Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Voter Fraud

I confess that I really cannot feel much sympathy for those criticizing a new Arizona law that requires proof of citizenship in order to register. Really, if we were designing a voting system from scratch today, would we design it without such a requirement? If only citizens are supposed to vote, then the most effective way to make sure that happens is to let only citizens register and have ballots.

As usual, we get the human interest angle in the first paragraph of the New York Times story:

Eva Charlene Steele, a recent transplant from Missouri, has no driver’s license or other form of state identification. So after voting all her adult life, Mrs. Steele will not be voting in November because of an Arizona law that requires proof of citizenship to register.

“I have mixed emotions,” said Mrs. Steele, 57, who uses a wheelchair and lives in a small room in an assisted-living center. “I could see where you would want to keep people who don’t belong in the country from voting, but there has to be an easier way.”

And, as usual, we find that easier way in the last few paragraphs of the story:
Deborah Lopez, a Democratic political consultant in Phoenix, said that the once simple matter of registering voters at a rally or a fiesta now required labor-intensive door-to-door visits.

It was during a registration drive at her assisted-living center, Desert Palms, that Mrs. Steele learned she could not vote. Disabled, with a son, an Army staff sergeant, on active duty, she left Missouri recently to stay with her brother and subsequently moved into the center.

Lacking a driver’s license, she could get a new state identity card, but she said she had neither the $12 to pay for it nor, because she uses a wheelchair, the transportation to pick it up.

“It makes me a little angry because my son is fighting now in Iraq for others to have the right to vote, and I can’t,” said Mrs. Steele, who submitted an affidavit in the suit against the Arizona law.

So all this is because $12 and a ride to the town hall are somehow too complicated to arrange for Mrs. Steele, even though folks like Ms. Lopez routinely handle such logisitics to get people to the polls on Election Day. And because of that, the state of Arizona is supposed to allow for the possibility of voter fraud on a large scale. Ridiculous.


bakho said...

If it were only one person and a one-time $12, it would be ridiculous. Multiply that one times 10,000 and the logistics of finding enough volunteers becomes problematic.

Political parties win elections by getting more of their voters to cast votes. They can win by convincing more people to vote for them or convincing or preventing people from voting for the other candidate.

Some cynical political hack has made the determination that his political party will come out ahead if these types of barriers to voting are erected. The other side will argue against the barriers. This is how elections in the US work and this is why the percentage of people who vote is commonly under 50%.

My own parents do not drive and since the implementation of the new law, cannot vote without an ID. They are registered Republicans. As a Democratic Partisan, I will only spend my time helping Democrats get IDs and register. I won't take my parents to get IDs so they can vote Republican. If they want to go, they can call up the GOP and ask for help, which they will not do because it would be too much hassle and it is difficult for them to get out.

Why should I waste my time? The GOP is responsible for passing these stupid laws so they should be responsible for getting IDs for their own voters. This is all too much hassle, so my parents who have voted every election since they were 21 will probably no longer vote. We are hearing the message, "They don't want us to vote". We are not voting. Then they complain that we don't vote while cynically congratulating themselves for the low turnout.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, cool. We can keep people for whom $12 is a significant amount of money (perhaps those on a fixed income) from voting.

I'm in favor of disenfranchising them also.

Anonymous said...

It is time for a National ID card.

It would contain this data or links to a database with this data:

* citizenship data
* photo
* address of permanent residence
* automatic voter registration based upon address

A useful card which could have numerous OPTIONAL additional uses:

* link to Living Will
* organ donor
* key medical history - for emergency care: diabetic, blood type etc,
* religious preferences - "contact my minister if I an unable to speak"
* Passport for travel
* Driving license
* Insurance - medical, car, whatever

BUT NOT a card that could be read remotely by radio waves.(e.g. NOT like the RFID chip they plan to put in Passports --> yikes that will be a mess)

Anonymous said...

Such a National ID would nicely solve two persistent problems in the USA.

1. Folks being disenfranchised.

2. Failure to have the ID may be a good way to sort out illegal immigrants.

Anonymous said...

This post is right on. The Arizona law needs to be applied on a national scale for all the reasons the post stated. The cost-benefit analysis could not be more clear-cut.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, cool. We can keep people for whom $12 is a significant amount of money (perhaps those on a fixed income) from voting.

I'm in favor of disenfranchising them also.

Best analysis of this issue I have ever seen.

Does our good host have a rejoiner?

Anonymous said...

This is Anonymous of 12:47 9/26 again

What I meant by:
"Such a National ID would nicely solve two persistent problems in the USA.

1. Folks being disenfranchised."

Problem: folks being denied their right to vote.

IF there is a National ID card it will give the poor and meek the ability to vote.

Today someone can get registered but if they move or xxx they may lose registration and the effort to register has to be done again.

Once there is a National Card and online confirmation they could be registered forever -- as long as they can verify their residency address at each election.

Bibamus said...

I hesitate to say that this is "silly", and I certainly won't ask if it is a joke, so let me just say that I found this post dissapointing, both in tone and in substance.

The tone certainly could be a joke, even if it isn't. It's dark humor, though: the punch line is disenfranchising the poor and the disabled. Seriously?

Still, and rather amazingly, this post is even worse in its substance.

First of all, requiring voters to have an ID, and then charging for them for that ID, is a tax on voting. Taxes on voting are unconstitutional. Until we stipulate that the IDs you want to require are going to be free, the only thing that is ridiculous is this debate - because there is no debate - because this is on-its-face unconstitutional.

Second, you speak of "the possibility of voter fraud on a large scale." "Possibility" is a well-chosen weasel-word here, of course, because we don't have a very good sense of the extent of the type of voter fraud that IDs would combat. Certainly there is the "possibility" of large scale voter fraud in Arizona - the real question is how great the possibility, and how large the scale, and the answers are, we don't know, and we don't know. In the face of that kind of uncertainty, it is hardly ridiculous to think that the benefits of requiring an ID to vote outweigh the benefits. Unless you place an insanely large weight on the disutility attached to voter fraud, and an insanely small weight on the utility of voter access, there is certain to be some probability of voter fraud and some level of denial of access at which requiring IDs lose that cost-benefit analysis.

Andrew said...

The point about the ID having to be free of charge if it is a requirement of voting is a valid one, and I do think it should be free. I would have agreed with Ms. Lopez if she had made that point.

You are right that "possibility" was chosen deliberately. We do know that there are a large number of non-citizens living in the area.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9/26 @10:41 here...

yes bibamus, that was dark humor ;)

National ID cards sound like a great idea... until you get on a gov't blacklist, AKA No-Fly list, Terrorist enabler (registered democrat), etc.

Anonymous said...

Forget ID cards. Tighten the penalty for voting fraud.

Short of an armed coup, there is not any higher crime than plotting to takeover the U.S. government by organized fraud.

This kind of fraud potentially harms more people in a democratic republic than kingpins now eligible for the death penalty under U.S. racketeering influence and corrupt organization laws do. Likewise, it should no longer be considered a mischievious, white-collar crime or misdemeanor.

Organizers of voter fraud should by hanged publicly, in my opinion, regardless of political party or other affiliation.

AmPowerBlog said...

Nice post! Of course, the "human interest angle" is inherent to the liberal, multicultural inclusion agenda. And Bibamus, the $12.00 is not a "tax on voting," but simply the fee for the ID card. If I lose my driver's license, I need to pay a replacement fee, whether I'm going to vote or not. As for the cost/benefit goobledegook? Enforcement of any public policy is not free. Look at the cost of housing prisoners. Some states are releasing prisoners becaue they can't afford to incarcerate them. How does that cost/benefit logic play to the victims of crime? Besides, the place to begin minimizing fraud in voting is requiring proof of citizenship. All this debate about national identification -- blah, blah -- is meaningless until Americans get serious about the political, economic, and cultural onslaught we're facing from massive, sustained immigration.

Burkean Reflections

Anonymous said...

A system for a National ID Card is already in place: US Passport. All US Citizends should be required to maintain a US Passport and should be required to present it for any State transactions. Voting, US Drivers License applications, Public school registration. STOP THE UNDOCUMENTED PEOPLES FROM BLEEDING OUR ECONOMY!!!