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Voter Registration Restrictions and Representative Democracy

Via the Reuters:  New curbs on voter registration could hurt Obama

Voting laws passed by Republican-led legislatures in a dozen states during the past year have sharply restricted voter-registration drives that typically target young, low-income, African-American and Hispanic voters – groups that have backed the Democratic president by wide margins.

A further 16 states are considering bills that would end voter registration on election days, impose a range of limits on groups that register voters and make it more difficult for people to sign up, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School.

[...]

Last May, Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, signed a law that imposes tough new restrictions on third-party groups if they do not turn in voter registration forms quickly.

[...]

But the groups that try to register voters say the law – which requires the groups to register with the state and turn in voter forms within 48 hours of obtaining them or face at least $5,000 in fines – are onerous and discriminatory.

The law also cuts the number of days for early voting and no longer allows voting on the Sunday before Election Day. Some activists said that unfairly targeted blacks and Hispanics, who went to the polls in large numbers the Sunday before Election Day in 2008 through programs called “Pews to the Polls” and “Souls to the Polls.

[...]

In Wisconsin, new laws require licensing for anyone who registers someone else to vote, and the rules for licensing vary in the state’s 1,800 municipalities.

That could mean a volunteer for a voting drive in a school district would have to take a course and get licensed in a dozen different municipalities in that one school district, said Jeannette Senecal, director of elections for the League of Women Voters.

If one views election and governance as a competition between sports teams then, clearly, the salient issue in any discussion of voter registration drives is “does it help my team or hurt my team?”  However, we should ask:  is this really the way we ought to be assessing things like voter registration?

And yes:  the story that I am quoting puts it these terms:  i.e., in terms of whether it will help or hurt a specific candidate.  On the one hand, there are legitimate questions about how a given set of rules impact a given candidate or party, but such approaches also obscure broader and more important issues (or, perhaps, speak to at least part of motivation of those who made the given policy).  Moreover, there are persons who clearly look at these situations solely in terms of advantage or disadvantage to their preferred candidates (I recall, for example, complaints from conservatives about “motor voter” (laws that allow you to register to vote at the DMV or other services because they believed that such rules disproportionately helped Democratic constituencies).

However, if one actually cares about representative democracy and the electoral process itself, then one ought to favor making it easier for citizens to vote.   To claim otherwise one has to explain why it is not a general good for more voters to vote in a representative democracy.  If one’s answer is:  because I don’t like what a specific bloc of voters might like then one is not committed to the principles of representation.  If one only wants one’s own view reflected in government then one wants an oligarchy (wherein oneself is one of the oligarchs) not a representative democracy.

Quite frankly, there is no reason not to have some system of automatic registration with citizens only having to proactively worry about it when they move from one jurisdiction to another.

Yes, measures need to be taken to prevent fraud.  But, as I have noted on numerous occasions before (most comprehensively here), the evidence of serious voter fraud problems does not exist.

On last, and yet very key issue:  we cannot ignore the fact that these “reforms” disproportionately affect the poor, the elderly, and minorities.  Moreover, it ignores the fact that one of the key points at which systematic discrimination took place was via the registration process, which is easier to manipulate than the actual process of voting.  Pretending otherwise is ahistorical at best.

Related Posts:

About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. He is the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and is currently working on a comparative study of the US to 29 other democracies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging at PoliBlog since 2003. Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I wonder if I am the only GOTV volunteer to encourage people who disagreed with me to vote anyway?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  2. Tsar Nicholas says:

    More voters = good.

    On the other hand, dead people, ineligible felons and paid voter fraud operatives voting = bad.

    We simply can’t have another fiasco along the lines of Landrieu vs. Jenkins, Carnahan’s ghost vs. Ashcroft, or Gregoire vs. Rossi, etc. Not unless we’re OK with being a third-world banana republic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 11

  3. Bennett says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: No, you are not.

    Also, is this where we discuss a National Voting Day? Or how about voting on the internet? I don’t see how it would be an harder or easier to manipulate than electronic voting machines.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    I agree that more voters would be good. What’s the relationship between voters and registration? I’m not being facetious; I’d really like to know.

    I don’t think it’s completely obvious that more registrations ipso facto mean more voters and I’d like to know how the two relate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. superdestroyer says:

    Who cares? As the U.S. becomes a one party state, the real elections will be the Democratic primary. Yet, in current one party states like Maryland and the District of Columbia, the media could not bring itself to report on the Democratic primary and the holders of most offices were decided .

    When the winner of the Democratic primary is going to win the general election by more than 30 points, the media should concentrate on the important election. However, the media and too many wonks cannot seem to grasp how politics really functions in the U.S.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 15

  6. Hey Norm says:

    If you are tha party that has primary turnout of 99% white…suppressing the vote of anyone who is not white is a winning strategy.
    And there is nothing in Republican behavior that would lead you to think they are interested in anything but winning…governing?…they are either uninterested, or incapable.
    McConnell said it…the most important thing is beating Obama. How can that possibly be the most important thing to an elected representative?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  7. An Interested Party says:

    On the other hand, dead people, ineligible felons and paid voter fraud operatives voting = bad.

    The standard bull$hit peddled by people who are in favor of these new restrictions (people who are also in favor of Republicans)…where is the proof that all this alleged voter fraud is taking place…

    We simply can’t have another fiasco along the lines of Landrieu vs. Jenkins, Carnahan’s ghost vs. Ashcroft, or Gregoire vs. Rossi, etc. Not unless we’re OK with being a third-world banana republic.

    No, but I’m sure some people wouldn’t mind another fiasco like Bush v. Gore…that is, if the right candidate wins…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  8. Ron Beasley says:

    The more people that vote the less likely it is the Republicans will win and they know that.
    Paul Weyrich:

    Paul Weyrich, “father” of the right-wing movement and co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, Moral Majority and various other groups tells his flock that he doesn’t want people to vote.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  9. Tristan says:

    Presumably it doesn’t actually matter the quantity of voters, as long as the demographics are not out of balance. Shouldn’t the discussion be couched in those terms?

    I don’t see the case for more voters working out, holding all other things equal, it is just a waste of more people’s time. (again, changing demographic composition of the voting body is a different story).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  10. Eric Florack says:

    The article, predictably, has it wrong.
    Intentionally so.
    What it’s preventing is voter fraud.

    And there’s a new surveyout that suggests that the vast majority of Americans believe that voter ID laws are necessary to stop voter fraud. They also tend to believe, from what I’ve seen of other reports, and in conversation, that the Democrats believe voter fraud is their path to power. Is there anyone who believes given the unpopularity of our current administration and its handling of our government and it’s infringement our rights, that they could win reelection absent voter fraud?Indeed, John McCain’s folks figured that they had evidence of voter fraud that cost them the election, and said nothing about it for fear of the civil unrest that would certainly ensue.

    What we do know is this: First, that people in the McCain campaign thought they had evidence of election tampering that cost McCain the election. Second, that McCain thought it best for the country to do nothing about it, in part because of fears of mob violence.
    America is coasting along a slippery surface, and small concessions to the mob can resonate in ways we can’t predict. In seven months, we have a chance to reverse the mistakes of 2008, even if only to stand up to the mob this time. . . .

    If you are sitting on the couch on Election Day watching it on TV, if you are at work instead of not using available leave, if you aren’t inside the polls on Election Day to prevent the mess of 2008 from repeating, you aren’t doing enough. If not 2012, when?

    The answer is …never. Ask the people now dealing with Hugo Chavez.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 34

  11. Arnonerik says:

    The author, Steven Taylor, shows his bias in the first sentence saying voter ID laws “target” certain groups of people. He offers no proof that these requirements are designed to keep any illegal voters off the rolls. Where, in these United States, are citizens denied access to obtaining proper identification documents? If anyone is too busy or too uninterested to obtain free ID documents from his or her State then they have only themselves to blame if they are unable to vote.

    Ask yourself why the Democrat party doesn’t expend as much effort to get their potential voters the proper identification instead of fighting efforts to rid the voting booths of fraudulent voters and you will understand what this battle is really about. Do an internet search of verifiable cases of voter fraud and vote stealing in the last 20 years and you will find the preponderance of perpetrators mysteriously turn out to be Democrats.

    The average honest voter is far more concerned about his legitimate vote being canceled out by illegal voters than laws requiring voters to be able to identify themselves. Let us all fight for honest elections!

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 28

  12. cas says:

    How does it “disenfranchise” people by passing a law that simply states that in order to vote, you must produce the same ID that is required to board a plane, cash a check, enter a government building, etc??
    Or do you prefer to have illegal aliens vote in you district?

    “This year there have been investigations, indictments or convictions for vote fraud in California, Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina and Maryland. In all but one case, the alleged fraudsters were Democrats.”

    Also, please explain to me why ANYONE should be allowed to register the same day they vote? Do you, or do you not care about who is running for office? Do you even KNOW who is running?

    Also, if I recall correctly, the absentee ballot was originally started to allow military stationed away from their home district a right to vote. And yet, various states refuse to properly post absentee ballots to servicemen and women overseas, or fail to count those ballots when received.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 21

  13. Gustopher says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Not familiar with Landrieu vs. Jenkins, but Carnahan’s ghost beat Ashcroft fair and square.

    Gregoire vs. Rossi was a statistical tie, with the majority of the problems coming from the largest precincts, as one would expect. The recounts were overseen by a Republican Secretary of State, if that lends and credence to it.

    You’re also missing Coleman vs. Franken, one of the most public recounts, and one of the most professionally and honestly done (they took time to determine if a vote for “Lizard People” was valid, with the key question being whether People might be a surname, and Lizard a nickname, possibly for Elizabeth)

    Also, Bush v. Gore, which actually was a travesty (the outcome was a tragedy, but the process was a complete travesty with different standards applied in each county)

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  14. Eric Florack says:

    Here’s one the lefties in here won’t be able to handle:

    If demanding identification disenfranchises voters, does demanding ID for the purchase of firearms infringe on one’s second amendment rights?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 24

  15. @Tsar Nicholas:

    More voters = good.

    Allow me to be the devil’s advocate then. Democracy, in and of itself, is morally neutral, neight inherently good nor inherently bad. It’s purpose is to assure that government remains responsive, not that it remains moral.

    So the more accurate way to put it is, “more voters == more effective”. Whether that government becomes more effective at being good or being evil remains to be seen; evil does not cease to be evil just because it becomes popular.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  16. @Eric Florack:

    vast majority of Americans believe that voter ID laws are necessary to stop voter fraud.

    The vast majority of Americans believe in many things that are demonstrably false.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 1

  17. David says:

    If I remember correctly, there was no fraud in the Carnahan win, Ashcroft just lost to a dead guy. Also, as Steven has previously pointed out, the % of alleged voter fraud vs. the number of votes cast pretty much eliminates voter fraud as having any actual impact on elections. However, the added burden to the poor and the old of these new “election integrity laws” will make it more difficult for valid U.S. citizens to vote. If you think it is preferable to impose restrictions on a constitutional right to prevent a non-existent problem, at least be honest about it, you support these restrictions cause you prefer republican candidates and any means to help your team is fine.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  18. David says:

    @Eric Florack: Eric, apples and oranges and you know it. Restrictions on constitutional rights have to be narrowly constructed and the state must have a compelling interest to do so. Until such time as someone can actually demonstrate that voter fraud is actually an issue impacting elections, and that fraud is caused by lack of photo ID at the polls, or lack of proper ID at registration, there is no compelling state interest.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  19. Gustopher says:

    @Eric Florack: I’m a lefty, I’ll bite — with the recent Supreme Court ruling that there is an individual right to bear ams — yup, it cannot be infringed with what is effectively a tax, or what affects one population more than another. I also expect all the laws restricting where people take their guns to slowly fall, and soon you’ll be able to bring your gun anywhere you can bring your black friend.

    So, ill see that, and I’ll raise you: would it be right and proper for a volunteer organization to give handguns to the homeless people in red states? Particularly ones with concealed carry laws, as asking for change with a visible handgun might be misconstrued as armed robbery.

    For the purposes of argument, let’s assume we actually check to ensure that the homeless person has not had their rights stripped from them. Where are you from? Texas? Can we arm your homeless population? Most of them have not been convicted of a felony, and have not been determined to be a threat to themselves or others by a court of law. The vast majority of the paranoid schizophrenics are entirely undiagnosed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  20. Eric Florack says:

    Eric, apples and oranges and you know it.

    Restrictions on constitutional rights have to be narrowly constructed and the state must have a compelling interest to do so. Until such time as someone can actually demonstrate that voter fraud is actually an issue impacting elections, and that fraud is caused by lack of photo ID at the polls, or lack of proper ID at registration, there is no compelling state interest.

    Why do you suppose they insist on identification when people are passing checks? Not because it’s been demonstrated clearly that you as an individual are passing bad checks, but because of the mere chance of that happening. And we know it has already happened.

    Certainly, there have been cases of voter fraud. Just as certainly those cases of voter fraud would have been prevented with proper identification.

    @Gustopher: … the question is not about taxes… but access. Legal access.

    and I notice you use the phrase “no compelling state interest”. An interesting turn of a phrase, that. Maybe the government isn’t too worried about it. Indeed they seem rather happy with the situation. But as demonstrated at the link I provided the people certainly are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 14

  21. Eric Florack says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Interesting comment, Stormy.
    Your thought there would seem to be of a peace with the thought of the founders who are concerned about our devolving into a pure democracy, which they understood quite clearly we would never survive.

    The vast majority of Americans believe in many things that are demonstrably false.

    Obama, for example, back in 08?

    Yep.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 19

  22. Eric Florack says:

    I should add, perhaps the rather of use point that the more effective government is the less freedom that people have. Certainly, NAZI German government was among the most efficient in the world, Directly alongside that of the Soviet Union under Lenin.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 20

  23. Dexter says:

    I remember a friend’s account of when he went to register to vote in a small Louisiana town in the late 1940′s. He wanted to register Republican. Their stunned reply was that they didn’t even have a Republican registration book! There’s a lesson there somewhere.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  24. Console says:

    Ah yes, I forgot about the overabundance of felons and dead people voting on sundays just before elections…

    Don’t let the players for team R baffle you with the BS. We aren’t talking about voter fraud, or voter ID or any of that. We are talking about laws that literally serve no purpose other than to make it harder to vote.

    Shrinking the early voting period does nothing to stop fraud. Not letting people vote on weekends does nothing to stop fraud.

    Don’t even bother to grant the assumption that what they are doing serves some higher rational government purpose.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  25. Console says:

    @Eric Florack:

    This isn’t rocket science.

    Obama’s share of the vote was consistent with polling conducted. Which means the chances of fraud were nil.

    We can go on all day about abstract nonsense and hypotheticals, but eventually, facts matter.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  26. Pete says:

    @Console:

    Don’t even bother to grant the assumption that what they are doing serves some higher rational government purpose.

    There aren’t very many higher rational government purposes; however, I grew up in Chicago, a large enough sample to warrant serious consideration, a city run by Democrats forever. There is rampant voter fraud there, and has been there for years. So why is it so important to provide proof of national voter fraud when such a large and glaring sample of it has existed for decades, suggesting that voter fraud just might exist in other concentrations of Dems?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 12

  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Eric Florack:

    The vast majority of Americans believe in many things that are demonstrably false.

    Obama, for example, back in 08Eric Florack at any point in time ever?

    (could not resist)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  28. Ben Wolf says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Certainly, NAZI German government was among the most efficient in the world, Directly alongside that of the Soviet Union under Lenin.

    Then by all means, present empirical evidence the Nazis and Communists produced highly efficient government. Then demonstrate that efficiency leads directly to dictatorship.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  29. steve says:

    The kind of voter fraud that would be deterred by voter ID is extremely rare. The huge majority of voter fraud is committed by election officials. Felons could have photo IDs and vote. There are allegations, but they rarely pan out. It is exceedingly likely that this is an iceberg phenomenon. Organizing a conspiracy and keeping enough people quiet to change a vote outcome is a high risk/low yield proposition. (Read libertarian Caplan’s book on The Myth Of The Rational Voter) Much, much better to commit fraud using election officials and alter ballots or machines.

    If we had some Americans who believed that we currently spend too much money AND voter fraud is a problem, they would support using tax money to look for and stop fraud by enforcement at the officials level. Voter ID is a solution looking for a problem that, logically, is unlikely to exist and has not been found.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  30. steve says:

    “NAZI German government was among the most efficient in the world, Directly alongside that of the Soviet Union under Lenin.”

    Wow. The Communist government is widely recognized as one of the least efficient governments ever. It allotted resources very poorly. Despite controlling vast resources and major important agricultural lands, they managed to go broke.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  31. Ben Wolf says:

    @steve: Doesn’t matter. Today efficient government leads to communism. Tomorrow communism/socialism will be the least efficient form of government ever. Florack will write anything, at any time with no concern for consistency or accuracy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  32. mannning says:

    It is rather difficult to understand why any citizen would object to a voting system where the voters are required to have adequate identification on their person proving their right to vote in order to vote. In line with that thought, an adequate identification would logically include a picture of the citizen helping to ensure that the person is who he says he is. This has nothing to do with race, color, sex, religion, or political affiliation. It is simply common sense. It has nothing to do with costs per se, in that proper ID can be freely given in the states. Any young person, when approaching the voting age, has tons of time to apply for and receive an adequate, free ID.

    The thought that one needs to prove voter fraud in order to accept ID laws is specious. If you can only count proven violations of the voter law you are omitting the additional count of successful voter frauds because you never found them. One suspects that there have been many, but I wil not go into ancedotal evidence. Voter ID laws are preventative in nature, and it would seem entirely obvious that laws should be in place that help to prevent fraud of the kind that such IDs would inhibit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 10

  33. Console says:

    @Pete:

    What the hell does voter fraud have to do with making it harder to early vote?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  34. Ben Wolf says:

    @mannning: When voter ID laws make it the responsibility of state governments to ensure every citizen has such an ID at no cost to them, then I’ll support those laws.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  35. Console says:

    @mannning:

    There is no mention of voter ID laws in Taylor’s post. We are literally talking about restrictions in times and days and various other bureaucratic nonsense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  36. anjin-san says:

    Why do you suppose they insist on identification when people are passing checks? Not because it’s been demonstrated clearly that you as an individual are passing bad checks, but because of the mere chance of that happening.

    So when people exercise their right to vote, they are presumed guilty until proven innocent in regards to fraud. In your world, at least.

    Now lets cut to a Fox News story about voter fraud, complete with video of… black people standing in line to vote.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  37. superdestroyer says:

    @anjin-san:

    Actually most state laws say that for a store to purchase a “bad check” prosecution that the merchant must have the drivers license number in order to prove that the person who wrote the check was the person whose name is on the check.

    Why not do the same thing and check to make sure that the person saying that they live at a certain address and is voting is really that person. Doesn’t the state demand ID when performing jury duty, signing a contract, or even verifying employment.

    If the government can require finger print ID to drive a fuel hauler, then the government can demand ID for lots of reasons.

    Why to progressives insist that voting should be one time that the government cannot ask for ID. Is it because progressives feel that they benefit from voter fraud?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  38. anjin-san says:

    It is rather difficult to understand why any citizen would object to a voting system where the voters are required to have adequate identification on their person proving their right to vote in order to vote.

    You mean aside from the fact that this is a transparent attempt by the GOP to disenfranchise minorities and poor folks that almost certainly will vote Democratic?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  39. anjin-san says:

    If the government can require finger print ID to drive a fuel hauler,

    When you can show me where in the Constitution it says you have the right to drive a fuel hauler, get back to me.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  40. G.A. says:

    Yes, measures need to be taken to prevent fraud. But, as I have noted on numerous occasions before (most comprehensively here), the evidence of serious voter fraud problems does not exist.

    There is a special about this on Fox News tonight:) The Pro I should say…

    So say you have a recall petition and it is fond to have nearly 300,000 suspect and fraudulent signatures on it. Does that tell you anything about voter fraud?

    Could it possibly transfer? hmmm…….
    How about thousands of union thugs and useful idiots shipped into your state to help collect said recall and to sign it?

    Hopefully soon in the future there will be tens of thousands of these cheating perpetrators going to prison along with hopefully the government accountability board for their complicity. I don’t think these fools understand that we have hundreds of thousands of peaces of evidence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9

  41. MattT says:

    A lot of people seem to have forgotten that voting is a right, not a privilege. Any burden to prove or disprove identity at the polls or in registration should fall on those protesting someone’s right to vote, not on the voter.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  42. An Interested Party says:

    And there’s a new surveyout that suggests that the vast majority of Americans believe that voter ID laws are necessary to stop voter fraud.

    They also believe that the wealthy should pay more in taxes…ok, Republicans, get to work on that…

    They also tend to believe, from what I’ve seen of other reports, and in conversation, that the Democrats believe voter fraud is their path to power.

    This, of course, is based on your own bull$hit and not any verifiable facts…

    Obama, for example, back in 08?

    Yep.

    Or Reagan in ’84…

    I should add, perhaps the rather of use point that the more effective government is the less freedom that people have. Certainly, NAZI German government was among the most efficient in the world, Directly alongside that of the Soviet Union under Lenin.

    Using this “logic”, as it were, Somalia is a paradise…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  43. mannning says:

    @MattT:

    A lot of people seem to have forgotten that voting is a right, not a privilege. Any burden to prove or disprove identity at the polls or in registration should fall on those protesting someone’s right to vote, not on the voter.

    A lot of people seem to have the mistaken idea that citizens don’t have a responsibility to vote and to vote properly with identification, purely as an obligation to this democratic society. It is the citi\zens duty to obtain and present proper identification at the voting place. Following your idea, anyone could vote. Anyone at all, so long as they weren’t challenged. That is not how it works.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 15

  44. Pete says:

    @anjin-san: Show me where in the Constitution it says one has a right to vote. It doesn’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9

  45. Ben Wolf says:

    @mannning: American citizens have a right to vote. They do not have a responsibility to vote. Ask an Australian if you want to understand what it means for voting to be a responsibility.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  46. Jenos Idanian says:

    I’m going to toss a little hand grenade into this discussion…

    I read something a while ago that got me thinking. I’m not quite ready to endorse it, but it make a bit of sense to me.

    I like the idea of registering to vote requiring at least a modicum of effort. It would help to push a more involved and, I hope, informed electorate. I’d prefer quality over quantity at the polls.

    And as far as ID goes… if I need an ID to buy goddamned cold medicine, then I want to have at least that same level of security for shaping our nation’s future.

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  47. mannning says:

    @anjin-san:

    No, I mean besides the obvious attempt by Dems to run dead people’s ID’s through the voting places in multiple precincts, etc. etc..

    Other than that, it is a help towards preventing anyone from trying to vote illegally, whatever their voting preference, as common sense should dictate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 10

  48. Ben Wolf says:

    @Pete: Amendment Fifteen: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  49. Ben Wolf says:

    @mannning: Amendment Twenty-Four: The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reasons of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  50. Ben Wolf says:

    Sorry, that last comment was directed at Pete.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  51. anjin-san says:

    @ Ben Wolf

    Conservatives just love them some Constitution. ‘Cept when they don’t…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  52. Ben Wolf says:

    @Pete: Amendment Twenty-Six: The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of age.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  53. Ben Wolf says:

    @anjin-san: The word “right” is used at least five times in the Constitution when it comes to voting. It would have taken Pete literally thirty seconds on the internets to find that out, but I guess he’s so busy he couldn’t be bothered.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  54. mannning says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Let me put it this way. A citizen has a right to vote, and he should take that right as a citizen’s responsibility to exercise that right and to vote responsibly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  55. Ben Wolf says:

    @mannning: Perhaps, but making it more difficult to vote does not encourage citizens to be more responsible. I have no problem with voter ID laws provided government makes it simple and free to comply with them. Quite frankly we need federal legislation to standardize voting requirements.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  56. Pete says:
  57. anjin-san says:

    he should take that right as a citizen’s responsibility to exercise that right and to vote responsibly.

    Who decides what “voting responsibly” means? You?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  58. Ben Wolf says:

    @Pete: So someone named Paul Fidalgo says the Constitution doesn’t say what it says, and that’s supposed to persuade us?

    My god man, how can you possibly think that’s a good argument?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  59. @Pete: So, a blog post trumps the actual language of the Constitution?

    We know that our right to vote cannot be abridged due to race, age, or gender. The formulation in each of the amendments in question notes “The right of citizens of the United States to vote…”

    How is this formulation any different than “Congress shall make no law abridging…the freedom of speech”?

    In both case the language is no “US Citizens have the right to X” but rather “The right to X cannot be taken away in under the following Y conditions.” And yet, we speak of a right to free speech. Why is similar language not a right to vote?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  60. Ben Wolf says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Or that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. It’s no different than the language as written regarding voting rights.

    Excellent point, sir.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  61. superdestroyer says:

    @MattT:

    Owning a gun is also guaranteed in the Constitution. Yet, the government feels free to demand ID. A jury trial is guaranteed but the government still demand proof of ID to serve on a jury. Owning private property is guaranteed but I am still forced to provide ID to conduct a transaction.

    Once again, why should voting be the one thing that the government does not provide ID. The Constitution does not say that I cannot vote twice. Does that make voting twice OK or voting in multiple jurisdictions. Does that make voter fraud OK?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  62. BTW: I have been away from the computer and so am joining the comment thread late.

    So let me say a few general things:

    1) This post isn’t about voter ID (as some commenters, indeed, pointed out above). Somehow a lot of people who object to this post seem to think it is about something else.

    2) This post is about laws passed that make it more difficult to register voters. This is a good idea why?

    3) In re: voter ID: happy to have it if all citizens had easy access to free IDs.

    4) There is no evidence of serious, systematic voter fraud in the US. There are real cost/benefit issues here.

    5) It is worth noting that the person most adversely affected by these rules tend to be voters more likely to vote Democratic and yet the laws are being pushed by Republican-controlled legislatures. Perhaps this is a coincidence, but one must confess that this is unlikely to be the case.

    6) Ultimately: my objection is that we should be making it easier for citizens to access their rights, not the other way around. I say this out of sincere support for representative democracy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  63. Neil Hudelson says:

    But the groups that try to register voters say the law – which requires the groups to register with the state and turn in voter forms within 48 hours of obtaining them or face at least $5,000 in fines – are onerous and discriminatory.

    Laws like this actually create more fraud. A well run, professional voter registration campaign can register up greater than 1,000 voters a day. To vette every form that comes in (since fraud does occur–usually from the canvasser, or from a person filling it out who just doesn’t want to be bothered) either a huge staff needs to be in place to scan every form in depth–which is too expensive for almost any campaign to sustain (the monthly equivalent of $30,000 a year times 20 people needed at minimum for that size of campaign), or a small staff has to quickly vette every form, meaning they miss quite a bit. Then the city BOE can take their time, find the forms that slipped through, and hold a press conference about the horrible voter fraud going on by that evil new black panther acorn campaign.

    @Dave Schuler:

    I don’t have specific numbers in front of me–although I can see if I have some old studies. It does help, but not in a direct manner. That is, it does not mean more voters simply because there are more voters registered. The roll of registered voters is available to all candidates (for a price) from local board of elections. State, local parties, and even individual candidates, use this information to create both walk lists and GOTV operations. The GOTV operations is what causes greater voter turnout, but it is enabled by expanded voter rolls through voter registration campaigns.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  64. Ron Beasley says:

    I have a problem with the entire photo ID thing across the board. When I was growing up in the 50′s “your papers please” was the bogeyman used to scare us about the Soviet Union. I think I would prefer a national ID card rather than the hodgepodge of state regulations. This is all just another example of how Osama bin-Laden died a winner.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  65. @Ben Wolf: A better example in terms of the wording.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  66. Ben Wolf says:

    @superdestroyer:

    1) The right to bear arms is not extended to every single citizen but to the people as a whole. The Supreme Court has ruled that individuals can in fact be excluded.

    2) The Constitution makes clear that individual citizens cannot be deprived of their right to vote.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  67. Pete says:

    Steven, I take things very literally. I can find no language in the US Constitution that specifically grants any citizen the right to vote. I suggest you find a constitutional scholar and get another opinion.If amendments to the constitution are worded to imply a citizen has such right, so be it. But there is no specific wording granting us that right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  68. @Pete: That really doesn’t address my point.

    For a literal point of view, what is so hard to interpret about the language of the various amendments Ben Wolf noted?

    What’s your definition of a “constitutional scholar”? Constitutions are an area of study for me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  69. Pete says:

    @Ben Wolf: Who granted the individual citizen that right to vote? Can you find the language that granted the original right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  70. Ben Wolf says:

    @Pete: And you avoid Steven’s point. The Constitution doesn’t state there is a right to own a gun, or to freedom of speech. Can we restrict those any time we want?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  71. Ben Wolf says:

    There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding of how the Founders though about rights. They didn’t consider the Constitution as something which gave us rights, they considered it a firewall for preventing government or other interest from depriving us of our rights.

    To men like Jefferson our rights were innate, therefore no need existed for them to be spelled out explicitly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  72. Pete says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Steven, Is there somewhere in the Constitution that specifically grants a citizen the right to vote? Or are there references to a right to vote without stating who granted such right? Rather than a constitutional scholar, try a lawyer who specializes in the constitution.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  73. An Interested Party says:

    No, I mean besides the obvious attempt by Dems to run dead people’s ID’s through the voting places in multiple precincts, etc. etc..

    “Obvious” to whom? Where is the evidence for all this alleged fraud at these multiple precincts?

    I have no problem with voter ID laws provided government makes it simple and free to comply with them. Quite frankly we need federal legislation to standardize voting requirements.

    THIS…of course, whenever that federal legislation is discussed, we hear the horse$hit about state’s rights…

    This is all just another example of how Osama bin-Laden died a winner.

    It is also an example of how Republicans, knowing that their base is shrinking faster and faster, are doing everything they can to disenfranchise voters who generally don’t vote for the GOP…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  74. Pete says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    To men like Jefferson our rights were innate, therefore no need existed for them to be spelled out explicitly.

    Exactly. Not in the constitution, so perhaps it is a”human right?” Not a legal right granted.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  75. @Ben Wolf:

    1) The right to bear arms is not extended to every single citizen but to the people as a whole. The Supreme Court has ruled that individuals can in fact be excluded.

    By that logic, there’s no individual right of assembly or against unreasonable search and seizure, because they use the identical “right of the people” construction.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  76. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Stormy Dragon: To reinforce your point, there is no other place in the Constitution where “right of the people” does NOT refer to an individual right, and is some vaguely-undefined “collective right.” The whole concept is total BS.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  77. @Pete:

    Who granted the individual citizen that right to vote? Can you find the language that granted the original right?

    Where did the right to free speech come from (constitutionally speaking)?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  78. @Pete:

    Rather than a constitutional scholar, try a lawyer who specializes in the constitution.

    Ah yes, only those lawyers can understand these things. Those pesky political scientists, not so much. ;)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  79. Ben Wolf says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Yes, and the Supreme Court has ruled government can in fact restrict activities such as unreasonable search and seizure. You know that as well as anyone.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  80. Ben Wolf says:

    @Ben Wolf: Let me rephrase my last comment, because it may be one of the worst sentences I’ve ever composed. The Supreme Court has ruled that protection from unreasonable search and seizure is not absolute for each and every individual citizen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  81. anjin-san says:

    So Pete, let me see if I understand you – we have no right to vote. We do so only with the by-you-leave from our masters in various legislative bodies.

    Welcome to tea party America…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  82. Septimius says:

    On the one hand, there are legitimate questions about how a given set of rules impact a given candidate or party, but such approaches also obscure broader and more important issues (or, perhaps, speak to at least part of motivation of those who made the given policy).

    Do you think that maybe, just maybe, the motivation of those who make the given policies is that the people want these policies?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  83. anjin-san says:

    The story of Pete and the moving goalpoasts:

    I suggest you find a constitutional scholar and get another opinion.

    And then, when an actual constitutional scholar weighs in and Pete does not like what he hears…

    Rather than a constitutional scholar, try a lawyer who specializes in the constitution.

    Where do you guys buy the little wingnut goalposts with the built in training wheels so they can be forever in motion? Toys ‘R Us?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  84. Pete says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Since I claimed to take things literally, perhaps if I had stated that there is no LEGAL right to vote granted by the constitution, then we could all agree, yes?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  85. Ben Wolf says:

    @Pete: Where does the Constitution say you have the right to own a gun? I’ll keep bringing this up until I get a response.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  86. Pete says:

    @anjin-san: You are up to your usual snarky best. I love your comments.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  87. Pete says:

    @Ben Wolf: I tried to answer this one and I must have inadvertently deleted it. The constitution does not say one has a LEGAL right to own a gun.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  88. anjin-san says:

    @ Pete

    It’s Sunday. I have my game face on…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  89. Ben Wolf says:

    @Pete:

    Since I claimed to take things literally, perhaps if I had stated that there is no LEGAL right to vote granted by the constitution, then we could all agree, yes?

    The Constitution is law, a legal document.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  90. @Pete: You are going to have me out here (especially since I am not a lawyer ;) and explain to me what “LEGAL right” means as opposed to, say, a right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  91. steve says:

    @Manning-

    “The thought that one needs to prove voter fraud in order to accept ID laws is specious. If you can only count proven violations of the voter law you are omitting the additional count of successful voter frauds because you never found them.”

    Then we should make up laws for other problems that we think might exist, but cannot prove they really happen? Who decides what these make believe problems should be? Shouldnt there be some limitations on big government interference in our lives? Why not limit the creation of laws to problems that we know really do exist? Find the fraud, then I will support new ID laws.

    Steve

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  92. Pete says:

    @Ben Wolf: Okay, since I answered your question, please answer mine: Please post the article from the constitution granting citizens the right to vote; not the amendments protecting a right to vote; a right not specifically granted in the constitution.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  93. anjin-san says:

    @ bithead

    John McCain’s folks figured that they had evidence of voter fraud that cost them the election

    Did you notice that you link to “evidence” did not actually contain any evidence? That it was basically just racist tripe?

    The black Dems were caught stuffing the ballot boxes in Philly and Ohio

    That’s the “evidence”. A baseless accusation that “black Dems” engaged in voter fraud.

    For those who have not already done so, its worth taking a minute to go to Florack’s blog and do a quick search for N**ger. You will see what this guy is really about – it ain’t pretty.

    http://bitsblog.theconservativereader.com/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  94. Pete says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Obviously, I’m no constitutional scholar nor attorney. And I don’t intend to argue this all night. I understand a legal right to be one granted by a statute or constitution or other legal document. While I understand the constitution to be a legal document, when I can’t find language specifically granting citizens the right to vote, I conclude there is no legal right to vote. If the courts conclude that subsequent amendments imply the right was there all along, so be it. But I stand by my statement that there is no specific language in the constitution granting citizens the right to vote.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  95. @Pete: The part that confuses me about your position is that by your line of reasoning we do not have a right to free speech, not to a free press, nor to assemble, nor to worship as we please since none of these rights are granted in a specific, positive way in the constitution.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  96. Pete says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: You are correct; however those are human rights, not related to governance. Is voting a human right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  97. @Pete:

    You are correct; however those are human rights, not related to governance. Is voting a human right?

    I must confess, I find this formulation more than a little problematic. Speech, assembly, press are all rather substantially related to governance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  98. anjin-san says:

    however those are human rights, not related to governance.

    Is there some double secret codicil in the Constitution that I am not aware of that creates different classes of rights?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  99. Pete says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Absent governance, there is no need to vote. Absent governance, will people still meet, talk, worship?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  100. @Pete: So you don’t think that free speech, a free press, the right to assemble, not to mention the right to petition government for redress of grievances (to round out the first amendment) have nothing to do with governance?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  101. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I completely agree with Steven on all six points, and would like to stress the one that says I have no objection to Voter ID laws provided it is easy and free to get them (and for those who think it is easy for someone without a car to get to a DMV, well, I’ve lived in seven different states and that was not true for any of them).

    But, putting aside the fraud argument’s made here, which I accept are made in good faith, I think there are ways to judge the sincerity of the legislators, RNC, Heritage Foundation, Fox, etc who are the real push behind these laws:

    1) Are they also working on eliminating or more stringently regulating the absentee ballot, which is used more by the Republican side but has severe problems in terms of potential for fraud, ability to enforce a secret ballot, etc? The answer is “no”
    2) Are all the changes they are pushing aimed at fraud? Or are some, like those Steven references above, seemingly aimed at simply making it harder for less well off and elderly people, who tend to vote for the other party, harder to vote? The answer is “yes”

    So in the end, it boils down to this: Those of us who think this effort is a charade question the motives of the those in power actively pushing it and note their efforts are limited to those things that would depress the legitimate voting of their opposition. Most importantly, we note the extremely limited number of real fraud cases. On the other hand, those who think the people in power pushing this are doing valiant work tend to trust their motives and believe there is real evidence of widespread fraud. Further, they believe the people with power who are working against these efforts have ulterior motives.

    I don’t know that we can get anywhere in the discussion. The level of evidence required by either side is just too different. And assertions that we don’t trust the motives of the other side are not going to convince anyone.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  102. superdestroyer says:

    @Ron Beasley: @Ben Wolf:

    But states have residency requirements, can deny the vote to felons, and can tell you where to show up to vote. Once again, what is the difference between buying a gun and registering to vote expect progressives like voter fraud and hate guns.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  103. superdestroyer says:

    @An Interested Party:

    I think it odd that people keep arguing that requiring and ID is a violation of constitutional rights but somehow the idea of not leaving anything to the states is perfectly OK. I guess progressives believe that they will control the federal government from now on and want to use the power of the feds to keep conservatives states from doing anything differently.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  104. Pete says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Free speech, right to assemble, right to face one’s accuser are human rights; not legal rights. It seems to me that the constitution protects those rights. But the constitution does not grant those rights. So, the constitution protects rights granted by something or someone, but it does not grant them. That is my original premise. We have not been granted a constitutional right to vote. We have been given that right by the laws of free men? Or what ever you want to call it, but not by the constitution.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  105. @Pete: Ok, so neither speech nor voting is a constitutional right from your perspective. I find this to be an odd position.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  106. Pete says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: That is correct.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  107. Pete says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Perhaps I should say that free people have inalienable rights and if a constitution is needed to protect them, so be it. But the constitution is not needed to grant them. They exist without governance or laws.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  108. anjin-san says:

    free people have inalienable rights and if a constitution is needed to protect them, so be it. But the constitution is not needed to grant them.

    So according to you, people have the RIGHT to vote. Why are Republicans trying to get between citizens and their rights?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  109. Pete says:

    @anjin-san: C’mon now. Where did you make a connection between me and a republican? People may have a right to vote, but it wasn’t granted by the US Constitution.

    Gotta get to bed. Up at 0500 to protect your right to be snarky.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  110. dennis says:

    Reading Pete’s posts is giving me the biggest case of cognitive dissonance since I quit drinking alcohol and chewing tobacco. Might have to start back up . . .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  111. anjin-san says:

    @ dennis

    Keep coming back. We have rants pretty much 24/7

    @ Pete

    Where did you make a connection between me and a republican?

    Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck. Probably a duck. Are you sure you are not getting up @ 0500 to protect a politicians right to decide if I get to vote or not?

    /snark

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  112. Nikki says:

    I’m sorry, but I’m just not seeing it. Why doesn’t Pete consider voting a human right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  113. Robert Levine says:

    It’s worth pointing out that some of the lawsuits re voter ID reference state constitutions and stronger language re voting rights than exists in the federal constitution. My understanding is that the injunction in Wisconsin stopping the implementation of voter ID requirements in the recall elections is based on language in the Wisconsin constitution, for example.

    However, if one actually cares about representative democracy and the electoral process itself, then one ought to favor making it easier for citizens to vote.

    I understand that there are Republicans who truly believe that Obama in particular, and Democrats in general, can only be elected via fraudulent voting. Butt hose actually pushing Voter ID and restricting voter registration know better. It’s no accident that, in Wisconsin, Voter ID and busting public sector unions were both high on the agenda of Walker and the Fitzgerald brothers. Both weaken the opposition, and for too many Republicans that’s more important than actually governing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  114. anjin-san says:

    Free speech, right to assemble, right to face one’s accuser are human rights; not legal rights.

    But the constitution does not grant those rights

    Ahh. Free speech is a “human right”

    Why do people in China keep getting shot for attempting free speech? It’s a human right, it just kind of pours down on us like sunshine…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  115. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: Here’s your disconnect: the Constitution does not “grant” rights. The Constitution recognizes rights. Those rights, as noted in the Declaration of Independence, don’t come from Man or any work of Man:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    That which the government gives, the government can take away.

    I understand that in your reality, the government should be all-powerful, but as we saw in the Trayvon Martin case, your grasp of reality is a wee bit shaky.

    The Soviet Union’s Constitution was a wonderful thing. It granted all kinds of rights to its citizens. But since those rights were bestowed by the government, it could modify, adjust, suspend, or change them at its whim — and often did. Usually informally, and people only found out about it when they tried to exercise those rights.

    Sheesh, anjin, did you EVER take a civics course?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  116. mattb says:

    *sigh* on this entire are rights legal.

    Yes, the Declaration of Independence, stepped in Enlightenment thought does suggest the idea of “Inalienable Rights.” However it enumerates only three vague ones: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    What the Constitution, or rather the Bill of Rights does, is legally specify (often through negative definition) what those rights include.

    I realize that it’s a hot button issue for conservatives thinkers (such as Glenn Beck) to go into how the rights are not provided by government. That’s a subject of philosophical discussion.

    From a practical perspective, the Constitution, as interpreted by the courts, legally establishes rights. Those rights are not absolute (see yelling “fire” in a crowded theater). And if a right is not either directly or indirectly established in the constitution, it is not a *LEGAL* right!

    I will note that the courts drift into the area of philosophy when it comes to determine if a new right is indirectly established in the Constitution or when there is the question of curtailing a previously established right. But those questions are also as much about standing legal precedent as they are about philosophy of natural (or divine) rights.

    Getting wrapped up in questions of “does the constitution specifically say the exacts phrase ‘x’” is the worst sort of ignorance masquerading as “thoughtful lay scholarship” as it misses the entire forest in it’s focus on the bark of a tree.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  117. Pete says:

    @mattb: It is always reassuring that we cro-magnon thinkers are policed by intellectual priests like you. I can’t imagine how much more successful my life would have been if I had your insight and intellectual capacity. Thank you for reminding me of my ignorance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  118. mattb says:

    @Pete:
    I’m not suggesting that you don’t have a right to question. But part of trying to be a thoughtful questioner is actually listening to grounded and rational answers and using them to re-examine your position.

    You have yet to display the slightest desire to do this on this topic. Instead, you hold tighter and tighter to your naive position and never address the patient and thoughtful points that people like Steven (who have extensively studied these topics) have brought up.

    It’s on thing to do this if you are questioning the underlying progression of the thought. But as far as you can tell, the only reason you reject what we’re saying is because you don’t like what we’re saying.

    Otherwise, please point out with *facts* where Steven or I or any of the other people on this thread who are taking this position are getting it wrong. That would go a long way to demonstrating the thoughtfulness of your position.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  119. mattb says:

    @Pete:

    It is always reassuring that we cro-magnon thinkers are policed by intellectual priests like you

    Plus correct me if I’m wrong, but you were the one who put out the appeal for “Constitutional Experts.” Steven is one. And when you didn’t like what he said you asked for Constitutional Lawyers. IANAL but I did study con law in college and I live with a con lawyer. So I thought I’d add something. And surprise, you didn’t like the answer so you reply with sarcasm.

    Again, I heart “thoughtful” conservatives.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  120. mantis says:

    Free speech, right to assemble, right to face one’s accuser are human rights; not legal rights.

    Perhaps I should say that free people have inalienable rights

    The only unalienable rights, or natural rights, identified in the Declaration of Independence are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Voting is not a natural right. Voting is a function of particular types of governmental systems. Speech, assembly, and right to face your accuser are certainly legal rights, though they can be seen as part of people’s natural right to liberty.

    By the way, the Declaration identified all men as equal and possessing the natural rights granted by a creator, not all free people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  121. Pete says:

    @mattb: It’s not that I don’t like what you or Steven are saying, I was just replying to your “ignorance” reference. I even accept that what I believe is not the generally accepted view of “rights.” Does that make my assertion that the constitution doesn’t specifically grant the right to vote? In yours and Stevens’ minds, it appears so. I have no problem with that. The problem I have is when you suggest that “the worst kind of ignorance” accompanies my assertion. I accept that you have every right to believe that. I took issue with your statement and that is why I replied the way I did.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  122. Pete says:

    Matt, sorry, Does that make my assertion wrong?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  123. mattb says:

    @Pete:

    Matt, sorry, Does that make my assertion wrong?

    General rule of argumentation/fact finding: Evidence trumps opinion.

    So far, the only basis for your assertion is opinion (i.e “what you feel/think”).

    Steven, myself and others have used a broader set of historical/social/legal facts to back up our assertions.

    Since arguing from evidence is, in most places, recognized as being far stronger than arguing from opinion, I’d say that our assertions are far stronger than yours (and hold up far better under sustained scrutiny).

    But if you’ve got actual evidence that supports that your position has any strong basis beyond your opinion, feel free to bring it.

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  124. mattb says:

    @Pete: The reason that I used ignorance is that you don’t get to have things both ways. You can’t say that “I know my position is unorthodox and based on your own personal reading of the constitution” and then say “that the rest of us should accept your reading of the constitution as correct.” That is the worst form of relativism.

    I will concede that your argument about rights is consistent with your personal reading of the constitution. However, by your own admittance, that isn’t the mainstream, socially accepted reading of it.

    Let me put this another way, just because someone is red/green colorblind, you can’t argue that red and green don’t exist and therefore you don’t have to pay attention to traffic signals. Likewise, it’s possible to come up with internally consistent system in which its ok to murder people, but that doesn’t supersede societies rules.

    In that same way, arguing that we should accept your *naive* (which would have been a better word choice instead of ignorant) reading as holding equal weight to our evidence based readings is a pretty egotistical thing to do.

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  125. SKI says:

    @Pete: Your novel formulation is one of two things: (a) a distinction without a difference (rights without remedies and all that jazz) or (b) requires that all of the laws passed that purport to restrict these rights are a nullity as these “super-rights” exist above and apart from Constitutional governance.

    Everyone can vote in any election regardless of their age or where they live or whether or not they possess ID because the right, which the Constitution repeatedly references, isn’t from the Constitution but pre-dates, pre-exists and is superior to the Constitution and the laws passed under its authority. Really?

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  126. mannning says:

    What keeps rattling through my head is the old saw: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

    I have no proof of voter fraud in hand, but have heard many tales of it from my newspaper uncles, both of whom were city editors back in the 40′s and 50′s in Nashville and Toledo. So I believe that it exists; it is either not found out, or it is suppressed by people that could do so.
    Any rational steps that would ensure a clean voting process has my vote.

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  127. MarkedMan says:

    Manning, this argument is going nowhere. Most of us who are against these laws would be fine with them if they also simultaneously made it easy for those people without driver’s licenses or un-compensated time off from work to get that ID. And that is straightforward. When I move to a new location, I bring in my proof of identity and residence to the registrar who is often collocated with the polling place, and they make me sign the signature card, and then from then on I just signed in every time I voted. If you want to alter that process so that it ends up with a voter ID I hold rather than a signature card they hold, or even do both, I have no problem. But making someone get out to a DMV that may be fifty miles away or even more when they don’t have a driver’s license, well, that seems to have a different purpose than just protecting the integrity of the ballot box.

    In all the many versions of this argument I’ve seen on OTB, I haven’t seen you or any of the other pro-voter ID people address this issue in a meaningful way. If you have, accept my apologies and please point me to where.

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  128. @mannning:

    What keeps rattling through my head is the old saw: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

    All well and good, but making policy based on old sayings isn’t exactly rational policymaking.

    And the fundamental point remains: paying for the prevention and either a) not getting the cure (because the policies like the ones noted in this post will not prevent voter fraud) or b) not getting the cure because the cure doesn’t actually cure anything, is pure foolishness and is wasteful.

    What are you curing, btw, by making it more difficult for civic organizations from registering voters?

    On the ID front, go @here:

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  129. mattb says:

    @mannning:

    What keeps rattling through my head is the old saw: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

    The problem is that this is easily reversed… Shouldn’t an ounce of preventing legitimate voters from being disenfranchised, be worth a pound of the cure for still unverifiable voter fraud.

    What @MarkedMan said is really the linchpin of this. I have yet to see any pro-ID Con every acknowledge two key things:

    - First that these ID laws disproportionately effect certain segments of the population.
    - That the cause of democracy is served by instituting ID policies that lower the barrier of acquiring an ID for all citizens, not just those with vehicles and the free time to acquire a necessary ID.

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  130. mannning says:

    @mattb:

    Ok, I most certainly acknowledge your two points, but I would say immediately that I think the problems of getting an ID have been greatly overblown by postulating all manner of difficulties that could be resolved if there was a will to solve them. Costs could be borne by the state, time could be arranged for workers by law, places could be designated near populations to execute ID’s, youngsters of voting age could have lots of time to get their ID’s about the same time they get their driver’s license, and on and on.

    Instead, we hear how such ID laws would disenfranchise a huge population of potential voters, and I believe this is simply refusal to work the problem thoroughly so that anyone that wants to vote, gets an ID and votes. I feel that, yes, it should be made easy, and the states could take a lot of actions to see it done. Further, I still am and will remain convinced at this time that we should help prevent some aspects of voter fraud by requiring a picture ID.

    I do not think highly at all of any state or precinct or political group, Republican, Democratic or Independent, that deliberately obstructs the voting process with various shennagins for their own benefit, to put it in the mildest of terms. All I want is a level playing field with adequate prevents aginst fraud.

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  131. MarkedMan says:

    @mannning: Manning, this is why I said that I accept that the people on OTB (including you) are arguing in good faith. We actually are in nearly complete agreement and if left to you and I we could hammer out a compromise in no time. I really do think the voter ID laws could be made simple and easy to comply with, and I would even agree that given those two things it would be better than the system we have now. Where we differ is that I do not think the people proposing these laws are acting in the same good faith as you are. The fair solutions that you and I could agree on are NEVER part of these bills. At this point it reaches the point of absurdity to think the reason they are left out is because of innocent oversight.

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  132. mattb says:

    @mannning: Liked @MarkedMan I think you are arguing in good faith and that you believe what you are writing. I also really appreciate the fact that you were willing to acknoweldge the point that MM and I are making.

    Which brings me to this point:

    Costs could be borne by the state, time could be arranged for workers by law, places could be designated near populations to execute ID’s, youngsters of voting age could have lots of time to get their ID’s about the same time they get their driver’s license, and on and on.

    I do not think highly at all of any state or precinct or political group, Republican, Democratic or Independent, that deliberately obstructs the voting process with various shennagins for their own benefit, to put it in the mildest of terms.

    I would more readily agree with your second point that no party ever attempts to deliberately manipulate voting through obstruction) if you could point to a single Voter ID initiative that actually attempted to address any other the could points that you lay out above.

    I realize that most states are facing financial issues, and so it becomes an easy out to say “we would address these issues if our economies were in better shape”, but that simply says that the policymakers pushing Voter ID laws without addressing the systemic problems with their implementation are putting fears about fraud above the fundamental right of all citizens to vote in a representative democracy.

    And whether or not it’s intentional, I hope that you can see how such movements tend to set up situtations that favor the party that is pushing for the legislation in the first place.

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  133. mannning says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Where we differ is that I do not think the people proposing these laws are acting in the same good faith as you are

    Actually, we do not differ on this point. From what I have read, there is collusion to hinder voting in some states for no good reason. I deplore such unethical and undemocratic tactics, and condemn anyone that participates in them, whatever their affiliation.

    The big question is: “what can be done to stop these actions?”

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  134. matt says:

    @mannning: amen

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