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Monday, October 29, 2012

Pioneer Press Editorial Destroys Voter ID Opponents

--posted by Tony Garcia on 10/29/2012

All of the arguments against Voter ID are answered quite soundly in this St Paul Pioneer Press editorial.

From the Constitutional Question:
Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, writing about Indiana's voter ID law, said it was "amply justified by the valid interests in protecting 'the integrity and reliability of the electoral process.'" Stevens was a liberal justice writing on behalf of the Supreme Court, which found in favor of the law by a 6-3 margin. Stevens went on to say that "We cannot conclude that the statue imposes 'excessively burdensome requirements' on any class of voters."
Addressing the fabricated cost expectation:
The other objections to the amendment are less central. Opponents say it will be expensive. To which the supporters note that the opponents are always eager to spend unless and until it comes time to tighten up the voting process. Not to mention that if the state is so backward that it cannot efficiently administer something as ordinary and universal as Photo ID verification, it's high time it upped its game.
The pure instinctual reason to support Voter ID:
Polls suggest that Minnesota's Voter ID amendment will pass, perhaps easily. If so, it is because on the surface it just seems to make so much sense. Virtually any activity of any consequence in this society requires a photo ID. Nobody accuses other institutions of suppression or worse when they require photo ID during the regular course of their activities.
Now opponents claim that there is no problem and there is not even th potential for a problem. Pioneer Press hits that one out of the park, too.
Remember, in Minnesota anybody can simply show up at the polls and vote, whether they have previously registered or not. They "register" on the spot with as little documentation as an old ID and an invoice with an address on it. In 2008, roughly 500,000 people (!) showed up and voted after registering on the spot. That number of same-day registrants represents nearly 20 percent of the votes cast. No one knows how many of these votes may have been ineligible. A recent video from the state of Virginia records the son of a politician explaining how to cast votes by using fake documents such as water bills. And what makes matters worse is that once a vote is cast it is counted, and cannot be un-counted, even if the voter is later found to have been ineligible.

Without an ID there is no way to verify even the most elementary things such as citizenship. Post-election, more than 6,000 of the addresses given by these same-day-registrant voters came back as undeliverable in a routine postal check. Even if the legwork was done to determine which if any of those votes were ineligible, the votes themselves could not be un-counted. (Emphasis added)
6,000 of the 500,000 same day registrants had undeliverable addresses. That is 12%. That is nearly 3,000% of Al Franken's margin of victory that year.

The editorial addresses something I believe should be ditched altogether, the asinine allowance of vouching for someone's identity.
But the system is even more porous than that. The vouching process allows people to show up at the polls without a shred of evidence that they are eligible to vote, and cast a ballot on the say-so of someone who "vouches" that they are indeed eligible to vote. And the person who vouches is permitted to vouch for up to 15 people, all of whom have no documents that would qualify them to vote. We don't know a lot about the vouching process because records on vouched votes are scarce, seldom reported, and what records do exist are destroyed after 18 months. As with ineligible votes cast through the same-day registration process, ineligible vouched votes once cast cannot be un-counted.
Remember also that while voter fraud alone would be cause to vote for Voter ID the real target in protecting the integrity of the election process is intelligible votes being stopped, not just fraudulent activity.
Opponents of the amendment base their arguments on voter fraud -- or, more precisely, the lack thereof. But there's a lot of misdirection in that argument. Proponents are interested in protecting against ineligible votes in general, not just the presumably smaller subset of fraudulent votes. Fraud is very difficult to prove, and in a system as loose as Minnesota's would likely be a small fraction of the total number of ineligible votes. Even so, there have been 200 convictions of voter fraud since 2008 -- primarily felons who weren't eligible to vote -- and the total number of ineligible votes is arguably significantly higher. The focus by opponents on voter fraud is a means of avoiding the larger issue.

It is fair to say that the electoral process in Minnesota is much looser than opponents of this measure are willing to admit. And if we accept the claim that despite the points outlined above there really is not a problem, the counter argument would be that it's for sure a problem waiting to happen.
Three are commercials on the air now that have grandma pleading on about how she has lived in her home for nearly a century and somehow cannot get out to get and ID which means she will not be able to vote when she gets out to go to the polls. My first thought is that if it is a priority enough (as it should) to get out of the house than so too should it be a priority to get an ID. You need ID to get your meds or cash a check or make a cash-back deposit.

The other thing that the commercial has the old lady say is the oft heard and absolutely disingenuous plea to "send it back" to "get it right". This implies something that we all know is not true, that there is a version of this concept that they would support. I think it is safe to say that almost 100% of the people who utter that would never support any version of identification verification for voting. I have found this when I ask those opponents "what needs to be fixed to make it supportable?" The answer is a shrug, an I don't know and an insistence that it is not their job. In other words they cannot even conceive any way they could support the idea. Bottom line there is I do not believe anyone who uses the tactic of "send it back and tell them to fix it" is being honest. They are trying to appear reasonable in their opposition and lying while doing so. The honest response would be to say "requiring ID to vote is never right, I oppose it in all iterations." Dishonest in the attempt to persuade deceive. Grandma in the commercial included.

I know, that is not allowed to be said about the dear old and frail looking lady who is has so much difficulty getting around that her cane is even sharing the shot with her. But the deception attempt has to be called out. Fortunately I believe that none of my readers are dumb enough to fall for that gambit.
It may be worth remembering, in the fog of the debate, that generally speaking those who oppose the amendment would still oppose it even if it cost the state nothing and exempted absentee ballots. The arguments brought to bear by the opponents are simply tools -- incidentals -- used to defeat an amendment that they fundamentally oppose in all its forms. Plain and simple, they are against using Photo ID in the election process. Opponents are not saying that they are for it as implemented by some other state, just not as it has been drawn up in this particular amendment. They are against the very concept, regardless of the particulars.
Absentee ballots? That whole process is, to coin an expression from a close friend, ridiculous like clown shoes. It is a luxury, to be honest, but one worth fixing and making better. Notice with that broken process we have not scrapped it because it is so far from perfect? Now examine what opponents say about Voter ID in relation to absentee ballots.
Another issue raised is the handling of absentee ballots and the lack of clear provisions for how Photo IDs work in that circumstance, to which the supporters respond that the amendment allows for "substantially equivalent" verification standards. To the objection that this sort of thing shouldn't be handled as a constitutional amendment, the supporters point out that the state constitution has plenty to say about the voting process. To the objection that passage of the amendment will lead to a great deal of litigation, supporters answer that there will be plenty of litigation regardless, and that it's a bit ironic coming from opponents who regularly pursue their agendas through the courts. Opponents say that whatever else may be true, Photo ID will not fix all the problems, to which supporters argue that in a process as important as the vote we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
To me the slam dunk is with regards to suppression of voters.
Opponents fear that higher standards will suppress their vote. While this concern is understandable, they offer no evidence that this indeed has happened in states that implemented Voter ID. If there were evidence that Photo ID suppressed the vote in other states that practice it, you can be certain that this would be Exhibit A in the case made against it. Opponents talk of hundreds of thousands of eligible voters who might potentially be denied the franchise, but they have brought no evidence that such measures have indeed repressed the vote in other states.
Truer words in politics are difficult to come by and bear repeating. "If there were evidence that Photo ID suppressed the vote in other states that practice it, you can be certain that this would be Exhibit A in the case made against it. "

This is a very easy issue. Minnesota's voting process over emphasizes the priority of voter turnout numbers at the overwhelming sacrifice of a system that can be deemed as integrable. In fact, it seems to be that the drive for high voter turnout numbers is a higher priority than safe and protected elections based on the processes that exist. Voter ID easily maintains the obviously top priority on the voter turnout statistic while actually improving the integrity of the ballot box to its current second world state of existence.

Personal note: This topic was the cause for an ending of a friendship. There was a husband of a former friend who portrayed himself as the only all-knowing demi-god authority on all things voter related in Minnesota. He reminded me for some reason of the bug-thing monster voiced by Steve Buscemi in "Monster, Inc.". He, and only he, was the authority on voter issues. All others were obligated to worship his superiority and acquiesce their insignificant and incorrect views to his or bear the unending wrath of hatred and profanity and insults.

I say former friend because the wife admitted her husband was well beyond being out of line in discussions but then dutifully retracted her apology saying it is her husband so he must be right. She said she needed space until the election was over and I decided that kind of disrespect will not magically disappear the day after the election...and it is unhealthy to keep it in my life. She had done the same thing to me about global warming as her husband does to people on voter issues. Some people just need to be let go from our lives and they be them.

But I digress.

Aside from him being the biggest ass I have ever dealt with (which is saying something considering I have had to deal with the idiots from the Westboro Baptist Church) he was also one of the most arrogant piles of flesh I have ever witnessed. I wish I could hear his apoplectic vitriolic reaction to the Pioneer Press editorial before casting him to the heap of irrelevance in the past.

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