Thursday, January 17, 2008

Voter ID law

Instead of requiring voters to show a state issued ID, they should simply store digital images of registered voters at polling places. That way, if I get mugged on my way to the polling place, poll workers would still be able to verify that I am me. Provisional ballots would still be available for those who grow or shave off facial hair, and those who have disfiguring accidents.

Any new computer equipment purchased towards this end would still be cheaper than the ongoing lawsuit. Even though SCOTUS is expected to uphold the Voter ID law, this law could be challenged again when the court gets some new members.

The claim that no new measures are needed because no one has been convicted of voter fraud in this state is a hollow argument. There have been no hijackings in this state, do we still need metal detectors in our airports? There have been recent recorded cases of voter fraud in Illinois and Ohio. There may be voter fraud in Indiana if Evan Bayh becomes a running mate and we become a battleground state. We owe it to ourselves and the rest of the country to have an voter identification system that is fair, convenient, and reliable.


Doug said...

One of the Justices asking questions at the Supreme Court asked about putting photos on the voter registration card. That sounds like a reasonable solution to me.

Of course, as I recall, the Democrats proposed a variety of alternately acceptable methods of identification besides solely state or federally issued photo identification, and all of those were rejected.

Let's be clear, though. "Voter fraud" is too broad of a characterization of the law. (Though I've used that short hand myself). It's in-person voter impersonation that might be prevented by this law. There was no effort to prevent absentee voter fraud. No effort to harden the security of voting machines. No effort to require paper ballots. All of these things are evidence supporting the proposition that "voter fraud" is a pretext and that suppression of certain potential voters was the real goal.

Be that as it may, I suspect you are right that the Supreme Court will approve the voter ID law much as they approved stopping the vote counts in Florida during the Bush v. Gore case. So, something like you suggest - voter pictures at the polling place, for example - would be a good idea. But, since stopping in-person, voter impersonation is merely a pretext, the state Republicans will never go for it. The whole point of the exercise is to put an extra layer of bureaucracy between certain types of voters and the right to cast a vote.

Jeff Pruitt said...

Doug brings up a great point here - namely that this voter id law would likely only prevent the most inconsequential cases of fraud. What worries me much more than Joe Schmo voting for his neighbor is the fact that we have electronic voting machines that don't produce paper ballots for the record. On top of that most of the poll workers and observers are, how shall I put it, technologically challenged.

Which do you think is more likely to illegally shift the outcome of an election? A mass movement of voter impersonators or a band of hackers infiltrating our election system?

Robert Enders said...

Jeff and Doug, you are both right. I gave Todd Rokita the benefit of the doubt that it simply had not occured to him to have alternate means of verifying a voter's identification. Perhaps that was a little generous of me.

Still, I try not to speculate on the intentions. overt or otherwise, of elected officials. Rather I focus on what the consequences of what their actions are going to be.

I agree that one hacker can potentially do more harm than even hundreds of individuals who vote multiple times. Mike Kole argued for paper verification in voting machines when he was the Libertarian candidate for Secretary of State. I hope that this year's Libertarian and Democratic candidates for Secretary of State make these issues part of their platform.

Tim Zank said...

Well, you all have wonderful points and suggestions, however none of them apply to the case at hand. Making comparisons between the issue at hand, a simple law that proves who you are when you vote, and absentee voting, voting machines, electronic fraud etc are valid concerns, they are nothing more than your personal opinion of which "crime" is worse or which "crime" is more prevalent. It doesn't matter and it has no direct bearing on the law before the court, and can't be used as an argument for or against a voter ID law.

The only question before the court is whether or not it is an undue "burden" on voters to procure an Indiana Photo I.D and produce such when entering the voting booth. Period.

Address the other issues seperately, as they are important, but not pertinent to this case.

Phil Marx said...

tim zank,

You are correct that these different issues are not a part of the current case before the Supreme Court. And it's fine if that's the only area you wish to focus on. But many of us see it as a larger issue.

Any politician that says he supports the photo I.D. law because it ensures the integrity of the elections should also support having a paper ballot for the same reason.

Likewise, any Justice who votes to uphold one should be expected to vote to uphold the other if such a case ever comes before them.

These issues are inextricably tied to each other. Not in this specific court case, but in the general political realm.


"All of these things are evidence supporting the proposition that "voter fraud" is a pretext and that suppression of certain potential voters was the real goal." - Well said

gadfly said...

I am indeed confused by this exchange and the one-sided opinion on this subject presented by the JG's own Sylvia Smith.

Before attacking Republicans for insisting that everyone's right to vote should be equally protected, we need to remember that it was the Democrats who screamed "voter fraud" in 2000 in Florida because of poorly-run elections administered by Democrats. Hanging chads cost the country billions of dollars in new voting equipment.

As to whether or not there is or has been voter fraud, we need only return with the Wayback Machine to the 1960 Presidential elections and the dead voters in Chicago putting Kennedy over the top.

More recently we have Democratic wards in Seattle recording more votes than registered voters and we look to Ohio where Democratic voter registration drives netted new voters such as Dick Tracy and Mary Poppins. 800,000 new voters were registered in that state in 2004 and over 6% of the registration cards were returned "undeliverable".

Robert Enders said...

Republicans accuse Democrats of using fake voters. Democrats accuse Republicans of blocking people from voting on false pretenses. I have propose a way that should satisfy both sides, if either side is capable of being satisfied.

Craig said...

I'm shocked that Libertarians agree with Republicans on this one. That almost never happens...just kidding, there's really no difference. Republicans just tend to be better at you know...winning elections.

William Larsen said...

To vote in the United States, one needs to be 18 or older, a US Citizen, resident of the state, not incarcerated. The problem with the Voter ID law is that the requirements for a Driver's License or a State ID may preclude many people from voting.

First the Amish do not allow their photos to be taken (graven image). Second, many muslums wear vales which are not allowed. Thrid, some believe the SSN is the number of the beast (there are 17 law suits different states challenging this).

The Voter ID law should require the Election Division to issue the ID. The requirements for a an ID should be the voter Registration Card sent by the Election Board who certified the person was eligible to vote.

The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that denying a driver’s license to a person who refused to be photograph was an excessive burden on their religious faith. In Quaring v. Peterson , 728 F.2d 1121 (8th Cir. 1984), aff..d sub nom, Jensen v. Quaring, 472 U.S. 478 (1985), 105 S.Ct. 3492 (1985), a Nebraska driver’s license applicant brought an action against Nebraska officials seeking to compel them to issue a driver’s license, notwithstanding the applicant’s refusal to be photographed. Quaring was a member of the Christian religion. Quaring’s belief is that the Second Commandment expressly forbids the making of .any graven image or likeness. of anything in creation. Exodus 20:4; Deuteronomy 5:8. Quaring’s refusal to allow herself to be photographed was a response to a literal interpretation of the Second Commandment.

The court noted that Quaring’s beliefs were religious in nature, though unusual in the twentieth century. The Eighth Circuit found that Quaring’s beliefs were sincerely held religious beliefs, which were in fact burdened by the Nebraska state law. Weighing the Nebraska state law against the First Amendment claims of Quaring, the court determined that the state interests were not so compelling that Quaring’s beliefs could not be accommodated. The court required Nebraska to issue Quaring a driver’s license. The court in Quaring noted that the Second Commandment remains a fundamental tenet of both the Jewish and Christian faith and that interpretation and commentary on the Second Commandment lends support to Quaring’s personal interpretation. The Court noted that although the position and current practice is in the minority, that Quaring was still entitled to protection.
In fact, the Quaring court (citing Thomas v. Review Board, 450 U.S. 707, 715-16 (1981) stated as follows:

[T]he guaranty of free exercise is not limited to beliefs which are shared by all of the members of a religious sect. Particularly in this sensitive area, it is not within the judicial function and competence to inquire whether the petitioner or his fellow [adherent] more correctly perceived the commands of their common faith. Courts are not arbiters of scriptural interpretation.
Prior to the United States Supreme Court decision in Employment Division D.P.H.R. of Oregon v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), the law in this country was that free exercise rights protected by the First Amendment could not be infringed upon by a governmental entity unless that governmental entity met the compelling state interest test. The compelling state interest test required not only the state to prove that it had a compelling state interest to infringe upon the individual’s religious beliefs, but requires the state to show that it was acting in the least restrictive means. For example, in Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U’s. 398 (1963), a Seventh Day Adventist who believed that work on Saturdays, her Sabbath, was unbiblical, was refused unemployment benefits. She challenged the denial under the free exercise rights protected by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court analyzed the case under the compelling state interest test and concluded as follows:

For [i]f the purpose or effect of a law is to impede the observance of one or all religions or is to discriminate invidiously between religions, that law is constitutionally invalid even though the burden may be characterized as being only indirect. [cite omitted] Here not only is it apparent that appellant’s declared ineligibility for benefits derives solely from the practice of her religion, but the pressure upon her to forego that practice is unmistakable. The ruling forces her to choose between following the precepts of her religion and forfeiting benefits, on the one hand, and abandoning one of the precepts of her religion in order to accept work, on the other hand. Governmental imposition of such a choice puts the same kind of burden upon the free exercise of religion as would a fine imposed against appellant for her Saturday worship.

Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438, 478, 48 S.Ct. 564, 572 (1928) (authored by Louis D. Brandeis): They [the makers of the Constitution] conferred, as against the Government, the right to be let alone, the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.

Robert Enders said...

One key difference is that we oppose corporate welfare. Since Republicans are so generous with other people's money, that helps them attract more campaign contributions.

Fr. Fozy Bear said...

What is we used fingerprint verification system as a second step at the polling places?

While it may still be subject to tampering as a second line of defense to voter fraud it would eliminate some of it.And a government issue photo identification could still be used to override a false negative on the fingerprint indentification.

Just asking.

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