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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Call Me Cynical - Voter ID Is An Absurd Requirement

Category: Voting
Posted: 01/15/12 02:15, Edited: 01/17/12 10:54

by Dave Mindeman

I suspect that we will be subjected to yet another attack on the Minnesota Constitution next November....an attack on your right to vote.

David Strom, former head of the Taxpayer's League and the MN Free Market Institute, thinks that Voter ID is a no-brainer....

Call me cynical, but I don?t for a moment take seriously the arguments against requiring a photo identification to vote. Nor do I believe that most opponents of photo ID take them seriously either.

OK- you're cynical. You're also way off base. Strom makes his argument in favor of voter ID this way:

Consider the simple fact that it is illegal to get a job in the United States without a government-issued photo ID. Not to mention a Social Security card. In other words, without an ID it is impossible to provide oneself with food, housing, or any of the other necessities of life legally.

What Strom seems to be missing is that the attempt to do something illegal via documentation is not stopped by a photo ID requirement. Anyone who wants to get a job as a non-citizen can get fake documents. Even E-Verify has been found to be flawed. And as we know all too well, getting a fake Social Security number is a cottage industry in this country.

If somebody really wanted to go to all that trouble to vote illegally in an election, photo ID wouldn't be any kind of deterrent.

And in addtion, Mr. Strom apparently dismisses a very relevant point. What is the return on such a fraud? While Voter ID proponents point to the Franken-Coleman election as their prime example, who can predict an election margin of a handful of votes? Who can possibly know that this will be the end result?

To change the outcome of an election via fraudulent votes, there would have to a massive conspiracy to involve thousands of illegal voters....or people voting a multitude of times without detection.

To actually throw an election would require much more planning than we have ever seen in election fraud. Quite frankly, it would be much easier to tamper with computer data and switch numbers around electronically than have people fraudulently vote at the polls. Number tampering would be much easier and more of a certainty in getting the outcome you want.

And exactly how would a Voter ID requirement stop a hacker?

Voter ID is not going to stop serious voter fraud, but it absolutely can be a problem for legal, legitimate voters.

We already know of the difficulties this can produce for students, the elderly, the sick, and the poor. Anecdotal evidence in other states that have voter ID laws have shown elderly voters who have voted since the 1940s, 50's, or 60's are suddenly blocked from one of their most basic rights.

This undo burden for a simple democratic act must never disgrace our Minnesota Constitution. We may think that we are acting in good faith to protect the integrity of the vote, but we would be wrong. It has little value in stopping any real fraud but it has a much greater capability of suppressing legitimate votes.

Mr. Strom makes a big deal about making purchases with ID or needing ID to make a legal transaction. But those acts give us something in return. They have a personal pupose....we get something.

We don't get much reward for voting. Maybe a little red sticker that we slap on our lapel. Or a sense of satisfaction in doing our public duty.

But if we establish obstacles that can make it more difficult to vote, we reduce the liklihood that people on the margins will even bother. Mr. Strom may consider himself cynical but it pales in the realization of how cynical the American voter has generally become.

That is why voting the privilege, must not become voting the bother. Minnesota is a leader in making the right to vote the simplest of tasks.

We want everyone, everywhere to exercise that right.

Voter ID is not a necessary requirement and most certainly is not something that should muddy up the Constitutional document that guarantees that right.
comments (3) permalink
01/17/12 09:28
Great article and great comments.
01/16/12 15:14
This is a cautionary tail against accepting a Republican frame or the information they state as fact. One should always assume, as in David Strom?s case, that Republicans will create information that has no basis in fact in order to make their rhetoric sound more logical.

First, it is possible to get a job ?without a government issued photo ID or a Social Security card.? Therefore it is possible ?to provide oneself with food, housing or any of the other necessities of life legally? without a government issued ID. Not to mention the fact that independent contractors do not have to file I-9s or show IDs or provide proof of citizenship to be paid for doing work.

In the case of employees, the requirements are similar to the current voter registration requirements, in that there is a buffet of identification options that have the ability to be verified. And similar to the current voter registration requirements, if you don?t have a main form of identification, two other forms of identification to verify both identity and work eligibility will be sufficient. For example, a person may not have a specific government issued photo ID, therefore they may use a voter?s registration card, school record, report card, or hospital record in combination with a birth record, or social security card, or Native American tribal document just to name a few. Similarly voter registration can be done by either one government form of identification or two documents that both provide identity and the eligibility to vote in that particular precinct. More importantly, as with our current voter registration system, registration officials or employers are not allowed to discriminate or specify which documents are acceptable or preferable under the government mandated criteria. The variety of identification sources is done to protect the arbitrariness of any particular process in order to prevent discrimination in both voting and employment.

What is missing in the debate is the fact that there is plenty of verification for identification at the voter registration level to prevent fraud at the polls. And, unlike illegal immigration/worker issues, there is a strong bipartisan stance against any form of voter fraud or corruption. In other words, the disdain for violations is inherently built into our culture. Therefore, there are not only harsh penalties for voter fraud/corruption, but those harsh penalties are actually enforced.

Consequently, since it would take enormous amounts of people for in-person voter fraud and large conspiracies to overthrow the legitimate will of legal and eligible voters, there are no real incentives to commit in-person voter fraud since the sheer number needed for success substantially increase the likelihood of getting caught and suffer swift justice.

Therefore the cumbersome system and our culture is an enormous deterrent against fraud/corruption and voter ID is simply a voter deterrent. There are way too many scenarios in which a legal and eligible voter may be prevented from exercising their important rights including nursing home residents who have no use for an ID, military men and women using their parents home as their residence but have no government id to verify such a choice, ditzes, such as myself, who may put their drivers license through the wash and render it useless for identification purposes, a person who has recently moved and has no means of identifying address with a government photo ID, a college student, tribal member, new citizens, the list is endless.

On the other hand, all participants in illegal immigration/workers have a huge profit incentive to continue to the practice and the results for ignoring such crimes have been financially devastating to American workers, the economy and respect for the rule of law. The cheap labor lobby makes a lot of money and drives down the wages and working conditions of legal workers which also results in our overall weakening economy. The unions who have suffered from the politically motivated elimination of legal protections both want and need more dues paying members simply to survive. And the political immigration advocacy groups not only have profit motive, but they gain more power and prestige by ensuring the continuing the practice of treating illegal immigration document fraud differently from similar economic crimes. The result of allowing these identify fraud crimes to grow is the slow erosion of workers wages, benefits, working conditions, respect for the law, and also institutes the disparate treatment of similar economic crimes for Americans as well as the erosion of document fraud criminal prosecutions overall (bankers and Wall Street Barrons for example). There are so many ironies in these crimes, one of which is the fact that union advocacy of illegal immigration has actually worked to drive down the wages the unions seek to raise, but it also works in favor of employers to provide replacement workers in the times of strikes.

Yet, I have witnessed no similar actions by the Republican establishment to pass equivalent remedies for the illegal immigrant identity crimes as they have been pushing for voter identification. Yes, you see kabuki theater, but no real measures by the majority of the Republican establishment in Congress.

01/15/12 09:02

Gosh, let me understand this correctly, is Mr. Storm endorsing the idea of REGULATIONS, which dictate business responsibilities in the hiring process, are good ? I thought all regulations were bad and killing the job creators ?

Gosh, I didn't know that you had to "work" for someone ... couldn't you be a self-employed ? Or work in the family business or on the family farm ? Or be a student ... believe it or not but some high school students do not have driver's licenses yet are eighteen.

Gosh, I didn't know that you had to have a "job" to vote ? With the elimination of the "Death tax", won't there be a lot of people that will forego having a job ?

What's next ... will you have to have health insurance to vote ?

Just curious, do you think that Mr. Storm will have to show a Government issued ID to participate in the February 7th MN Caucuses ... (or will everybody just know him ?) Is it possible that Mitt Romney won the Iowa caucus with the assistance of some out-of-state voters ?

Gosh, do you think that Traci Cravaack will want to vote for her husband ? Oops, isn't she a resident of New Hampshire ... and maybe that is a more likely situation for voter fraud ... people that claim their winter residence in a low tax state like Florida or Texas for income tax reporting but still participate in voting in Minnesota (as well as their other state).
Maybe Mr. Storm should suggest that voters have to show Income Tax filings ... and to vote on property tax levies, you must show ownership of the property (of course that should mean that an owner who has multiple properties would have multiple votes in an election ... sorta like owning stock, the more shares you own, the more votes you are allowed.)

Yep, I've come around ... Voter ID must be based on proving healthcare insurance participation and participation in paying taxes.


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