Wednesday, May 21, 2014

More Than One Way To Win Elections






Voter suppression activists want us to believe obtaining identification valid for voting is as simple as a trip to a government office.  Not so, apparently, as the New York Daily News (from which the photograph below is taken) reports

A frail 92-year-old woman is the latest victim of new voter identification laws sweeping across the U.S.

Ruby Barber, a senior citizen in the small town of Bellmead, Texas, has been unable to vote because she can’t find her nearly century-old birth certificate that she’d need to obtain a voter ID under a new state law.

“I’m sure (my birth) was never reported because I was born in a farmhouse with a coal oil lamp,” Barber, 92, told the Waco (Texas) Tribune. “Didn’t have a doctor, just a neighbor woman come in and (delivered) me.”

Barber visited the state’s Department of Public Safety office last week to request the newly required election identification certificate, but was declined after she didn’t have a birth certificate.

Under Texas’s new strict voter ID law, enacted in June 2013, all voters must show one of six forms of valid photo identification — including a driver’s license, a passport, a military ID or concealed gun permit — to be able to vote.

Those who lack a valid photo ID, can apply for an election identification certificate (EIC) — a process that requires a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship.

Barber, unfortunately, no longer has any of the documents she’d need to obtain a ballot.
According to the Tribune, her driver’s license expired in 2010 and her marriage license was lost in a 1992 house fire.

But all she had to do was prove that she is a citizen, or of age, or a resident of the state.  Not so, given that

She took her Medicare card, Social Security card and expired driver’s license to state officials when she sought her EIC, but agency staff insisted she needed to provide a birth certificate.

But that is only one person who was denied the right to vote. Surely, that pales in comparison to all the other individuals which such laws would prevent from improperly voting. Brad Friedman explains that legislative Democrats in Iowa thus far have blocked have prevented GOP efforts  to enact a photo identification restriction law.  He notes

On Friday, the Sec. of State released the long-awaited results of his two-year, $250,000 investigation into Iowa voter fraud. Iowa's Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), commissioned by Schultz to carry out the probe, was able to find just 117 cases of illegal voting in the last two years.

Out of more than 1.5 million votes cast in the 2012 general election alone, the allegedly illegal votes cast in the state amount to an infinitesimal 0.008427933%. Still, even that number overstates the incidences of voter fraud Schultz was able to find in Iowa, which happens to include zero cases of in-person voter impersonation that Photo ID laws are supposedly meant to deter. Zero.

With courts striking down photo ID laws in Arkansas, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, Friedman observes

While prosecuting criminal voter fraud is indeed important --- no matter how small the amount --- the utter failure to cite any evidence of voter fraud at the polls that might be deterred by Photo ID restrictions has perhaps hit a tipping point. In case after case, at both the state and federal level, repeated findings by courts that far more votes stand to be blocked than illegal ones prevented seems to be reaching a critical mass. 

Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner have found "If the country’s demographic composition were still the same in 2012 as it was in 2000, Romney would now be president. If it were still the same as it was in 1992, he would have won in a rout.  But it's not.  And Republicans know it.  Their ace in the hole is voter identification laws, and they will keep trying.









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The late, great Phil Ochs , who met a tragic and untimely end, once wrote " and now it can be told, I'm a quarter of a century...