Voter ID Laws

07/13/2012 12:45 pm
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So I thought I'd ruminate for a moment about a subject that has creeped into the public square recently: Voter ID Laws. Texas is in a fight right now regarding a voter ID law they passed. Wisconsin passed a voter ID law but had it ruled unconstitutional by a Dane County judge. Proponents say they are necessary to prevent voter fraud, opponents say they are akin to a poll tax, which are forbidden by the 24th amendment. So that got me interested in looking at what these laws are all about.

First, the 24th amendment:
The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

With the recent supreme court decision regarding Congress�s ability to require a citizen to purchase health care or pay a fine that the court ruled to essentially be a tax, one could surmise that any requirement by a state to require a resident to purchase something in order to vote is likely a tax under the same logic. So that got me looking at what the Wisconsin law required under the law that was passed but rule unconstitutional.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures website, the Wisconsin law had 7 types of identification that it would have required an elector to present in order to vote:
A Wisconsin driver�s license
US uniformed service ID card
Wisconsin non-driver ID
US Passport
Certification of naturalization
ID card from an Indian tribe of WI
Or a student ID card that is less than two years expired

The most common type of ID is probably the driver�s license, and most of the rest are what you might think of as specialized ID cards. Not many of us are uniformed service members, most voters probably don�t have a recent student ID card, and most of us wouldn�t have been naturalized within the last 2 years. So really, the two or 3 that are even options to the majority of potential voters are a driver�s license, a non-driver ID (both of which need to be Wisconsin IDs), or a US passport.

If you have a driver�s license, there is no burden really for you to vote because you could argue that you don�t need the card to vote but rather to drive. So having it would moreso be viewed as �you have it anyway, so why not require you to show it�. But, not everyone has a driver�s license. If you don�t have a driver�s license, you can get a Wisconsin issued non-driver ID card. According to DMV.com, Wisconsin charges $33.50 for the ID card, and residents must apply in person at a DMV location.
So by my count, Wisconsin would have had 7 forms of ID that would be used for voter ID. 4 of those IDs are somewhat specialized that the person would obtain for some reason other than voting (like going to school or the act of becoming a citizen or being in the military). The other 3 (drivers, non drivers license, and passport) are all essentially discretionary forms of ID that someone can choose to obtain or not obtain, and all 3 cost the person a fee.

Now, on to some commentary. You don�t need a driver�s license to be a citizen of the US. You don�t need a state photo ID to be a citizen of the US. You don�t need a passport to be a citizen of the US. You don�t need a student ID, or military ID, a Native American ID, or naturalization papers to be a citizen of the United States. But Wisconsin attempted to make these forms of ID the required documents in order to vote. It would be one thing if Wisconsin provided some form of ID for no charge, which I don�t believe it did. If the state of Wisconsin provided free of charge any resident without the proper ID a state issued photo ID card, this might be different, and I don�t know that the law did that. Since the law requires you to obtain an ID that you have to pay for in order to cast a vote, it seems fairly blatant that this would not pass the test of the 24th amendment banning the �poll tax or any other tax�.
matt.jpgMatt - 3373 Posts
07/13/2012 @ 11:42:30 PM
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http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/drivers/apply/idcard.htm

Looks like you can get one free, if you are of voting age and don't already have an ID.

I think they started doing this when the law was passed, and have kept it up while the law is in the courts.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
07/14/2012 @ 03:00:10 PM
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Ah, so I see. So that qualifies then as "it might be different". Key word being "might".
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scott.jpgScott - If you aren't enough without it, you'll never be enough with it.
07/14/2012 @ 03:02:35 PM
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Also, apparently writing a blog in MS word and then copying the text into NutCan doesn't work too good. The links are fixed now, but not the crazy "?" characters.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
07/31/2012 @ 10:50:19 AM
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I've read that birth certificates weren't issued regularly in some places many years ago, so that it's possible that older people might not ever have gotten a birth certificate for their personal records. It would seem that in order to obtain to "free" non-driving state ID card, someone without a birth certificate would first need to obtain a birth certificate as a requirement to get the ID card.

In this case, here is what you need to obtain a birth certificate, according to Wisconsin's Department of Health Services website:
Requires ONE of the following:
Wisconsin driver's license with photo
Wisconsin I.D. with photo
Out-of-state driver's license/I.D. with photo



OR

Requires TWO of the following:
Government-issued employee I.D. badge with photo
U.S. passport
Checkbook/bankbook
Major credit card
Health insurance card
Recent dated, signed lease
Utility bill or traffic ticket

It's probably unlikely, but still possible that coming up with the documents listed above could be difficult for some individuals. The cost for applying for a birth certificate is $20. So it appears that even if the state issues an ID card at no cost, if the individual doesn't have a birth certificate in their posession, they would have to apply for one at a cost of $20 then apply for an ID card. In this case, it would cost $20 to vote. One time fee, of course, but it still is a fee that is required in order to vote.
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thumbnailCAW1I0O3.gifMatt - 3373 Posts
08/01/2012 @ 12:02:01 AM
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You're reaching a bit there.
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scott.jpgScott - Get Up! Get outta here! Gone!
08/01/2012 @ 07:50:46 AM
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Well, when a Republican law maker implies that Democrats are rampant fraudulent voters (how else would the law "allow Governor Romney to win the state" if not for rampant fraud by Democratic voters?), inspite of the fact that the same state acknowledges there is no evidence of there actually being voter fraud, I'd say there's nothing unreasonable about poking holes in a law that will have the effect (whether intended or unintended) of supressing votes for people that would otherwise have the right to vote. In Pennsylvania, nearly 13% of the electorate lacks the necessary ID to vote.

So maybe now I'm getting into the validity of the policy rather than the constitutionality of it, but I still stand by my argument. It's borderline unconstitutional, and in my opinion it is a solution in search of a problem. Afterall, if you make voting too difficult, only criminals will vote, right?
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Scott perfected this 3 times, last at 08/01/2012 7:57:48 am
thumbnailCAW1I0O3.gifMatt - Washington Bureau Chief
08/14/2012 @ 09:56:03 PM
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Here are a few articles I've seen lately on Voter ID/election fraud. Make of them what you will.

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/313053/getting-it-wrong-voter-id-hans-von-spakovsky?pg=1

http://washingtonexaminer.com/york-when-1099-felons-vote-in-race-won-by-312-ballots/article/2504163#.UCsCaaDW_2Y

http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/08/03/2930855/inside-the-shady-world-of-ballot.html
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scott.jpgScott - Get Up! Get outta here! Gone!
08/15/2012 @ 11:51:52 AM
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Regarding Byron York's article, would voter ID laws make any difference in votes cast by felons or others who are otherwise inelligable to vote for reasons other than citizenship? Does the voter ID (like a driver's license), say "I'm John Smith, and I can't vote because I robbed a bank?" I ask somewhat sarcastically and somewhat seriously. Would voter ID solve this type of voter fraud? Or would it only prevent a non-citizen from voting? It seems to me that York's scenario about the MN senate race, voter ID laws would not have done anything to address the problem he found.

I actually sent this email to Bryon York:

I have a question regarding your article form August 6, 2012 that addressed issues with voter fraud in the Minnesota Senate election of 2008. Who would be prevented from voting with the implementation of voter ID laws? Would someone who is ineligible to vote because of a felony conviction or other behavioral penalty be caught by a system that requires an ID at the ballot box? Or would the law only catch and prevent people from voting who didn't have the ID in the first place, either because of laziness, lack of US citizenship, or any other reason? I ask because if the Minnesota Senate race is a prime example of voter fraud, and the voter ID laws in place in other states only prevent non-IDed persons from voting, wouldn't this still be a failure to address the issue of legal citizens with proper ID (like a driver's license) from presenting the IDs and voting? The only people it would seem to prevent from voting are those that simply lack the proper ID, not those that "aren't supposed to vote" because of a felony conviction or prior voter fraud issues. It seems that if this is the case, the voter ID law is missing the point while letting other, far more egregious infractions fall through the cracks.
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Scott edited this 4 times, last at 08/15/2012 12:06:29 pm
scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
08/15/2012 @ 12:28:37 PM
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I think the same question could be asked about the Miami Hearld article. How does voter ID address that problem?
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matt.jpgMatt - 3373 Posts
08/15/2012 @ 06:21:01 PM
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It might, it might not. My point in posting was that fraud is a problem and measures to eliminate it are not just to suppress the vote. Also, as the York article mentioned, the same people against ID laws usually also fight against other measures as well, such as purging ineligible people from the rolls.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
08/15/2012 @ 08:53:19 PM
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If voter ID causes legitimate voters for whatever reason under sun not to be able to vote while doing virtually nothing to stop the type of voter fraud that York talks about, I would say it is a stupid policy at best, and the motives behind it should rightfully be questioned. Voter ID laws seem to be addressing a problem that doesn't exist. If purging the voter rolls addresses a problem, then fight that battle. But when the same people who are doing that (for probably practical and legitimate purposes) are also waging the war to enact voter ID laws, the entire movement comes into question. A policy that doesn't solve the problem that it claims to try to address while possibly limiting otherwise legal activity is as pointless as it is suspicious.

Those that say fraud is a problem seem to treat any attempts to address ANYTHING as 100% necessary. Fraud is probably a problem in some cases. But just because "fraud is a problem" doesn't automatically mean that illegal immigrants are voting by the thousands. Fraud is a very vague term that could describe any number of actions. If felons are voting, then purge the voter rolls and make people re-register. Don't require something that won't prevent anything.

Matt Wrote - Today @ 06:21:01 PM
It might, it might not.


This seems like a common theme among supporters of voter ID laws. "It might address voter fraud, it might not. But either way we MUST do it anyway."
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Scott screwed with this 2 times, last at 08/15/2012 8:58:29 pm
scott.jpgScott - No, I did not change your screen saver settings
08/16/2012 @ 03:09:42 PM
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To summarize my last post in a couple short sentences: if you are going to address the issue of voter fraud, create solutions that address actual, evidence based problems and fight that battle, rather than take on every possible scenario that your imagination can conjur up. Fighting the battle of purging voter rolls with the specific intent to weed out felons and other ineligeable voters would be a little easier if the same people weren't also waging battles in other areas where problems don't exist and thus their "solutions" are nothing more than unecessary red tape.
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matt.jpgMatt - 3373 Posts
08/17/2012 @ 02:27:36 PM
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I don't think it's unreasonable to set up a system where only those who are eligible are on the rolls, and to verify that only those people vote, you use some sort of identification system. Now, you say there is no evidence to say that people are committing fraud that could be stopped by voter id laws (I disagree - more on that later). First, the same people who deny that this type of fraud exists, also typically deny that any fraud exists, even when we know that this is not true. They also overstate how many people would be affected by needing an ID. Why should I believe them about the one aspect of the issue, when they are wrong and/or dishonest about the other aspects.

Secondly, I don't think it's a stretch to assume that where there's smoke, there is fire. You don't have to look very hard each election season, to find stories of shady practices and registration/voter fraud. The problem is that even when you find the irregularities, its hard to prove intent enough to proceed to criminal charges, so you end up with only likelihoods and allegations. I would say this is especially true in cases of voter impersonation, where, it seems to me, it would be even harder to detect and prove. The bottom line is that even I can see how easy it would be to vote for someone else. I could easily do it here in Wisconsin if I wanted to. When campaigns/parties will do anything they can to win an election, I think its safe to assume that there will be many people who won't be constrained by notions of morality like most of us are.

Finally, a new article I just came across: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/314273/voter-fraud-keystone-state-john-fund

Key passages:

"The report, which looked at only 1 percent of the city’s 1,687 districts, found cases of double voting, voter impersonation, and voting by non-citizens, as well as 23 people who were not registered to vote but nonetheless voted. Schmidt also found reports of people who were counted as voting in the wrong party’s primary."

and

"The more honest among them acknowledge that the city has long been a fount of corruption, including when Republicans ran a machine that dominated it for 80 years until the 1950s. During that period, not a single Democrat was elected mayor, in part because of massive Republican-led voter fraud. All that changed after Democrats seized control of the levers of city power was that they perfected what former Democratic mayor Ed Rendell once admitted to me was "a yeasty system where the rule of law isn’t always followed.""

and

"A big thing that drove me to leave the Democratic party and support photo ID was the realization that the real victims of voter fraud are minority and poor people who live in places where machines block reform efforts by stealing votes ... voting in the names of the dead, and the nonexistent, and the too-mentally impaired to function cancels out the votes of citizens who are exercising their rights - that’s suppression by any light. If you doubt it exists, I don’t; I’ve heard the peddlers of those ballots brag about it, I’ve been asked to provide the funds for it, and I am confident it has changed at least a few close local election results"
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Matt perfected this 2 times, last at 08/17/2012 2:33:30 pm
scott.jpgScott - Resident Tech Support
08/22/2012 @ 09:07:35 AM
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Matt Wrote - 08/17/2012 @ 02:27:36 PM
First, the same people who deny that this type of fraud exists, also typically deny that any fraud exists, even when we know that this is not true. "


I don't think this is true at all. Even the proponents of voter ID freely admit that they have virtually no evidence of this type of voter fraud and that the voter ID laws are little more than preventative measures. As I stated before, the state of Pennsylvania has formally acknowledged that there’s been no reported in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania and there isn’t likely to be in November.

And looking at some of the quotes you posted from that article, voter IDs would do nothing about Double Voting and probably nothing about voting without registering. I mean, if someone is going into vote even though they already voted, they could have shown their ID both times and the polling volunteer can still let them vote. The same thing about voting without registering; showing a driver's license doesn't say anything about a polling place attendant's ability to make sure that said person is actually on the list. Because even today, you still have to say who you are and the attendant has to cross your name off the registration list. Voter ID would do nothing for this.

So we are back to, in my opinion, a solution that does not address the problem about which the solution's proponents are crying foul.
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Scott perfected this 5 times, last at 08/22/2012 9:29:38 am
matt.jpgMatt - 3373 Posts
08/22/2012 @ 01:06:16 PM
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As I said before, the very nature of that kind of voter fraud makes it very difficult to uncover, let alone gather enough evidence to start a proper criminal investigation and/or prosecution.

As for the quotes I posted, I don't see your point. Why should it matter that some of the issues brought up might not be affected by Voter ID when the quotes also mention issues that definitely would be? Further, as I said before, the prevalence of some forms of voter fraud gives credence to the notion that there is likely a problem with other forms as well. Voter ID is meant to give the tools to uncover this and prevent it.

More here: http://www.mailmagazine24.com/misc/08-2012/the-unfounded-case-against-pennsylvanias-voter-id-law.html
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Matt perfected this 2 times, last at 08/22/2012 1:08:25 pm
scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
10/24/2012 @ 10:35:21 AM
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It turns out that you do indeed have to pay for a birth certificate, as I found out this weekend. So you have to pay for a document that is required in order to be eligible to vote.
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - I hate our freedoms
10/24/2012 @ 09:16:55 PM
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I read an article the other day, which may or may not have been covered here because I didn't read anything on the page until now, and also might be not true, but evidently even the free ID isn't free unless you ask. The DMV is taking the free upon request clause literally so the ID you need to vote that isn't a drivers license will show a fee that they'll ask you to pay unless you actually say the words "isn't this supposed to be free?" At which point they give it to you for free.
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