a brilliant individual. I've always secretly harbored hope for him becoming the reincarnation of Blackmun.
posted by Fezboy! at 1:27 PM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


There have been 31 voter fraud prosecutions in Wisconsin since 2008.

Clearly an epidemic.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:28 PM on October 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Richard Posner is correct.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:31 PM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Whatever you want to make of Posner, he is a brilliant individual. I've always secretly harbored hope for him becoming the reincarnation of Blackmun.

Except there's no way in hell he's ever going to sit on the Supreme Court.

Though I would love to see confirmation hearings with a combative Posner just eviscerating dim-bulb Senators
posted by leotrotsky at 1:34 PM on October 14, 2014 [14 favorites]


It's tough to call Posner conservative, per se. He's from the University of Chicago school, through and through, but he doesn't rest easily anywhere on the spectrum (which is why he's never been appointed to SCOTUS, in my opinion.)
posted by Navelgazer at 1:35 PM on October 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Posner could probably argue any position convincingly, which is a bit scary.
posted by smackfu at 1:41 PM on October 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


Yay, he sites one of my favorite arguments, that it is incredible that very many people would risk committing a felony simply to vote two or even several times. The risk/reward possibilities don't make sense.

Even if a huge group of people, large enough to feel confident they could swing an election, made a secret pact to each vote twice, it would be irrational for any single member of that group to go ahead and risk committing a felony to do it: their individual vote would be unlikely to make the difference and there's no documentation for them to demonstrate to the group whether or not they actually did it.
posted by straight at 1:42 PM on October 14, 2014 [30 favorites]


There have been 31 voter fraud prosecutions in Wisconsin since 2008.

And of those 31, ten involved "improperly collected signatures or filing false voter registrations for others, or lying about a felony record to get a job as a voter registration worker." 12 consisted of felons who voted, something photo ID wouldn't prevent and is better explained by the crazy patchwork of rules related to disenfranchisement. That left "three were double voters, four were people who voted in the wrong place and one was a man who obtained and voted an absentee ballot for his dead wife."

If voter impersonation is happening, where are all the people who arrive at their polling place only to find someone has already signed the poll book in their space?
posted by zachlipton at 1:42 PM on October 14, 2014 [74 favorites]


OK, we're all ears on this 'why can't Posner be nominated to the SCotUS?' thing. I mean, he seems like exactly the kind of person we pretend to want for that job.
posted by lodurr at 1:42 PM on October 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


Just in to make sure we all got the tally, per zachlipton's rundown, there have actually been 4 cases of in-person voter fraud in Wisc since 2008.
posted by lodurr at 1:44 PM on October 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


It's tough to call Posner conservative

The more I learn of the judicial system, the worse terms like "conservative" or "liberal" appear* (e.g. Kaley v US has Kagan writing the majority decision, with Roberts, Breyer and Sotomayor on the dissent).

>I mean, he seems like exactly the kind of person we pretend to want for that job

I'm assuming "we" means "the people" in your comment, in which case your comment is the exact reason he can't get the nom.


*Scalia, of course, being the exception that proves the rule
posted by DGStieber at 1:45 PM on October 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


OK, we're all ears on this 'why can't Posner be nominated to the SCotUS?' thing. I mean, he seems like exactly the kind of person we pretend to want for that job.

Earlier:

It's tough to call Posner conservative, per se. He's from the University of Chicago school, through and through, but he doesn't rest easily anywhere on the spectrum (which is why he's never been appointed to SCOTUS, in my opinion.)

Too much of a risk, politically, would be my guess.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:46 PM on October 14, 2014


Posner is 75, he missed his SCOTUS window back in the 80s or early 90s at the latest. With every SCOTUS seat having the potential to upend untold decades of liberal or conservative legal "progress" (depending on how you look at it), Presidents need to get the biggest bang for the buck, and that means a younger appointment with a strongly predictable track record, Roberts, Alito, Kagan, etc, and 30-40+ years of reliably partisan voting left in them.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:49 PM on October 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


Posner's decision in the Indiana and Wisconsin same-sex marriage cases was an even better read.

The punchy pull quote from this voter ID case dissent is pretty good: "As there is no evidence that voter impersonation fraud is a problem, how can the fact that a legislature says it’s a problem turn it into one? If the Wisconsin legislature says witches are a problem, shall Wisconsin courts be permitted to conduct witch trials?"

But in the same-sex marriage decision, we got: "Indiana's government thinks that straight couples tend to be sexually irresponsible, producing unwanted children by the carload, and so must be pressured (in the form of governmental encouragement of marriage through a combination of sticks and carrots) to marry, but that gay couples, unable as they are to produce children wanted or unwanted, are model parents--model citizens really--so have no need for marriage. Heterosexuals get drunk and pregnant, producing unwanted children; their reward is to be allowed to marry. Homosexual couples do not produce unwanted children; their reward is to be denied the right to marry. Go figure."

Even better.
posted by DrMew at 1:49 PM on October 14, 2014 [49 favorites]


Well, clearly the people concerned about voter fraud don't live in the same districts as THOSE PEOPLE who are OBVIOUSLY getting away with it in droves. (And if they venture into where THOSE PEOPLE are voting fourteen times each, the New Black Panthers will run them out of town.)
posted by delfin at 1:51 PM on October 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


What I like about Posner is that he recognizes (contrary to some of the Justices and, for that matter, many people on MetaFilter) that the questions faced by the Supreme Court are hard and that they rarely have a clear Constitutional answer. He writes:

"Most of the cases the Supreme Court agrees to decide are tossups, in the sense that they cannot be decided by conventional legal reasoning, with its heavy reliance on constitutional and statutory language and previous decisions. If they could be decided by those essentially semantic methods, they would be resolved uncontroversially at the level of a state supreme court or federal court of appeals and never get reviewed by the Supreme Court."
posted by escabeche at 1:51 PM on October 14, 2014 [19 favorites]


Voter ID laws enjoy majority support among virtually all demographics:

65% of 'very liberal' voters support Voter ID - Marist Poll for McClatchy on Voting Rights, 7/25/13
posted by republican at 1:51 PM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


>"... brilliant but conservative..."

LOL. Never change, Metafilter.
posted by BurntHombre at 1:52 PM on October 14, 2014 [29 favorites]


Voter ID laws enjoy majority support among virtually all demographics:

So? One of the most insidious parts of the whole Voter ID scam is how superficially reasonable it seems.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:54 PM on October 14, 2014 [36 favorites]


"65% of 'very liberal' voters support Voter ID - Marist Poll for McClatchy on Voting Rights, 7/25/13"

Do you support them?
posted by klangklangston at 1:58 PM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


>"... brilliant but conservative..."

LOL. Never change, Metafilter.


I think people (like in the article) keep making that point largely because of the thought that a conservative judge would uphold Voter ID laws, which are a purely Republican crusade.

And yeah, T.D. Strange explains it best upthread. He's a politically disastrous choice that would have needed to be appointed by probably Clinton in order to be confirmed during his viable window. He's a brilliant but super-snarky legal realist who bases a ton of his opinions on Chicago-school economic reasoning and who would straight tell you where to fuck yourself if put to a litmus test. He's the smartest person on the American bench, most likely, but he's nobody's predictable lapdog.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:59 PM on October 14, 2014 [8 favorites]


So? One of the most insidious parts of the whole Voter ID scam is how superficially reasonable it seems.

The insidious part is how difficult and expensive it is to get ID. If it is required to vote then it should be free.
posted by srboisvert at 2:03 PM on October 14, 2014 [3 favorites]




If it is required to vote then it should be free.

That's a red herring, because even free voter ID isn't free if you have to take time off work to go stand in line at the DMV and get your free ID. Guess which people are far less likely/able to take time off for this sort of thing? The poor, working multiple jobs without flexible management. Which is exactly who conservatives would like to stay home on election day. Voter ID is a poll tax, even if the piece of plastic with your picture on it is provided sans fee.
posted by axiom at 2:07 PM on October 14, 2014 [38 favorites]


It's tough to call Posner conservative, per se. He's from the University of Chicago school, through and through, but he doesn't rest easily anywhere on the spectrum (which is why he's never been appointed to SCOTUS, in my opinion.)

Also he is undateable.
posted by srboisvert at 2:07 PM on October 14, 2014


The insidious part is how difficult and expensive it is to get ID. If it is required to vote then it should be free.

(Serious question) If everyone had easy, free access to state or federal ID, what are the remaining objections to voter ID laws?
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 2:07 PM on October 14, 2014


Requiring people to have state-sponsored photo ID is fundamentally un-American?

"Papers, please."
posted by Justinian at 2:09 PM on October 14, 2014 [20 favorites]


smackfu: "Posner could probably argue any position convincingly, which is a bit scary."

The system works!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:11 PM on October 14, 2014


> So? One of the most insidious parts of the whole Voter ID scam is how superficially reasonable it seems.

This is going to be the next battleground. Politicians are taking advantage of the widespread lack of interest in politics; they’re proposing things that are nefarious but have simple common-sense–sounding descriptions, like “ensure voters are who they say they are” and “make abortions safer” and thus poll well.

But passing those laws requires that they maintain the pretense; they have to pretend to be deeply concerned about voter fraud or abortion safety, and judges will have to decide whether they're going to take legislators at their flimsy word or start writing “don’t piss on me and tell me it’s raining” in their opinions.

In Plessy v. Ferguson, the state of Louisiana argued that their “separate but equal” law wasn’t discriminatory, since it was equally binding on whites and non-whites. And seven justices bought that shit. Only John Marshall Harlan, in his dissent, had the integrity to say, “Look, we know why you guys passed this law, and let’s not pretend otherwise”:
Every one knows that the statute in question had its origin in the purpose, not so much to exclude white persons from railroad cars occupied by blacks, as to exclude colored people from coaches occupied by or assigned to white persons. Railroad corporations of Louisiana did not make discrimination among whites in the matter of commodation for travelers. The thing to accomplish was, under the guise of giving equal accommodation for whites and blacks, to compel the latter to keep to themselves while traveling in railroad passenger coaches. No one would be so wanting in candor as to assert the contrary.
posted by savetheclocktower at 2:12 PM on October 14, 2014 [26 favorites]


(Serious question) If everyone had easy, free access to state or federal ID, what are the remaining objections to voter ID laws?

It's sort of a non-starter, because getting access to your birth certificate is non-trivial. In fact, it's almost onerous. And, at least in my experience (MN and WI), you can't get your BC without an ID proving you are who say you are, because privacy and identity fraud. So, you have this bootstrapping problem where you need several forms of ID in order to get one of several forms of ID. Good luck doing this by mail - the courthouse I dealt with required I be there in person to request my records.

And again, this lands mostly on the poor and the old, and of course working class people - who can't necessarily make a day or more trip to go track down all the required paperwork - assuming it even exists. For example, my grandfather was born at home. He had no BC, and in fact, his military record is entirely in his (older) brother's name.

This is a classical privilege problem, where the difficulty is hard to see if you already have an ID and everything has gone according to plan. When you live outside of those boundaries for whatever reason, getting back in can be extraordinarily hard.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:15 PM on October 14, 2014 [75 favorites]


(Serious question) If everyone had easy, free access to state or federal ID, what are the remaining objections to voter ID laws?

It solves a nonexistent problem, and adds a further meaningless roadblock into exercising a basic right.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:16 PM on October 14, 2014 [50 favorites]


(Serious question) If everyone had easy, free access to state or federal ID, what are the remaining objections to voter ID laws?

Objection one: 'Free' is a very good price but, as noted above, currency isn't the only cost involved.

Objection two: I barely trust the octogenarians who run my local polling place to drive home safely at the end of the day. Do I trust them to have the practiced eye of a bouncer to spot and discard fake IDs with ease?

Objection three: If said octogenarians have a particular bias -- one would like to think not, but let's get real here -- voter ID is a whole new level of invention of reasons for exclusion. "That ID says you have brown eyes but yours look hazel to me. FRAUD! Next?"
posted by delfin at 2:17 PM on October 14, 2014 [25 favorites]


For the record the last five justices nominated by Republican presidents (and confirmed) averaged 50 years and 4 months of age. By Democratic presidents, it is 56 years. So, yes, 75 years old is beyond the age ranged considered.
Interestingly, to get to the last five judges nominated and confirmed under Democratic presidents you have to go back to Johnson. Republican administrations have provided 12 out of the last 16 Supreme Court justices.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 2:17 PM on October 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


(Serious question) If everyone had easy, free access to state or federal ID, what are the remaining objections to voter ID laws?

In that scenario, there wouldn't be any serious objections to voter ID laws, nor would there be any serious push for voter ID laws.
posted by escabeche at 2:18 PM on October 14, 2014 [14 favorites]


If photo ID is required, the only way to make it not disenfranchise poor people and trans people is through a combination of making free IDs widely available through mobile units in poor neighborhoods, allowing provisional votes with a substantial period to obtain an ID, and allowing people to get a new ID at will, with a new photo and gender marker.

Wisconsin has done the opposite of those things. It closed DMVs in poorer areas; the state has exactly one DMV open on weekends and two with any hours beyond 5 PM, and most DMVs are not accessible by public transport. Changing gender markers on one's license requires medical documentation, a name change is an expensive and slow legal process, and you can't get a new photograph based on changed gender presentation absent one of those two things. Those who cast provisional votes have only 3 days to get a photo ID to validate them, which is way too short a window for people who are not middle class and cis gender.

Posner notes in the decision that 9% of Wisconsin voters would be disenfranchised by photo ID laws--and I suspect that's an underestimate.
posted by DrMew at 2:18 PM on October 14, 2014 [33 favorites]


> (Serious question) If everyone had easy, free access to state or federal ID, what are the remaining objections to voter ID laws?

In this hypothetical world without the problems Pogo_Fuzzybutt mentioned above, I'd be largely unopposed to voter ID, except for the effects it might have on polling place throughput. If there was no fraud before, then the extra time it takes to check a photo ID could have a serious effect on how long one has to wait in order to cast a vote. (This is one of the many reasons why all states should have early voting.)
posted by savetheclocktower at 2:19 PM on October 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's tough to call Posner conservative, per se.

It is now, but it wasn't once. I'm a 1993 U of C law grad, which is to say that I was at U of C while it was having a serious moment: Posner, Easterbrook, Epstein, Sunstein, Lessig (does he get to be on this list?), Obama and Kagan (to name a few) all taught there when I was there--and it's not a big school. Scalia was one of our moot court judges.

Posner was, at that time, a leading light of the law and economics movement and a powerful voice for conservative legal theory. He was viewed as having been "Borked" from the Supreme Court -- that is, like Bork, he was viewed as having written too much and having taken too strong a conservative stance on too many hot button issue to be considered seriously for the Court. He was, and is, unquestionably a genius. The astonishing volume of his output alone -- one and sometimes two books a year, along with scholarly articles and a huge volume of opinions, all of which he wrote himself rather than assigning to clerks -- was evidence enough of that. But the view from the left (where I reside) was, at that time, that his conservative orthodoxy could drive that prodigious intellect to some very strange conclusions. Judge Posner actually appeared to enjoy that kind of criticism and his 1992 book Sex and Reason can almost (but not quite) be read as an elaborate troll of the American legal left at the time.

So as a once-grudging fan, it has been an incredible pleasure to watch as the American right systematically becomes so batshit that Judge Posner can no longer be associated with it. Because that is really the only way to read his transformation, if you are a close follower of his work. As American ultra-conservative orthodoxy becomes more and more divorced from reason, intelligent American conservatives have two choices: they can double down (no names, but we know who this is) or they can back away and try to redefine what it means to be a thoughtful conservative. I don't believe (as some do) that Judge Posner's view of the world has substantially changed -- except in areas, like gay marriage, where the world itself has substantially changed. I believe instead that he has come to realize that the stakes are high and he has decided to examine the actual, human results of his decisions. That has, over the past ten years or so, taken him to some surprising places. As an old fashioned liberal, I don't always agree with him, even now, but it is impossible at this point to reject the decisions I disagree with as the rantings of a conservative ideologue. Instead, if I think he's gotten something wrong, I have to look at my own thinking and start with the assumption that I've missed something. It's really something to see and it's been a terrific education.
posted by The Bellman at 2:22 PM on October 14, 2014 [112 favorites]


Posner is absolutely still a conservative thinker. He thinks that the right to privacy is basically stupid, unless it applies to cops or corporations. No Democratic president would be able to get support for him.

Likewise, he is rather blase about the institution of family. In his Law and Economics book, he argues that monogamy is a tax on the rich. It prevents them from wooing all the available women, so that working schmoes have a chance for a mate. I can't imagine Republicans feeling comfortable with him being the final say on social issues.

I think he's brilliant, and I love watching his mind work. But he starts with mercurial assumptions which can lead him to vastly different policy outcomes than I'd support. (I remember a blog post where he posits there are twice as many lesbians as gay men based solely on his personal social circle)
posted by politikitty at 2:26 PM on October 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Voter ID laws enjoy majority support among virtually all demographics:

Sigh...this again. To which I respond again with:

They support voter ID unless you ask them if their concerns are over voter suppression in the form of stuff like traveling 200 miles and/or paying for the privilege. If you've got polling showing they prefer that, or that they don't support free and easily accessible voter ID versus that, I'd be interested to see it.

Of course, according to those polls, the American people also want early voting, Sunday voting, and same-day registration. Most or all of those are restricted by laws put in place by Republicans alongside voter ID.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:28 PM on October 14, 2014 [15 favorites]


zombieflanders: Voter ID laws enjoy majority support among virtually all demographics:

Sigh...this again. To which I respond again with:

They support voter ID unless you ask them if their concerns are over voter suppression in the form of stuff like traveling 200 miles and/or paying for the privilege. If you've got polling showing they prefer that, or that they don't support free and easily accessible voter ID versus that, I'd be interested to see it.
So, they support voter ID unless you carefully frame the question in an especially informative, wordy, clearcut way?

Sounds like the majority support it.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:30 PM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Only John Marshall Harlan, in his dissent, had the integrity to say, “Look, we know why you guys passed this law, and let’s not pretend otherwise”

Yeah, it's kind of a shame Posner has to jump through the hoops of showing data on how many Voter ID states are conservative states when it's patently obvious that Republicans are the only ones pushing for this and there's no reason to think voter fraud, if it existed, would necessarily skew Democratic.
posted by straight at 2:31 PM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


So, they support voter ID unless you carefully frame the question in an especially informative, wordy, clearcut way?

More like they support it unless you tell them what it is.
posted by straight at 2:32 PM on October 14, 2014 [25 favorites]


A majority of people often support all kinds of stupid shit. So what? Until very, very recently, a majority of people did not support same-sex marriage. A majority of people supporting something doesn't make it right, a good idea, or constitutional. We do not live in a simple Might Makes Right society.
posted by rtha at 2:35 PM on October 14, 2014 [13 favorites]


My memory misled me. Here he is saying that lesbians want gay marriage, and they are outnumbered by gay males, who don't really care about gay marriage?

It has been very refreshing to see him actually try to set aside his white/straight/male privilege. But it is a very new thing.
posted by politikitty at 2:36 PM on October 14, 2014


straight: More like they support it unless you tell them what it is.
Oh, agreed on that - but people don't vote fully informed. If the ACA were put to the voters on a majority vote, it would fail. If the various portions of it were explained even loosely to the voters just before voting, polls suggest it would pass overwhelmingly.

Practically speaking, the voting public in America votes on whichever side has the most memorable sound bites (as long as they don't drop the football).
posted by IAmBroom at 2:37 PM on October 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'd wager that most Americans would also support making it easier to acquire identification to begin with, from birth certificates, through social security cards, to non-driver IDs, to passports.

And yet, shockingly, we're not seeing a hell of a lot of initiatives on that front.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 2:37 PM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Voter ID is a poll tax, even if the piece of plastic with your picture on it is provided sans fee.

If this were actually the problem, it would be trivially easy to bipartisanly solve. I 100% support photo voter ID laws, but would also support weekend hours for free voter ID places. The fact that this hasn't been pushed even once seems to demonstrate that it's less about making it possible to do, and more about the fact that for a lot of people, voting isn't worth it.

I think it's correct that a lot of people won't bother voting if they have to get a photo ID to vote, even if it's only a minor, trivial inconvenience. But that doesn't sound as much like a deprivation. So it seems like people want to keep voter IDs difficult to get so they can argue that they are burdensome.
posted by corb at 2:40 PM on October 14, 2014


NotMyselfRightNow: "(Serious question) If everyone had easy, free access to state or federal ID, what are the remaining objections to voter ID laws?"

In addition to Pogo_Fuzzybutt's excellent comment, historically the United States has never made exercising the fundamental rights of citizenship contingent on providing papers. Now, in a largely agrarian nation with a limited franchise where most people knew their neighbors and emigration mostly required you to get packed into steerage for a six-week crossing, that's a different question than in the 21st century, and I think as a practical matter we will probably progress towards more unified national ID systems. But requiring picture ID for voting will require overturning (or finessing) 200 years of jurisprudence saying "the fundamental rights of citizenship aren't contingent on your papers."

There are also some people whose religious beliefs don't allow them to have their pictures taken (Amish, some Muslims) or don't allow them to participate in state identification schemes (some Amish, some fundamentalist Christians), so that will raise a First Amendment issue when they're denied the right to vote because they refuse to have a picture taken or participate in an ID system.

We can easily imagine a situation where the US passes a national ID law today, and tomorrow a kid is born to a fundamentalist Mormon family on the Utah/Arizona border whose family compound is one of those super-cut-off places in the desert and the children are born at home, are schooled at home, are married off within the church/extended family, and never meet an outsider. Now, it's pretty common for boy of about 21 to be expelled from that communities for their various "sins" (but largely because polygamous marriage in a closed community creates a permanent male underclass, best dealt with by going to war or expelling the excess men). So 21 years from now, having lived under a national ID scheme his whole life, this kid wants to vote. He has no proof or record of his existence because his family/church just expelled him with only the clothes on his back. But his family also never registered his birth, never sent him to school, never generated medical records for him, never gave him ANY contact with the outside world that would create ANY records. Yet this boy is unquestionably a citizen with the right to vote (and one who got a very raw deal!). What is this boy going to do to get his ID so he can vote? Whatever it is, it's probably going to require lots of complicated meetings with government officials. Even if those are free, how does he get time off from his unskilled, minimum-wage job for those meetings? What if he gets fired for going to tons of meetings? Is he protected against getting fired while attempting to prove his citizenship and identity? How does he get to the government office? Does he have to pay for gas or public transit? Any national ID scheme is going to have to deal with those issues; there are disproportionate burdens and hidden costs to acquiring ID even when it's "free."

I mean, those are (mostly) solvable problems -- older black people in the South have been dealing with this in the years since 9/11 when identification requirements got a lot more serious for drivers' licenses and things; many of them were born in black hospitals and not issued birth certificates, because racist local governments at the time just didn't record black births in their birth records, and governments working in good faith could solve these issues. But these voter ID rules are never about "helping people with inadequate proof of identity get their paperwork in order" and always about "disenfranchising the poor and marginalized and not-very-English-language-literate" (And one of the big groups getting marginalized is, in fact, black Americans born before the Civil Rights era, who are much less likely to have birth certificates. Plenty of whom have been voting for fifty years and stood up to violence to enforce their right to do so! And suddenly the ID they've been using for 50 years isn't good enough. MAGIC.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:44 PM on October 14, 2014 [40 favorites]


If voter impersonation is happening, where are all the people who arrive at their polling place only to find someone has already signed the poll book in their space?

Is that really what the voter ID folk are on about? From what I read, the concern is more that there are over eleven million un-documenteds in the US, and in the age of motor-voter, not a lot of barriers to their potential voting. The Rutger's study doesn't appear to be looking into that (naughty naughty), and frankly, with those numbers, it strains credulity to think that there are no instances. Whether they are significant in number, I have no idea, and given the emotions and the stakes involved, getting honest data on either side question is going to be tough.

people don't vote fully informed.

So true. I mean, if everyone just did as I said they should do, the world would be a better place.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:44 PM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


So it seems like people want to keep voter IDs difficult to get so they can argue that they are burdensome.

Haha what? In states where there are no voter ID laws there is no need to make getting an ID easier. In states where there are voter ID laws, there is no desire to make getting an ID easier. Thus, your noble wish for a bipartisan effort to make getting IDs easier is defeated by the party in power in those ID-requiring states. I'll let you guess which party that is.
posted by schoolgirl report at 2:51 PM on October 14, 2014 [23 favorites]


If this were actually the problem, it would be trivially easy to bipartisanly solve.

This assumes that conservative legislators in control of state houses are interested in bipartisan solutions.

The fact that this hasn't been pushed even once seems to demonstrate that it's less about making it possible to do

When it was clear that voter ID laws were going to pass, Democrats here in Texas heavily fought for allowances for alternate forms of ID, funding for mobile ID stations, and funding for Saturday openings for DMV locations, to the furthest possible extent of their political power. I don't know why anyone would think they wouldn't do so.
posted by muddgirl at 2:51 PM on October 14, 2014 [17 favorites]


When it was clear that voter ID laws were going to pass, Democrats here in Texas heavily fought for allowances for alternate forms of ID, funding for mobile ID stations, and funding for Saturday openings for DMV locations, to the furthest possible extent of their political power

What I'm saying is, if Democrats really care about easy access to state photo IDs for the poor, they would be pushing for them even in states where there are no voter ID laws, or before voter ID laws are proposed. Photo IDs may not be necessary for voting in such states, but they are necessary for a host of public benefits, homeless prevention programs, etc - all things of great benefit to the poor.

The fact that they try for alternate ID processes only when it affects voting makes it sound like they only care when they think they might lose their elected positions, not due to the overall justice or injustice of difficult-to-obtain state IDs.
posted by corb at 2:54 PM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


There is a lengthy video interview of Posner at HuffPo that I thought was quite interesting, it's just days old. He was joined by a journalist from New York Magazine discussing her recent interview with Antonin Scalia. I recommend reading the Scalia interview before watching the video.

TPM also has excerpts of Posner's dissent on the Wisconsin Voter ID case. And if you want to hear him speaking from the bench, a few months ago Slate put up audio recordings of Posner questioning lawyers in the recent gay marriage cases. Slate describes it as issuing "withering bench slaps." And for more Posner material, he's an occasional columnist for Slate.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:56 PM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Voter ID laws enjoy majority support among virtually all demographics:

65% of 'very liberal' voters support Voter ID - Marist Poll for McClatchy on Voting Rights, 7/25/13


Regardless, Voter ID laws disenfranchise citizens and fix no real problem.

The idea that voter fraud is a real phenomenon is one the biggest lies perpetrated by the Republican Party, perhaps since WMDs in Iraq.

People who choose to believe this lie are idiots who are arguing themselves out of democratic representation, however they choose to identify along the political spectrum.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 2:58 PM on October 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


Corb, the issue is certainly not D support for easy access to state photo IDs for the poor. It is about D support for the right to vote. Photo ID voter laws are about voter suppression, not enhancing access to public benefits.

Also, though it isn't the point, where is this jurisdiction where homeless prevention programs or other public benefits like food are denied to poor people who don't have photo ID?
posted by bearwife at 2:59 PM on October 14, 2014 [9 favorites]


I look at the ridiculous ways we identify citizens, and the haphazard way we administer the most important process in our democracy, as just another reminder of how American federalism is in practice mostly a complete disaster.
posted by gsteff at 3:00 PM on October 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


What I'm saying is, if Democrats really care about easy access to state photo IDs for the poor, they would be pushing for them even in states where there are no voter ID laws, or before voter ID laws are proposed.

When republicans control the legislature, all the democrats can do is talk about what amendments would improve the bills. Republicans aren't interested in improving the practice of American Democracy.

This is entirely about suppressing possible democratic voters.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:00 PM on October 14, 2014 [11 favorites]


He's the smartest person on the American bench, most likely, but he's nobody's predictable lapdog.

He ruled in favor of concealed carry, which got him a whole lot of love on Free Republic. Then some months later, someone posted a Slate article with his smackdown on the Indiana and Wisconsin same-sex marriage bans, and they were spewing and sputtering all over about him.

People really need to remember that the traditional "liberal" and "conservative" configurations are not immutable, and that most people do not fit neatly into either camp, no matter how much politicians would have you believe otherwise.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:02 PM on October 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


I 100% support photo voter ID laws, but would also support weekend hours for free voter ID places. The fact that this hasn't been pushed even once seems to demonstrate that it's less about making it possible to do, and more about the fact that for a lot of people, voting isn't worth it ... So it seems like people want to keep voter IDs difficult to get so they can argue that they are burdensome.

But why are you saying "this hasn't been pushed even once?" I mean, what about this, from two weeks ago:

MADISON – In the wake of court decisions reinstating Wisconsin’s voter identification (ID) law, State Representative Andy Jorgensen (D-Milton), along with 34 of his fellow Assembly Democrats, today called on Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb to increase access to ID cards by extending Division of Motor Vehicle (DMV) service hours to nights and weekends and launching a mobile DMV program.

Or:

The African-American Civic Engagement Roundtable is calling on the DMV to extend its hours to include evenings and weekends until the November 4th election.

As of now, as far as I know, there are only four DMVs in the state open on weekends (Saturday only, not Sunday), two in Madison and two in Milwaukee. Note that the state DMV website doesn't list the Saturday hours for the Milwaukee DMVs yet -- I found a news story saying the hours had been added on Sep 14, but a voter doing the obvious thing and going to the DMV website wouldn't know this.

The secretary of the Wisconsin DOT says the current hours are fine.
posted by escabeche at 3:05 PM on October 14, 2014 [13 favorites]


If this were actually the problem, it would be trivially easy to bipartisanly solve.

Republican-controlled state legislatures are thoroughly uninterested in making anything easier for poor people, including passing legislation or allowing amendments proposed by their Democratic colleagues. Where have you been?
posted by rtha at 3:07 PM on October 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


corb: What I'm saying is, if Democrats really care about easy access to state photo IDs for the poor, they would be pushing for them even in states where there are no voter ID laws, or before voter ID laws are proposed. Photo IDs may not be necessary for voting in such states, but they are necessary for a host of public benefits, homeless prevention programs, etc - all things of great benefit to the poor.

In addition to the many other flaws in your logic that folks have pointed out, the rules for acceptable ID(s) for public services are usually far more lenient than the rules for these draconian voter ID schemes, and the voter ID laws are always chosen to make sure that the photo IDs that Democratic voters do have -- e.g. student IDs -- aren't acceptable.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:08 PM on October 14, 2014 [26 favorites]


Let's check in with Wisconsin state rep Joe Kleefisch about his take on the potential for disenfranchisement:
For me, it’s really hard to believe that there are people surviving in society without even the simplest forms of identification. It boggles my mind to wonder what it is that they are contributing to the common good to make our state a more prosperous place for all people to live.
Keep in mind that Joe Kleefisch invented the Photo ID Bootstrap and so obviously he is a little biased.
posted by compartment at 3:18 PM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


it's less about making it possible to do, and more about the fact that for a lot of people, voting isn't worth it.

Handwaving decades of well-documented explicit and implicit barriers to voting and the stated discriminatory intentions of these laws as laziness on the part of the affected demographics isn't as logical a train of thought as you may think it sounds.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:20 PM on October 14, 2014 [14 favorites]


It's tough to call Posner conservative, per se.

Part of it might be that things are so partisan now that we're used to think of the party affiliation of political figures as "He/She is a conservative therefore they think X, Y, and Z" where is used to be "He believes X, Y, and Z therefore he/she is a conservative."

It used to be that a person could mentally check through the issues and if there were more check boxes in the conservative column then they identified themselves as conservatives. Nowadays, it seems like a person identifies themselves as a conservative and just automatically assumes the same stance as the rest of that group.

Posner seems like he just hasn't changed his views to match the group he identifies with like most political figures have. Probably because he is a judge and doesn't have to worry about re-election.
posted by VTX at 3:22 PM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Handwaving decades of well-documented explicit and implicit barriers to voting and the stated discriminatory intentions of these laws as laziness on the part of the affected demographics isn't as logical a train of thought as you may think it sounds.

Excuse me? Did I say that it was due to laziness? No, I said it wasn't worth it. That could be for a lot of reasons, including a lack of faith in the electoral process and/or an idea that the votes won't change anything. I never mentioned laziness and I think it's a misread to characterize it as such.
posted by corb at 3:22 PM on October 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also, I thought one of the bedrock principles of American conservatism was Thoreau's observation that the government that governs best governs least, yet here we are with the entirety of movement conservatism lining up behind laws designed to solve a problem that's been empirically verified as virtually nonexistent. A true conservative who cared about the integrity of the vote would surely focus on the many other points in our voting system where elections can be swung without the risk that would come from impersonation fraud. Instead, we get a Big Government program to administer IDs to eliminate the hundred-thousandths of a percent or whatever incidence of voter fraud, but nothing to ensure that those accurately cast ballots are accurately tabulated.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:25 PM on October 14, 2014 [21 favorites]


Party A pushes for legislation that will make it mandatory for all Albanians to ride unicycles to work.

Party B objects, arguing that the proposed law places an unfair burden on Albanians and would cause massive unemployment, as many Albanians don't know how to ride, or even have access to, a unicycle.

By corb's logic, Party B doesn't really care about Albanian unemployment because, rather than using its energy to fight passage of the onerous legislation, it should instead be advocating for free unicycle lessons for all Albanians.
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:29 PM on October 14, 2014 [9 favorites]


Well, corb's point is that, to use your analogy, unicycle riding is a generally useful thing in our society, good for all sorts of purposes, and it would be swell if more people learned how to ride. Where the analogy doesn't work though is that riding a unicycle (getting an ID acceptable for voting purposes) is a lot harder for some types of people than others because they're disabled, don't have certified copies of their unicycle birth certificates (or such a document never existed), have better things to do than deal with government offices, etc...

It would be a good thing if more people could more easily get ID. In terms of governmental priorities today, voting aside, it ranks pretty low on the list.
posted by zachlipton at 3:36 PM on October 14, 2014


Interestingly, to get to the last five judges nominated and confirmed under Democratic presidents you have to go back to Johnson. Republican administrations have provided 12 out of the last 16 Supreme Court justices.

The country's ever rightward march is not coincidence, it's policy.
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:37 PM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


A true conservative who cared about the integrity of the vote would surely focus on the many other points in our voting system where elections can be swung without the risk that would come from impersonation fraud. Instead, we get a Big Government program to administer IDs to eliminate the hundred-thousandths of a percent or whatever incidence of voter fraud, but nothing to ensure that those accurately cast ballots are accurately tabulated.

The counting of the vote themselves was long ago outsourced to private corporations, who are by definition benevolent and infallible.
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:39 PM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


corb's pushing the blame for unjust voter ID laws on Democrats is pretty hilarious, but for sheer Bush-era up-is-down-ism, I have to love the idea of people who advocate the disenfranchisement of local majorities of Americans straight-facedly backing their position with "the majority of Americans support voter ID laws." Yeah, if you oppose voter ID laws you sure must hate democracy and be scared of majority opinions!
posted by fleacircus at 3:41 PM on October 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


So true. I mean, if everyone just did as I said they should do, the world would be a better place.

Vs: If people don't vote the way I like, we should just make laws preventing them from voting at all.
posted by dirigibleman at 3:49 PM on October 14, 2014


> If voter impersonation is happening, where are all the people who arrive at their polling place only to find someone has already signed the poll book in their space?

Is that really what the voter ID folk are on about? From what I read, the concern is more that there are over eleven million un-documenteds in the US, and in the age of motor-voter, not a lot of barriers to their potential voting.


Well, how else are you expecting these people to commit fraud? Mail in voter registration ahead of time so there's a nice paper trail pointing right back at them?
posted by ckape at 3:51 PM on October 14, 2014


Here's one more objection for the pile.

Ten people walk up to the poll attendant and say "I have documents that say I am who I am, but I don't have a driver's license/state ID." #1 got mugged this morning, #2 just discovered that it's missing from his/her wallet (somewhere, their spouse with differing politics is holding it and giggling), #3's house burned down last week and the replacement hasn't arrived yet, insert however many scenarios you like where they claim to own legally recognizable ID but don't have it there at that moment.

Do those ten people get to vote and have it count?

If you say 'yes, they get provisional ballots,' then voter ID isn't stopping voters, is it? (As long as the supply of provisional ballots holds out, of course. Oops, we ran out! So sorry. You got one of them? Cool, here's hoping that it doesn't disappear conveniently, gets counted in a timely manner, and that some guy doesn't invent a reason to discard yours. Not that a lot of places planned on counting them in the first place.)

If you say 'no,' you have just changed voting into something that timely petty theft or property loss can prevent. Good job.
posted by delfin at 4:01 PM on October 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


brilliant but conservative

I'm guessing that the people saying this said the same thing about Scalia 20 years ago. Call him what you want, but Posner makes some awful decisions based on his libertarian philosophy. I'm sorry but someone who frequently makes bad decisions is not brilliant, no matter how clever his justifications and legal arguments.

His bad decision on voter ID in the Indiana case in 2007 is a good example. In that case he had all the same data and all the same arguments -- there was exactly zero evidence of ID voter fraud, there was documented evidence of voter suppression. If he is so brilliant, why didn't he get it right the first time? The facts didn't change. As a federal judge appointed for life, you don't get do-overs. When you make a ruling it has the potential to remain as precedent for decades.

Some other bad decisions by this "brilliant" man.
1. Doesn't believe private citizens have an inherent right to privacy.
2. But does believe that police in public have a right to privacy and can't be recorded by citizens.
3. Together with right-wing nut Robert Bork formed the legal foundation for eviscerating anti-trust laws that unleashed abusive monopolies based on his libertarian economic philosophy.
4. Believes that jail is an inappropriate penalty for white collar crimes and that only blue collar criminals should go to jail.

"Brilliant" jurist. Sorry, not buying it. Thank god he never got to the Supreme Court where he could do even more damage.
posted by JackFlash at 4:02 PM on October 14, 2014 [16 favorites]


IndigoJones: "Is that really what the voter ID folk are on about? From what I read, the concern is more that there are over eleven million un-documenteds in the US, and in the age of motor-voter, not a lot of barriers to their potential voting."

An NBC News study of election fraud nationwide between 2000 and 2012 showed, out of an electorate of approximately 150 million, 10 cases of voter impersonation at the polls (i.e., the thing that photo ID laws target), 491 cases of absentee ballot fraud, and 400 cases of registration fraud, 56 of whom were non-citizens. There were also 74 felons who attempted to register to vote. In some cases members of those groups (felons and non-citizens) were confused about their eligibility.

These new voter ID statutes typically attempt to disqualify 8 to 10% of the electorate for not meeting new ID requirements. Pennsylvania attempted to disenfranchise more than 750,000 voters in 2012 ... to target the 10 cases across the nation that occurred in 12 years. Or even the 56 non-citizens in 12 years. That's obviously targeted at disenfranchising legitimate voters rather than preventing actual voting fraud.

I am doing my biennial voter-disenfranchisement-and-fraud training tonight (I volunteer as an on-call attorney for election day shenanigans; when local parties get calls complaining about voting issues, they call local attorneys who can then go over to the polls and attempt to ensure people's rights are respected and/or that evidence is preserved for judicial review). The single biggest issue in terms of challenges to voters' right to vote is that they've moved within 30 days and haven't transferred their registration properly. I've done this for 6 or 8 years now, and while we've had plenty of disenfranchisement complaints, I can't think of a single voter fraud complaint at the polls. Looking at my training materials, all substantiated voter fraud complaints in my state in recent elections have been about people (sometimes spouses or children, sometimes shady people) voting for senior citizens absentee, which voter ID laws don't help with.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:09 PM on October 14, 2014 [26 favorites]


Objection three: If said octogenarians have a particular bias -- one would like to think not, but let's get real here -- voter ID is a whole new level of invention of reasons for exclusion. "That ID says you have brown eyes but yours look hazel to me. FRAUD! Next?"

Just FYI, that is why you have election judges (not the same as legal judges; you take a class and swear an oath) at polling places, one of each party. A pollworker can flag something, but the judge has to decide to pursue it. And if the judge of the other party disagrees, it becomes a huge hassle and the head election judge at the courthouse gets called. If the ID can't be verified, then the voter can fill out a provisional ballot but it might not get counted. If a judge falsely calls a legit ID fake, then the county elections administrator and the party gets involved, and they start raising a stink. It's largely the threat of this hassle that election judges are there for. They're just civilians, but they are part of trying to keep things honest.

(in Texas. Don't know about other states).
posted by emjaybee at 4:25 PM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


If you say 'yes, they get provisional ballots,' then voter ID isn't stopping voters, is it?

Typically you have to show ID after the fact for the provisional vote to count.
posted by jpe at 4:35 PM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


I 100% support photo voter ID laws, but would also support weekend hours for free voter ID places. The fact that this hasn't been pushed even once seems to demonstrate that it's less about making it possible to do, and more about the fact that for a lot of people, voting isn't worth it.

This was a lie the last time you asserted it.

WI Democrats introduced over 50 amendments in the house and 25 in the senate, including, but not limited to:
Amendment 11 expands of Department of Motor Vehicles hours and accessibility. - Sen. Spencer Coggs (D-Milwaukee)

Amendment 12 requires maps in polling places to reduce voter and poll-worker confusion about residency, location. - Sen. Spencer Coggs (D-Milwaukee)

Amendment 14 increases hours of rural DMVs for increased accessibility. - Sen. Robert Jauch (D-Poplar)

Amendment 15 empowers the Government Accountability Board to create information and do outreach about changes under bill. - Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee)

Amendment 17 funds a GAB public information campaign for voters. - Sen. Spencer Coggs (D-Milwaukee)

Amendment 18 requires mobile identification stations for accredited campuses for students to receive identification in weeks before election. - Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma)

Amendment 19 creates mobile ID stations for highly impoverished areas. - Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee)

Amendment 20 allows a signed affidavit for the homeless and those in transitional living situations. - Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee)

Amendment 21 provides education and outreach on absentee ballot requirements. - Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee)

Amendment 22 restores GAB ability to appoint special deputies as needed. - Sen. John Erpenbach (D-Middleton)

Amendment 23 prevents need to pay fee for second ID (i.e., if driver's license is lost). - Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee)

Amendment 24 pays for those who need a secondary document (i.e., birth certificate) to obtain necessary ID. - Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee)

Amendment 25 requires DMVs to stay open longer and give priority to those seeking IDs in the weeks prior to voting. - Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma)
The Republican-dominated legislatures voted down all of them.

These anti-American voter ID laws are so transparently about disenfranchising otherwise-eligible people who don't vote the Right Way, that I can't take anyone seriously who tries to assert otherwise.
posted by dirigibleman at 4:42 PM on October 14, 2014 [75 favorites]


"Typically you have to show ID after the fact for the provisional vote to count."

Typically where? My understanding is that provisional votes are only examined if there's enough of them to sway the election, and then the first step is just making sure that none of the people voted twice. After that, they're subject to the same challenges as any other ballots, but at least in every state I've voted in, you do not actually have to show ID after the fact.
posted by klangklangston at 4:42 PM on October 14, 2014


An NBC News study of election fraud nationwide between 2000 and 2012 showed, out of an electorate of approximately 150 million, 10 cases of voter impersonation at the polls (i.e., the thing that photo ID laws target), 491 cases of absentee ballot fraud, and 400 cases of registration fraud, 56 of whom were non-citizens. There were also 74 felons who attempted to register to vote. In some cases members of those groups (felons and non-citizens) were confused about their eligibility.

Remember that there are multiple elections in this cycle; just adding up presidential and off-cycle congressional elections, there were over 714 million ballots cast in the US over this time period. That database shows that party officials and electoral officials combine for more voter fraud cases than voters do. Of their database, there are 633 cases where the voter was the problem; of those 1/4 were dismissed, not charged or acquitted. (There were only 28 actual convictions, again out of 714 million votes.)

Taking the 464 cases where a voter was at fault and the case wasn't dismissed etc., that's fewer than 1 in 1.5 million votes. For a reference, the EPA permits 50% more toluene than that in drinking water. Alternately, that's 17 times purer than the FDA's rules for rat shit in sesame seeds. If you compare only the 28 convicted voters, safe drinking water has five times as much cyanide in it as the last 12 years of elections have convicted fraudulent voters.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 4:43 PM on October 14, 2014 [13 favorites]


emjaybee, all of that is true. But every time an objection is raised and all of the above get involved, the line gets a little longer. Clogging up the works isn't a bad backup strategy.
posted by delfin at 4:43 PM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's largely the threat of this hassle that election judges are there for.

And it's largely because of this hassle that they want more voter ID rules in the first place. While the judges are hassling over whether some form of ID is sufficient, the lines are winding around the block and people are waiting two hours to vote or giving up and going home. It's a win-win.
posted by JackFlash at 4:49 PM on October 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


You need ID to buy booze, I don't see why one shouldn't need it to vote.
posted by Renoroc at 5:02 PM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Renoroc: “You need ID to buy booze, I don't see why one shouldn't need it to vote.”

Because buying booze is not a right guaranteed by the constitution. You also don't need an ID to print a newspaper or practice your religion.

axiom: “Voter ID is a poll tax, even if the piece of plastic with your picture on it is provided sans fee.”

corb: “If this were actually the problem, it would be trivially easy to bipartisanly solve. I 100% support photo voter ID laws, but would also support weekend hours for free voter ID places. The fact that this hasn't been pushed even once seems to demonstrate that it's less about making it possible to do, and more about the fact that for a lot of people, voting isn't worth it.”

Your argument here seems backwards. axiom was arguing that he views voter ID laws as a poll tax; we who are generally opponents of voter ID laws agree. We are not in favor of them. And since we are against them, it seems silly to suggest that we are at fault for not trying to fix their greatest flaws.

On the contrary, as Posner points out, this is actually evidence that voter ID laws are absolutely not about preventing fraud or protecting the act of voting. If voter ID laws were really about protecting the sanctity of the voting booth, then they would have already made it an absolute requirement that the government did everything within its power to put an ID card in the hand of every eligible voter. But they do not do that; no voter ID law has made anything more than a half-hearted attempt to make getting an ID easier.

Which proves that voter ID laws are really and truly about voter suppression.

Unless you demand absolute 100% access to IDs for every eligible voter alongside your voter ID law, you are only a partisan hoping to suppress votes, not a person who takes voting seriously and wants to preserve it.
posted by koeselitz at 5:05 PM on October 14, 2014 [24 favorites]


Thank you for the article. It really lifted my spirits.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:06 PM on October 14, 2014


(And since none of the politicians who put voter ID laws in place seem to have cared much about guaranteeing access to IDs for voting, it's pretty clear what side they fell on: they were merely opportunists, and the laws they enacted are high-tech poll taxes, nothing more.)
posted by koeselitz at 5:07 PM on October 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


The fact that any time and energy is being spent on this when the problem being "solved" is miniscule just goes to show that conservatives don't really get how policy and laws are supposed to work. You solve real problems with real solutions rather than wasting tremendous amounts of energy on "the principle." And this principle has come out of nowhere it would seem. Of course many do understand what the role of government is, it's just that to them it's a means of transferring wealth to themselves and people who support them.
posted by aydeejones at 5:07 PM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


"You need ID to buy booze, I don't see why one shouldn't need it to vote."

Really? You don't see any reasons? Have you read the Posner opinion that this thread is based on? What did you think of his reasons?
posted by klangklangston at 5:14 PM on October 14, 2014 [12 favorites]


corb's argument suggests that Democrats should expend their energies solving the problem of not enough Americans having ID like that's their collaborative half of the problem to solve. Realistically if voter ID was being implemented in earnest by Republicans one would presume they would see this effort as a natural pre requisite and fight for it themselves. It's just more "they don't care about policy and undermine government to prove it's corruptible."
posted by aydeejones at 5:16 PM on October 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


Random question - I am genuinely curious where you all live that government-issued IDs are not required to receive any type of public assistance.
posted by celtalitha at 5:17 PM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


celtalitha: “Random question - I am genuinely curious where you all live that government-issued IDs are not required to receive any type of public assistance.”

That is pretty random, as it has nothing to do with the topic at hand – voting and receiving public assistance are very different things – but: Colorado and New Mexico, two places I've lived where government-issued IDs are not required to receive public assistance. I know first-hand about Colorado, since I was on public assistance there for a while.
posted by koeselitz at 5:22 PM on October 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


(and if so can I please move there because I just spent 3 full days and $80 tracking down all the documents necessary to apply for food stamps)
posted by celtalitha at 5:22 PM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


It was related because it was brought up several times earlier in the thread.
posted by celtalitha at 5:23 PM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Gotcha, that makes sense. (And good luck – I know it isn't easy or fun.)
posted by koeselitz at 5:25 PM on October 14, 2014


You solve real problems with real solutions rather than wasting tremendous amounts of energy on "the principle." And this principle has come out of nowhere it would seem.
The principal comes out of a desire to disenfranchise black people. The last thing in the world you can say about the voter ID push is that it comes out of nowhere.

FWIW, I believe that there's probably some fraud that goes on with absentee ballots. I've seen some stuff that seemed questionable: family members filling out ballots for relatives who didn't really seem competent to vote, for instance. I do not believe that undocumented immigrants are intentionally voting illegally, because that would be beyond stupid. Undocumented immigrants don't risk deportation by committing felonies just for the fun of it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:26 PM on October 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


This is a classical privilege problem, where the difficulty is hard to see if you already have an ID and everything has gone according to plan. When you live outside of those boundaries for whatever reason, getting back in can be extraordinarily hard.

The catch-22 of needing identity documents to get identity documents is ridiculous. If your parents didn't hang onto your birth certificate and then help you get your first ID by vouching for your identity (and showing their own valid ID while doing this!), you're very very very screwed.

I've known several people whose abusive parents deliberately screwed them over by refusing to fork over their birth certificates or otherwise cooperate in helping their children getting their IDs. This is a major reason why foster kids and homeless teenagers have such a difficult time entering the mainstream economy once they become adults -- without basic ID documents, they're locked out of most jobs, most rentals, higher education, ever being able to go anywhere that wasn't accessible via public transportation if they couldn't bum a ride, etc.

I've also known immigrants who, thanks to losing their original documents (sometimes because they were fleeing an abusive situation with nothing but the clothes on their backs), ended up in ID limbo for the rest of their lives. I spent hundreds of dollars and literally YEARS trying to help one of my friends get legal ID. We gave up when we'd chased down every possibility other than her returning to her birth country with no guarantee she'd ever be able to return to her home and family in the US and nowhere to stay if/when she got stuck there. This is someone who was otherwise a legal immigrant, but she couldn't work or open a bank account or do anything independent from her husband because she lacked proper ID.

Almost all of my experiences trying to help people get their identity documents were pre-9/11. From what I've heard, it's become much more difficult to both obtain ID and survive without ID since then. We've basically created our own untouchables caste here in the US for a growing segment of the population. :(
posted by Jacqueline at 5:27 PM on October 14, 2014 [21 favorites]


corb: “Excuse me? Did I say that it was due to laziness? No, I said it wasn't worth it. That could be for a lot of reasons, including a lack of faith in the electoral process and/or an idea that the votes won't change anything. I never mentioned laziness and I think it's a misread to characterize it as such.”

Yes, you're right. Voting is not worth losing a job over. It shouldn't be something you have to do to vote. But in many states, for many people, that's how it works.
posted by koeselitz at 5:30 PM on October 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


Okay can we please stop with the pollution in parts per million analogy? You should think of voter fraud only insofar as a specific number of fraudulent ballots could exceed the margin of victory and thus change the results of an election. I have worked on the Elections Board for years, and the closest I've ever seen a vote was a margin of about 90 votes, and that was only for a low-turnout local tax issue. Sure, you hear of elections being tied after a recount and state law says the candidates have to draw a playing card, high card wins the election. Those are the only cases where a single case of voter fraud could throw an election. I have only heard of this happening in small elections like mayor of a small town or a sheriff, etc. although you could probably find other tied elections. The worst case I ever heard of was an election that was tied and they flipped a coin, the loser said he was too busy at his campaign office to vote. If he had voted for himself, he would have won. Oops.

But for big elections, there is always going to be a substantial victory margin (calculating it correctly, e.g. Bush v. Gore notwithstanding). There is no incentive to cast a fraudulent ballot, even a coordinated effort has almost no chance of getting ballots past the officials, in sufficient quantity to subvert the election. There is no incentive for people to cast fraudulent ballots, there is nothing in it for them. Even massive voter fraud by corrupt precinct officials is very difficult to achieve in quantities sufficient to swing an election. Most states have bipartisan oversight rules so both parties have oversight of the election and if one party was cheating, the other party would scream bloody murder. Most states even allow public, nonpartisan pollwatchers. Elections always have some degree of transparency, which is hard to achieve when you are also trying to have secret ballots but end up with complete disclosure.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:31 PM on October 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


celtalitha: Random question - I am genuinely curious where you all live that government-issued IDs are not required to receive any type of public assistance.

The Venn diagram goes something like this (outermost to innermost):

1. An ID
2. A photo ID
3. A government-issued ID
4. A government-issued photo ID
5. A government-issued photo ID that's acceptable for voter identification

Various states, depending on the program in question, require IDs in the 1-4 range. Voter ID laws, on the other hand, often have specific kinds of ID cards that either didn't exist prior to the voter ID laws being passed, or did exist, but weren't explicitly required to qualify for government programs.

So it doesn't matter that some programs in some states require IDs -- the fact is, voter ID laws typically raise the bar beyond what most people have, usually in ways that make things harder for certain types of (non-Republican voting) voters.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:32 PM on October 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


It's simply not true that Democrats haven't been trying to broaden access to ID.

There have been significant ongoing efforts, led by Democrats, to allow undocumented immigrants access to drivers licenses and state-issued ID cards. Obviously not a voting issue, but this is where the vast majority of the Democratic party's effort in expanding access to ID has been expended in recent years. There are now about 10 states that issue IDs to undocumented persons. Broadening access to state ID is a policy priority for the Democratic party, and it has resulted in enacted legislation.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:34 PM on October 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


The fact that any time and energy is being spent on this when the problem being "solved" is miniscule just goes to show that conservatives don't really get how policy and laws are supposed to work.

The ones in legislatures know exactly how policy and laws are supposed to work; they sure aren't doing this out of ignorance. These are deliberate attempts to disenfranchise as many unsupportive voters as possible. People want to pretend that the NC Republican county official who was forced to resign after saying publicly that voter ID laws would "kick Democrats in the butt" is some kind of weird fringey character, when the only fringe thing about him is he said that shit out loud to people he shouldn't have.
posted by rtha at 5:36 PM on October 14, 2014 [12 favorites]


I just checked, and the address on my government issued ID has lined up with my actual residence for 7 of of the 15 years I've been of legal voting age.
posted by ckape at 5:48 PM on October 14, 2014


And one of the big groups getting marginalized is, in fact, black Americans born before the Civil Rights era, who are much less likely to have birth certificates. Plenty of whom have been voting for fifty years and stood up to violence to enforce their right to do so! And suddenly the ID they've been using for 50 years isn't good enough. MAGIC.

Damn it, this needs to be shouted from the rooftops.
posted by straight at 6:03 PM on October 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


This is what racism means. Nothing is secure. You've been voting for 50 years but you're still not safe. You can't just take that for granted like most people. You fought for the right to vote and won. But then suddenly, fifty years later, some asshole dreams up a legal loophole to take away your right to vote again.
posted by straight at 6:08 PM on October 14, 2014 [19 favorites]


tonycpsu: "So it doesn't matter that some programs in some states require IDs -- the fact is, voter ID laws typically raise the bar beyond what most people have"

And this, right here, is the fundamental problem with voter ID laws even after the hurdle of "sure, we can require ID to vote" is vaulted. I happen to have an ID issued jointly by Canada and the United States that is, in addition to getting me across the border in either direction, valid identification in both countries for general purposes. (Bonus fact: I was personally interviewed by both Canadian and US officials in order to receive it.)

Will this ID let me vote in any state which requires voter ID laws, assuming I am a resident of that state? My quick perusal of those laws says no.

"Oh, but fireoyster, most people don't have a NEXUS card." So? Why is my fundamental right to vote abridged just because I got a NEXUS card and then, say, chose to give up my other forms of ID? Why, in my native Texas, is my issued-by-a-Texas-school state university ID card not acceptable, nor is a NEXUS or SENTRI card that requires a fee and a background check, but a concealed carry permit that also requires a fee and a background check, acceptable?

So even if we take it as a given that everyone has some form of ID, all we've done is move the question to "which IDs are acceptable and how hard are they to get?"
posted by fireoyster at 6:13 PM on October 14, 2014 [9 favorites]


http://www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/electionID.htm

In Texas, gun licenses are acceptable but student and workplace IDs are not-guess which ID form 18-22 yrs olds are more likely to have. And photocopies of records are not acceptable-only originals or certified copies-so more money and time. And you get to do all over again in 6 yrs.

Fortunately during the last hurricane evacuation alert, I pulled together a folder of all important documents to take with me. Because printing out that uploaded scan won’t work.
posted by beaning at 6:29 PM on October 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


His reasons are quite sound yet it seems that the real problem are rules that stymie people from acquiring valid ID in the first place. If rules were in place that would enable every eligible voter to get the necessary card or documents in a timely fashion, then the requirement to show ID in order to vote would not smack of racism or classism.
posted by Renoroc at 6:52 PM on October 14, 2014


If rules were in place that would enable every eligible voter to get the necessary card or documents in a timely fashion,

And yet, they aren't. This is not an accident. State legislatures that passed these laws did not forget to enact provisions allow for voters to get the necessary IDs in a timely and affordable fashion and additional information and education about what IDs are allowed and where and how to get them. See the long list of amendments proposed and denied. They had ample opportunity to enact those rules, and they deliberately declined to do so.
posted by rtha at 7:01 PM on October 14, 2014 [12 favorites]




His reasons are quite sound yet it seems that the real problem are rules that stymie people from acquiring valid ID in the first place. If rules were in place that would enable every eligible voter to get the necessary card or documents in a timely fashion, then the requirement to show ID in order to vote would not smack of racism or classism.

And would still not solve any actual problem. Disenfranchising poor and minority voters is the only reason for this legislation.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:06 PM on October 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


Yeah, when was the last time a conservative proposed any legislation to have the government solve a new problem? We can barely get them to go to bat for the basics that will keep us out of the Thunderdome, but now they're suddenly gung-ho about making room in the bathtub for a new bureaucratic apparatus?
posted by tonycpsu at 7:11 PM on October 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


"Random question - I am genuinely curious where you all live that government-issued IDs are not required to receive any type of public assistance."

Driver's licenses don't prove citizenship.
posted by klangklangston at 7:50 PM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


If rules were in place that would enable every eligible voter to get the necessary card or documents in a timely fashion, then the requirement to show ID in order to vote would not smack of racism or classism.

Just--how would you make those rules? How would you make a rule so that a 90-year-old woman named Lula Lopez, who's pretty sure she was born in Brownsville, TX, who has not been possessed of a birth certificate in decades if ever, can prove she's a citizen in such a way that her neighbor, who thinks without any evidence that Lula could just as well have been born in Matamoros, will be satisfied that Lula is really a citizen? We've created this culture where we ask people to provide incontrovertible proof of these things, and yet we have living citizens who were born before Social Security existed. Getting a birth certificate is technically optional, but you can't get a social security card without it--for those older than 79, social security did not exist to be concerned with when they were born. The same year social security started, only 39 states required driver's licenses for driving, forget about for ID. We've tried to retroactively impose the modern concern for hyper-accurate documentation on people who are still relics of a time when this sort of identification was a novelty and not a requirement. There are living people who, in areas like south Texas, may not themselves know with 100% certainty that they were born on the right side of the border.

What it boils down to is that there's going to be some error in whatever rule it is, but some people would rather accept a few non-citizens in order to make sure everybody who has the right can vote--and some people would rather ban legitimate citizens from voting to make sure absolutely nobody is permitted who isn't entitled. Type I and Type II errors. You can't make a rule that's going to satisfy everybody, with this. Clearly there are racist motivations, but even beyond that, we have a fundamental disagreement about whether Lula should be allowed to cast a vote or not.
posted by Sequence at 7:53 PM on October 14, 2014 [21 favorites]


Keep in mind, celtalitha, that the ID requirements vary for each program or form of assistance. Expired driver's licenses are fine for many practical purposes (even the TSA is generally good with an expired ID, especially if you have credit cards and other paperwork with your name on it), but not so for voting in many states. This ironically tends to disenfranchise elderly voters who lean Republican, as those who give up driving may not obtain a replacement ID but are certainly still eligible to vote.

Keep in mind the valid photo ID of the sort required to vote is not generally required for the two biggest "public assistance" programs of them all: Social Security and Medicare. You need some kind of proof of identity to get a Social Security card now, but those standards have changed considerably over time. You don't generally need anything near the rigorous standards required to vote in these states in order to collect benefits from either program.
posted by zachlipton at 7:58 PM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


emjaybee, all of that is true. But every time an objection is raised and all of the above get involved, the line gets a little longer. Clogging up the works isn't a bad backup strategy.

Oh, certainly. What mitigates against that, somewhat, is that many people lack the courage to be an out-and-out asshole who is blatantly trying to shut out legitimate voters and break the law openly. Most racists like their racism to stay hidden. Actually challenging the ID of every brown voter is going to lead to a confrontation, especially in an increasingly-brown state. That kind of thing gets you in the news.

All of the things the Republicans are doing to disenfranchise the opposition voters is disheartening and enraging. You won't get any arguments from me there. But I wanted to clarify that in a polling place, it is more complicated than one racist person tossing out voters. Especially when you are going to be challenged on it.

Our local Dem party has been putting a lot of effort into getting election judges out there for that reason. They have more of them in more districts now then they have since the 70s, I am told. And the Republican judges/poll workers are distinctly alarmed by it, and even a little cowed. They've had things all to themselves for a long time.

And, apparently a lot of the old-time Republican committee folks have had to fight off teaparty challengers who are pushing things even they think are insane, and they are not happy about that either.

I'm not complacent at all, and it will be a miracle if we win anything this round, but there is a lot of liberal money and people working on Texas who were not here before. It gives me some hope.
posted by emjaybee at 8:07 PM on October 14, 2014


I'm a straight white American male. If someone just looked at me and wanted to keep someone from voting, it probably wouldn't be me (even though I'm hippy liberal...)

Just an anecdote: The last time I tried to get my drivers license renewed I had to drive over 400 miles total, about a day and half worth of time *and* a doctors appointment.

I'm lucky because my job and time allowed for it.

It's not nothing getting an ID.
posted by Cyrano at 8:10 PM on October 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


Actually challenging the ID of every brown voter is going to lead to a confrontation, especially in an increasingly-brown state.

That's not how it works. I heard stories from before I was a pollworker and before they changed the laws. The GOP would subvert the process by making frivolous vote challenges that had to be resolved under law, but had the sole intention of slowing down voting. They would claim ridiculous things like they challenge the next 10 voters in line because they have reason to believe they were under 18. It just happens to be a "coincidence" that they make these frivolous challenges when a lot of minorities are in line, and that they use these tactics in primarily Democratic precincts.

But the Democrats took over the state legislature and passed laws to prevent this sort of abuse. My favorite provision is that as a Precinct Election Official, on Election Day I am deputized and have the power to arrest anyone interfering with the election process. Oddly enough, I have only threatened to use this power once, against a police officer.

So the GOP just changed their tactics. A while back I wrote a story about how I stopped a GOP voter caging attempt. I finally figured out what happened. The GOP can purchase mailing lists of registered voters, sorted by precinct or party affiliation. They went to precincts where there were large populations of students, minorities, and other people likely to vote Democratic. Then they sent them all letters asking them to respond and confirm they were registered. But the letters had a big return address mentioning the Republicans, so of course Democrats just threw them in the trash, thinking they were just more political junk mail. The GOP operatives used this as evidence that there was no such registered voter at that address, and challenged everyone who did not reply. So hundreds of voters were struck off the registration books. But our state passed a law to allow instant registration on election day, so I got almost all voters re-registered, and thwarted the GOP caging. This is why the GOP is working so hard to shut down Election Day Registration in places like North Carolina.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:25 PM on October 14, 2014 [33 favorites]


Right fucking on, Posner. I always kind of perversely wanted to like that guy back when he was known mainly for advocating legal markets for babies and organs and whatnot. And, as someone who sometimes thinks the progressive left has increasingly developed its own trade in racial resentment to rival the right's, I am really pleased to see Posner nail to the wall one of the most truly crypto-racist and sinister Republican operations since the Lee Atwater period.
posted by batfish at 8:52 PM on October 14, 2014


Actually challenging the ID of every brown voter is going to lead to a confrontation, especially in an increasingly-brown state. That kind of thing gets you in the news.

Even if it does, will it matter? The election is now over-do you think it will actually be reheld? One thing the American right wing conservative party has done quite well is sacrifice short term loss for long term gain. It took them ages to get this kind of power and it will take even longer to remove the effects.
posted by beaning at 9:27 PM on October 14, 2014 [3 favorites]




Voter ID laws enjoy majority support among virtually all demographics:

"In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.." --Anatole France
posted by zardoz at 11:10 PM on October 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


A very good article over at TPM today, How The GOP Justifies Its Voter Fraud Crusade

To a very real extent, then, today’s conservatives have an implicit fallback position to justify their support for voter ID and other voter-suppressing laws: it’s necessary to prevent “voter fraud,” but defined very broadly. From their perspective “fraud” doesn’t just mean use of a false identity at the polls, but also the allegedly corrupt relationship between a government-expanding Democratic Party and voters who might thereby benefit.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:41 AM on October 15, 2014 [7 favorites]


we have a fundamental disagreement about whether Lula should be allowed to cast a vote or not.

This is it exactly. Lula isn't 100% sure herself whether she was born on the right side of the border, and she certainly can't prove it. Should she vote, or not? And if she can, how can you stop that rule from being exploited from other people who live in Matamoros and are eager to vote to, say, lower immigration standards?
posted by corb at 8:28 AM on October 15, 2014


That's a red herring, because even free voter ID isn't free if you have to take time off work to go stand in line at the DMV and get your free ID.

What really gives the game away are the laws that specifically exclude student IDs as valid for voting.

Jim Crow voting laws like literacy tests and poll taxes may have had a superficially reasonable rationale too, but they were an unconstitutional means of excluding the votes of those perceived as hostile to one party. And so are these.
posted by Gelatin at 8:29 AM on October 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Student IDs cannot and should not be valid for voting, because Student IDs do not have to prove citizenship or even legal immigration status.
posted by corb at 8:32 AM on October 15, 2014


Corb, people do not use their student ID to register to vote. They use their ID to confirm their identity at the polls.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 8:45 AM on October 15, 2014 [16 favorites]


Right, and in Texas, a gun license, which does not require U.S. citizenship, can be used, so let's not pretend this is about enforcing the citizenship requirement.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:46 AM on October 15, 2014 [18 favorites]


...how can you stop that rule from being exploited from other people who live in Matamoros and are eager to vote to, say, lower immigration standards?

Because of course a few hundred people voting in one district in one state with 26M people in it poses a real threat to our immigration standards.
posted by lodurr at 8:49 AM on October 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


I was surprised to hear David Brooks admit recently on News Hour that there was no evidence of voter fraud and all of the worst things the left says about voter ID laws appear to be true.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:08 AM on October 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Just confirming, as a Texan, that Voter ID in Texas has nothing to do with registering to vote. Registering to vote is a separate process that must be completed a month prior to an election. You have to provide either a SSN, a TX Driver's license number (either valid or expired), a DPS Identity Number, or affirm that you have none of these. It is the responsibility of the secretary of state to determine that voters are eligible to vote (are citizens, are old enough, aren't felons).

Then, to vote, you must supply an accepted government-issued photo ID that is not expired and matches your voter registration information exactly (I was hassled last year and had to submit a provisional ballot because my Voter Registration incorrectly said I lived on, say, Pine Creek Street and my driver's license correctly said I lived on Pine Creek). There were also many people who reported that expired driver's licenses were not accepted (which is the law), which also makes no practical sense.
posted by muddgirl at 9:08 AM on October 15, 2014 [6 favorites]


If conservatives were serious about voting fraud, they would require the original long-form birth certificate along with driver's license or state ID, and only driver's license or state ID*. But this would inconvenience or disenfranchise white conservatives. And the intent, of course, is to disenfranchise black people, hispanic people, other non-whites, the poor, and the young.


*If conservatives were really serious about election fraud, they would be up in arms about nakedly-partisan voter machine companies using closed-source software that is trivially hackable. They would be up in arms about secretaries of state who do things like take ballots home with them. They would have been baying for blood when Katherine Harris "mistakenly" struck thousands of innocent people from the voter rolls in Florida in 2000. But, of course, all of that type of fraud is done by conservatives. Once again, conservatives don't care about election fraud. They commit most of it. They care about making sure otherwise-eligible liberals can't vote.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:17 AM on October 15, 2014 [11 favorites]


some people would rather accept a few non-citizens in order to make sure everybody who has the right can vote--and some people would rather ban legitimate citizens from voting to make sure absolutely nobody is permitted who isn't entitled.

What's worse is that voter ID laws generally aren't even designed to achieve that purported goal. They leave a loophole big enough to drive the proverbial truck through for absentee ballots, which are often cast by demographics that tend to favor Republicans.
posted by Gelatin at 9:24 AM on October 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


Student IDs cannot and should not be valid for voting, because Student IDs do not have to prove citizenship or even legal immigration status.

Or even legal residency within the state, I might add, but as lessershrew and tonycpsu already pointed out, it is (at least potentially, in the cases of state colleges) a government-issued photo ID, and other forms of ID that have the same problems -- but, amazingly enough, could well be perceived as favoring Republican-friendly demographics -- are specifically allowed.

Naturally, what nonresident students should do is vote absentee in their home state, and as I just pointed out, the Republican refusal to include absentee ballots in their disenfranchisement laws -- when they provide even more opportunity for fraud -- gives away the game.
posted by Gelatin at 9:46 AM on October 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


One of the weirdest things about voter ID advocates, to me, aside from their bizarre insistence that voter ID laws are not inherently classist and racist, is their belief that there are hundreds, even thousands of people who are ready, willing, and able to march into polling locations nationwide to impersonate already-registered voters.

If this was actually a thing that happened, it would require a truly stunning amount of time, effort, and coordination. At minimum, before you begin, you need to get another registered voter's name, address, and voting ward. You also need to make sure that there's a very good chance you'll easily pass as them in person, so you need to narrow it down to someone whose name could reasonably be expected to match your appearance; it's unlikely that a grey-bearded biker dude could successfully vote at a college campus polling location as Penelope Jane Smith without getting at least a little pushback.

After you've got all that figured out -- considering you're in the process of knowingly committing a felony so you've got the Sword of Damocles hanging over your head in the form of thousands of dollars in fines and at least a few years in prison -- you're going to want to figure out a way to ensure that the person whose vote you're going to steal hasn't voted before you have a chance to show up. Last but not least, you can finally head to the polls, where you will place your incredibly hard-won one (1) vote for the candidate of your choice while, I guess, laughing heartily at having evaded the authorities thus far. That's the only type of fraud that voter ID prevents. To put it lightly, it's quite a stretch. And yet.

Wisconsin's voter ID law is one of the strictest in the country1, and after being on hold/inactive since 2012, it was put into place less than two months before our hugely important and terrifyingly close-run gubernatorial election on November 4 (Mary Burke vs. Scott "minimum wage doesn't serve a purpose" Walker). Bonus: It turns out that in addition to specifying an incredibly narrow set of acceptable identification that can be provided in person, the law also mandates ID with absentee ballots. This created a huge shitstorm when the law was put back into place well after absentee ballots had been sent out. The only thing our election officials could do to try to rectify the situation was send out a letter notifying absentee voters that they would need to mail in a copy of their photo ID in order to have their votes counted, despite having been given no such qualification when they received their ballot.

Fuck this vile poll tax bullshit. It's so undemocratic it makes me fucking sick. Nothing in the world makes me angrier than voter disenfranchisement -- I had actually been planning to take off all of election week to drive people around so they could get their IDs, so I am unspeakably grateful the ID law was overturned here because now I can focus my energy on engagement, canvassing, and GOTV on Election Day instead of figuring out how to help my fellow citizens track down certified copies of their birth certificates just so they can exercise their goddamn civic duty.

Keep your fingers crossed for us, guys. And thank you, Judge Posner.
posted by divined by radio at 9:48 AM on October 15, 2014 [15 favorites]


This boggles my mind. In Canada, registering to vote happens one of two ways:

1) You tick a box on your tax return authorizing the Canada Revenue Agency to share your information with Elections Canada (Name & address only, not financials), who then send you a card before an election--also covers provincial elections

2) At the poll, day of, with some sort of ID proving who you are and where you live--a bit of official (gov't, bank, utility bill) mail will do the trick, or failing all else you just sign a statutory declaration. If you've just moved into the area, as was the case with many students voting when I worked the last provincial election, it takes about a minute to fill out the paperwork.

A lot of people use a photo ID because virtually everyone in Canada has a drivers licence, a provincial health card, or both. But it's not required, and in Ontario at least we even send out mobile polls to enfranchise people who can't make it--homeless shelters, hospitals, those who are bedridden at home, etc.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:53 AM on October 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


"This is it exactly. Lula isn't 100% sure herself whether she was born on the right side of the border, and she certainly can't prove it. Should she vote, or not? And if she can, how can you stop that rule from being exploited from other people who live in Matamoros and are eager to vote to, say, lower immigration standards?"

… if she's registered to vote, she should be allowed to vote even if she doesn't have ID. Your weird fantasies about busloads of undocumented immigrants crossing the border to participate in elections have nothing to do with the issue, and that you think this is exactly relevant demonstrates that you don't know what you're talking about.

If you and others like you would stop trying to construct policy based on paranoia and yelping fantods, the whole country would be better off.
posted by klangklangston at 9:56 AM on October 15, 2014 [16 favorites]


Here's another thing: Mythical in-person voter impersonation fraud can affect either party, so it should be telling, especially given the media's fetishism of bipartisanship, that Democrats almost uniformly oppose such laws. It's shameful that even-the-liberal NPR keeps pretending Republicans are acting in good faith on this issue, restricting comment to something like "critics say such laws could be used to disengranchise voters over a nonexistent issue."

Yeah, critics like Federal judge and Reagan appointee Richard Posner. I won't hold my breath for the so-called "liberal media" to change its reporting, though.
posted by Gelatin at 9:57 AM on October 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's not just the weird fantasies and paranoia, but also the monomaniacal focus on what the opponents of voter ID are doing (or not doing), while completely giving a free pass to those who wrote these bills into law knowing full well that they're about changing elections, and in some cases, admitting precisely that. But no, an admission of naked partisan electioneering like that one or the one rtha cites above is met with a shrug, while Democrats are chastised for not paying sufficient attention to something that wasn't even a problem (ensuring people had ID) until voter ID laws happened.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:06 AM on October 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


Well, boils down to this:

Democrats want people to vote.

Republicans want the right sort of people to vote.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:09 AM on October 15, 2014 [7 favorites]


Naturally, what nonresident students should do is vote absentee in their home state

Naturally? Why should one vote in the state where they only live 1/4 of the year rather than where they live 3/4 of the year. What's natural about that?

What is natural is to vote where you pay taxes and are subject to the laws most of the year. Why shouldn't a student who spends four years in one state have any less right to vote there than an itinerant worker who lives in a state for six months.
posted by JackFlash at 10:25 AM on October 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm willing to believe there's a staggeringly small minority of people who truly support voter ID laws out of principle and not as a means of suppressing votes. But given the almost total lack of of documented voter fraud, this seems like a weird hill to die on.
posted by echocollate at 10:33 AM on October 15, 2014


Why should one vote in the state where they only live 1/4 of the year rather than where they live 3/4 of the year. What's natural about that?

It's natural one should vote in one's state of legal residence.
posted by Gelatin at 10:37 AM on October 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


(I should add that it shouldn't be objectionable for students to change their legal residence while in college, for the reasons JackFlash cites.)
posted by Gelatin at 10:45 AM on October 15, 2014


And even when there are accusations of voter fraud, they just fizzle out.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:57 AM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's natural one should vote in one's state of legal residence.

You are making a circular argument. Registering to vote is one criterium for establishing legal residence.

New York snowbirds can establish residency in their second home in Florida by occupying it for merely six months and a day. Why should a student who lives in a Florida for nine months be any less a citizen entitled to vote there than a person with two homes who lives there only six months and a day.
posted by JackFlash at 11:01 AM on October 15, 2014 [8 favorites]


Yeah but Mitt Romney is one of the right sort, Lesser Shrew, so of course it wasn't picked up. ('Scuse me, must go vomit.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:03 AM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


The TPM link charlie don't surf posted further up reveals the poll taxy/meritocratic nature of these measures in all their ugliness. It has nothing at all to do with suppressing any real voter fraud. It comes back to an attitude on the right that if you can't afford to vote because you're unable to deploy the necessary resources (financial and/or organizational) then you probably don't deserve to vote because you failed to bootstrap. Combine that with the weird compulsion of conservatives in this country to willingly incur the cost of punishing as many innocents as it takes as long as it serves to ensure that nobody guilty gets away and you'll get a total lack of comprehension that it's better to err on the side of getting as many people to vote as possible. It's the same with everything else... like not wanting to contribute to social safety nets because there is a chance someone somewhere will get something they maybe don't deserve.

Even if there was levels of voter fraud significant enough to be at all meaningfully different from zero (which there isn't) it would still be ludicrous to assume the existence of well organized networks of individuals successfully coordinating in total secrecy while mobilizing numbers large enough to actually swing elections. If voter fraud existed at all beyond the small handful of known cases it would probably still be safe to ignore it because it would likely amount to nothing more than statistical noise with no noticeable effects on outcome.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:06 AM on October 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


Why should a student who lives in a Florida for nine months be any less a citizen entitled to vote there than a person with two homes who lives there only six months and a day.

I never said they shouldn't. I said people should vote in their state of legal residence. I don't particularly care where that is, student or otherwise.
posted by Gelatin at 11:06 AM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


North Dakota is a popular legal residency.

Even with people who are never there.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 11:16 AM on October 15, 2014


I said people should vote in their state of legal residence. I don't particularly care where that is, student or otherwise.

In that case, where a student registers to vote becomes their legal residence, which makes your argument moot.

But this is different from what you originally said which is a "natural" presumption that a student's parent's state is their state of residence. That seem quite arbitrary and unnatural to me.
posted by JackFlash at 11:19 AM on October 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


"I never said they shouldn't. I said people should vote in their state of legal residence. I don't particularly care where that is, student or otherwise."

Hi. I grew up in a college town and in a state where the GOP specifically set voting requirements to suppress the college vote.

First off, there's nothing natural about voting outside of an abstruse Aristotelian "political animal" sense. Second off, legal requirements for residency are often convoluted for reasons that have nothing to do with voting, and more so for students, e.g. many insurance policies only cover children who still reside with their parents, leading to legal residences that are legal fictions in order to preserve insurance benefits. The ACA has mitigated some of this, but not all. Third, many dorms lack the specific address requirements for registering to vote — in Michigan, this can be overcome by an affidavit describing the location and local landmarks, but that requires an extra step and has the effect of discouraging registrations for students. In Michigan, your voting address and driver's license have to match, and that means that students who would otherwise meet registration requirements but who have not yet updated their driver's license (often because of other residency requirements or even just because they don't drive) are denied the right to vote. There are often extra gerrymandering provisions specifically designed to weaken the efficacy of the student vote.

Legal residence can be pretty complicated and assuming congruity between polity and residence is not supported even if it would result in a "simpler" system (kind of like how the math would be way easier if objects fell at 10m/s2).
posted by klangklangston at 11:26 AM on October 15, 2014 [6 favorites]


I love Corb's reasoning. If Democrats really cared about voting rights, why aren't they giving up and trying to somewhat mitigate the damage we're doing, instead of wasting time keeping us from causing the damage? Black is white.
posted by spaltavian at 11:32 AM on October 15, 2014 [7 favorites]


But this is different from what you originally said which is a "natural" presumption that a student's parent's state is their state of residence.

I dont want to continue a derail, so I'll just point out that what I originally said was that nonresident students should vote absentee in their home state.
posted by Gelatin at 11:43 AM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


How would you make a rule so that a 90-year-old woman named Lula Lopez, who's pretty sure she was born in Brownsville, TX, who has not been possessed of a birth certificate in decades if ever, can prove she's a citizen in such a way that her neighbor, who thinks without any evidence that Lula could just as well have been born in Matamoros, will be satisfied that Lula is really a citizen?

LOL that's like the plot of an episode of The West Wing. Donna has her US citizenship revoked when it is discovered that she was born in a town in Minnesota near the Canadian border, and the border was redrawn so now the town is in Canada.

Anyway, there are lots of strange realities about legal residence. For example, a local homeless coalition sued the State because they weren't allowed to register to vote, since they didn't have a permanent residence. The State argued that since they didn't have a permanent residence, they could not be assigned to any specific precinct. The compromise was worked out where they could choose a primary residence not specifically assigned to a permanent address. This caused all sorts of problems because the Elections Office also does the county plat book, so every address in the county is already in their computers and assigned to a precinct. So homeless people would come in and register with an address like "on the West side of Highway 6, behind Walmart" and we'd have to determine what precinct it was, and then register them.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:45 AM on October 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


I dont want to continue a derail, so I'll just point out that what I originally said was that nonresident students should vote absentee in their home state.

And resident students should vote in their resident school district, in which case a student ID from a state school seems like a perfectly valid government-issued ID.
posted by muddgirl at 11:47 AM on October 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Or it should be, if the purpose of this ID law wasn't partially to further disenfranchise college-age voters.
posted by muddgirl at 11:52 AM on October 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


I agree. My earlier point was that the exclusion of this type of ID made the actual objective, to suppress voter demographics the Republicans assess as unfavorable to them, obvious.
posted by Gelatin at 11:53 AM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


TPM has been all over the voter suppression story for years since it was born in the 2000 election and covered Bush v. Gore heavily. This is the latest editorial:

Should Single Women Be Allowed to Vote?

On a point related to discussion of where students should vote.. this is tricky. When you register, you are supposed to give your previous address so the registrar can contact the registrar at the previous location, and cancel your registration there. But people rarely give their previous address, they're not required to. It is my suspicion (with no evidence to back it up) that it is possible that some students vote in both their home district via absentee ballot, and also in their college address. This is easily detectable if your previous address is within the state in another county, our computers would catch it because the entire state's registration is in there. I have seen plenty of instances where I had students try to vote early but they had already been issued an absentee ballot within the state, they had to choose whether to cancel the old ballot and vote here, or stick with the absentee ballot and abandon their attempt to vote here. But out of state registration problems would be difficult to catch. It would definitely be voter fraud, but it is not certain who would prosecute since it affects two state jurisdictions but would not be prosecuted at the federal level like other interstate crimes.

Now some students definitely have a legitimate interest in voting at their college location. They might be married and have kids so school board elections are important. In this case, they're don't really have a legitimate reason to use their parent's address as a permanent address. Their current address is their home address.

You know, we had a huge election a few years back which had a referendum to raise the local drinking age from 18 to 21. Students voted in unprecedented numbers. Local residents turned out in unprecedented numbers to block them and vote for the age increase, and won. Probably the only way to get students to turn out is to threaten to cut off their liquor. That is a legitimate interest, but unfortunately it is divisive in a college town, and creates the "townies vs. gownies" factionalism that makes local government difficult to administer fairly.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:33 PM on October 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


On a point related to discussion of where students should vote.. this is tricky.

Not really. No more tricky than any other migrant or semi-migrant community, and yet as mentioned above there's not a huge initiative to disenfranchise Florida snow birds.

It is my suspicion (with no evidence to back it up) that it is possible that some students vote in both their home district via absentee ballot, and also in their college address.

Is it possible? Sure, it's called double-voting. Is it such a huge problem that we should disenfranchise college students? I don't think so. In my experience most college students simply don't vote in the first place. I'd like to see evidence that it is a huge problem before any changes are made to the voting laws.

Now some students definitely have a legitimate interest in voting at their college location. They might be married and have kids so school board elections are important.

All students have a legitimate interest in voting at their college location, if that is where they live (ie, they're not commuting daily from a neighboring county) Why wouldn't they have an interest in local matters as tax rates, noise ordinances, trash pickup, leash laws, police and fire station funding, etc. etc. etc.?
posted by muddgirl at 12:44 PM on October 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


so I am unspeakably grateful the ID law was overturned here

Sadly, no. Posner asked for full circuit reconsideration of the decision upholding the ID law, and lost because the vote for full circuit reconsideration was split. So the decision I linked to above is a dissent. I think it will be very influential given the author and his incisive reasoning, but it does not overturn the law.

Also, corb, I really question your good faith here. Do you just not care that voter disenfranchisement is a real thing? Because your handwringing over hypothetical voting by immigrants -- on immigration issues, really? -- seems to be all about a completely made up problem. I'd add that given that the right to vote is an absolute linchpin of representative democracy, I think this is really the wrong issue on which to be disingenuous. Lastly, to repeat klangklangston's question, did you read the Posner opinion?
posted by bearwife at 12:47 PM on October 15, 2014 [8 favorites]


Sadly, no.

No shit! I'm seeing this reported all over the place as the law being struck down. [/ barnum]
posted by lodurr at 1:09 PM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Not struck down, upheld by the 7th circuit. Then Posner sought full circuit rehearing and only got a split vote to do so, so no rehearing. Then the Supreme Court suspended the Wisconsin law from going into effect. If that suspension isn't lifted pronto, the law won't have an impact on Wisconsin polls November 4, but the law was, again, not struck down.

What makes me more hopeful is that if the Rs lose judicial and legal community support for voter ID laws, they will be struck down as infringements on the right to vote. Posner is very influential with judges who matter, including, imho, the Supreme Court justices whose votes could make a difference.
posted by bearwife at 1:19 PM on October 15, 2014


I'm willing to believe there's a staggeringly small minority of people who truly support voter ID laws out of principle and not as a means of suppressing votes. But given the almost total lack of of documented voter fraud, this seems like a weird hill to die on.

And given the massive amounts of documented voter suppression, they're lying to themselves. At some point they should have enough self-awareness to realize "holy shit, my principles are pretty discriminatory in the real world for no good reason."
posted by zombieflanders at 1:37 PM on October 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


you're going to want to figure out a way to ensure that the person whose vote you're going to steal hasn't voted before you have a chance to show up.

I don't think anyone thinks this is the kind of voter fraud that is going to go on. I think it's more likely that, without photo ID, people would be more likely to vote in close elections where they know someone who they know isn't voting.

For example. In the 2012 election, I went to go to the polls and gave them my last name. While they were giving me the little ballot to fill out and then scan, I saw, right below my name, the name of a member of my family that I 100% knew was not going to vote. They were staying home and did not believe in absentee ballots. It would have been trivially easy for me to go back in line ten hours later and try again as that family member. And no one would ever have known. I would not have gotten caught. You're supposed to sign to match the signature, but the signatures are right there on the page and you can look at them quickly while they find the name.

Now, I did not commit voter fraud, in part because I'm ridiculously anal about voter law and because it was my own relative and that would have been shitty. But what if it was for an election I thought would be life or death for myself or a class of people I belonged to? What if I was even pretty sure I knew how my relative would have voted? What if my relative had just died yesterday and all she wanted to do was live until election day?

People aren't worried, for the most part, about grand conspiracies of vote stealing. Those take place via the counting the votes, not the placing of them. But people, with the most earnest and best of intentions, voting twice or three times, that is the stuff that causes concern and leads to a desire for photo IDs.
posted by corb at 2:15 PM on October 15, 2014


corb:
"People aren't worried, for the most part, about grand conspiracies of vote stealing. Those take place via the counting the votes, not the placing of them. But people, with the most earnest and best of intentions, voting twice or three times, that is the stuff that causes concern and leads to a desire for photo IDs."
But without grand conspiracies steering and targeting those hypothetical multi-votes it'd all more or less cancel itself out and become noise. So it wouldn't matter even if it existed for which there is no evidence.

Why put a lot of effort into fighting something that (a) doesn't exist to any degree meaningfully different from zero, (b) wouldn't have any noticeable effect even if it did exist and (c) where fighting the non-existent problem disenfranchises a massive number of legitimate voters? It just doesn't make any sense whatsoever.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 2:21 PM on October 15, 2014 [7 favorites]


It's not discriminatory for no good reason. Voter ID helps Republicans win elections. Given they spend billions on these campaigns, why wouldn't they support policy that helps them win?

Democrats don't spend millions on registration drives because so important minorities have their vote counted. They do it because it's critical to winning elections.

There's so much disdain in this thread for stupid voters, it's not hard to imagine a Democratic argument for limiting access to the ballot box. It's a slightly different frame of the usual anti-compulsory voting line. "Democracy requires an informed and interested citizenry. If someone can't go through very simple steps to become registered, do we really want their uninformed vote skewing the results?"

Voter ID absolutely has racist effects, but it's support, and lack thereof, is based in partisanship.
posted by politikitty at 2:26 PM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think it's more likely that, without photo ID, people would be more likely to vote in close elections where they know someone who they know isn't voting.

Despite the absolute lack of evidence saying this ever happens. The number upthread: 12 times in the past six years.

Do you have evidence that this actually happens?

People aren't worried, for the most part, about grand conspiracies of vote stealing.

Diebold.

But people, with the most earnest and best of intentions, voting twice or three times, that is the stuff that causes concern and leads to a desire for photo IDs.

The stuff that doesn't happen, you mean? The stuff that is offered as a fig leaf for the explicit disenfranchisement of poor people (who, coincidentally, are often people of colour and more likely to vote Democrat) and young people (who, coincidentally, are more likely to vote Democrat)?

Do you understand that voter disenfranchisement exists? And that voter ID is yet another avenue towards it?

Do you understand that, to use Wisconsin as an example, Democrats have proposed a lot of legislation to remove the vote-suppression effects from these Republican-sponsored laws, and have been shut down?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:27 PM on October 15, 2014 [8 favorites]


corb: But what if it was for an election I thought would be life or death for myself or a class of people I belonged to? What if I was even pretty sure I knew how my relative would have voted? What if my relative had just died yesterday and all she wanted to do was live until election day?

These are edge cases within fantastic hypotheticals within special snowflakes that, on any other issue, would not get anyone, certainly not a conservative, to suggest a government-mandated bureaucracy to solve. The chances of swinging the election with this kind of fraud are nil, while the chances of swing it by changing the composition of the electorate is not only real, but has been admitted as the reason for doing it by multiple officials who've pushed for voter ID.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:29 PM on October 15, 2014 [11 favorites]


Corb, you keep refusing to answer whether you even read the opinion that is the subject of this post and inventing voter fraud situations for which you have no proof whatever.

Even your example is in bad faith. At best it indicates voters shouldn't be shown the full page with other voter names and signatures, not that voter ID should be required.

Citation, please, or you are just trolling here.
posted by bearwife at 2:30 PM on October 15, 2014 [11 favorites]


But what if...?
What if...?
What if...?


Just for once, stop living in the world of hypotheticals. We're not discussing hypotheticals, we're discussing the lack of widespread voter fraud vs. actual voter suppression. Continuing to ignore the organized, documented, admitted discrimination in favor of increasingly pie-in-the-sky fantasies that not only have no basis in reality, but are starting to sound like they come from the type of unhinged wingnut yearning for the days of Jim Crow, is the ultimate in bad-faith engagement.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:37 PM on October 15, 2014 [12 favorites]


It might not be trolling, but it's unquestionably special pleading combined with cherry-picking of evidence that confirms her priors, and ignoring the many pieces of evidence that clash with them.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:39 PM on October 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


Voter ID absolutely has racist effects, but it's support, and lack thereof, is based in partisanship.

And why do people become partisans for one party instead of another? Is it a coincidence that Republican policies so often reinforce systemic bigotry more aggressively than Democratic policies do?

The link you post as evidence ends thus, cutting the legs out from under the headline:
But it's hard to say this matters. No, voter ID supporters might not hold racial animus, but they end up in the same place as a racist who does: Supporting laws that restrict the vote and hurt minorities.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:42 PM on October 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


But people, with the most earnest and best of intentions, voting twice or three times, that is the stuff that causes concern and leads to a desire for photo IDs.

The desire for photo IDs comes from denying black people the vote. Almost no one is "voting twice or three times"; this manner of voter fraud is so statistically rare as to virtually not exist. But you want to create a fundamentally un-American systems of papers and documentation to solve a problem that doesn't happen.
posted by spaltavian at 3:04 PM on October 15, 2014 [8 favorites]


[corb, it'd probably be best to bow out of this thread since it's become everyone vs. you]
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:20 PM on October 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


Well, boils down to this:

Democrats want people to vote.

Republicans want the right sort of people to vote.


Oh, make no mistake, Democrats too are plenty concerned with the "right sort of people" - just a question of categorization is all. Put the shoe on the other foot and party of the jackass would be all law-and-order in a heart beat.

This is politics, folks, one of the dirtiest, nastiest, lowest forms of human activity imaginable. Sometimes I wonder why I bother to vote at all.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:39 PM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh, make no mistake, Democrats too are plenty concerned with the "right sort of people" - just a question of categorization is all. Put the shoe on the other foot and party of the jackass would be all law-and-order in a heart beat.

I agree, if something that isn't happening was happening, then it would be happening.
posted by spaltavian at 4:41 PM on October 15, 2014 [11 favorites]


Oh, make no mistake, Democrats too are plenty concerned with the "right sort of people"

I'm not familiar with any Democratic attempts to suppress votes, or even gerrymander in the extreme ways that Republicans do every chance they get.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:54 PM on October 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


Oh, make no mistake, Democrats too are plenty concerned with the "right sort of people"

Let's see...
On one side, you have Republicans actively seeking to suppress the minority vote.
On the other side, you have Democrats actively seeking to register minorities to vote.
My god, you're right! Both sides do it!!
posted by Atom Eyes at 5:04 PM on October 15, 2014 [9 favorites]


"I'm not familiar with any Democratic attempts to suppress votes, or even gerrymander in the extreme ways that Republicans do every chance they get."

Suppress votes? No. Gerrymander the shit out of everything they can? Hell yes.
posted by klangklangston at 5:39 PM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Both sides are bad, so vote Republican.

(It's illegal to vote Democrat, anyway)
posted by dirigibleman at 5:44 PM on October 15, 2014


klangklangston: Suppress votes? No. Gerrymander the shit out of everything they can? Hell yes.

Sam Wang: Gerrymanders, Part 1: Busting the both-sides-do-it myth
posted by tonycpsu at 5:45 PM on October 15, 2014 [8 favorites]


corb: I don't think anyone thinks [in-person misrepresentation of identity] is the kind of voter fraud that is going to go on.

Oh, I know they do. I know it because I've had a number of republican voter-ID advocates tell me that's what they're concerned about. And in fact that's exactly what voter ID laws are targeted at stopping. They really can't plausibly stop anything else.
posted by lodurr at 7:09 PM on October 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


I know it because I've had a number of republican voter-ID advocates tell me that's what they're concerned about.

Well then they better stop doing it. It is invariably Republicans who commit voter fraud, they're the only people ideologically committed to making their votes count more than others. Republicans think the only way Democrats can win is to cheat, so they feel entitled to cheat. But the normal voting procedures seem to catch Republican frauds, even without IDs.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:52 PM on October 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


NotMyselfRightNow: "The insidious part is how difficult and expensive it is to get ID. If it is required to vote then it should be free.

(Serious question) If everyone had easy, free access to state or federal ID, what are the remaining objections to voter ID laws?
"

That it's entirely unnecessary. If the IDs are "free", then it is a waste of taxpayer's money. Even if it takes just a couple of minutes total to issue each id (it totally doesn't), that's thousands or tens of thousands of work-hours for a medium-sized state.

Here's the thing, also: in order for this fiction to work, getting IDs must be costly, time consuming, and difficult. Otherwise, let's say all I have to do is go to a webpage, upload a photo, enter my address, age, etc. and click a button, and then it's sent to my mailing address. Boom. Voter Photo ID fraud.

So despite protestations to the contrary, part of the setup is that access to the IDs has to be tricky. It's clever, because most of the people supporting it already have IDs. They got them in order to drive their cars. Many of them did it when they were young and now actually all they have to do is renew them every few years — they don't have to go through any of the onerous verification requirements. The most they have to do is go to a location and sit around for half an hour waiting to get their photo taken. So in *their* mind it is easy but also solid and dependable. But it's a huge hurdle if you are staring out without any kind of ID at all.

Also, there are legal hurdles that transcend cost. I know a lot of people who, although entirely professional, law abiding, working and tax-paying citizens, are unable to get a driver's license. Why? Because the DMV requires proof of residence, in the form of an official letter. But you can't use a mobile phone bill, and some people sublease so don't have a lease they can use as proof of residence. All of their bills are paid online, so no official documents get sent to their address. Utilities are paid by the landlord so they don't get an electric or gas bill. I told an acquaintance to basically contact his bank and ask them to send him a paper statement in the mail in order to prove residence.

I know a MeFite who lived in PA for years but actually got her out-of-state license renewed by mail because of how difficult it was to gather the necessary documents to prove residency.

Even assuming that voter fraud were a big problem (it's not) there are much better ways to counter it than requiring photo IDs.

There is one reason, and one reason only, for voter ID laws, and that is that they disenfranchise people that you don't want to vote.

I posted this elsewhere, but I like it: Using voter ID laws to address fraud is like using chemo on a paper cut.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:16 PM on October 15, 2014 [11 favorites]


Republicans think the only way Democrats can win is to cheat, so they feel entitled to cheat.

Bullshit. Republicans aren't afraid Democrats will cheat, they're afraid they'll vote.
Republican Soul-Searching

We're searching our souls and we're wondering why,
we got beat so badly our rivals are gloating.
It’s obvious now where our campaign went wrong,
we should have prevented more people from voting.
- Calvin Trillin
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:33 PM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]




Deathalicious: "Because the DMV requires proof of residence, in the form of an official letter. But you can't use a mobile phone bill, and some people sublease so don't have a lease they can use as proof of residence. All of their bills are paid online, so no official documents get sent to their address."

This JUST HAPPENED TO ME when I tried to register my child for kindergarten! They wanted a utility bill dated within 60 days -- specifically water, electric, or gas -- to show that you still lived at the address you were trying to register the child at. But my bills are online! So I brought my license and my passport and figured that would do it, but NO, it had to be a utility bill to prove current residence, which I thought was insane. So I had to call the electric company and have them print out and fax to the school my most recent bill, which they said they're having to do more and more often as more and more people pay all their bills online, but the state still wants proof of residence within the past 60 days for first-enrollment-in-school registration.

What made it particularly Kafka-esque, I thought, was that on the front of the registration form it listed the members of the local school board and their addresses for your convenience in contacting your elected representatives with any questions and I WAS ONE OF THE ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES LISTED, WITH MY ADDRESS. But that was not proof of address according to the bureaucracy.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:46 AM on October 16, 2014 [16 favorites]


I'm really sorry, Eyebrows, but that last bit made me snarf iced tea out of my nose. It's one of the few times anyone would be justified in saying "DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?"
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:52 AM on October 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


"So I had to call the electric company and have them print out and fax to the school my most recent bill, which they said they're having to do more and more often as more and more people pay all their bills online, but the state still wants proof of residence within the past 60 days for first-enrollment-in-school registration."

While I pay my bills online, this is one of the reasons I've opted against moving to only ebilling and still get physical paper bills mailed to me. Our utilities don't charge to still have the paper bills mailed, but do charge $60 to have a copy of your ebill printed and mailed to you.
posted by klangklangston at 10:25 AM on October 16, 2014


This has been covered pretty extensively in the thread already but I just wanted to chime in and add that, as an immigrant naturalized in 2011, none of the proposed or enacted voter ID laws would have prevented me from (fraudulently) casting a ballot in any of the previous elections, as I was possessed of valid driver's license, social security card, etc, none of which are proof of citizenship. Obviously, I did not vote until I was naturalized (definitely not worth the felony, nor the possible deportation or whatever they do), but the fact remains that the spectre of voter fraud as described in these laws is both unjustified, and inaccurate.
posted by Aubergine at 10:42 AM on October 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


What a devious plan you could have had, Eyebrows McGee. First, you'll falsify your residency to run for school board in a district where you don't live. Then, you'll use your school board powers to get your out-of-district kid into the school. That's got to be far easier than forging a utility bill, right?

At least the last time I needed a utility bill to prove current residence (CA, like many states, doesn't send you a new driver's license if you change your address), they were fine with a print out of the first page of the PDF I grabbed from my bill pay service.
posted by zachlipton at 11:07 AM on October 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


Because the DMV requires proof of residence, in the form of an official letter. But you can't use a mobile phone bill, and some people sublease so don't have a lease they can use as proof of residence. All of their bills are paid online, so no official documents get sent to their address."

This is further complicated by that you must be the person of record on the utility bill. For both voter ID and school registration purposes, utility bills do not work for those adults/families sharing living quarters and handling billing issues through not-publicly noted methods.
posted by beaning at 11:10 AM on October 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


Fascinating new study shows that helping poor people vote improves public health
Brazil's new electronic voting systems use screens showing pictures of candidates, have simpler interfaces, and use numbers (like ATM machines) instead of words whenever possible. That made it considerably easier to vote.

Fujiwara tracked the effect, state-by-Brazilian state, of these new ballot systems on elections. He found that, in areas with electronic ballots were, poor voters filled out more ballots correctly.

These newly enfranchised voters voted for left wing parties that now had an incentive to prioritize public health care, which is a major issue for their lower-income voters. Fujiwara found correlations between the introduction of electronic voting and increases in public health funding, increases in the number mothers getting prenatal health care, and declines in the number of low-weight babies born. These correlations were statistically robust, and survived tests for confounding explanations.
[...]
[T]his also reinforces how important full voter access is. People from different income brackets often tend to vote differently — check out these maps of US voting by income below, by Andrew Gelman of FiveThirtyEight. Increasing access to voting for lower-income citizens, then, isn't just about getting more people to the polls, it's about full democratic representation.

Fujiwara's research also suggests that expanding democracy is a really good way to further the interests of the poor. Democracy makes governments responsive to the needs of their peoples. Brazil's poorest citizens used democracy to shape the government to fit to their material needs. It's a lessons for all democracies, not just Brazil.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:18 AM on October 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


Fascinating new study shows that helping poor people vote improves public health

Which is a huge part of why Republicans don't want poor people voting, innit?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:27 AM on October 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ari Melber: As the midterm elections near, it’s unclear who will be allowed to vote
It’s worth remembering that, for most of U.S. history, no identification was required to vote on Election Day. During that time, from roughly 1776 to 2005, there were no worries about people impersonating registered voters at the polls.

That is because mobilizing thousands of people to illegally impersonate other voters is an unfathomable way to swing an election. It has never happened. It’s more far-fetched than the plot of “Gone Girl.” Yet over the past decade, Republican legislatures erected voter ID requirements in a majority of the states — all to combat this phantom menace.

Before most of those laws were in effect, the Supreme Court took an early voter ID case in 2008. It ruled that ID requirements are theoretically acceptable — if they’re not expensive and don’t overly burden the right to vote.

Over the next six years, however, the evidence has poured in showing many of these laws do create expensive, burdensome requirements. They are also often discriminatory — restricting seniors, minorities and the poor more than other voters. That is why so many judges, even in conservative states, keep ruling against these laws.

While judges focus on scrutinizing the laws, it’s getting harder for Republicans to continue claiming that election turnout or the facts support serious concerns over voter fraud.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan agency that reports to Congress, recently tackled the “election integrity” issue in a 206-page report reviewing independent academic studies, crime statistics and information from federal and state authorities.

Tally up all the voter fraud found by all those sources and you get a number statistically equivalent to zero. The report noted “few instances of in-person voter fraud” have been documented, citing academic studies that calculate a rate ranging from 0.1 percent to 0 percent.

The report also noted that, depending on the state, voter ID rules can depress turnout by up to 3 percentage points. That is a wider margin than two of the last four presidential elections.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:19 AM on October 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


As the midterm elections near, it’s unclear who will be allowed to vote [...]
Republican legislatures erected voter ID requirements in a majority of the states


And you can pretty much count on fliers and phone calls going out in states that don't require ID (or where courts have struck it down), telling certain groups of people that they do in fact need ID.

(from a Guardian article profiling a NC woman who fought 50 years ago for the right to vote)

In its legal memo supporting the legal challenge, the Department of Justice argues that many black people use early voting because they have lingering fears from the days of segregation that someone will try and trick them out of their vote. Getting to the polls ahead of election day “gives them confidence they will have time to overcome such obstacles”.

posted by straight at 1:18 PM on October 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Supreme Court Allows Texas to Use Voter ID Law
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Saturday allowed Texas to use its strict voter identification law in the November election. The court’s order, issued just after 5 a.m., was unsigned and contained no reasoning.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a six-page dissent saying the court’s action “risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters.”

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined the dissent.
posted by rtha at 7:29 AM on October 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Interestingly, Justice Ginsburg grounds her dissent in the perspective of reason & facts while supporters of these recent voter suppression efforts have gone to great lengths to avoid just such grounding:
I would not upset the District Court’s reasoned, recordbased judgment, which the Fifth Circuit accorded little, if any, deference.... The fact-intensive nature of this case does not justify the Court of Appeals’ stay order; to the contrary, the Fifth Circuit’s refusal to home in on the facts found by the district court is precisely why this Court should vacate the stay.
posted by audi alteram partem at 3:45 PM on October 18, 2014


I find it telling that, amid all of the conspiracies and cracking-down around voter ID, in 2011, Washington state made vote-by-mail a requirement for all counties. This, in itself, was a rather non-event since only Pierce County (home of Tacoma) still manned county-wide polling places. Every other county had taken the option to go to fully vote-by-mail by 2008 (it was widely available as far back as 1993), even the staunchly Republican counties to the east.
posted by fireoyster at 3:59 PM on October 18, 2014 [1 favorite]




Area Hack Pundit Attempts to Defend GOP Vote Suppression, Makes Most Ridiculous Argument Ever
Shorter verbatim John Fund: “There’s no doubt that many people in our increasingly mobile and hectic society want voting to be as easy and convenient as buying fast food. But too much of anything can be bad — just ask someone who has gorged on drive-thru burgers and fries.”
Sounds a lot like some of the "logic" upthread about voting being too "burdensome."
posted by tonycpsu at 10:50 AM on October 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


O’Keefe uncovers hypothetical support for hypothetical voter fraud
The specter of Colorado’s 2013 election-modernization act in action — mandating that ballots be mailed to all voters and allowing for same-day voter registration — got O’Keefe interested in Colorado in the first place. He even speaks with Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who famously alleged that there were some 11,000 illegal voters in Colorado. To date, only one district attorney has taken Gessler’s recommendations and moved to prosecute four potential cases of voter fraud. At least two of those cases have already been deemed too weak to take to trial and dropped.
posted by audi alteram partem at 6:34 PM on October 23, 2014


So I'm actually really curious as to how voter fraud is prevented in places without voter ID laws. I recently moved to WA, and registered to vote the other day. I didn't have to show any ID to do so as was suggested above- just fill out a paper with my address and signature and last 4 of my social, and they told me they would mail me a ballot. This kind of thing seems like it would be trivially easy to game.
posted by corb at 6:24 AM on October 24, 2014


This kind of thing seems like it would be trivially easy to game.

To what end?
posted by muddgirl at 7:05 AM on October 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


and last 4 of my social,

It also seems like it would be trivially easy to check.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:12 AM on October 24, 2014


Generally we assume people are telling the truth and that voter fraud--as borne out by study after study after study--is such a statistically insignificant problem as to be meaningless.

As I said above, in Canada you do need something proving your address and you are who you say you are, but the requirements aren't burdensome. And if you don't have them, you sign a statutory declaration affirming that you are who you say you are. If you are found to have lied, there are legal penalties.

But, again, as muddgirl said: "to what end?"

The number of people, and this has been pointed out over and over and over and over in this thread, who would have to act in a coordinated fashion to commit fraud with any measurable impact is so large as to be impossible to coordinate. Real vote fraud happens at the counting level: machines that don't record votes (again, Diebold, or are we just pretending their shenanigans don't exist?), officials who take ballot boxes home or 'lose' them, legal challenges (Bush v. Gore).
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:33 AM on October 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


So I'm actually really curious as to how voter fraud is prevented in places without voter ID laws.

"Vote fraud" is the wrong word. Voter ID can't possibly prevent "vote fraud." It can't prevent the voting officials from throwing a box of ballots in a dumpster. It can't prevent voting officials making up votes they like. It can't prevent impersonation of voters not voting in person. It can't prevent intimidation of voters not voting in person, or the purchase of not-in-person votes. And so on.

What voter ID can potentially prevent is the impersonation of an in-person voter. That is the only possible method of vote fraud that checking official government-provided ID can possibly prevent. Even then, it will only prevent voter impersonation if the voting officials are not in on the scam.

Luckily, that method of vote fraud is almost entirely nonexistent, because mobilizing thousands of people to pretend to be someone else who might or might not have voted already is easily the single most stupid and easily detected method you could devise for illegally influencing an election. While vote fraud is and has been a real problem in the US, it has universally taken the form of crooked electoral officials.

In answer to your specific query, Washington limits registration fraud by imposing an outlandishly harsh punishment on anyone it happens to catch doing it: up to five years and $10K fine, and a felony conviction on your record preventing you from most forms of middle-class employment forever. This information was helpfully placed in large friendly letters on the left side of the form you filled out.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:45 AM on October 24, 2014 [12 favorites]


RUO_Xenophobe: A-fucking-men. And I say that again and again when I talk about this with people who are obsessed with getting voter ID legislation passed. And it's usually as though I'd just said nothing.
posted by lodurr at 8:35 AM on October 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


So I'm actually really curious as to how voter fraud is prevented in places without voter ID laws.

None of the states (or District!) I've lived required me to show a certain kind of ID to vote at the polls. Those states are MA, NH, VT, ME, MD, D.C., CA. If you can find evidence of significant in-person voter fraud in those states, please post it.

What we generally seem to need more of are harsher penalties for people caught doing the other kinds of voter fraud, like illegally purging voter rolls, sending out notices (only to people registered to a certain party! Guess which!) that look like they're from the local government announcing a change in election date, etc.
posted by rtha at 8:55 AM on October 24, 2014


On Race and Voter ID, John Roberts Wants It Both WaysOnce, the chief justice said the only way to stop discriminating on race was to stop discrimination on race. Now his tune isn't so clear.
This is a devastating finding. The judge is not saying that the law has a disproportionate effect on minorities; she is saying that it was specifically written to prevent them from voting. Because it was intentional race discrimination, she found, it violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, the prohibition of racial restrictions on the vote in the 15th Amendment—and also the prohibition of poll taxes in the 24th Amendment.
...
There is a contradiction here. A justice who truly abhors official racism should be agonized at the prospect of allowing a state to run an election if there is even a chance that it has chosen to discriminate in the right to vote. Even silent acquiescence violates the principle he has repeatedly proclaimed.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:34 AM on October 24, 2014




Since that's never stopped him before, I look forward to his expose. (At least he's hired a better makeup artist this time, though the folks in the office did describe him as "a man wearing heavy makeup and a false mustache.")
posted by lodurr at 12:07 PM on October 24, 2014


His "expose" is linked at the bottom of the post.
posted by muddgirl at 12:14 PM on October 24, 2014


It also seems like it would be trivially easy to check.

Well, the problem is that lists of people with their last 4 of their social are pretty easy to acquire - and also, though this is specifically for Washington, they don't check that the person at that address is actually living in Washington. If it were, say, a battleground state, I can easily imagine importing a lot of ringers, housing them so they can vote, and then shipping them home.

Really I was just shocked and freaked out by the fact that they didn't ask for a single document.
posted by corb at 3:06 PM on October 24, 2014


"If it were, say, a battleground state, I can easily imagine importing a lot of ringers, housing them so they can vote, and then shipping them home. "

Like I said before, public policy is more effective when it isn't based on paranoid fantods. I can imagine Cthulu returning to plunge us all into gibbering madness and projectile vomiting.

BUT NO STATES HAVE ENACTED ANTI-CTHULU VOTING LAWS! WHY THIS OVERSIGHT?
posted by klangklangston at 3:10 PM on October 24, 2014 [7 favorites]


importing a lot of ringers

And doing what with the people they are supposed to be impersonating?

I get a ballot in the mail. If I don't, I contact my county Clerk & Recorder. If someone else has submitted a ballot in my name, there's an investigation. If two or more people submit ballots under my name, there's an investigation.

One person, one vote, even if it isn't the "right" person, means the kind of fraud you describe hypothetically has orders of magnitude less impact on an election than the other kinds of fraud discussed above that voter ID doesn't do anything to address (e.g. "losing" a box of ballots, physical or electronic).
posted by audi alteram partem at 3:29 PM on October 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Couldn't a party in Texas just bus in a bunch of people, have them move into a big vacant warehouse for a month, legally register to vote on Oct. 6th, get some legal voter ID, and legally vote with proper ID on election day? If we're worried about paranoid fantasies where parties have unlimited dollars to spend on bussing in out-of-town ringers?
posted by muddgirl at 3:41 PM on October 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


If it were, say, a battleground state, I can easily imagine importing a lot of ringers, housing them so they can vote, and then shipping them home.

Yes, because it's easy to find thousands of people who are willing to miss a week or two of work. And risk imprisonment, heavy fines, probably an inability to ever vote again, and lifelong impairment of their career possibilities. And not even one of them, ever, under any circumstances whatsoever, ever regrets it and mentions it to anyone. And none of them are ever noticed to be missing at home. And of course all of them are drawn from racial and ethnic mixes that would be unremarkable in the precincts they're targeting. All of which to vote in that state instead of at home.

I mean, I can easily imagine that lots of white people are actually the space aliens from They Live -- in fact, I'm actually imagining that right now. Seriously. Being space aliens, they have no right to vote unless they've been naturalized, but yet NOBODY IS GIVING POLL WORKERS THE SUNGLASSES TO SPOT THE SPACE ALIENS! Doesn't anyone care about interstellar vote fraud?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:54 PM on October 24, 2014 [8 favorites]


If it were, say, a battleground state, I can easily imagine importing a lot of ringers, housing them so they can vote, and then shipping them home.
I'm really involved in a super-close senate election in a swing state, and I can't figure out how you would actually make that work. Like, where would we recruit all these ringers? We're spending all of our time trying to convince legal, registered voters to take five minutes to fill out their vote-by-mail ballots, and I'm supposed to believe that there's an army of people who are willing to take a couple of days out of their lives to come here and commit voter fraud? I can't even recruit enough people for two-hour phone shifts! Second of all, where would we put them up? I don't think we could find supporter housing for the thousands of voters it would take to throw an election. Is the idea that we would put them all up in hotels? I don't think there are enough hotel rooms in this state, and I promise you that someone would notice if the hotels were all magically filled with mysterious out-of-state random people on election day. The ringer voters would need to have addresses to give when they registered. What addresses do we use? They'd have to be real addresses, and you'd better believe that someone is going to come knock on their doors in two years for the next election. (I think we've knocked on the doors of every registered voter in the state. We've certainly knocked on the door of every registered voter in my territory more than once.) Can we be sure that nobody is going to notice a pattern of the people not living there and never having lived there? It seems like it would be super hard to pull off, plus there would be a really high risk of me going to prison for a long time for conspiracy to commit voter fraud, plus that whole thing where I don't want to commit voter fraud because I actually believe in the democratic system. It just seems completely implausible.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:02 PM on October 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


It just seems completely implausible.

Because it is, yup. People who are serious about rigging elections don't do it this way because it is far too much work and far too unwieldy. We know this because that's not what they do! What they do is caging, and illegal mailings telling targeted districts that election day has been changed/their polling place has changed, and like that. It costs way less money, is much easier to do in terms of logistics, and catching the cagers and illegal mailers is much harder.

Worrying about voter fraud commited in-person at the polls on a large enough scale to change outcomes is like worrying about being hit by lightning instead of being in a car crash when you drive to work.
posted by rtha at 6:33 PM on October 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


Really I was just shocked and freaked out by the fact that they didn't ask for a single document.

In most states, the documents asked for (utility bills, bank statements, etc) just show that you receive Important Mail at the address you're claiming. Since in this case the state is sending the Important Mail to that address, it serves the same purpose. I assume (though haven't checked) that the other major criterion (citizenship) is checkable with name and last four of your social (and presumably whether you're a felon in states where that's disenfranchising.)

Having been flaky enough to forget my wallet-with-ID on election day in a voter-ID state before, I've got no patience for this stuff. Too Many People Voting is just not a problem for democracy. I wish everyone with legitimate worries about election integrity would, if possible, sign up to work or watch the polls and vote counts instead of pushing new laws that punish eligible voters. Keeping our eyes on the process at every level is the only method of combating vote fraud that's actually effective. (And all the people who've openly expressed illegitimate worries about the wrong kind of people voting, just ugh.)
posted by asperity at 10:14 PM on October 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


that whole thing where I don't want to commit voter fraud because I actually believe in the democratic system

This. I really do believe that the people most invested in the results of our elections (and might be most motivated to commit voter fraud on an individual level) are the ones who feel most strongly that they shouldn't be tampered with.
posted by asperity at 10:22 PM on October 24, 2014


Well, the problem is that lists of people with their last 4 of their social are pretty easy to acquire - and also, though this is specifically for Washington, they don't check that the person at that address is actually living in Washington. If it were, say, a battleground state, I can easily imagine importing a lot of ringers, housing them so they can vote, and then shipping them home.

Yeah, Rajneesh tried that, it didn't work.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:41 PM on October 24, 2014


MSNBC: Texas woman threatened with jail after applying for voter ID
Messinger, 62 and a musician, said she brought her birth certificate to a Texas’ Department of Public Safety (DPS) office in south Austin Thursday in an effort to get a voter ID. She needs one because Texas’s strict ID law doesn’t accept out-of-state driver’s licenses.
Messinger said she spoke to a clerk at the desk, and explained that she had a California driver’s license. She has houses in both California and Texas and goes back and forth between the two, but decided several years ago to switch her voting residency to Texas.

The clerk left for a few minutes, then told her to take a seat. At that point, Messinger said, a state trooper summoned her into his back office, saying he needed to speak to her. Once inside his office, Messinger said the trooper insisted on seeing all the documentation she had brought, and demanded to know where she lives and pays taxes. He even told her she could be jailed for driving with a California license.* It is illegal to drive in Texas on another state’s driver’s license 90 days after moving into the state.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:15 PM on October 25, 2014 [1 favorite]




Jim Crow ReturnsMillions of minority voters threatened by electoral purge

Summary from Jamelle Bouie at Slate:
According to a six-month-long investigation conducted by Greg Palast for Al Jazeera, "voting officials in 27 states, almost all of them Republicans, have launched what is threatening to become a massive purge of black, Hispanic, and Asian-American voters. Already, tens of thousands have been removed from voter rolls in battleground states, and the numbers are set to climb."

Specifically, officials have a master list of 6.9 million suspected "potential double voters." And in Virginia, Georgia, and Washington the lists are "heavily over-weighted with names such as Jackson, Garcia, Patel, and Kim," all common to Democratic-leaning minority groups.

The process for checking those names, a computer program called Crosscheck-touted by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a vocal supporter for voter identification-is incredibly inaccurate. "The actual lists," notes Al Jazeera America, "show that not only are middle names mismatched, and suffix discrepancies ignored, even conflicting birthdates are disregarded. Moreover, Crosscheck deliberately ignores any Social Security mismatches, in the few instances when the numbers are even collected."

Given the tight races in Georgia and other battleground states, even a small number of false positives could turn the tide of an election, giving a strong advantage to Republican candidates for statewide and congressional offices.
This thread's a bit long in the tooth and I've already posted today, so if someone wants to work that link to a new FPP, by all means, go ahead.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:05 PM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yeah, disenfranchising thousands of legal voters is totes worth preventing never-documented ringers from voting twice. Actual harm to prevent imaginary harm!

(And that's why people tend to think libertarians are just Republicans that like pot.)
posted by klangklangston at 1:59 PM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


The software tending to eliminate people with common last names doesn't mean it's deliberately racially biased in any way. Cultural incompetence rather than maliciousness - particularly with the Asian-American names.
posted by corb at 2:07 PM on October 29, 2014


So the mounds of evidence, up to and including their own words, that this is directed and malicious is just...what? Out of context somehow?
posted by zombieflanders at 2:10 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


are we really gonna go on the "it's not racist if it's not intentional!" merry-go-round again
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:12 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


ACTUALLY, it's about preventing voter fraud!
posted by tonycpsu at 2:17 PM on October 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


Do you have mounds of evidence including their own words that this specific software was deliberately designed to be racist? If so, then it is absolutely relevant - but if not, no, you can't just say "some other people were totes racist so I'm sure this was too" to dismiss this software as intentionally awful.
posted by corb at 2:18 PM on October 29, 2014


Does it matter if it was intended to be racist, corb, if it is racist in its results?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:21 PM on October 29, 2014


For me, yes, there's a big difference between discriminatory intent and discriminatory impact, most especially in how we're categorizing the intentions of those who put it in place.

For example, a lot of things that are more difficult for the poor will catch a lot of minorities in the crossfire because they are more likely to have generational wealth difficulty, but that doesn't mean that impact was intended to fall on said minorities.

I also think it actually really does matter to be accurate, if you're talking about class discrimination or race discrimination. Those two often coexist, but are not the same thing.
posted by corb at 2:25 PM on October 29, 2014


It doesn't have to be intentionally awful to be awful, and it doesn't have to be awful to be bad. Experts who've reviewed the list of potential double-voters have verified that the methodology will disenfranchise certain groups more than others.

And, really, something tells me if we were taking away guns from people who simply share a first and last name with someone who committed a gun felony in another state, you'd have a different view of this matching algorithm.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:26 PM on October 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


Do you have mounds of evidence including their own words that this specific software was deliberately designed to be racist? If so, then it is absolutely relevant - but if not, no, you can't just say "some other people were totes racist so I'm sure this was too" to dismiss this software as intentionally awful.

The impetus behind voter-roll purging is racist. It's being pushed by the same people who have done a lot of voter suppression that is racist. The effects of the software's algorithms are racist, and yet they're still full-bore on the whole shebang. Saying "oh it's just a software problem" when you know full well all the racist stuff going on is just an attempt to move the goalposts.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:28 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well, personally I don't give a damn if the stupid policy is intentionally racist or unintentionally racist. If you're disproportionately disenfranchising people of color for no reason, that's a fucked-up policy that should be stopped.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:35 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


For me, yes, there's a big difference between discriminatory intent and discriminatory impact, most especially in how we're categorizing the intentions of those who put it in place.

Does it matter when it comes to eliminating the discriminatory impact? That impact should be eliminated, should it not, regardless of whether it is intentional or incidental?
posted by rtha at 2:53 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


The relevant law is clear that in many cases, racially discriminatory impact is what's relevant, not just intent. This isn't an issue that can be addressed with Jay Smooth's "that thing you said sounded racist," this is the foundation of our system of government.

State elections officials are not my wayward friends that might've said something that was unintentionally awful, and I'm not invested in preserving a friendship with them. If they are implementing policies that disproportionately disenfranchise people of color -- even if there's no human judgment involved past the computer programming stage -- they need to be held accountable for that.
posted by asperity at 2:56 PM on October 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


Do you have mounds of evidence including their own words that this specific software was deliberately designed to be racist?

Doesn't matter.

Is this software disenfranchising an enormous number of people? Yes.
Are the people being disenfranchised disproportionately people of colour? Yes.
Are the people being disenfranchised disproportionately more likely to vote Democrat? Yes.
Is it Republicans who are behind this racist bullshit? Yes.

Do you understand these four key facts?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:55 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


"For me, yes, there's a big difference between discriminatory intent and discriminatory impact, most especially in how we're categorizing the intentions of those who put it in place.

For example, a lot of things that are more difficult for the poor will catch a lot of minorities in the crossfire because they are more likely to have generational wealth difficulty, but that doesn't mean that impact was intended to fall on said minorities.

I also think it actually really does matter to be accurate, if you're talking about class discrimination or race discrimination. Those two often coexist, but are not the same thing.
"

Why does it matter in this case? There's a plausible racial hypothesis, along with just the general partisan one of "people with these last names tend to vote for Democrats." But it has an inarguably racist effect, just like many ostensibly color-blind programs over the years — ostensibly color-blind, but still frequently designed with plausibly deniable racist intent. (You need to write the Lee Atwater quote on a chalkboard until you memorize it.)

Intent does sometimes matter, but you haven't made a case for it mattering here. What does matter is that thousands of legal voters are being disenfranchised due to specifically partisan idiocy, idiocy that you support because you can imagine a world in which it might be justified, despite the absolute lack of any justification in this world.

Why haven't you bothered to engage with any of Posner's arguments? Why do you keep repeating bullshit over and over again? Is it that you're surrounded with idiots who parrot talking points, so those have more weight than the reasoned arguments that you're reading? Is it that you're retreating to the childish notion that if people are sarcastic, snarky or even, yes, mean to you in correcting your naive or disingenuous flights of paranoid fancy, that therefore you'll react by affirming the opposite? Or is it just that this sort of law hurts people you think might be guilty of something and doesn't apply to anyone you love, so it fits with a myopic morality?

There's a lot of decent content in the original post. You should think about reading it.
posted by klangklangston at 5:21 PM on October 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


To me the salient question is not 'is the software intended to be racist?', but rather 'is the software designed to be exploited?'

The latter seems likely.
posted by lodurr at 3:00 AM on October 30, 2014


Do you have mounds of evidence including their own words that this specific software was deliberately designed to be racist?

Yikc Wo v. Hopkins. The nice thing about law is that it's empirical, it's not about what's in your heart.

If it were, say, a battleground state, I can easily imagine importing a lot of ringers, housing them so they can vote, and then shipping them home.

You in fact cannot imagine that because it's an utterly ridiculous idea.
posted by spaltavian at 6:29 AM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Eh, I'd humbly suggest anyone who supports voter ID has to have a pretty vivid imagination given all of the empirical data that shows that it's a solution to a non-existent problem, unless that problem is "the wrong kind of people are voting."
posted by tonycpsu at 8:55 AM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


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