Voting ID, the problems it purports to solve, and the problems it might create

What a nice way to put it, Hypatian. We all learn and grow over time. I've had the benefit of that myself on occasion.

One of the great ironies of the Voter ID push is that I've been hearing for years from evangelical Christians how some kind of universal government-issued ID is the "Mark of the Beast" and is therefore one of the signs of the impending apocalypse. For years, I heard resistance to such things, and now it's been avidly embraced just so all those unfortunately dusky-skinned people stop voting.

Goddammit. We have a government that is killing its own citizens without trials, denying them the right to fly, destroying their lives for hosting websites for defined 'terrorist organizations', and you guys persist in this claim that a central ID wouldn't be abused?

What is with you? Everything else is being abused, why the hell would that somehow be magical and sacrosanct? I submit that giving the Republicans an 'unperson' button they can press is an incredibly bad idea.

More on topic:

Peggy’s story: The cruel cynicism of the voter ID crusade

The Republicans don't want this old woman voting, and they almost succeeded in stopping her.

We're assassinating our own citizens, but I'm not being reasonable.

Right.

Malor: Seriously, if you want people to pay attention to you, [em]calm the f*ck down[/em]. It doesn't matter how reasonable your argument is if people instinctively recoil because you're frothing at the mouth.

Your arguments don't work when you skip over the middle steps, as I noted before. And they [em]really[/em] don't work when everything else in your post is drowned out by the screaming outrage you express at other people not being similarly outraged. You will never convince anyone of anything by arguing this way. And, quite honestly, it makes me spend time critically re-examining things that I [em]agree[/em] with you about when you do this, just to be sure.

You may be reasonable, your ideas may be reasonable, [em]but your argument is not[/em]. That's the point I'm trying to make. Start arguing reasonably, and people will start listening to you again.

A car with only one gear can't cope with hills.

Malor wrote:

We're dropping nukes on the Japanese, but I'm not being reasonable.

Right.

1Dgaf wrote:

A car with only one gear can't cope with hills.

On a serious note, is there anything that can actually be done about this? Are charges ever going to be filed for all of these links everyone is posting? Is anyone going to put all of these cases together, plus the Voter ID stuff, and actually bring this to someone? Is there anyone to actually charge anyway?

It just sucks reading all of this and thinking "yeah, that's how it goes..."

SixteenBlue wrote:

On a serious note, is there anything that can actually be done about this? Are charges ever going to be filed for all of these links everyone is posting? Is anyone going to put all of these cases together, plus the Voter ID stuff, and actually bring this to someone? Is there anyone to actually charge anyway?

It just sucks reading all of this and thinking "yeah, that's how it goes..."

I proposed everyone involved be charged with Treason, and among the very limited sample of American voters who are my friends, the idea had legs. And I'm not exactly kidding, I'd say interfering with voting is making war against the United States. Alas, I doubt anything will be done.

SpacePPoliceman wrote:
SixteenBlue wrote:

On a serious note, is there anything that can actually be done about this? Are charges ever going to be filed for all of these links everyone is posting? Is anyone going to put all of these cases together, plus the Voter ID stuff, and actually bring this to someone? Is there anyone to actually charge anyway?

It just sucks reading all of this and thinking "yeah, that's how it goes..."

I proposed everyone involved be charged with Treason, and among the very limited sample of American voters who are my friends, the idea had legs. And I'm not exactly kidding, I'd say interfering with voting is making war against the United States. Alas, I doubt anything will be done.

I have no problem with that.

Here's what the situation looks like today for Voter ID laws.

Kind of random question. If there's no ID required to vote, could I just show up and do so? Or is there some kind of control in place?

MrDeVil909 wrote:

Kind of random question. If there's no ID required to vote, could I just show up and do so? Or is there some kind of control in place?

You need to be registered to vote. What it takes to register varies, but some form of proof that you live in the district you're voting in is required. In my state, you can register right there at the polls, and if you have no ID/proof that you live in the district, you can take an oath that you do and your vote will be counted. In other states you need to register so many days in advance of an election. What people are looking for by requiring an ID to vote is that you also have to prove your identity when you pick up your ballot.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

Kind of random question. If there's no ID required to vote, could I just show up and do so? Or is there some kind of control in place?

I can see how this sounds so funky to a non-American, but putting restrictions on a citizens' ability to vote is a bit of a sensitive topic for us.

See, after the Civil War Democrats in the South worked diligently to pass state laws that effectively disenfranchised anyone who was black, either by demanding that they paid a tax before they could vote, proving that they could read (something that was expressly forbidden under slavery), and otherwise passing through a series of obstacles all designed to intimidate or outright threaten blacks. Those Jim Crow laws lasted for more than 70+ years before the Civil Rights Movement and the 24th Amendment struck them down in the 1960s.

The talk of voter IDs and bands of "concerned citizens" contesting someone's voting status is a bit too similar to those dark days. And it doesn't help much that today's efforts to "fight voter fraud" just so happens to target the same people that the Jim Crow laws did: anyone who wasn't white.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

Kind of random question. If there's no ID required to vote, could I just show up and do so? Or is there some kind of control in place?

It depends on the local laws. The big problems with these new voter ID laws is reducing the set of ID that's acceptable and requiring it every time you vote.

In general, everyone who desires to vote must register as a voter well before the election. You generally have to re-register if you move, change your name, or change your party affiliation (if you live somewhere where primary voting is limited to the party you belong to). Those registrations aren't gone over with a fine-toothed comb (usually), but they [em]are[/em] subject to review.

In some places, you may be required to provide some ID and proof of residency the first time you vote in a given district. For example, someone might be able to provide their social security card, their birth certificate, and a bill received at their current address. (Note that none of these has a photograph on it.) This kind of set of ID is pretty typical of times when ID is required as proof of citizenship in the U.S.: one state-issued photo ID, or a couple of state-issued non-photo documents, or one non-state-issued photo ID and one state-issued document, etc. etc. After the first time, you may not be required to provide identification at that polling place again, as you're registered there and have provided proof of residence, and your signature is on file to check against.

If you look at Malor's "Peggy's Story" link, you'll see that the lady involved in that had been required to provide ID every time she voted in the past--and the ID she provided was an expired state-issued photo ID from another state. That was sufficient to the poll workers to identify who she was, and her presence on the voting rolls was sufficient to prove that she was eligible to vote at that location. After the voter ID law was passed, she needed a non-expired ID for her own state--and in order to get that, she had to deal with the hassle of dredging up a ton of documents (birth certificate to prove citizenship, marriage certificate to prove her name had changed), and of course each of these documents had to come from a different locality, and nobody ever bothered to write up a list of "here's all the stuff you might need to jump through our hoops" ahead of time: they could only identify "problems" when they showed up.

(And of course, add to that potential adventures in "is this ID really yours?!?" if your appearance has changed a lot since the picture was last taken, or for some other reason the poll worker decides to be obstructive, etc.)

So, short form: In general, ID is already required in some way at one or more points during the process. However, the scope of what is allowed as "ID" can vary by quite a bit. Those changes create a problem all by themselves during the time they're being made (since people have to get new documents that they haven't needed before, and go through a lot of legal hoops in exceptional cases, which takes time). They also create problems in the future for people who move and are suddenly subject to a new set of local requirements that they have to learn and hoops that they have to jump through.

And those problems suggest that this isn't the sort of change that should be made on the spur of the moment, because you need to make sure that everybody who [em]does[/em] need new ID has plenty of time to find out they need it, to get through the system, etc. And you need to make sure that the people who run the system have plenty of time to work the kinks out to figure out how to handle people who haven't been in the system for a long while, and may have unusual documentation without knowing it.

And that's more or less what happened in my state--the courts said "this law appears to be constitutional, but it does require more time to implement without disenfranchising voters, so the law can take effect in the future but not for this election."

I'll dig out the link later on this afternoon, but Canada requires ID to vote. But, as those who have seen the links I have posted in this thread can attest to, the definition of ID includes, IIRC, things like lease statements, utility bills and fishing licences.

Edwin wrote:

Woo, voter fraud.

To be fair, that's not really voter fraud, it's more like the Election Board trying to jump in the way of the King County GOP getting itself into a giant conflict of interest.

I'm curious if we're missing a lot of voter fraud on the Democrat side because of (for the most part) our hippe/commie leanings.

kazooka wrote:
Edwin wrote:

Woo, voter fraud.

To be fair, that's not really voter fraud, it's more like the Election Board trying to jump in the way of the King County GOP getting itself into a giant conflict of interest.

I'm curious if we're missing a lot of voter fraud on the Democrat side because of (for the most part) our hippe/commie leanings.

It's crossed my mind but we've had proponents of voter ID in this thread, I think they'd chime in with links. Still, I'd like to see those stories if they exist.

mudbunny wrote:

I'll dig out the link later on this afternoon, but Canada requires ID to vote. But, as those who have seen the links I have posted in this thread can attest to, the definition of ID includes, IIRC, things like lease statements, utility bills and fishing licences.

If I recall correctly, the rules you posted for Canada are identical to what we currently have in Minnesota. I voted with a cable bill once because I hadn't gotten my driver's license updated. If I hadn't had that bill, I could have just had a friend of mine tell them poll workers that I lived in that district and it would have been fine. Of course, we have a proposed ID amendment that will f*ck all that up now.

Yeah even a sworn affidavit that "this person lives at this address" can qualify to establish residence. My wife and I have had to do that because when you get free housing on a college campus you still get mail sent to the mail room like a student, so you don't have any bills with your physical address.

Thanks for the replies guys, this is really illuminating.

OG_slinger wrote:
MrDeVil909 wrote:

Kind of random question. If there's no ID required to vote, could I just show up and do so? Or is there some kind of control in place?

I can see how this sounds so funky to a non-American, but putting restrictions on a citizens' ability to vote is a bit of a sensitive topic for us.

See, after the Civil War Democrats in the South worked diligently to pass state laws that effectively disenfranchised anyone who was black, either by demanding that they paid a tax before they could vote, proving that they could read (something that was expressly forbidden under slavery), and otherwise passing through a series of obstacles all designed to intimidate or outright threaten blacks. Those Jim Crow laws lasted for more than 70+ years before the Civil Rights Movement and the 24th Amendment struck them down in the 1960s.

The talk of voter IDs and bands of "concerned citizens" contesting someone's voting status is a bit too similar to those dark days. And it doesn't help much that today's efforts to "fight voter fraud" just so happens to target the same people that the Jim Crow laws did: anyone who wasn't white.

That makes a lot of sense, that's why a universal ID seems to be so logical to me, everyone has it without exception so there's no danger of keeping people out because they're too poor/dark/whatever. I understand Malor's concerns, but surely there is some type of constitutional and/or judicial protection to prevent government from just declaring a citizen an 'unperson' unilaterally?

It seems so unlikely to me partly because I'm from a country with a very strong constitution and judiciary, whenever government oversteps its bounds it gets slapped down very fast. Is this not the case in the US? I do know that the constitution has been eroded somewhat, but then even 'eroding' the constitution here is nearly impossible.

Also, if everyone has a social security card then wouldn't the best way of having a photo ID be to put a photo on it? People have raised issues about you looking different to your ID photo, but I've never heard of it being an issue. Most people replace their occasionally thanks to damage anyway, I'm unusual in that mine is still the original 16 year old document I got at 16. And other than a few crows feet I look largely the same.

I'm just spitballing, everyone feel free to ignore me if I'm wasting your time.

You'll probably find your answers in the (Compulsory) national ID cards thread, in which bandit tried to convince us of the convenience of a single, compulsory, national ID card.

Generally it all boils down to :

Rahmen wrote:

Voting is a more enshrined right that having a government issued piece of paper anyway and with the history of discriminatory laws to try and block people from voting, a lot of us would rather give the benefit of the doubt to the voter until a better example of fraud can be found.

If fraud that is preventable by requiring voter ID ever becomes an actual problem, I'd consider it. As it stands, any case of significant fraud (more than 1 case per million or so votes) has been fraud on the part of election officials/workers, or fraud that could not be prevented by requiring a photo ID.

Honestly, the concept of an ID for voting isn't ridiculous. It's almost always the implementation (and especially the timeframe of the implementation) that's the concern.

Nah, you're not wasting time. I think the thing that makes this most confusing to people outside the U.S. is the scale of things, honestly. American states are on a scale with many nations, and by tradition have a number of the same sorts of responsibilities nations frequently handle. But at the same time, they're not independent nations--for example, you must always be able to move from one state to another freely. That relates to why drivers licenses are the most common form of ID here: drivers license laws generally require an old license to be surrendered and a new one for the new state to be gained within a reasonable amount of time after changing your primary residence. (And, of course, the whole concept of a primary residence has some other messy complications.)

Passports are issued by the federal government, but the vast majority of Americans don't live close to any national borders and (although I don't have statistics), I would guess that the majority of Americans will never visit another country. (I've been out of the country once, to visit Canada. At the time, I did not need a passport to do so.)

Regarding social security cards: these are small paper documents (business card sized) which are issued at birth. You typically only produce them for things involving income tax (i.e. employment, bank accounts.) I've had to replace mine once, because I was in the habit of carrying it in my wallet, and then got mugged. I now leave it at home, with my birth certificate, so that I don't have to go through the pain of bootstrapping all of my ID from scratch again. (Because that sucks pretty hard.)

And, in fact, even though social security numbers are used as identification for all sorts of things, they're really not meant to be used for that purpose--at the base, they simply identify a federal taxpayer. The presence of the card in the list of "one from column A or two from column B" type ID things is more along the lines of "if you have this, you're probably the person who's supposed to have it--give us a little more evidence and we'll believe you".

Anyway, I figure the best thing to do for this state ID crap is to get a passport, in order to not have to deal with different rules about what's required to get ID in different places. Having that be available on a nation-wide basis and consistent is good. But I don't know if that will be sufficient everywhere--and on the down side, getting a passport is generally more involved and expensive than state-issued ID. (Not least because the states that are passing ID laws must provide free ID to those who do not have it.)

Also, as a trans person, it will no doubt be "fun" at some point in the future when the willingness of different levels of government to recognize my identity comes into conflict. I know that U.S. passport gender notations are currently easier to get changed than many state issued ID cards are. (For state ID, some states won't update the ID unless you update your birth certificate... and that means that you're then subject to the whim of the state you happened to be born in. Both of those states could require more or less thorough forms of surgery before making changes. If they're willing to make the changes at all. For the U.S. passport, if your other documentation doesn't match the gender you want included, you need a certification from a physician that you have completed appropriate treatment for gender transition--and what that means is left intentionally vague and up to the physician. Of course, that rule could change back to being more restrictive under a different administration. Yay!)

In news that doesn't surprise me at all, Republicans in Maine are looking for people to challenge other voters. Both parties normally send people to watch at the polls, generally to make sure the other side follows the law. But this year the Republicans are specifically looking for people to challenge new registrations and voters. Challenged ballots still get counted, but are reviewed after the election to make sure they're legitimate. The neighborhoods they want more volunteers for are in towns with a rather large group of immigrants, mostly Somali refugees. The Republicans claim they're afraid people from districts with uncontested races will come to these districts to vote illegally in contested ones. In the past 40 years, there have been a whopping two instances of known double voting in the state, and in a study done over the summer, there was a grand total of one instance of an immigrant illegally voting in the state last year (the immigrant had already been deported by the time this was discovered, for overstaying his visa).

Stengah wrote:

You'll probably find your answers in the (Compulsory) national ID cards thread, in which bandit tried to convince us of the convenience of a single, compulsory, national ID card.

Generally it all boils down to :

Rahmen wrote:

Voting is a more enshrined right that having a government issued piece of paper anyway and with the history of discriminatory laws to try and block people from voting, a lot of us would rather give the benefit of the doubt to the voter until a better example of fraud can be found.

If fraud that is preventable by requiring voter ID ever becomes an actual problem, I'd consider it. As it stands, any case of significant fraud (more than 1 case per million or so votes) has been fraud on the part of election officials/workers, or fraud that could not be prevented by requiring a photo ID.

Yeah, I'm not even thinking in terms of the voting aspect, just the convenience of having a common picture ID.

One thing to keep in mind as well is that a US Passport and Passport Card have no address on them, they only identify who you are as a US Citizen. They're also, as stated, expensive, a pain in the ass to actually get, and they don't come very quickly. Or they're significantly more expensive but really easy to get quickly if one expedites it and/or pays a business to do it.

The cost, though, means that while it might be the best option towards having ID if ID is required it's also one not easily available to many people, and any kind of required fee to vote smacks of the Jim Crow laws of the south.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

Yeah, I'm not even thinking in terms of the voting aspect, just the convenience of having a common picture ID.

Most people already have one in the form of a driver's license or state ID card. They're cheaper than a passport, but as bnpederson points out, any sort of fee raises the specter of Jim Crow. They are easier to get than a passport too, but not easy enough. You need to go to a place that issues them, wait to get your picture taken, then wait for the card to arrive in the mail. It sounds easy enough, but it can be a pretty significant barrier, especially for people who don't have access to transportation, or can't afford to take several hours off of work to get it done. They also need to be replaced every so many years or if you move. Not to mention that you're at the mercy of poorly paid employees. I remember reading a story about a DMV worker that harassed a trans woman that wanted to change the gender on her license.