The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

20 September 2005

Yeah? Disenfranchise this, pal

Michael Bates wants to know:

State Rep. Sue Tibbs is trying to get her voter ID bill heard in the Democrat-controlled Oklahoma Senate, where it has been allowed to languish in the General Government Committee. The bill would require voters to show a driver's license or some other state-issued photo ID. Isn't this an obvious and sensible measure? Don't we want to make sure that only people who are eligible — those who live in the appropriate district, city, or state — cast a vote, and that they only vote once? Why do Democrats have such a problem with this?

This is why:

Voting and civil rights groups launched a legal assault Monday on the state's requirement that Georgians show a government-issued photo ID at the polls — a law they call the most restrictive of its kind in the country.

A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of two African-American voters, the American Civil Liberties Union, NAACP, League of Women Voters, black legislators and others calls the new law a "poll tax" that will rob black, elderly and rural people of their right to vote.

Supporters of the new law condemned the suit, arguing that the law will eliminate the likelihood of fraud at the polls. House Speaker Glenn Richardson (R-Hiram) called it a "ludicrous lawsuit."

"This lawsuit is nothing more than liberal special interests using unconscionable scare tactics to frighten Georgia voters," Richardson said.

While long expected, the suit raises the stakes of a debate that has raged since last winter's session of the Legislature. The suit won't affect today's special elections in Cobb County and elsewhere, but opponents hope a judge throws out the law before elections being held in November in many Georgia cities.

"There is no place for a voter-suppression law," said Tisha Tallman, regional counsel for the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and an attorney for the plaintiffs.

From Georgia, McGehee reports:

You pay $20 for a five-year driver's license or ID card, and over the course of two ID cycles that works out to an average of $4 per election, both primary and general. And that's without taking into account (1) special elections, (2) runoff elections, and (3) the fact you can get a ten-year license or ID for $35 instead of $40.

And then you take into account that a state-issued ID can be useful for a whole lot more than just voting. So letís round it all off and say it works out to $3 per election.

Yeah, that's gonna suppress voter turnout one whole hell of a lot. Okay, sure, the state could reduce the cost — and probably should. But calling this an illegal poll tax is tantamount to calling it censorship when somebody points out that your argument is hysterical and nonsensical.

When they yammer about "voter suppression" what they're really complaining about is that illegal aliens will no longer be able to vote fraudulently in Georgia's elections.

Simple as that.

This is hardly the only flavor of election fraud out there, but it's one that can be easily fixed. At the very least, the two voters at the center of the Georgia suit ought to be put on the stand so they can explain exactly why it's such a hardship for them to identify themselves at the polls. Vague claims of "racism" won't wash: the Georgia law applies to every voter. As for illegal aliens, I shouldn't have to point out that they have no business being at the polls in the first place.

(Update, 21 September, 2:15 pm: BatesLine shows exactly how this fraud could be pulled off.)

Posted at 10:28 AM to Political Science Fiction

TrackBack: 10:56 AM, 20 September 2005
» Senate holds up voter ID from BatesLine
State Rep. Sue Tibbs is trying to get her voter ID bill heard in the Democrat-controlled Oklahoma Senate, where it has been allowed to languish in the General Government Committee. The bill would require voters to show a driver's license or some other ......[read more]

If turds who can't/won't show id to vote call it "racist"...then color me a bigot!! All Hail the non-turd race...subjugate and persecute those not like me...NOW!

Posted by: paulsmos at 12:33 PM on 20 September 2005

I don't agree with paulsmos's potty-mouthed allusions or invective, for the record.

However, I am of the opinion that a valid driver's license or some other form of sanctioned picture-ID would indicate, at least, that the propsective ballot stuffer isn't dead. Such documentation might have helped elections in other states in which The Voting Dead affected election outcomes.

Gatewaypundit is on top of things: (live link)

(Edited to make link live. — CGH)

Posted by: vic at 1:13 PM on 20 September 2005

First, I don't really care how cheap McGeehee thinks something is. If you have to pay to get to vote, it's a poll tax. That's simple, that's defining language. If you have to pay a penny to the state to vote, it's a poll tax. If you want to argue that cheap poll taxes should be allowed, go for it, but let's not waste time pretending that a required fee for voting is not a poll tax.

Second, this same recommendation came from the national election reform commission, and all of the Democrats objected to it there, too. The New York Times explains why in a remarkably-still-free editorial:

But the bombshell recommendation is for the states to require voters to have drivers' licenses or a government-issued photo ID. That would not be a great burden for people who have drivers' licenses, but it would be for those who don't, and they are disproportionately poor, elderly or members of minorities. These voters would have to get special photo ID's and keep them updated. If they didn't have the ID's, their right to vote would be taken away. The commission recommends that the cards be free. But election administration is notoriously underfinanced, and it is not hard to imagine that states would charge for them. Georgia is already charging $20 and more for each of its state voter cards.

The same kinds of people who would have trouble getting and maintaining a driver's license are, amazingly, the same kinds who were most affected by Hurricane Katrina. I imagine that there are some Republicans who feel that keeping "those people" from voting in the next few years would be a very good idea, but I think most humans would not.

The key, though, is that there is very little evidence of any kind of massive voter fraud by people pretending to be someone else. All recent allegations of fraud, from both sides, are either about tampering with the count in electronic machines, or that people whose IDs were known were allowed to vote when they should not have been (wrong precinct, disenfranchised ex-felons, and so on).

I remember a recent post - here? - about someone who went to vote on SQ 723 and found someone had already signed in his spot, but I'm not sure making millions of people get useless driver's licenses is really the best solution to that.

Posted by: Matt at 1:44 PM on 20 September 2005

To borrow a phrase from me:

"This is hardly the only flavor of election fraud out there, but it's one that can be easily fixed."

Posted by: CGHill at 2:02 PM on 20 September 2005

So Matt. I have to drive to the polls. With gas prices what they are, this necessary expenditure to use my right to the franchise could conceivably one day approach $3.

Is that also a poll tax?

Or is a necessary expenditure to vote only a poll tax when it helps ensure that people not eligible to vote can't?

Posted by: McGehee at 3:03 PM on 20 September 2005

The real question here, I suspect, is "What if there were no charge for the ID card?"

(The earlier reference on this site linked to this post by Don Danz.)

Posted by: CGHill at 3:09 PM on 20 September 2005

First, I don't really care how cheap McGeehee thinks something is. If you have to pay to get to vote, it's a poll tax.

Oh, meadow muffins by the ton (since someone objected to the proper terminology for this notion).

If you have a job, you are more than likely being paid by check, and in order to cash that check (for cash), you must have some sort of ID (State, DL, whatever). Most people get paid -at least- as frequently as twice monthly, therefore, they've paid the money for the ID (of whatever stripe) for twenty-plus times more frequent necessity of exchanging the check for the more usable "lean green".

Your notion that requiring a photo ID to vote by deciding that it's a poll tax is insane and ludicrous and downright silly.

Posted by: unimpressed at 3:43 PM on 20 September 2005

I don't have a problem with the concept, but do agree it is a form of poll tax.

If Republicans disagree, and want to make this a partisan issue, how about adding the cost of voter ID cards as a voter registration fee for registered Republicans? That should solve that problem.

Posted by: MikeH at 6:37 PM on 20 September 2005

I said, "If you have to pay a penny to the state to vote, it's a poll tax." The costs of living to vote are obviously not a poll tax. I should have included the phrase "to the state" after every use of the verb "pay," but I had this silly hope that no one would be this pedantic.

As for "unimpressed," I certainly am unimpressed with the notion you seem to be advancing that we should only worry if employed people get to vote or not. "If you get a paycheck, you already have ID, so it's not a problem?" Provide full employment and that will stop being as patently silly as it is.

Furthermore, it is not my "notion that requiring a photo ID to vote [decides] that it's a poll tax." It is a fact that if a citizen has to pay the government any fee to get to vote, it is a poll tax.

OETA's Oklahoma News Report just ran a story on this very topic, including an interview with the very proper (and I mean that in the sense of my grandma - old and white) Rep. Tibbs, whose only reasons to adopt this were that she had "been told" that it was "possible" to vote multiple times in Tulsa.

Oh, and "other states" are doing it, so we should "get on the bandwagon," a rationale I'd love to see her queried about if a few more states legalize gay marriage.

I'm far less opposed to the concept if the ID cards are free, and in that case, it cannot be considered a poll tax. However, the secretary of Oklahoma's Board of Elections was on the OETA report, and he said that the problem is not so much that people may not have a free ID card as that they forget to bring it. He's not fond of the idea of people going to the polls and being turned away because they didn't bring an ID card they never otherwise use.

The facts, dear complainers, are that this plan puts an obstacle in the way of voting, all to solve a "problem" that no one can supply any evidence even exists. This is what the Animaniacs called, "Bad Idea."

What is it with this conservative fetish to make everything more difficult because someone told someone else's friend that someone somewhere was getting away with something?

Posted by: Matt at 6:56 PM on 20 September 2005

So Dick Tracy and Mary Poppins really did register in Ohio?

Posted by: CGHill at 7:31 PM on 20 September 2005

See, this is what I'm talking about. You can mention two people in Ohio who may have voted fraudulently, in support of a bill that everyone admits would turn away hundreds or thousands of people who have every right to vote, just because they don't have photo ID at the polls.

The Republic survived well over two hundred years without requiring photo IDs, and there's less individual voter fraud than ever before, but now we need to risk turning people away because of two people in Ohio? Where's the evidence that this problem needs a solution that puts a new obligation on everyone? Nowhere, that's where.

It's like ending welfare because some woman somewhere allegely bought a Cadillac on welfare money, or soft-pedalling a lack of assistance to areas hit by Katrina because "someone" may have chosen to stay behind to loot something, or (a la Florida 2000) not caring that 9,000 legitimate voters were turned away because their names may have matched disenfranchised felons.

Why doesn't this "let's close this alleged loophole" conservative fetish ever apply to tax loopholes?

Posted by: Matt at 8:14 PM on 20 September 2005

If you really believe that vote fraud is (1) diminishing and (2) not a significant problem, you're going to be in for a severe shock next time you put a broken tooth under your pillow.

I'd tell you to buy a clue, but you'd probably ask for a subsidy for it.

Posted by: CGHill at 8:29 PM on 20 September 2005

There is substantial and significant historical evidence of voter fraud - individual voter fraud that could have been prevented by simple, reasonable measures such as these. The "lack of evidence" you posit is a few Democratic secretaries of state shrugging their shoulders and saying "Someone would have complained if there were double voting." Or "What, me worry?"

What about fraudulent registrations? What about deceased voters? Nobody's going to complain about double voting in these cases. Fraudsters are smart and the system is dumb. They know how to game the system and leave little evidence.

We DO have evidence of fake registrations and other types of substantial voter fraud.

Add 25 cents to the cost of drivers' licenses and make the ID-only card free.

Butt there will still be people opposed to this solution. Why? Because it tightens up the system and make sure that people who can't vote, don't vote.

And really - how many people who can't even remember to take their ID to the polls are going to know the issues and take the initiative to vote? We're talking about a very small number. No matter how easy we make it - some will be opposed because it threatens their fraudulent power base.

Posted by: Dan at 8:33 PM on 20 September 2005

Such animosity towards the concept of making voting as easy as possible. :-(

Dan: Your links are interesting, but for the one from the National Review, I counter with research showing that voter registration rolls seem to be rogered in most states. The National Review, of course, only manages to find errors that would seem to benefit Democrats.

And y'all seem to forget that this is a sensitive topic for a very good reason - a large segment of folks in this part of the country used "tests" and "IDs" and "taxes" as a way to keep black people from voting for a long, long, long time. There are still efforts underway in cities to keep black people from voting by telling them that they'll be arrested if they have any unpaid fines, or that they're supposed to vote on Wednesday. You start adding any kind of obstacle to voting and people are going to get nervous, with good reason.

Remember how "innocent until proven guilty" was supposed to mean that we knowingly let some guilty people go free so that no innocent people were imprisoned? After the civil rights movement, most of the country agreed that we're going to make voting so open that no one can interfere with it, even though that means some people may vote twice.

I'm all for addressing problems in voting. I think the bigger problems are like Ohio, where voters waited in line for 12 hours in Democratic precincts while Republican precincts had so many extra voting machines that no one waited at all.

I'm opposed to this idea of adding a requirement to everyone's voting - especially when such requirements have long been used in this part of the country for disenfranchisement - without addressing the other problems. I think the goal should be "one verified vote per person with no delays."

I don't think making people carry picture IDs to the polls gets us there.

Posted by: Matt at 10:50 PM on 20 September 2005

So why not just add a photo to the current voter registration card (and don't charge for it), and then require that the voter present that card before they vote?

Posted by: Bobbert at 8:46 AM on 21 September 2005

While I'm all for tightening up the voting process, it seems clear to me that requiring a state-issued ID that one must purchase is,indeed, a poll tax. We do have voter ID cards and I don't see any reason not to require a voter to show that before voting. The excuse that some people forget to bring them is quite silly, actually. If the cards are required, responsible voters will bring them. Or, have we completely thrown out the concept of personal responsibility?

I realize the voter cards do not have photos (yet) - but requiring the card would at least slow voter fraud.

Although I agree this is a poll-tax issue, I am cynical enough to believe the lawsuits were thought up by enterprising plaintiff's attorneys who saw a way to make a buck. But that is another story about the raping of the poor.

Posted by: Jan at 1:08 PM on 21 September 2005

I don't think there's much money to be made in these lawsuits - there are no damages awarded in overturning something as unconstitutional, and I don't think the winners even get attorney's fees from the other side.

I have my voter registration card with me, even though I don't need it, because I put it in my wallet and forgot about it. But still, I remember lots of people at my former (and not in any way disadvantaged) church remark on the Sunday before an election that they didn't even know where their polling place was because they'd moved around. The chances that they'd remember an ID card if they hadn't put it in their wallets/purses at the moment they'd gotten it were almost nil.

If they'd lost their wallet or purse since the previous election, they'd be turned away at the polls; there's almost no chance they'd remember to get it replaced. That's why the commission recommended using driver's licenses, I think - at least people remember they need them, if they do need them.

There are ways to make showing ID easier, and to make it not a poll tax, but I'll wrap up my part of all this by repeating that I don't think a plan that puts a new requirement on 220-million-plus voters nationwide is the best way to fix this. There has to be a smarter solution that doesn't tell voters, "remember something new or you don't count."

Posted by: Matt at 1:27 PM on 21 September 2005

Requiring a government-issued photo ID wouldn't be a new requirement on 220-million-plus voters nationwide. The overwhelming majority will already have a photo ID for driving, for claiming welfare benefits, or for some other purpose. If the concern is laying an intolerable financial burden on voters, then allow people who have no driver's license and are receiving government assistance to get a photo ID card for free.

Posted by: Michael Bates at 7:29 PM on 21 September 2005