Voter Suppression on the Ground

I’ve mentioned before that my 75 year-old mother is the superintendent of her precinct in South Dakota. I was talking to her the other day about next week’s primary, and she was a little worked up. This is the first year that the county combined precincts, so and she and her two co-workers (they’re all about her age) now have 750 voters in her precinct, up from a previous 500, which she thinks is too many, mainly because of the onerous voter suppression photo id laws passed a few years ago.

If a voter comes to the precinct without a photo id, here’s what the poll workers can do:

If the member [of the precinct election board, i.e., my mom and her elderly co-workers] cannot determine from the personal identification presented that the person making an application for ballots is the person listed on the voter registration list, the member may consider other forms of identification, personal knowledge and an explanation from the person making an application for ballots to match that person’s name to a name on the registration list. If identity cannot be proven to the satisfaction of the member of the precinct election board or if the person making an application for ballots is challenged on the basis of identity by a member or a poll watcher, the person may vote a provisional ballot.

The bolded part is where Mom does all her work. She said she spends a lot of election day on the phone tracking down people who know a person who showed up at the polls without a photo id. She also spends time explaining the law to them, dealing with people twice because they have to go home and get the id they forgot, and helping them fill out provisional ballots if all else fails.

Mom explained to me that she is finally getting minimum wage for her efforts, after a little struggle with the county, who had been paying $4.00/hour for their labor. Luckily, in her little town, there are lots of on-the-ball retirees who have time on their hands and a desire to help out even though they’re getting paid very little. We’ll see if those three little old ladies can handle half again as many voters on their watch next week. I’m expecting to hear an earful.

83 replies
  1. 1
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    I know from personal experience that little old ladies working elections are one of the key elements of democracy. My mother helped out for years before Oregon went ballot by mail, and the election office was a beehive of activity as all sorts of little old ladies (one D, one R) would carefully sort out ballots and confirm IDs and so forth.

  2. 2
    keestadoll says:

    Just a quick poll: how many of us ever leave the house without either a DL or a photo ID of some kind? I know I’m going to get jumped on because of this, but really I want to know why requiring an ID is such a bone of contention. Is it really that possible for modern American citizenry to exist and go about their day without some proof of identity?

  3. 3
    burnspbesq says:

    Nobody should be troubled by election officials taking reasonable precautions to ensure that only eligible voters get to vote.

    The problem is that Republicans are going out of their way to erect unreasonable barriers to voting that disproportionately affect parts of the population deemed by Republicans to be likely to vote for Democrats.

    And the further problem is that a requirement to show a photo ID seems like a trivial thing to people who have been conditioned since they were 16 years old to always carry a photo ID (i.e., your driver’s license).

    It’s pretty clever. People who live in a bubble where virtually all of their social interaction is with similarly affluent, educated white folks, tend to not get what all the fuss is about.

  4. 4

    @keestadoll:
    Actually, yes. For a decent chunk of the population, getting a picture ID costs both time and money they cannot easily provide, and they wouldn’t get to drive for it anyway. That does seem alien to the people who can get an ID easily, but there are plenty of people in this position and their voting patterns trend heavily Democrat. Thus, voter ID laws to shave off as many of them as possible.

    @burnspbesq:
    As @keestadoll: just demonstrated so well.

  5. 5
    burnspbesq says:

    @keestadoll:

    Is it really that possible for modern American citizenry to exist and go about their day without some proof of identity?

    Yes it is. And the further problem is that requiring photo ID isn’t likely to accurately screen out ineligible voters in a place like Santa Ana, California, where there is a thriving market in forged green cards that people then use to get driver’s licenses.

    It’s the wrong solution to a largely non-existent problem. And the non-existence of the problem should tell you what’s really in play here.

  6. 6
    dmsilev says:

    @keestadoll: (a) I lived for years without a drivers license, and the only photo ID I owned was a passport. Which, needless to say, I didn’t carry on a daily basis. (b) A large swath of the population doesn’t have and can’t easily afford a drivers license. Both in terms of the actual cost and the time required to get to a DMV, jump through all the hoops, etc.

    Make a photo ID universally available at 0 cost and 0 effort and then we can talk about requiring them for elections. Not until then.

  7. 7

    @dmsilev:
    And if you don’t have a car, getting to a DMV that will provide non-license official IDs can take an hour or two either way easy, but without seeing much reward. I was in that position for years.

  8. 8
    Maude says:

    @dmsilev:
    Then the Republicans would come up with fingerprinting to prevent fraud. They will try anything.

  9. 9
    cathyx says:

    I’d say that if you live in an urban setting and don’t drive or ever need to drive, you may not even have a driver’s license. If you are also clearly old enough to buy alcohol legally and therefore don’t need to be carded to buy it, it’s easy to never carry an ID card anywhere you go.

    It’s easy to color your world view based only on what you personally experience, but it’s good practice to put yourself in other people’s shoes once in a while.

  10. 10
    Roger Moore says:

    @keestadoll:

    Is it really that possible for modern American citizenry to exist and go about their day without some proof of identity?

    Some proof, maybe not. Proof that meets the requirements of voter ID laws, very possibly. There are plenty of people, especially urban poor, who can’t afford a car and consequently don’t bother getting drivers licenses. Those people probably have other forms of ID, but in many cases the Voter ID laws specifically exclude those forms of ID because the people writing them don’t want those people to vote.

  11. 11
    cathyx says:

    @dmsilev: Not to mention that most people don’t have a passport either.

  12. 12
    JD Rhoades says:

    My wife (not a little old lady) is a poll worker as well, and let me just confirm how scandalously low the pay is.

    As for ID’s: last election, we had a large turnout of people who had apparently never voted before, but who were rallied by their pastors to come out and vote for the anti-gay marriage Amendment One in NC. (I know, I’m still pissed about that, too). These were, by a large margin, poor white people. Several of them had no driver’s licenses (DWI’s, unpaid tickets, etc), or had left them home, and were pissed off about having to show ID.

    Make of that what you will.

  13. 13
    dmsilev says:

    @cathyx: Certainly true. I’m way out on one limb of the bell curve for that (my first passport was issued when I was a few months old; that was photo ID for me until I was 5…), but as a non-driver, the only times I really needed it was to present ID at an airport to clear security. If you don’t drive, don’t travel by air, and look old enough to buy booze without being carded, how urgently do you need a photo ID?

  14. 14
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    The only feasable way that vote fraud could be done anywhere near what would be needed to turn any state or national election, is via an inside job. Or, corrupt voting officials, tinkering with the numbers on a large enough scale to matter, Like with electronic voting technology that is unsecure, or hanky panky with absentee ballots. A few peeps voting that are not eligible, is at best a violation on principle of law, but not a threat to affect races at the state and federal level.

    People forget all the shenanigans in Florida uncovered in the aftermath of the 2000 election debacle, with local election officials of mostly wingnuts, aside from the troubles in Broward and Dade counties.

    As for illegal immigrants showing to try an vote, think about it. The last place on earth these folks want to do, is visit a government office, of any kind, and risk being discovered as non citizens.

    It’s all bullshit, for what it is, republicans nibbling around the margins to discourage the already dispossessed portions of the voting eligible, usually found in numbers in cities that are dem strongholds.

  15. 15
    mistermix says:

    @Everyone saying photo id is no big deal:

    There is one reason, and only one reason, for the photo id law in South Dakota: to suppress the votes of the Lakota people. They vote for Democrats in overwhelming numbers, and they’re poor, so many of them (especially the elderly) don’t have photo ids. They catch rides with friends when they need a ride, or they walk, and they don’t have to show id to do anything on the reservation except vote.

  16. 16
    JD Rhoades says:

    Has anyone considered that part of the GOTV effort might be directed towards getting potential voters to the DMV or wherever to get them a photo ID?

  17. 17
    Xenos says:

    . If identity cannot be proven to the satisfaction of the member of the precinct election board or if the person making an application for ballots is challenged on the basis of identity by a member or a poll watcher, the person may vote a provisional ballot.(emphasis supplied)

    Here is the rub: a poll watcher acting in bad faith can force a lot of people’s votes into the provisional ballots, never to be counted.

    There needs to be a law that allows a poll watcher to bounce a voter only upon the voter having a chance to punch him in the face first. Fair exchange.

  18. 18
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    I hate the idea of a national ID, but a national voter law would be something I could get behind. Also, weekend voting.

    And I’ve never had a problem voting, but that may be because I’m white, and male.

  19. 19
    Xenos says:

    @JD Rhoades: That is expensive and doe not really solve the problem – for example, the Georgia government has closed most of the DMV offices within a 1/2 hour drive of most African American population centers. Your are playing their rigged game in this sort of situation, and they will re-rig it as needed. Don’t expect to win that way.

  20. 20
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Stuck in the Funhouse:

    The last place on earth these folks want to do, is visit a government office

    I would wager this is a larger part of the pop. than you think. Most people don’t want to be bothered with bureaucracy. They just want to live their lives. Which doesn’t include standing in lines, filling out forms asking for personal info.

  21. 21
    Mino says:

    Historically, there have been tons more ballot shenanigans from election officials than voters. Maybe they should be lie detectored?? Just to keep the process pure, doncha know.

  22. 22
    JD Rhoades says:

    @Xenos:

    I’m not saying that we shouldn’t work to oppose discriminatory ID laws. But we should also realize that sometimes they pass and plan accordingly.

  23. 23
    keestadoll says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: got it. And nice assuming. I actually didn’t know getting a photo ID was so inherently difficult or that carrying one was not necessarily a knee-jerk thing amongst many in our population.(Yep, nice bubble I’ve got going here). Do these poulations also not write checks, go to a bank, cash a check, fill out a rental application, apply for a mortage loan, or do any of the myriad of other things upon which an ID is required? I’m just saying, is the issue not having any photo id or more the habit of carrying one? If the latter, isn’t that a matter of marketing the need, at least before a voting day?

  24. 24
    WereBear says:

    Our office started issuing photo ID with employment because so many places want TWO forms of photo ID in the Homeland Security era.

    If you don’t drive in a state with a photo on the license; how are you supposed to get one? I was last carded ten years ago. I have a passport, but it’s in a safe place; I would never carry it routinely.

    And while New York State gives a person up to 2 hours off to vote; how many states have that? And how many people in New York know that? And how many people work in a place that would let them, anyway?

    Only slightly OT: Walker has another scandal. Fathered a child in college which he refused to acknowledge.

  25. 25
    honus says:

    or if the person making an application for ballots is challenged on the basis of identity by a member or a poll watcher,

    This. Republicans send poll watchers taught to challenge every voter they can, force them to cast provisional ballots, or just leave out of frustration. It creates a lot of work and confusion for the poll workers, and suppresses the vote.

  26. 26
    JPL says:

    @WereBear: Supposedly, the woman has said it was a different Scott Walker.

  27. 27
    honus says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: Or going to the DMV, which I try to avoid at all costs. The DMV is usually a 2 or even 3 hour process now, with closed locations, reduced hours and smaller staff forced buy budget cuts. Going to the dentist is more attractive

  28. 28
    Amir Khalid says:

    Everyone in Malaysia has to get a national ID card, with photo, at the age of 12. This is what you bring to the polling station at election time, or show for any commercial transaction requiring proof of ID. (The British introduced them here in the late 1940s, during the Communist Emergency.) I’ve never heard of any civil rights/privacy issues being raised here over ID cards, and I don’t quite understood why the mere prospect of such ID cards raises such issues in other countries.

  29. 29
    Brachiator says:

    @keestadoll:

    Just a quick poll: how many of us ever leave the house without either a DL or a photo ID of some kind? I know I’m going to get jumped on because of this, but really I want to know why requiring an ID is such a bone of contention. Is it really that possible for modern American citizenry to exist and go about their day without some proof of identity?

    Dopey question. When I commute, I don’t take a drivers license, because I don’t need it. I have a company badge with a picture ID, but this does not satisfy dumbass voter law requirements.

    And, true story, my old polling place was in walking distance. The only thing I would take with me was my sample ballot. Some of the poll workers knew me and other voters. What would be the point of going through the extra step of having to produce a photo ID?

    And as others note here, the voter ID laws don’t address any real problem, except the problem of Democrats voting.

  30. 30
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    I think voter ID at the voting booth is complete bullshit. And picture ID to register is only slightly less bullshit. Voter registration/voting fraud, is a two tier operation, or would be to try and turn an election.

    First you have to get all these people on the rolls with phony names and addresses, AND THEN have them, or somebody, show up to actually fraudulently vote. There is slightly more return for registration fraud combined with absentee ballots, but to try that in numbers would almost certainly throw up a bunch of red flags with the oversight protocols. This is far too cumbersome as a viable means, to make an effort to affect an election, of anything other than local offices.

    I don’t have a problem with people registering, being required to show some kind of evidence of their name and address, such as utility bills, or rental contracts, etc….. But the requirement of everyone needing a photo ID, falls way over on the suppression scale, compared with potential damage to the integrity of the vote, that history has shown very little actual voting fraud. Most of the effect of such photo ID requirement will be to discourage certain groups of people, usually the poor and disabled, that often vote democrat.

  31. 31
    Roger Moore says:

    @keestadoll:

    Do these poulations also not write checks, go to a bank, cash a check, fill out a rental application, apply for a mortage loan, or do any of the myriad of other things upon which an ID is required?

    In case you hadn’t noticed, banks like dealing with people who have lots of money. Many poor people can’t get bank accounts, so they don’t have to worry about writing checks or going to the bank. When they are paid by check, they have to go to a check cashing place and get gouged. Obviously the aren’t going to be applying for mortgages, and there are enough landlords who are willing to rent to people without ID that it’s not a problem. So yes, there’s a whole stratum of society that manages to survive without the kind of government issued ID that’s required by Voter ID laws. The fact you’re completely oblivious to this is why people say you’re living in a bubble.

  32. 32
    JPL says:

    @Amir Khalid: The problem is the ease of getting a card. There are still some in our country without a valid birth certificate especially older black citizens. When the state of GA passed the law, they set up extra offices where you could get a photo id at no cost. It would be nice if that were still available but they are not.

  33. 33
    Steeplejack says:

    @keestadoll:

    [. . .] how many of us ever leave the house without either a DL or a photo ID of some kind? [. . .] Is it really that possible for modern American citizenry to exist and go about their day without some proof of identity?

    Yes, it’s quite easy, especially if you’re poor or old or not in the “mainstream.”

    Until a couple of years ago, I went for five years without a driver’s license or picture ID. When I moved to Washington I didn’t have a car, and I let my Georgia driver’s license expire. I didn’t get around to getting a Virginia ID card because I found I didn’t need one. I paid in stores with a debit card, not a check, so no requests for ID there. I didn’t fly anywhere, so no ID required there. The only time I can remember being asked for ID was occasionally when I bought alcohol.

    I’m not saying that it’s common or that it’s desirable, but it is quite possible–especially, as I said, among the old and the poor.

    ETA: What burnspbesq said:

    And the further problem is that a requirement to show a photo ID seems like a trivial thing to people who have been conditioned since they were 16 years old to always carry a photo ID (i.e., your driver’s license).
    __
    It’s pretty clever. People who live in a bubble where virtually all of their social interaction is with similarly affluent, educated white folks tend to not get what all the fuss is about.

  34. 34
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    @Stuck in the Funhouse:

    I think voter (picture) ID at the voting booth is complete bullshit. And picture ID to register is only slightly less bullshit

    fixt

    I’m a grammatical clown, sosume.

  35. 35
    Schlemizel says:

    @keestadoll:
    And I’d like to add to the response well stated here already that the problem these “solutions” are pretending to address have never been shown to exist. There are no documented cases of actual wide-spread voter fraud anywhere in America.

    The old Chicago trope is dragged out but their elections have been scrutinized for years & the old regime is quite dead. One of the Carolinas was asked to provide proof of their claims of dead voters & their SoS came up with 13 names. 12 of the voters were quite alive and the last had died AFTER the election.

    The only point of these laws is to throw up another road block for poor people who tend to vote for Democrats.

  36. 36

    @Steeplejack:
    I had almost exactly the same experience.

    People getting by without an ID exist in large numbers, and they vote mainly Democratic, which is why there are ID laws. It’s the ONLY reason there are ID laws. Never forget that. There’s no voter fraud problem to be solved. The only explanation for these laws is the suppress Democratic turnout, because that’s the only effect they have. Historically, these laws started with post-emancipation attempts to keep blacks from voting.

    These laws are bullshit from top to bottom, and the only question is how bullshit.

  37. 37
    MikeJ says:

    What’s bizarre[1] is that the same people who insist that picture ID should be mandatory are the same people who hate motorvoter, which allows you to register to vote when you get your photo ID.

    [1] Only bizarre if you assume they’re arguing in good faith. They’re not.

  38. 38
    keestadoll says:

    @Roger Moore: Making your point without condescension would be awesome. I get it. I got it. I’ve been summarily schooled. I’m all about ridding our elections of fraud, this is likely a flawed way to go about it, but here it is and it does have support. Perhaps instead of screaming about saying how targeted and disenfranchising it is, the answer is to reply in kind by LOUDER and broader advocation and implementation of a national ID system and getting people out to these disenfranchised demographics and getting them enfranchised.I would gladly suport that.

  39. 39
    Steeplejack says:

    @keestadoll:

    Do these poulations also not write checks, go to a bank, cash a check, fill out a rental application, apply for a mortage loan, or do any of the myriad of other things upon which an ID is required? I’m just saying, is the issue not having any photo id or more the habit of carrying one?

    No, they don’t. We are talking about poor people. Applying for a mortage loan has about as much relevance to them as planning a cruise around the world. A lot of them don’t have a checking account. I worked at Barnes & Noble, and even at that “upscale” outfit it was surprising how many employees got their paychecks cashed at the store. And down in their demographic, photo ID is often not required for a rental application. Hell, I didn’t have to produce a photo ID, and I rented a nice place in a condominium complex.

  40. 40
    Phylllis says:

    @keestadoll: There’s quite a thriving underground economy for folks who don’t use banks, and don’t apply for mortgages and/or other forms of credit, and therefore don’t need official id.

    And here in South Carolina, where Jim Crow held on well into, well, now actually, I’ve met college-educated Black people my age (50) who were birthed at home by the mid-wife, who have spent a lot of time and effort getting official birth certificates and other documents. Many of their parents don’t even have enough documentation to even begin the process, based on their parent’s lack of access to the system when they were born.

  41. 41

    @burnspbesq:

    Well said.

    Voter suppression is going on, and in Florida, Rick Scott’s plans seemed to have been stopped cold for the moment….but hey, the only thing we should talk about is drone strikes.

  42. 42

    @keestadoll:
    There is no fraud to get rid of. It doesn’t exist. People vote falsely SO RARELY that conservatives can’t even find anecdotes to trumpet. Sting operations to prove how easy it is failed.

    The fraud is a non-issue. The system in place without ID laws has utterly defeated it. ID laws are not a bad way to go about it, they are an attempt to suppress Democratic turnout and have no other purpose.

  43. 43

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    “These laws are bullshit from top to bottom, and the only question is how bullshit.”

    How about “extreme”?

  44. 44

    @Marc McKenzie:
    Frankly, I shouldn’t have asked the question, although I guess there’s a use to relentlessly driving home just how bullshit they are.

  45. 45
    muddy says:

    I know people who bring their paycheck to their local bar, the bar takes it, subtracts the guy’s tab he has built up over the week, and gives him the rest in cash. This is in a rural area.

    You can also go into local convenience stores (not chains) and not pay, they will run a tab for you until payday there as well.

  46. 46
    Watusie says:

    I love the “personal knowledge” exception. If the person knows the person, they can vote. If not – here are some hoops we’d like you to jump through to demonstrate our white authoriteh.

    By any chance does your mom live in that rabidly anti-Mexican community in SD that found out that their parish priest was an illegal immigrant from Ireland and immediately launched a huge drive to get their congressional delegation to lobby President Bush for an executive order allowing him to stay?

  47. 47
    phoebes-in-santa fe says:

    @JD Rhoades: I was just thinking that very thing. I know that both NM and IL offer “ID” cards to those people who don’t want to have a Drivers License. But getting people to the Drivers Bureau is an effort that GOTV should do. And if the ID’s cost something, couldn’t some big Dem donor earmark money for that?

  48. 48
    Watusie says:

    @keestadoll:
    “Do these poulations also not write checks, go to a bank, cash a check, fill out a rental application, apply for a mortage loan, or do any of the myriad of other things upon which an ID is required?”

    I’ve banked at the same place for two decades now and have never, ever, once, been asked to show a photo ID.

  49. 49
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The problem with requiring a photo ID is that it is, essentially, a poll tax. Every state charges for photo IDs, even if they’re not driver’s licences.

    It’s a means of suppressing the voting of the poor, who, curse them, will vote in their own interests, not in the interests of the Rethuglicans.

  50. 50
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @keestadoll:

    The only fraud that exists is that practiced by Republican Secretaries of State manipulating votes in electronic voting machines.

    It’s not being done by individuals. It’s being done at a much higher level, and the results could be seen 2000 in Florida, and 2004 in Ohio.

  51. 51
    aimai says:

    @keestadoll:

    The point is that this, of course, has been tried but the Governors refused to appropriate money to do it–therefore there is no national system of free, acceptable, voting ID. If there were then no one would object to it.

    This is an absurdly complicated system–for instance people move more often than they update their picture ID. That is one of the “issues” that comes up when people like you naively ask why everyone can’t have a picture ID. College students have picture ID but that is not taken as proof of location. You can “prove” your identity with a Passport but that has no reference to your address and it is the link between address and ID that matters (theoretically) to proving that you have a right to vote in a particular precinct.

    I’ve been a clerk and an inspector (two different grades of participants) at my local elections several times. One of our polling places is in a senior citizens residence. When those ninety year old’s come in to vote, coming down in the elevator, they usually haven’t had either a passport or a driver’s liscence in about a million years.

    aimai

  52. 52
    aimai says:

    @keestadoll:

    The point is that this, of course, has been tried but the Governors refused to appropriate money to do it–therefore there is no national system of free, acceptable, voting ID. If there were then no one would object to it.

    This is an absurdly complicated system–for instance people move more often than they update their picture ID. That is one of the “issues” that comes up when people like you naively ask why everyone can’t have a picture ID. College students have picture ID but that is not taken as proof of location. You can “prove” your identity with a Passport but that has no reference to your address and it is the link between address and ID that matters (theoretically) to proving that you have a right to vote in a particular precinct.

    I’ve been a clerk and an inspector (two different grades of participants) at my local elections several times. One of our polling places is in a senior citizens residence. When those ninety year old’s come in to vote, coming down in the elevator, they usually haven’t had either a passport or a driver’s liscence in about a million years.

    aimai

  53. 53
    Steeplejack says:

    @JD Rhoades, @phoebes-in-santa fe:

    Then you’re playing into their game, by jumping through their hoops.

    And there are a few other problems. Anecdata: I got a Virginia ID a couple of years ago, and the cost was not trivial–something like 30 bucks. That smacks of a poll tax. Another consideration for poor people is that, even if you graciously give them a ride to the DMV to get an ID card, they are taking unpaid time off work to spend several hours going to the DMV. And most of them work jobs where they can’t just say, “Betty, hold my calls, I’m going out for a while.” When you’re only clearing a few hundred a week, losing half a day’s pay is a big deal. Especially in a job where your boss might be looking to cut your hours upon any perception that you aren’t available and eager to work 24/7.

  54. 54
    aimai says:

    @Steeplejack:

    I’d also like to add that I didn’t learn to drive until I was 30–always lived in places where I got around fine without a car. So: no, I didn’t have a picture ID. Never needed one, actually.

    aimai

  55. 55
    Tokyokie says:

    As I recall, in Indiana, in the first election after the voter ID law was enacted, nuns at a convent associated with Notre Dame were working as poll workers and had to turn away nuns from the same convent who were in their 90s with whom they’d lived for 20-30 years because the elderly nuns didn’t have driver’s licenses. Too bad that the standard of a government restriction of civil rights to promote a legitimate state interest must not be overly broad was rejected by the Roberts Court in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board.

  56. 56
    gluon1 says:

    To follow-up on the others and not to beat up on @keestadoll, the Brennan Center suggests that it’s about 11% of the population who lack ID. That means that it’s not surprising at all if one doesn’t know anyone who doesn’t have ID; the vast majority of eligible voters do have ID. But, that said, any of us not into voter suppression can easily get on board with the idea that disfranchising, or setting up a new barrier to vote, for 11% of the eligible voters, about 24 million people, is a bad thing.

    We must think, too, about the people who get to the polls and realize that they’ve forgotten their ID. Do we really want to risk them not voting, because it’s a hassle to get the ID and then return, for that reason?

  57. 57
    Lojasmo says:

    @keestadoll:
    Jesus dude…seriously? No, “we”probably don’t lack identification. The largely home bound elderly may, and it is awfully hard for the indigent to pay $18 or so for an ID.

  58. 58
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    The problem with requiring a photo ID is that it is, essentially, a poll tax. Every state charges for photo IDs, even if they’re not driver’s licences.

    This. Here in California, it’s $26 for an ID (non-driver’s license) card. That may not sound like a lot of money to someone who’s middle-class and works a decent-paying job, but for some people that’s the difference between having electricity that month or not. If you’re on public assistance (food stamps, etc.), you have to bring in a verification form and they’ll still charge you $7.

    Interestingly, senior citizens (age 62+) can get an ID card for free, presumably to entice them to give up driving.

  59. 59
    Ash Can says:

    Kay said something here a few months ago that I’ve kept in mind ever since. She observed that voter-ID supporters base their beliefs on the idea that one fraudulent vote is one too many. And she went on to say that we, on the other hand, need to push the idea that one wrongly disenfranchised voter is one too many. I for one intend to repeat this sentiment whenever the subject comes up.

  60. 60
    Brachiator says:

    @aimai:

    I’ve been a clerk and an inspector (two different grades of participants) at my local elections several times. One of our polling places is in a senior citizens residence. When those ninety year old’s come in to vote, coming down in the elevator, they usually haven’t had either a passport or a driver’s liscence in about a million years.

    Excellent example.

    This brought to mind another example that should have immediately come to mind. A city near me has a great shuttle service that takes seniors to medical appointments and to a senior center, shopping, etc.

    Many of these seniors had been gently encouraged to surrender their driver’s licenses, for their own safety. So, by definition, they don’t have the ID that some think is so easy to have with you at all times.

  61. 61
    gaz says:

    @keestadoll:

    but really I want to know why requiring an ID is such a bone of contention

    Because voting is a fundamentally right for ALL adult citizens, regardless of class.

    Because voter ID laws are a disgusting attempt to roll us back to an age where we had things like a Poll Tax

    Because voter ID laws are nothing more than an attempt to disenfranchise people in the name of solving a problem that simply does not exist.

    Because, in this country VOTING IS FREE. VOTING IS FREE. VOTING IS FREE.

    (In the tone and tenor of one of my favorite characters from The Practice =), )
    THIS is the United States of America

    Is there a part of that that you fail to understand?

  62. 62
    Smiling Mortician says:

    @keestadoll:

    Perhaps instead of screaming about saying how targeted and disenfranchising it is, the answer is to reply in kind by LOUDER and broader advocation and implementation of a national ID system and getting people out to these disenfranchised demographics and getting them enfranchised.I would gladly suport that.

    Given that it would be impossible to advocate, develop, and implement such a national ID system in time for the November elections (not to mention the elections happening between now and then) perhaps you will understand why people are “screaming” about the fact that the current suppression tactics are indeed targeting specific populations for disenfranchisement. A call for long-term solutions to an essentially non-existent problem isn’t necessarily the best response to a deliberately manufactured short-term catastrophe.

    ETA: Your notion of “getting these disenfranchised demographics enfranchised” illustrates the problem perfectly. They already are “enfranchised.” They’re citizens who have the right to vote. They are, as we speak, being disenfranchised.

  63. 63
    gaz says:

    @Smiling Mortician: Not to mention that the character you are responding to is ignoring the crux of the FP post about the additional burden it imposes on the poll workers themselves.

  64. 64
    gaz says:

    @gluon1: I’m trans, my ID is a confusing morass of contradictions. The photo doesn’t look like me. The listed sex doesn’t reflect me or what I look like, or my name. It’s a pain in the arse to get it changed and update all relevant documentation. So right now my valid and legal ID looks like a fraud. I am definitely a minority, and I know this. But my point is that 11% figure doesn’t take into account people in my predicament. I’d say that the effective rate of people who would be disenfranchised by such laws is somewhat higher than 11%, because it’s not just those without ID who would be impacted.

  65. 65
    gaz says:

    @Ash Can: Yeah, I agree with you and Kay on this. I tend to think that the sentiment behind Blackstone’s formulation could (and should) apply to voting in a free and democratic society as well.

  66. 66
    gaz says:

    @muddy: Taco trucks too =)

  67. 67
    WereBear says:

    @gaz: Your situation reminds me of this amazing love story I just ran across.

    That these two souls would find each other, in the most inhospitable soil I can imagine, to soldier on in the face of incredible resistance and outright hostility; to triumph over hate and prejudice with their family intact and their love and happiness stronger than ever; well, dang it, it brings tears to my eyes.

  68. 68
    muddy says:

    @gaz: I’m really sad to say that there are not taco trucks in Vermont! :-( Possibly in Burlington, I don’t know. I have never seen one though. Not that I go “up to town” more than once or twice a year anyway.

  69. 69
    jefft452 says:

    @Roger Moore: “Those people probably have other forms of ID, but in many cases the Voter ID laws specifically exclude those forms of ID because the people writing them don’t want those people to vote.”

    THIS!

  70. 70
    gaz says:

    @WereBear: Thanks for the link. I have a small quibble with the LGBtq label, but that’s just because I’m odd I suppose. In any case, I think I’ll share that link with my spouse.

    OT gripe:
    There’s nothing unchristian about being transsexual, but a lot of very ignorant people lump us together with folks who they believe are sexual deviants. While I disagree that homosexuality is deviant, there is some scripture that says that it is. There is no scripture that speaks about transsexuals. This is one of the many problems I have with the LGBt label. The first three letters are about sexual orientation. The T part has to do with gender identity.

    For my part, I’m one of the folks that Paul believes were especially blessed, in that I’m asexual and celibate. I’ve never collected porn, never had an erotic dream, and have a lot more head-space freed to do god’s work (at least according to Paul). I don’t know the official figures (not to mention that figures on us are pretty elusive), but speaking anecdotally I’ve encountered plenty of transsexuals that are asexual as well, probably more of a percentage than that in the biologically-gender-conforming population. If anything, we are the ideal Christian soldiers. ;) hehehe. Throughout human history we’ve been recognized as spiritually gifted. A lot of churches seem to get this. Some don’t. The ones that don’t tend to lump us in with the rest of queer community and label us all as going against God. (And FTR I think that Jesus wasn’t a gay basher). Still, It’s a disservice, as we are pretty different than the rest of the people under that umbrella term. I’m not saying this to denigrate anyone with a particular sexual orientation. Just saying that the LGBt label tends to make people confused, and is a further misrepresentation of who we are (not that we can’t also be gay, straight, or bisexual, but any intersection with sexual orientation is incidental and separate from our gender identity)

  71. 71
    kay says:

    @keestadoll:

    It’s an absolutely fair question.

    If we haven’t explained the basic premise to you, a well-intentioned commenter on a liberal blog, then we’ve done a poor job as advocates.

    The Brennan Center says that 15% of people who make less than 35k a year don’t have photo ID.

    But that isn’t an answer to your question, you’re wondering WHY or HOW they don’t, and that’s a good question.

    It’s difficult to answer because we have to get into drivers licenses, and rural versus urban, and how low income people don’t use banks , but I know (now) that “we” skipped a step and should have started with “who doesn’t have photo ID and why don’t they have it?”.

  72. 72
    quannlace says:

    A large swath of the population doesn’t have and can’t easily afford a drivers license. Both in terms of the actual cost and the time required to get to a DMV, jump through al

    And if other states in their budgetary wisdom, like here in NJ, have closed a lot of their DMV offices and limiting their hours, it makes getting a license even more onerous. (Thank god, despite Christie, NJ hasn’t tried to pass any of those voter restrictions.)

  73. 73
    valdemar says:

    In England you don’t need any form of ID to vote. You turn up at a polling station, tell them who you are, and vote. I’m not saying we don’t have corrupt electoral practices, but these tend to involve postal votes, not the standard ‘cross in the box on the day’ stuff.

  74. 74
    Downpuppy says:

    The ways poll workers can get around the photo-requirements are a little scary. Not because there’s any chance of fraud, but because they would seem to increase the discriminatory effect. Small town? They know ya. Look like a poll worker? They’ll try harder to find somebody who knows you. Look seedy & live in a city? Maybe not so much. They just don’t have time.

  75. 75
    gaz says:

    @Downpuppy: To the proponents of Voter ID laws, this is a feature, not a bug.

  76. 76
    WereBear says:

    @gaz: Oh, you won’t get any argument from me about Christianity (which is about inclusion) and the weird mutant form of cult practice which Republicans encourage (which is about exclusion.)

    I think I understand your point about sexual drive being separate from sexual identity. And I agree on another of your important points: Jesus was not a gay basher.

    Jesus loves everyone. If, like me, you revere him as a Great Teacher: that’s the point!

  77. 77
    gaz says:

    @WereBear: I kind of went on that tangential rant over Part One of the link you posted. I’m glad that it was expressed though, as people tend to struggle with that. Just to be a pain in the ass: Sexual Identity (which basically speaks to Sexual Orientation) is different than Gender Identity is different than Sex Drive.

    /being a pedantic PC pain in the arse.

  78. 78
    Lojasmo says:

    @gaz:

    I read a stistic (most likely from team uterati) that something like 40% of women don’t have a birth certificate which reflects their current name. In that situation, obtaining a legal ID to vote is nearly insurmountable for many.

  79. 79
    gaz says:

    @Lojasmo: Probably. I guess it would depend on the state. It’s definitely problematic. It’s easy to envision a scenario where a state first implements voter ID restrictions, and then (separately) engages in making IDs more difficult to get, like in situation you describe. I think it’s important to examine the motivations behind implementing things like Voter ID laws. I’ve read far too many opinion pieces (most recently by Jonah Goldberg) by proponents of Voter ID laws that say in essence “This or That class of people shouldn’t be allowed to vote”. The young, the poor, etc. I think it is telling, and also speaks to why such laws are so dangerous.

  80. 80
    WereBear says:

    @Lojasmo: I read a stistic (most likely from team uterati) that something like 40% of women don’t have a birth certificate which reflects their current name. In that situation, obtaining a legal ID to vote is nearly insurmountable for many.

    Criminy, if I had known the sh!tstorm which would devolve upon me changing my birth name upon marriage, I never would have embarked upon that particular Quixotic quest.

    At the time, one of the motivations was to have the same last name as the husband’s children I was step-mothering. It made potentially life-saving decisions easier for institutions; I was glad to do it.

    But once done, twice important; felt that I had to do it for Husband #2, lest I diss his sacred gonads. Not that he pushed it; a truly liberated MAN. But you know; love.

  81. 81
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @keestadoll:

    Do these poulations also not write checks, go to a bank, cash a check, fill out a rental application, apply for a mortage loan, or do any of the myriad of other things upon which an ID is required?

    No, they don’t. And in marginal cases, they get by on having others vouch for them; official ID is really just a substitute for vouching.

    Dealing with it properly would involve travelling back in time and fix the numerous holes in the American vital records system — some deliberately racial in intent, some simply reflective of an era when that kind of bureaucratic identification was less commonplace.

    @valdemar:

    In England you don’t need any form of ID to vote. You turn up at a polling station, tell them who you are, and vote.

    Registration in the UK has long been a top-down thing. Hard to replicate that in the US, though Canada’s federal government manages to maintain a electoral database that is used by the provinces.

  82. 82
    rikyrah says:

    @keestadoll:

    let us get this straight.

    this is NOT about having ‘A’ piece of ID.

    It is about, for a transient population, getting NEW ID for everytime they move. do you know how transient the low-income population is in this country?

    do you really think that it’s not just a financial, but time consuming burden for them to get a piece of ID.

    I haven’t even gotten into it with you about how many older BLACK PEOPLE in America are STILL paying for Jim Crow even today…because they might not have an actual birth certificate from a hospital…BECAUSE BACK IN THE DAY OF JIM CROW THERE WERE NO HOSPITALS FOR THEM TO FILE THEM.

  83. 83
    kc says:

    God bless your mom.

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