More on Voter ID

Another study shows that voter ID laws negatively affect a lot of Americans.

Keesha Gaskins and Sundeep Iyer of the Brennan Center for Justice have written a new study on voter ID laws in the wake of new laws in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin entitled The Challenge of Obtaining Voter Identification.

The study notes that roughly 11% of eligible voters lack the types of government-issued photo IDs that these states now require.  As such, there are a substantial number of persons who face disenfranchisement as a result of these laws because they may well not be able to obtain the appropriate ID, or may have to engage in substantial efforts to obtain said ID.  This is problematic if one believes in the central right to vote that is inherent to democracy.

As I have stated in the past, as a generic proposition the notion of photo ID for voting does not bother me.  Indeed, at times in the past I have thoughtlessly dismissed the notion that voter ID could be a problem.  However, giving the matter some thought underscores empirical evidence such as the above.  When we couple numbers such as those listed above with the fact that there is precious little evidence of voter fraud out there, especially of the type that voter ID would stop, then one has the stop and reevaluate the cost/benefit here, as well as the competing values at hand.

The most paramount value ought to be access of citizens to the ballot box.  Anything that might curtail that most basic of rights needs a heightened level of scrutiny.

Further, it has to be noted that the people most affected by these laws:  poor citizens, the elderly, African-Americans, and Hispanics all tend to be key Democratic constituents.  Indeed, as the study notes that while roughly 11% of all eligible voters lack IDs:

Some populations lack these documents at even higher rates: 25 percent of African-Americans, 16 percent of Hispanics, and 18 percent of Americans over age 65 do not have such ID.

Further, rules that try to bar students from voting where they go to college is also targeting voters more prone to vote Democratic.

When a policy a) has the potential to affect a core right, b)  is deployed to fix a problem that empirically can be demonstrated not to be a real problem, and c) has disproportionate affects on constituents of the party opposite the party pushing the policy, then a + b + c should equal reassessment of the policy in question, its efficacy, and the motivations behind it.

I would recommend the whole study (it is brief, ~40 pps.).  It discusses the issue of access the ID-issuing offices in the states with the new law, as well as assessing the cost of the “free” IDs.

In regards to access to office, there is a distance issue and an hours issue.

In regards to distance:

Overall, more than 10 million eligible voters live more than 10 miles from their nearest state ID-issuing office. In Mississippi, Alabama, and Wisconsin, the burden of traveling to the ID office is particularly severe: More than 30 percent of voting-age citizens must travel more than 10 miles to the nearest ID-issuing office.

And it should be noted that we are speaking here about the rural poor who often lack their own cars and have no access to public transportation.

In regards to hours of operation, some examples from the text:

  • Offices without Regular Business Hours: In Wisconsin, Alabama, and Mississippi, less than half of all ID-issuing offices in the state are open five days a week.
  • Reduced Business Hours in Areas with High Concentrations of People of Color: Many  of the offices with limited hours are in areas with high concentrations of minority voters. In Texas, 40 ID-issuing offices are open three days per week or less; the majority of these are in the rural border region, home to a heavy concentration of eligible Hispanic voters. In Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama, many of the ID offices with limited hours are located in the areas with the highest concentrations of black voters.
  • Idiosyncratic Hours: Some ID offices maintain hours so bizarre that it is necessary to consult a calendar to determine when the office is open. The office in Sauk City, Wisconsin is open only on the fifth Wednesday of any month. But only four months in 2012 have five Wednesdays. Other offices in Wisconsin are open only once every two months: For example, the office in Phillips is open only on the first Wednesday of February, April, June, August, October, and December. In Alabama, the Rockford office is open only on the third Thursday of the month. In Mississippi, the Woodville office is open only on the second Thursday of each month.

All of the above reminds me of the developing world, to be honest.  (The “fifth Wednesday” rule is my favorite.)

And in regards to cost:

Proponents of voter ID laws often say the requirement is not onerous because state-issued photo ID is available at no charge. But in all restrictive ID states except South Carolina, even if an eligible voter does not have to pay for the ID itself, he or she must provide supporting documentation — such as a birth certificate or a naturalization certificate — to obtain a state-issued photo ID suitable for voting. These records can be very costly.

An official copy of a birth certificate can cost anywhere from $15 to $30, depending on the state. The fees for a new passport or to renew a passport are $135 and $110, respectively. The price of a replacement naturalization certificate or certificate of citizenship is $345.

Married women who have changed their surname face an additional burden: They may need to present a marriage license with their current name to obtain a photo ID. Only 48 percent of voting-age American women who have ready access to their birth certificate have their current name on it. Fees for official copies of marriage licenses range from $5 to $40. Thus, a married woman who does not have a certified copy of her birth certificate and marriage license could easily spend $30 to $70 acquiring the documents necessary to obtain a photo ID.

This all strikes me as potentially quite onerous to a person, say, living in poverty in rural Alabama.

Also fun, the “Mississippi Catch-22”

Although Mississippi’s restrictive law is not yet in force, citizens there without ID face a particularly perverse set of rules. To secure government-issued photo ID, many voters will need a birth certificate. Yet the state requires a government-issued photo ID to obtain a certified copy of a birth certificate.

Ok, so all of this (and more) for the purposes of solving a non-existent problem (again:  the evidence of any significant level of voter fraud perpetrated by persons misrepresenting their identities at the polls is also nil) in a way that potentially aids one political party while actively seeking to deny a fundamental right to citizens.

This is a good thing how?

By the way:  the real solution to all of this is a free, universally issued, national ID card with biometrics built into the card.  If voter fraud really is that big of a problem, then where in the support for that?

This last point reminds me of something that I read the other day by Robert Pastor writing for Fareed Zakaria’s GPS site:

[Mexico’s] IFE [the Federal Electoral Institute] actively registers about 95% of 77 million eligible voters and gives each a biometric, photo ID card, which Mexicans use as a primary identification. The registration list is audited regularly, and the photos of the voters are on the list in each polling site.

In contrast, U.S. states and communities passively register about 55% of eligible voters, and the lists are flawed with many duplicates and errors, especially between states and counties. Each state has different rules, and in states where Republicans have a majority, their focus on preventing electoral fraud has led them to restrict registration and require IDs, while Democrats are more concerned about voters’ access and believe the Republican ID laws are aimed to suppress voter turnout from poor people or minorities. The truth is that we ought to adopt Mexico’s national, biometric ID system. That would eliminate duplicates and simplify the registration and voting process.

If voter ID proponents truly were concerned with ID for the sake of ID, they would be pushing for a modern system such as in Mexico (and that they have in countries like Colombia).

Indeed, Pastor notes in the same piece:

How does the U.S. electoral system compare to Mexico’s? I undertook a comprehensive study of the electoral systems in North America, and the good news is that the United States came in third. The bad news is that there are only three countries in North America.

The above will, no doubt, make some bristle, but truth is truth.  And certainly when it comes to questions of things like voter ID (as well as registration and participation) the US is decidedly not the best in the world.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Best of OTB, Latin America, US Politics, World Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    This voter identification movement has come about in the absence of any evidence that there is significant voter fraud in any state. This is a political movement to reduce voter turnout among constituencies that now vote for Democratic Party candidates. It’s voter suppression, designed to win the 2012 election for Republican candidates.

    In the 20 years that I’ve been voting at my polling place (located in a suburban San Francisco location) I have not once been asked for photo-identification. I am asked my name, then they locate my name on the voter register, they ask if I live at the location indicated, then I’m asked to sign the book. It’s been that way for 20 years.

  2. Chris says:

    Interesting take on voter ID laws: http://bit.ly/LeLoYj “An open letter to the NRA on voter ID laws.”

  3. al-Ameda says:

    @Chris:

    Interesting take on voter ID laws: http://bit.ly/LeLoYj “An open letter to the NRA on voter ID laws.”

    My guess is that the NRA supports this voter ID effort because it will probably suppress the Democratic Party vote in many states – exactly the type of voters that the NRA wants suppressed.

  4. This is an argument for making it easier to get the ID, not an argument for not requiring people to show ID in order to vote.

    The idea that some people think that people shouldn’t have to provide some proof of who they are before they vote baffles me.

  5. @Doug Mataconis:

    This is an argument for making it easier to get the ID, not an argument for not requiring people to show ID in order to vote.

    Actually, it very much is.

    Because:

    1. There is not proof of serious fraud linked to people falsely representing themselves.

    and

    2. There is proof that this type of law effectively disenfranchises voters.

    This is a pretty straightforward argument against these laws–especially when in the context of balancing costs and benefits.

  6. @Doug Mataconis:

    The idea that some people think that people shouldn’t have to provide some proof of who they are before they vote baffles me.

    Not just “some people” but, for example, me. I think that, all factors weighed together the cost of requiring stringent ID (i.e., very specific, government issued ID) to vote costs more in diminished rights than we get in terms of the benefits of fraud reduction.

    Life is about choices and figuring out the best of two imperfect outcomes.

    Again: if we are talking about doing what Mexico does, then cool, let’s have voter ID. Until then, the right of 11% of the population to have access to the polls outweighs the benefit of stopping a non-existent problem.

    Seriously (and yes, somewhat confrontationally, but in an friendly way): what’s so baffling about that?

  7. Just Me says:

    I agree with Doug.

    Seems like the study is a good argument for providing easy access to ID, not allowing anyone who wants to register do so without any proof of who they are.

    I actually like the idea of a National voter ID with photo and the biometrics.

  8. @Just Me: Just to be clear, I am arguing for both. I think that easy access, actively provided ID that automatically registers voters is a good idea. However, in the mean time, the current voter ID system cause more harm than it provides benefits and therefore should not exist.

  9. David says:

    It’s a cart and horse issue, Doug. Get the easy to get IDs in place, then require that ID be used for voting. Requiring photo ID without an easy and accessible way to obtain an ID will suppress voter turnout for voters who tend to vote democratic. Throw in that there is no demostrable evidence of fraud that actually impacts elections, the logical conclusion is that Republicans are doing this to obtain political power, not to protect the integrity of elections.

  10. @Doug Mataconis:

    This is an argument for making it easier to get the ID, not an argument for not requiring people to show ID in order to vote.

    I think that´s more complicated because a ID has all kinds of implications. ID numbers means that everyone can be easily identified by all kinds of officials(On the other hand it makes more difficult for someone to be confused with other people). For instance, where I live, Brazil, everyone is required to carry your ID card. Some states requires people to take your ID card to a registry in the hotel if you are going to stay there.

    That makes life tougher for illegal immigrants – that´s why most Bolivian immigrants that go to São Paulo works at sweatshops where no one sees. On the other hand is easy to understand why most Americans would never accept such thing(Yes, even if going to jog with my dog I take my purse because of my ID).

    Besides that, note that Pastor quotes the *Federal* Elections Institute in Mexico. That´s the main difference with elections in the US: the fact that elections are organized in a *county* level.

  11. jan says:

    I find photo ID objections more of a political push-back than one that has real merit. In polling done in 2011-2012, anywhere from 70 -75% of those polled supported the idea of voter ID. Most of those polled did not feel it represented any oppressive activity, by either party, to require ID when voting.

    Furthermore, even on the DMV web site, there is a blurb recommending people get a state-issued ID card for the many circumstances an ID is required:

    State-issued identification cards are a handy resource if you do not, or are not old enough to, carry a driver’s license. DMV.org has gathered the information you’ll need to apply for an ID in your state.

    Having some form of photo ID is critical in our world today; you need to be able to prove you are who you say you are in many situations. You’ll need a picture ID to board an airplane, get a job, set up bank accounts, and in order to make certain purchases.

  12. David M says:

    How about linking the two issues and requiring Photo ID to vote when a certain percentage of adults have the appropriate IDs? Maybe 98%?

  13. Jim M says:

    I don’t buy the disfranchisement angle. If you want to vote you will get your documents and get your voter ID. I agree 100% on a national ID with biometric Id’s lets rock on that. I am sure someone would complain that they couldn’t walk across the street since they are morbidly obese so they are being discriminated against. So many people complaining and not willing to do the work that it takes to make this democracy work. Face it people are lazy and want their cake and eat it too. Its not hard to get an ID. Go out there and get it if you want to vote. This article makes it sound like its impossible to get an id. It might be impossible to get an ID if you are an illegal alien which I hope it is because that is specifically who is being targeted by these voter ID laws.

  14. jan says:

    @Jim M:

    I agree with your post. Additionally, if there is no proven voter fraud —> Good! However, this will be another safeguard put into place, for all people of all parties, further assuring that no voter fraud is allowed to seep through the system.

    And, for those people who will have to actively get a picture ID, this will only help them into the 21st century, legitimizing them, giving them easier access to other venues requiring said ID. Also, when one has to put energy into getting an official ID, in order to vote, this may cause them to put more energy into becoming an informed voter when they do cast that prized vote.

  15. Ben says:

    @Jim M:
    Did you even read anything he wrote? “Its not hard to get an ID.” Seriously? It’s not free, even when they say it’s “free”. And as Steven wrote above, shelling out 30-70 dollars just to get the supporting documentation, and taking the day off from work (which can be extremely onerous to the working poor), is going to effectively disenfranchise people, whether you feel like believing it or not.

  16. Boyd says:

    I’ll have to follow up on Jim M’s comment, in that the many times I’ve seen these types of data presented, it’s always arranged in the worst possible light for Voter ID. To wit: while 11% of eligible voters may not have an acceptable ID to vote, what’s the percentage for people who actually voted in the last Presidential election? Shoot, let’s just bring it into reality by stating how many registered voters don’t have ID. Why isn’t that number presented?

    Further, the figures about how far away DMV offices are from X% of people doesn’t present the full picture, just the one that supports the stated position. However many people may be included in that “difficult to get an ID” number, undoubtedly some of them have already overcome those difficulties and have gotten an ID. What’s that number, or the complementary number of those who haven’t gotten an ID?

    I’m not saying that any one of those figures would be dispositive for a given position on the policy, but surely they’d all be worthwhile pieces of information, no? Why didn’t they research those other figures? Or if they did, why don’t they present them?

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not enthusiastic about the idea of telling 11% of formerly eligible voters that they’re no longer eligible, but I have to throw the BS flag on this report. They’ve left out so much useful information that they’re either manipulating data to support their position, or they’re incompetent at their job.

  17. michael reynolds says:

    This is an effort by the GOP to steal the election, pure and simple.

    If they can’t win on the strength of their ideas or candidate, they’re happy to steal the election. If Romney wins this way he will be an illegitimate president. But that doesn’t matter, so long as the interests of the rich are insured.

  18. gVOR08 says:

    @Doug Mataconis: OK, so let’s make an experiment of it. Let’s watch and see if any Republican, anywhere, ever, does anything to make it easier to get a suitable government ID.

  19. Ron Beasley says:

    @Jim M: @jan: I grew up in the 50s and 60s and one of the tools that were used to scare us about the East Block nations was “your papers please”. As I see it the old Soviet Union has defeated us anteroactivly. I apologize for creating a new word (antero).

  20. Boyd says:

    Here’s an example of their manipulative presentation of data:

    In Texas, the Department of Justice concluded that Hispanic registered voters are between 46.5 percent and 120 percent more likely than white voters to lack a driver’s license or non-driver’s photo ID.

    This is a perfect example of figuring out a way to present “information” so that it undermines your opponents. They apparently had hard figures (either at Brennan or at Justice) that indicates how many people they’re talking about, but someone deliberately obfuscated that important information. What if 2% of white voters don’t have an ID? That would then translate into 2.93% to 4.4% of Hispanic voters. Or, let’s say it’s 5% of white registered voters. That would mean 7.33 to 11% of Hispanics. Not great figures, I’ll grant you, but a far cry from the disingenuous “between 46.5 percent and 120 percent” claim.

    The more I read of this “study,” the more contempt it instills in me. I’m ready to be convinced, but when the Brennan Center for Justice tells me lies like these, I have to wonder what they’re hiding.

  21. john personna says:

    Doug is not normally a guy to ask for more government, let alone to solve hard to document problems. Funny.

  22. @Boyd: Boyd, that’s the way percentages work in terms of comparing gaps. There is a difference between comparing two numbers and giving a percentage chances of a difference and talking about the percentage of a particular set of persons.

    Also: it is the case that certain groups have, based on hard numbers, a higher chance of not having an ID than other groups.

    I don’t get the objection.

  23. @Boyd:

    The more I read of this “study,” the more contempt it instills in me. I’m ready to be convinced, but when the Brennan Center for Justice tells me lies like these, I have to wonder what they’re hiding.

    They provide the numbers. What is it you think that they are hiding?

  24. Boyd says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: You don’t get the objection, Steven? I’m floored by that statement.

    I don’t have the raw numbers that Justice and/or Brennan had for the quote I provided, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that the actual numbers of people in the two racial categories may be identical. Shoot, there may even be more white registered voters that don’t have a photo ID than Hispanics, in raw numbers. They must have those numbers, why don’t they present them? You don’t see how that would be useful information?

    Also, you don’t see how they’re trying present the numbers so that it looks as though there’s a racial factor, when there may not actually be one? You really can’t see that, Steven?

  25. Boyd says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Sorry, I’ve obviously lost the ability to communicate. What I’m trying to say seems pretty obvious to me, but if you can’t understand it, then I just don’t know how to write anymore.

  26. jan says:

    @michael reynolds:

    “This is an effort by the GOP to steal the election, pure and simple. “

    That is such BS. Nothing is stolen. People of all parties are subject to voter ID, not just democrats, Michael. Unless, of course, it is more likely that democrats are the ones to be cravenly fraudulent in their voting patterns? Is that what you are admitting to?

  27. michael reynolds says:

    I have some data for you:

    100% of these efforts are driven by GOP governors and legislatures.

    That’s all the data you need to understand this.

  28. jan says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    Ron,
    You’ve mentioned “asking for your papers” meme before, which has wisps of Gestapo to it that none of us are comfortable with. However, in a country that now has so many illegal inhabitants here, it is simply being realistic in attempting to have an election where only citizens do vote. Showing a picture ID is hardly the same as ‘papers, please,’ in this particular situation.

  29. Gustopher says:

    I agree with Boyd that we don’t know the full extent of how these laws affect the populace that actually votes. My guess would be that the 11% without id does not normally turn out at the same rate as the other 89%.

    But, without knowing how it actually affects things, and absent actual cases of voter fraud, I thinks it’s staggeringly stupid to put these laws in place.

  30. michael reynolds says:

    @john personna:

    Doug is not normally a guy to ask for more government, let alone to solve hard to document problems. Funny.

    Unless of course it allows Republicans to win. Conservatives have whatever principles will give them power. And only those.

  31. Robert Levine says:

    @Doug Mataconis: The idea that some people think that people shouldn’t have to provide some proof of who they are before they vote baffles me.

    The question is whether or not specific forms of government-issued ID should be required, not whether or not “some proof of identity” should be required. And why should I require a government-issued photo ID in order to exercise my rights as a citizen anyway? Perhaps we should start requiring that everyone who blogs, or anyone who marches, or anyone who buys a gun at a gun show, has a photo ID available for inspection.

    But I agree that making photo IDs widely and easily obtainable by those who currently don’t have them should be the priority; rolling back photo ID requirements, especially in light of the relevant SCOTUS ruling, is going to be like putting toothpaste back into the tube.

    How about building on the US passport card? Its issuance is controlled by the Feds and not the state governments. It could be made free. The application requirements could be made to allow alternative forms of proof other than birth certificates (which are basically just pieces of paper with no corroborating information on them regarding the holder other than gender). Applications could be made at any federal facility (including post offices). And I’d bet that most of that could be done administratively, without trying to get past the inevitable Republican filibuster. Best of all, unlike a national photo ID (which seems to be politically toxic even though drivers licences function as such in all but name), a passport card is voluntary; no one is forced to carry one.

  32. Boyd says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: They provide the numbers? Where? I mentioned specific numbers that they didn’t include. Am I mistaken about that? If so, where are those numbers?

  33. jan says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Maybe the GOP is more honest in their attempts to have citizens vote, than dems. No other country is as lax as this one in upholding their citizenship requirements — whether it is dealing with jobs, having property, and of course voting. Why do you look down on genuine voting prerequisites? Even when taking college courses, there are prerequisites of having to take this course before that course. Why is it such a grind to have to show photo ID to vote?

  34. michael reynolds says:

    @jan:

    Jan, you’re full of it. If these laws hurt Republican chances you’d be against them as unnecessary government intrusion to solve a non-existent problem.

    The usual Republican hypocrisy and dishonesty.

    If you win this way Mitt Romney will never be my president, or the president of the American people. He will only be the president of the Republican party.

  35. jan says:

    @michael reynolds:

    No, Michael, I say you’re ‘full of it.’ I have no dog in this fight except that whoever wins does so honestly. I see no problem nor rebuke of voting rights to have people simply prove their identity through the simple process of an ID, which, is something quite common in this country.

  36. Ron Beasley says:

    @jan: BS,Not unlike the old Soviet Union we have to show our papers for everything. We are no different than the old Soviet Union – perhaps it is indeed necessary but we shouldn’t pretend it’s different and that includes our phony elections where the plutocrats decide in advance who we get to vote for. Will it make any difference who we elect in November? Not really! Neither Romney or Obama will be able to save the failing economy or for that matter our failing civilization. But like people are born and die societies, institutions and civilizations are born and collapse. That’s the real “Social Darwinism”.

  37. jan says:

    Michael,

    You’re condemning an innocent gesture of citizenship, nationality, to invoke some kind of degradation of a process calling for proof of who a person is. Even when I change out utilities I have to go through an horrendous round of questions and proof of property ownership etc.to put those utilities in my name. Why should voting be treated more casually?

    You are simply making grand political charges over a procedure that is meant to guarantee a legitimately run election.

  38. jan says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    “Will it make any difference who we elect in November? “

    As for this question, I can’t disagree with you. Sometimes it does seem like all the politicians are cast in the same mold with different letters at the end of their names — D or R. However, I have lived through an Obama regime, and think he is a fraud. So, I will vote for Romney, and see what he does for this country. As far as ‘papers please,’ voter ID is one way to avoid that scenario, by placing some kind of quality controls in our election process.

  39. David M says:

    @jan:

    People of all parties are subject to voter ID, not just democrats, Michael. Unless, of course, it is more likely that democrats are the ones to be cravenly fraudulent in their voting patterns? Is that what you are admitting to?

    Are you illiterate? The original post points out how/why these impact Democratic voters more.

  40. michael reynolds says:

    @jan:

    I have no dog in this fight except that whoever wins does so honestly.

    I don’t think of you as honest, Jan. And that above is quite certainly a lie.

  41. Again: I have a bunch of identification cards right in my wallet with me now. This has a lot of implications, a lot of them that civil libertarians and other people may not like.. In fact, I think that´s like eating beans with rice or the Metric System. It´s a good idea, but it´s not something that Americans may accept.

  42. anjin-san says:

    what’s so baffling about that?

    Why would anyone be in favor of something that does not favor the rich?

  43. anjin-san says:

    Hey Jan, when are you going to show us where Obama said “America is not exceptional”?

  44. anjin-san says:

    Even when I change out utilities I have to go through an horrendous round of questions and proof of property ownership etc.to put those utilities in my name. Why should voting be treated more casually?

    You don’t have a constitutional right to have a cell phone or cable TV. You do, on the other hand, have a constitutional right to vote. Is that too complex for you to grasp?

  45. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    I find photo ID objections more of a political push-back than one that has real merit. In polling done in 2011-2012, anywhere from 70 -75% of those polled supported the idea of voter ID. Most of those polled did not feel it represented any oppressive activity, by either party, to require ID when voting.

    When 89% of citizens won’t be affected by these laws but only 70-75% consider them a good idea these numbers might be less favourable to your position than you seem to think ;-).

  46. Jim M says:

    @jan I agree with you on having strong identification for voting and for anytime you need one ie a drivers license. GA passed a voter ID law a while back and what they did was have rolling DMV buses that would come all over the state and issue free id’s to people. Now if people have such problems with birth certificates etc then thats their problem if they can’t function in society. I don’t buy the working poor comments, if you have to have it, you save for it and get it done.

    @Ron Beasley ref you papers please comparing the US to the Soviets..No the US is no way even close to the Soviet Union in reference to security. Last time I checked before the wall came down in 1989 they shot people who were trying to leave their country (no one was trying to get in there) . America has an inverse problem we have a pourous border and we have around 15 million or so people here illegally who think they have constitutional rights. That is why we need photo IDs for voting. Its sad when people who are American citizens say they cant get photo ID because its just too difficult. Well all those Govt programs that people are on are pretty complicated and they sure find the time to get the documentation and time and money to get it right to get those benefits but they cant find time or money to get an id? Don’t buy it.
    anjin-san says:
    Monday, July 23, 2012 at 02:02
    Even when I change out utilities I have to go through an horrendous round of questions and proof of property ownership etc.to put those utilities in my name. Why should voting be treated more casually?

    You don’t have a constitutional right to have a cell phone or cable TV. You do, on the other hand, have a constitutional right to vote. Is that too complex for you to grasp?

    Well since it is a right, it is pretty darn important to make sure that only the ones with the rights vote. The Cell phones and Cable people want to make sure they have ID so that they know exactly who is buying their services and who to go after if they dont pay their bills. We should old voters to the same standard in that we know who they are for sure..

  47. G.A. says:

    If you don’t think voter ID is good idea you just might be a liberal racist..

    And if you lived in Chicago and do not believe in voter fraud and then say the Republicans are the one trying to do it to steal an election you might an idiot or armature propagandist or both…

    lol It used to be only when the salmon was running that my city streets was filled with the cars(and vans) of the flat lander, now it also happens every time we vote.

  48. James Joyner says:

    And you wonder why they want to cut funding for political science!

  49. swearyanthony says:

    Australia has compulsory voting. And instant runoff style “preferential” voting. On paper ballots. And it works well. I don’t understand the US – your system is set up to actively encourage voter suppression. The nonsense over near-mythical voter fraud leaves me confused. Of *course* its about suppressing the votes of your opponents (didn’t the GOP leader in PA just admit as much a week or two ago?)

  50. @James Joyner:

    And you wonder why they want to cut funding for political science!

    Indeed.

  51. Linton says:

    My big question about voter fraud: If there really was widespread voter fraud wouldn’t people show up to vote at their polling place only to find that a person using their name had already voted? Whenever I vote a check is put next to my name, which is on a list of registered voters in that district, by a person working the polls.

    I guess I need more of an explanation of how the alleged fraud would take place. The only way I see fraud taking place, at least in the context of how elections take place in my state, would be if someone registered falsely to get on the rolls under a different name or in a district they aren’t supposed to vote in.

    Also I use my state issued, non-photo, voter ID card whenever I vote and have never had a problem.

  52. gVOR08 says:

    Steven wrote,

    When a policy a) has the potential to affect a core right, b) is deployed to fix a problem that empirically can be demonstrated not to be a real problem, and c) has disproportionate affects on constituents of the party opposite the party pushing the policy, then a + b + c should equal reassessment of the policy in question, its efficacy, and the motivations behind it.

    Are there people naive enough to believe this wasn’t exactly the reasoning of the Republicans who are pushing this?

    I see that to conservatives (except Steven, bless him) the right to own two Glocks and a semi-auto rifle with a (defective) 100 round magazine is absolute. Right to vote, meh.

  53. sam says:

    @Jim M:

    This article makes it sound like its impossible to get an id. It might be impossible to get an ID if you are an illegal alien which I hope it is because that is specifically who is being targeted by these voter ID laws.

    Did you miss the part about Mississippi’s Catch-22 statute: To secure government-issued photo ID, many voters will need a birth certificate. Yet the state requires a government-issued photo ID to obtain a certified copy of a birth certificate.

    Now in many, if not most, precincts in this country, believing things that flat contradict one another is a requirement for admittance to the local Republican party, I understand this. But even you, I think, will have to own that this more than sounds “like its impossible to get an id.’

    Or maybe you won’t.

  54. This sadly breaks along party lines. Republicans are on the defensive though, feeling defensive, because all of the factual analysis shows the plans to be unnecessary, exclusionary, expensive, and time consuming.

    Just what we need in this time and place, right? To spend time and money on a non-problem?

    So why do they have so much passion in the defense of these plans? I’d guess that it is vital to their self-image. If they are for unnecessary, exclusionary, expensive, and time consuming policies, they need to convince you and themselves that it is not because they, themselves, are racist.

  55. jukeboxgrad says:

    Republicans are originalists. Originally, poor people and black people couldn’t vote (in most places in the US). The GOP is just trying to restore that original state. When Sununu says “[Obama] has no idea how the American system functions,” he’s just talking nostalgically about “the American system” we used to have.

    And speaking of originalism, what sort of photo ID was used in our first century or two of elections? Photo ID used to not exist (also birth certificates, but that’s another subject). How did we get by? How was it possible to have a proper election? Also, why does anyone think this will do any good? As every college student knows, getting a fake photo ID is easy. Given the hurdles described in the study, getting a phony ID will often be easier than getting a real one.

    Photo ID is a relatively modern technological innovation. We got by for a long time without it, conducting many elections that were considered legitimate. On the other hand, if we now require it, we will soon be talking about how it isn’t really good enough, and we really need something more advanced, and more expensive, and more potentially intrusive.

    Phones are starting to replace wallets. I can now use my phone to pay at the gas station. It can also be a paperless boarding pass at the airport. Before too long, a phone (or a phone-like device) will be the main way we identify ourselves, and the idea of an ‘ID card’ will be as quaint and unnecessary as cash.

    This is an instance of the government embracing a particular technology right at the moment that this technology is about to become relatively obsolete. But the great thing about heading down this road is that it never ends, and there will always be new ways of disenfranchising poor people.

  56. KansasMom says:

    A friend of mine accidentally let his license expire a couple of years ago. In order to get it reissued he needed his birth certificate, which he couldn’t get without an ID. Thankfully his mom was able to to Topeka and get a copy of her 35 year old son’s birth certificate just by showing her ID. Luckily we live 30 miles from Topeka and she was able to take off work in the middle of a work day and do this for him, otherwise he would have had to wait the normal 6-8 weeks it takes to have it arrive via mail. If you are 80 years old and your mother died in 1968 how are you supposed to get the birth certificate so you can get the ID?

  57. @jukeboxgrad:

    Election ink or electoral stain is a semi-permanent ink or dye that is applied to the forefinger (usually) of voters during elections in order to prevent electoral fraud such as double voting. It is an effective method for countries where identification documents for citizens are not always standardised or institutionalised.

    So yes, many societies past and present have addressed fraud without photo ids.

    The main advantage I see is that election ink is cheap, probably cheaper than “i voted” stickers.

  58. al-Ameda says:

    @jan:

    I have lived through an Obama regime,

    “Obama regime”
    LOL … lifted straight from conservative talk radio.

  59. Brett says:

    Dr. T – I think that the support of voter ID laws has a lot to do with class perceptions. Those who have never been extremely poor or lacked access to education often do not comprehend the very real challenges to getting photo ID if one has those impediments. It blows our mind that someone who might want to vote would not be able to get an ID. However, those who lack one really are often unaware of the requirements to vote or cannot pay the costs in time or money. Further, I think that unless we have lived in that extreme poverty it becomes difficult to comprehend this at all.

  60. @Brett: Indeed.

  61. Modulo Myself says:

    @Brett:

    I think there’s a great amount of contempt for poor people in general, as if somebody who can’t get a photo ID at their DMV doesn’t deserve to be able to vote.

  62. Nikki says:

    Further, I think that unless we have lived in that extreme poverty it becomes difficult to comprehend this at all.

    First, create an environment that sends U.S. poverty levels soaring, then make it more difficult for poor people to vote. It’s Morning in America

  63. @Brett:

    I’d think it is more of an empathy barrier. That might be evidenced by modern party splits frequently being along empathy divisions.

    This link keeps on giving:

    Mere Exposure to Money Increases Endorsement of Free-Market Systems and Social Inequality.

    (I suspect, Steven, that paper was or could be cast as “economics” and squeak past a “political science” ban.)

  64. Rob in CT says:

    I think it’s obvious that vote suppression is the point of this.

    I’d like to defuse it by issuing a national ID card free to all, but of course that: a) won’t actually be simple to do (people will still likely have to prove who they are via documentation, which leads right back to the problems w/getting something like a driver’s license); b) won’t be cheap; and c) gives some folks the willies (papers please!). Papers please doesn’t bother me as I figure the gummint has tons of data on me already. YMMV.

    The real worry about vote fraud is that which can be perpetrated by the vote counters not the voters.

  65. Jay_Dubbs says:

    Interesting that these Voter ID campaigns are never accompanied by concomitant campaigns to reform and protect absentee voter integrity (which has been demonstrated to have greater fraud).

    I wonder why that is?

  66. anjin-san says:

    And now a few off-topic words from Mitt Romney:

    “You Olympians, however, know you didn’t get here solely on your own power.”

    — Mitt Romney, quoted by NBC News, during his speech at the opening ceremonies at the 2002 Winter Olympics.

    http://politicalwire.com/archives/2012/07/23/flashback_of_the_day.html

  67. MM says:

    @Brett: Agreed. Many Republican solutions and some libertarian solutions seem to boil down to “solve this the same way an upper middle class male” would. Often this isn’t meant out of classism or snark, thats how they would solve the problem and try struggle to see why someone Couldn’t solve the problem the same way.

  68. Nikki says:

    Many Republican solutions and some libertarian solutions seem to boil down to “solve this the same way an upper middle class male” would.

    Which would explain why the Republican party seems to be running so short on empathy these days.

  69. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @jan: Maybe the GOP is more honest in their attempts to have citizens vote, than dems.

    Hahahahaahaahaa…. Jan, what makes you think a non-citizen, legally in this country, can’t get a govt issued photo id? My wife lived here for 20+ years as a legal immigrant. Guess what? She had a drivers license for at least 20+ of those years minus a few months.

    So bullsh!t on your “Maybe the GOP is more honest” hypocrisy.

  70. anjin-san says:

    an upper middle class white male

    FTFY

  71. C. Clavin says:

    Jan wrote:

    “…Also, when one has to put energy into getting an official ID, in order to vote, this may cause them to put more energy into becoming an informed voter when they do cast that prized vote…”

    Jan definitely needs an official ID…so she can someday perhaps become an informed voter.

  72. steve says:

    Prove that a problem exists, then we can try to solve it. Why are we creating laws that require spending any amount of money or any amount of time for a problem that does not exist? Our current system works to prevent the kind of voter fraud that would be stopped by an ID. The voter fraud we have is done by those who work the polls or make the rules. Put our money there.

    Steve

  73. David M says:

    @steve: The Democrats won an election, that is the problem they are trying to solve. Everything the GOP is doing makes sense in that context.

  74. anjin-san says:

    @ Jim M

    Well since it is a right, it is pretty darn important to make sure that only the ones with the rights vote

    Sure thing. Just show me the language in the Constitution that deals with “making sure that only the ones with the rights vote”…

  75. Latino_in_Boston says:

    The way I feel about voting id in American elections is the same way that I feel about arming yourself to be prepared for the zombie apocalypse. I’m not against it on principle, just against it in terms of efficiency and wasting of resources.

  76. al-Ameda says:

    @jan:

    Maybe the GOP is more honest in their attempts to have citizens vote, than dems.

    … or maybe NOT, Jan. All of this is happening in states “governed” by Republicans – this is all about suppressing votes.

  77. mannning says:

    All of this is happening in states “governed” by Republicans – this is all about suppressing votes

    So only Republican governers have the good common sense to further insure that the votes in their states are valid? Which, of course, means that Democratic governers couldn’t care less who votes, so long as they vote Democratic?

  78. mannning says:

    Governors, not governers

  79. Moosebreath says:

    @mannning:

    Or alternatively, as Pennsylvania just stipulated in court, voter fraud doesn’t exist.

    The stipulation even reads:

    “1. There have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania; and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states.

    2. The parties are not aware of any incidents of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania and do not have direct personal knowledge of in-person voter fraud elsewhere.

    3. Respondents [the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania] will not offer any evidence in this action that in-person voter fraud has in fact occurred in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.”

    In a rational world, this would mean game, set and match against the Voter ID law. But I am sure the usual suspects will still defend it on the basis that preventing the possibility of voting fraud is worth preventing over 9% of Pennsylvanians from voting.

  80. mannning says:

    So they stipulated that in court? Voter fraud doesn’t exist? So in Pa I can commit voter fraud and cannot be prosecuted by the state, since it doesn’t legally exist according to the Pa powers that be? Am I missing something? What is the old saying: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, or something like that.

  81. Latino_in_Boston says:

    @mannning:

    I’m not sure if you’re trying to be cute here. The state is not saying that if you committed fraud you wouldn’t be prosecuted since it can’t “legally exist”. Rather, it’s admitting that they have zero evidence that it has ever occurred in the state, which begs the question as to why bother to spend tax dollars to fight a non-existent problem.

  82. Moosebreath says:

    manning,

    “So in Pa I can commit voter fraud and cannot be prosecuted by the state, since it doesn’t legally exist according to the Pa powers that be?”

    No, they are saying that if you did it, you would be the first they ever found who did, in spite of having plenty of reason to find it, since it is the basis of their claim that they are doing this to prevent voter fraud, and not, as the Republican Pennsylvania House Majority Leader said at a fund-raiser, to ensure Romney wins Pennsylvania’s electoral votes.

    “Am I missing something?”

    Yes, that you are defending removing the rights of people, to support the mirage that voting fraud exists.

  83. mannning says:

    I see, so the purpose of the court stipulation was to support stopping any legislative move towards voter ID in Pa? Or to what purpose was it set forth? It was not making a legal declaration to the effect that there is no voter fraud in PA. That they could not do with a straight face.

    Again, absence of evidence (which seems to be the gist of this stipulation) is not evidence of absence.

  84. @mannning:

    Again, absence of evidence (which seems to be the gist of this stipulation) is not evidence of absence.

    Yes, but absence of evidence of X argues more for lack of X than it does for the presence of X.

    This is pretty straightforward, and yet on this topic too many people want to engage in pretzel logic: lack of evidence of X doesn’t prove that X does not exist, therefore we must act as if X exists!

    Why?

    I have no evidence that my neighbor is a serial killer, but it sure would be terrible if he was! So let’s lock him up, just in case. After all, can we really risk it?

  85. Moosebreath says:

    mannning,

    “I see, so the purpose of the court stipulation was to support stopping any legislative move towards voter ID in Pa? Or to what purpose was it set forth? ”

    It was submitted by the Commonwealth and the plaintiffs in a suit challenging the Voter ID law, to tell the court they were not going to waste its time by trying something they couldn’t prove.

    “Again, absence of evidence (which seems to be the gist of this stipulation) is not evidence of absence.”

    When a party has every incentive to find evidence, and fails to, it certainly is. But of course, if you’d rather make policy based on your gut feeling that there’s fraud out there, even if no one find it, while at the same time telling your supporters you are actually doing it to help your candidate win an election, you should expect to be laughed out of court.