November 9, 2008

Secretary of State's Electoral Initiative: Too Much and Too Little - Part Two

Monique Chartier

Voter Identification - Yes

The Secretary of State's electoral initiative includes a requirement for all voters to show a picture identification when voting.

On the one hand, it is good news, indeed, that this critical measure has been proposed by the Secretary of State. It stops cold not one but two significant election frauds: voting a ballot that is in someone else's name and voting the ballot of someone who does not exist; e.g., fictional voter registration drive-and-dumps such as undertaken by ACORN.

At the same time, the US Supreme Court handed down its decision confirming Indiana's voter i.d. law on April 28 of this year. My enthusiasm for this initiative is a little dampened, therefore, by its tardiness and the realization that the Secretary of State's decision to put it forward in 2009 instead of 2008 enabled a presidential election to take place in Rhode Island without the requirement for voters to show identification.

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While "conservatives" like the requirement of voter ID, the documented incidence of illegal voters is very, very low compared to the US population.

Can you point out instances where it has been proven that such a law would prevent illegal voters?

On the other hand, requiring photo ID can and does prevent legal voters from voting. Take, for example, the fact that RI (along with most states) takes away your driver's license/state ID when you go in for a photo/eye test for renewal. It then takes several weeks to receive your new photo ID in the mail. People with October and November birthdays (such as my wife) would be disenfranchised on the years when they had to have their license renewed.

BTW, ACORN was not responsible for those fictional voter registrations. It was the hired hands who performed the illegal actions. The actions were NOT endorsed by ACORN as an organization.

This is UNLIKE, I will point out, the illegal actions taken by the Florida Republicans in their voter registration drive this year. They knowingly hired someone who had been convicted of illegal voter registration activities in the past to coordinate their registration activities!

Posted by: Ken at November 9, 2008 6:04 PM

Ken-there is no violation of civil rights to make voters prove they are US citizens-you do however,have to make everyone prove it,not just "certain"people.There a number of documents that fill the requirement.Asking someone to provide a copy of a birth certificate is not imposing an excessive expense.The other docs,like passports,naturalization certificates,etc.are items people already have anyway.

Posted by: joe bernstein at November 9, 2008 7:10 PM

Actually, I never said that this was a civil rights violation - simply that it would prevent legitimate voters from voting due to logistical issues.

A birth certificate does NOT meet an ID requirement in this case since it does not contain a photo. I could present the birth certificate of any male about my age (of any race), and you would not be able to prove that it is not my own certificate.

In all cases of which I'm aware, such laws require GOVERNMENT ISSUED PHOTO ID - i.e. driver's license, passport, state ID card, or military ID. Since voter registration ID laws also want to prove residency within the precinct (and not just ID), they usually do not accept passport or military ID but only STATE-issued ID.

Thus the logistical issues that I mentioned.

Besides, according to the former Republican VP candidate, those of us who have passports are elitists! She appears to disagree with your argument that these are "items people already have anyway"!

Posted by: Ken at November 9, 2008 9:08 PM

What I said about passports was referring to people who already have them-not suggesting they go get them.Most photo ID's don't indicate citizenship.Any alien lawfully in the US as an immigrant or long-term nonimmigrant(i.e. student)can get a license or state ID card.

Posted by: joe bernstein at November 9, 2008 10:51 PM

Ken, you say ... "Take, for example, the fact that RI (along with most states) takes away your driver's license/state ID when you go in for a photo/eye test for renewal"

Was it just me then that got a temporary print out of a license when I renewed my RI drivers license last year? That temp license had all the info, including my new photo, as my new license that I recieved a week or so later.

Also, and I may be wrong, but isn't it illegal to drive a motor vehicle in the state of Rhode Island without a valid drivers license on your person when asked for one by a police officer? I assumed that's why I was given the temp license.

Poor argument!

Posted by: Johnori at November 9, 2008 10:52 PM

Ken, it's two separate problems and the requirement to show a photo i.d. at the poll only solves one: is the person who wishes to vote really who s/he claims to be?

As JoeB indicated, this requirement does not at all deal with the second problem: the citizenship status of the voter. In fact, Secretary of State Mollis was repeatedly urged to deal with this issue - it would have to be addressed at the time of voter registration, not at the poll - during the public forums he held. Unfortunately, he has chosen not to deal with this important flaw in our electoral process at this time.

Again, while it's good that we have some progress here with the i.d. requirement, it's not clear why it has to unfold at such a slow rate. The requirements needed to protect the integrity of our voting process are common-sense and uncomplicated.

Posted by: Monique at November 10, 2008 6:18 AM

2009 is an "off" election year.Maybe a few local races or propositions,etc.It would be a perfect time to re-register EVERYONE-require proof of citizenship,and in the process clean the rolls of deceased voters and voters who no longer live at their old addresses.
Whenever the question of citizenship arises there is a squawk from the ACLU-bots.The Supreme Court has cleared the way for proof of citizenship so let's just do it.It is a simple matter of following existing law.What are the ACLU and the RIF crew concerned about?

Posted by: joe bernstein at November 10, 2008 9:49 AM

"BTW, ACORN was not responsible for those fictional voter registrations. It was the hired hands who performed the illegal actions. The actions were NOT endorsed by ACORN as an organization."

This was merely smoke and mirrors to hide the real fact that real people were registering to vote illegally. Remember they only scratched the surface when the investigated ACORN. Once they found that Mickey Mouse and the like were some of the names they stopped the investigation. Never delving into the real crime that ACORN committed.

Posted by: bobc at November 10, 2008 12:47 PM

I guess the testimony of State Rep Anastasia Williams before the Secretary of State's Voters Rights Forum that she and her daughter were told they could not vote in the 2006 elections because someone else had voted using their names ,proof that we do not need Photo I D in R I.Maybe the testimony of Providence Councilman Miguel Luna that he had witnessed Illegal Aliens voting in his Ward in the same election means there is no need for Photo I D in R I . If Disney can require a " Fingerprint " in order to use one of their rides why can't we require a photo I D in order to exercise our most precious right . The Secretary has already stated that he would provide the I D free to those who could not afford one and he could use the mobile Voter registration system to go to them and take the photo if that were an issue . The obstacles that the Ken's of the world , the ACLU and the Advocates for the Poor try to put in the way are totally bogus . Deep down WE ALL all know that a PHOTO I D in order to vote is a necessity .

Posted by: leprechaun at November 10, 2008 5:38 PM

I agree with Joe. We need to re-register all voters. It's amazing how easy it is to steal a vote. It takes forever to purge a name off a voter list. You have people registered at particular address who moved, the previous owners are still registered, and then the new owners also register there. That's just one example. Our voting laws need fixing, but you can be sure with a super majority of democrats in the general assembly, as long as they are protected, we have no hope.

Posted by: kathy at November 11, 2008 9:30 PM
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