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Why Voter ID Laws Are Controversial

When I went to vote last month, I was handed a slip of paper informing me that as of 2012 I will be required to show a valid government ID in order to vote. Presumably a lot of people got similar notices, as five new states passed voter ID laws in 2011: Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin. These particular laws are also stricter than prior voter ID laws passed by other states.

The general argument for voter ID laws is that they prevent voter fraud by requiring voters to show ID and prove they are who they say they are. This seems reasonable enough on the face of it. Who could argue against ensuring that only eligible voters vote, right?

As you might guess from the fact that I'm continuing to write, there's more to it than that. According to the Brennan Center at the NYU School of Law, "Studies show that as many as 12% of eligible voters do not have government-issued photo ID." Guess who those 12% are? Well, it's primarily poor people, minorities, and students. Guess which party that 12% predominantly votes for? Democrats. Guess which party has been pushing for voter ID laws? Republicans.

Shocking, I know. While touting "fair play," what is actually happening is that Republican legislatures are attempting to change the rules in a way which directly favors their party. In the meantime, there is no widespread problem of individual voter fraud at the ballot box. The Republicans are clamoring to disenfranchise around 23 million Democratic voters in order to "fix" a problem that doesn't exist.

If the Republicans want to fix problems of election fraud, maybe they should look a little more closely at Diebold electronic voting machines. Of course they won't, though, because all the statistical discrepancies between election results on those machines and exit polls favor one party. I'll leave it to the reader to guess which one.
Michael O'Reilly's profile photoIngred Scott's profile photoMichael Belisario's profile photoJason Skiles's profile photo
As a side point: if you were an illegal alien are you really going to risk getting caught by trying to vote?
I think it's very certain that the people pushing these laws recognize the underlying reason of why they are doing it. I'm curious whether their supporters realize it, or whether they just agree with the overt excuse.

I know there are some conservatives who have me circled, and I'd love to hear their take on it, as always.
I'm not conservative, but I still have very mixed emotions when it comes to this stuff. When I lived in So Cal, it really bothered me that I would walk up, rattle off my name and address, and they'd never find it, so I'd look on their sheet and find it (usually right in front of them) and say 'that's me' then go vote. I have to have ID to do so much in life, but not to prove I have a right to vote, or that I haven't already voted? :( I haven't voted recently because I keep filing voter paperwork in NM, and something keeps going wrong, and I call up and ask why I can't vote and they say I missed step X, or Y, or Z. I THINK I'm registered now, but that's crazy. Completely insane. Like you fill out the form, then they mail you back a confirmation that you have to sign and return, then they get the confirmation and correctly enter it, and something has gone wrong in that process like 3 times . . . >:(

You can't get social services without an ID card, you can't do anything without an ID card. How does anyone live day to day without any form of identification? I don't want to disenfranchise anyone, but it's not like you have to pay $100 for a specific card that you wouldn't otherwise have . . . How do we even KNOW if there's voter fraud if we don't know who's voting?

There are bigger issues, and the automated machines are a big source of concern too. :( Ugh.
Nice post that points out something worth knowing and thinking about.

The requirement for verified ID at time of voting is itself a good thing. If it results in some bias in political results, work to eliminate the bias. Why simply accept that 'poor people, minorities and students' do not have IDs to verify their identity? If that is true, why not work to eliminate that problem?

When writers say, "Studies show that ...", why do they fail to point to the studies?

You say, "...there is no widespread problem of individual voter fraud at the ballot box." I want to believe that. Help me by pointing to some evidence.
+Jill Brady, I absolutely agree that we should work to correct the problems causing so many millions to be without IDs. On the other hand, in some cases the problem is with the way the ID laws are written. For instance, students may have ID with their home address, but the law requires that their ID matches their voting precinct.

Regardless, I have no general opposition to showing ID to vote if it can first be arranged that that requirement won't disenfranchise legitimate voters.
Oh, I agree that the address should not have to match - people move too often. Especially poor people, and students. :P Besides, it's to verify you can vote, then you should be allowed to vote in your registered district, verified by your NAME and PICTURE on your ID, so yeah, the address matching part is bs.
I still would like to know who is without IDs. Even the most disenfranchised among us have to have IDs to receive social services.
I think another part of the problem is that those of us who are reasonably privileged find it difficult to imagine the circumstances of those who are not. I can't easily imagine circumstances under which I might not be able to get an ID, but clearly those circumstances exist.
Here is an article who mentions one person who would have trouble getting an id: But that's one person. Most people have to have an id to work or get social services, and I can't imagine many people exist who don't do one or the other. I think both sides have to prove this one: that many people don't have a way to get IDs, and the many people are committing voting fraud.
Taking a step back, this comes down to adding a requirement for who is eligible to vote. My general plan is "If you are a citizen you can vote." (Clearly states put in other restrictions like "You can't be in prison for a felony" and stuff.) This changes the requirement to "If you are a citizen with one of these two specific forms of ID you can vote."

I want everyone to be able to vote, and damn the consequences. If the majority votes differently than me, then so be it. If only a very few can vote and my side wins, then there's something very wrong.
I have lived without substantial money for many years (Full time student with family, wife of a young Marine), but I have not lived under the oppressive weight of generational poverty, which I know is different. I do know that when people talk about people who can't get IDs, they are usually talking about the exact people who need IDs to obtain social services, and most likely have both. I can imagine the circumstances. :)
As a Data Mining Nut Job, and a individualist, I see the argument both ways about a 'National ID.' I want to be able to prove someone is who they say they are, but I don't want to be tracked, but I do want to crawl through vast amounts of data for the giggles regarding the tracking of others . . . :D If I ever develop split personalities, this would be a leading cause.
+Jill Brady - In order to get an ID you typically have to provide: (1) a birth certificate, (2) a couple of forms of address confirmation, and (3) travel to a specific building open only on government hours.

Based on those three items:
1. Official birth certificates are not freely available, you have to pay for copies.
2. Typically you need either a bank statement, credit card bill, or utility (power/gas) bill addressed to you. Many poor people do not have credit cards or bank accounts and if the utilities are not in their name, it doesn't count.
3. If you are the working poor, can you really afford to take a day off of work (which you probably don't get paid for), travel to the location, just to wait in line and get an ID? The opportunity cost (not to mention transportation costs) makes this anything but free.

As +Michael O'Reilly pointed out, it is hard for privileged people to imagine this being a hassle but when you are in a situation where you need every dollar you can get, having to fulfill the above requirements does have both direct and indirect costs associated with it.

In current practice requiring an ID to vote is a form of poll tax.
+Jason Faulkner As much as I would love to be privileged, I have very much been in places of non-privileged for extended periods of my life. I have had to do much of this on little to no money in my own past. 1) If you do not have ID, you are not working. Therefore, you do not need to take time off of your job. 2) Yes, Birth Certificates are not free, you do have to pay for them. There should be programs in place to help people obtain their necessary documents. 3) You need these documents anyway to either work or receive social services. I would like to know how many citizens are living in America, not working, and not receiving social services or unemployment. I think that number would be very very small. You then must ask yourself the question that no one has asked so far - if you don't have any form of identification, are not working, and are not receiving social services, do you actually care about voting? (Note I did not say SHOULD you be voting, but do you care.) That drops the number even lower. Very few people would fall through the cracks on this one, and there should be groups willing to help those people obtain their identification with financial assistance for the purposes of voting. If you are not working, and are not receiving social services, how are you eating?

The reality is, the privileged like to imagine that life is so hard for poor Americans that they can't come up with an ID. Most can, to get a check every month, to file their taxes at the end of the year and get the Earned Income Credit, to get Medical Care and SSI. How many Americans are living not plugged into any system? Few. And there would need to be a support system for them, to help them get the documents and funding that they need.
And a ID is valid even if it is expired, and even if your address is wrong. It is for associating your name with your picture. That should be enough. It is for purposes of employment (I-9 Form), it should be for purposes of voting.
+Jill Brady, it should be enough, but I believe that for some of the voter ID laws it is not. They write them as restrictively as they can get away with.
+Jill Brady - I may be wrong here, but to receive social services I believe you only need an SSN number. That said, a SSN card alone is not enough to "prove" your identity for a voter ID.
That's correct, +Jason Faulkner. It's possible to get social services with various forms of ID that are not acceptable under many voter ID laws.

+Jill Brady, on the subject of the really, really poor people not being interested in voting, that's a separate conversation. One piece of the puzzle is making it so that as many citizens as possible are eligible and able to vote. A different piece of the puzzle is getting as many citizens as possible to actually get out there and vote.

Voter drives are important, and I understand why each party tries really hard to get out the vote among their supporters. My take on the matter is that I'd like to get everyone out to vote, regardless of which side they support.
According to About.Com, you need your SSN, Military Discharge Papers (if applicable), Birth Certificate or proof of US Citizenship, and the tax information from the last year you worked. While you could get around having an actual state-issued ID to collect SSI, you would then still have ample documentation to get a State ID at the whopping cost of $5 for 4 years or $10 for 8 years. (And as I said, perhaps the cost should be waved for first-time applicants for the purposes of voting . . .) The documents for proof of residency for a state ID would be slightly harder, as usually these need to be utility bills, rental agreements (your name being listed as a tenant is fine), or pay stubs, but they also include everything listed here: which includes paperwork from a religious institution which includes your name and address, bank statement with address, name on lease or mortgage, any public services documents with name and address . . . . lots to pick from. The application to become a registered voter should include all this information, and when such an 'id required' law is passed, organizations and news outlets should provide ample information and maybe an assistance number/website that can be accessed for any individuals having trouble. An organization that cross referenced people who are registered to vote, but do not have a DL or State ID, could be contacted individually. That would be useful.
+Michael O'Reilly My only point about who wants to vote vs who votes is that I think we shouldn't allow the system to be open to massive fraud for the sake of a handful of effectively homeless people who aren't even trying to vote in the first place. Show me the people who won't be able to vote, and hell, while we're at it, show me the voter fraud/potential fraud that exists, and then we can make real choices. But people like to jump on the 'poll tax' band wagon, and I don't think that's here, if a State ID is all that's required (I still stand by disagreeing with the 'identical address' bit. We have to be realistic, on all fronts.
+Jill Brady, if statistical evidence can show that voter ID laws actively lower participation in the voting process by the poor, minorities, and students, and thus swings votes in the direction of Republicans, is that not sufficient to persuade you that the fact that Republicans are the ones pushing these laws has some underlying motivation unrelated to preventing voter fraud?
You would need to show me that it does, and that it's more than people using it as an excuse. I don't like that 11% number on the studies you linked to - I would like to know the number for whom the address on and the expiration date of their ID doesn't matter. And being married invalidates your birth certificate? Since when? Articles that clam that a married woman can no longer prove who she is with a birth certificate if she took her husband's last name are just silly and fear-mongering.
We'd also have higher voter participation if we walked into each person's home, gave them cookies, and asked them nicely who they want to vote for. That's being a little sarcastic, but there is some level of effort involved in voter participation, a minimum threshold - and show up at your polling place with an ID doesn't seem that much more intensive than show up at your polling place with a heartbeat.
+Jill Brady - Articles that clam that a married woman can no longer prove who she is with a birth certificate if she took her husband's last name are just silly and fear-mongering.
Speaking from experience, this is wrong.
My wife went through this when we got married. You have to provide both a birth certificate and a marriage certificate. Again, official copies of both of these are not free.
+Jason Faulkner I am married myself. I agree, BC + Marriage Certificate usually does it. But the article didn't say that, it just said that 50% of voting age women couldn't prove who they were with their birth certificates. Perhaps technically true, but misleading. In New Mexico, it's $10 to get a copy of your birth certificate, I am having trouble finding the cost for a copy of the marriage certificate. The biggest challenges will be for people who have moved around and have to call other states for these certificates, pay by phone, and have them sent. If you don't have a bank card, you can't pay by phone - it does start getting complicated. I agree. But I still want to know the number of people affected. :P

Ironically, when we moved to this state, everything was in my name, and so it was the husband who had to use the marriage certificate to prove that he was married to me, and thus a valid resident even though my name was on all the services. That cracked me up. Nice role reversal.
I believe we are missing the bigger picture here.

In my humble opinion there should be no barriers to voting. Regardless of whether you own half the state or are homeless, you should be able to walk up and vote. Some simple measure such as an invisible ink stamp (like what they use at concerts) could be used as a simple measure to prevent "casual" voter fraud.

I don't think ballot box stuffing is as big an issue as it is made out to be. Pragmatically, considering it most likely a federal offense to be caught voting multiple times (and now-a-days will probably get you classified as a terrorist), few, if any, people would risk this as the "reward" just doesn't justify the risk.

As +Michael O'Reilly pointed out above, we really need to be concerned with voting systems controlled 100% by closed corporations. Even government election officials are restricted from having the source code reviewed which these machines run off of, so an election result being manipulated at the source is significantly more likely to occur. Considering there is no paper ballot backing for the results, there isn't really any evidence to dispute the electronic vote count the machine spits out.

Not to get all tinfoil hat here, but government corruption is already well known and established, so is concluding that a private company would be willing to sell an election really that inconceivable?
+Jason Faulkner Forget conspiracy - I'm not sure what you do (didn't look), but I program for a living. We make mistakes. I don't want a programmer error putting the wrong person in office! Not that electronic systems aren't a great idea, I think they are, but they need a physical backup, like a printout that the voter sees and agrees with, and need to be spot-checked against the physical to catch any issues, for ever and ever, against all elections from here on out.
The bags of unprocessed votes also bothers me. And what is that whole electoral college thing anyway? Does any of our discussion actually matter? >:(
Another potentially disenfranchised group are senior citizens. I'd wager that the most common form of ID is the driver's license and once you stop driving, there is no incentive to renew it. And, at least in Texas, your photo ID must not be expired for more than 60 days. I suppose seniors can qualify for voting by mail, but wouldn't that be the way you'd want to go if you were planning to commit vote fraud in the first place?

+Joe Repka would like to see some evidence that "...there is no widespread problem of individual voter fraud at the ballot box". Well, it's impossible to prove a negative (as in "show me evidence that there are no fairies in my back yard...") If you quibble with that statement, please point to evidence that there IS a widespread problem with voter fraud.

I do agree that if voter ID is a requirement, it should be flexible enough to allow more common forms of ID (e.g. Student ID, utility bill, etc.) Texas requires a DPS photo ID, passport, military ID or a birth certificate with a photo. FWIW, Texas doesn't require the address on the ID to match the address where you're registered to vote.
+Jill Brady, you said " I think we shouldn't allow the system to be open to massive fraud for the sake of a handful of effectively homeless people who aren't even trying to vote in the first place"

I, on the other hand, think we shouldn't disenfranchise more than one out of ten citizens for the sake of protecting against a handful of cases of individual voter fraud.
That 'more than one out of ten number HAS to be based on old addresses. Remove that requirement, and run the numbers again. I can't believe that more than one in ten Americans can survive in America without an ID.
+Jill Brady - 1 in 6 Americans is living below the poverty line, so I can completely understand 1 in 10 not having an ID.
Those not at the bottom not being able to believe how bad it can be at the bottom is a big part of a lot of social problems, I suspect.
I have been at the bottom. I speak of experience. I know what the hell I'm talking about. I lived there, did that, for years and years. You have IDs. You need them, for services, for alcohol. The addresses may not be valid, because you end up moving for whatever reason every couple of months, but you have an ID. What I have a hard time imagining, is not having an ID, and how you would do anything. Can't work, can't get social services, can't buy alcohol. I would like to know how a person survives in that status for any length of time. That's what I can't imagine.
Without and ID, you can't work, you can't rent an apartment, you can't get food stamps or housing assistance, or mecicare/mediCal, student aid or student loans, bank account, cash a check at a highway robbery check cashing place, get Social Security, get unemployment. You can't buy alcohol. WHO survives, and how, without needing to participate in any of these systems?
Voter ID Laws are being created to verify that the person voting is a U.S. citizen. As it is at the moment, in states that do not have these laws. People are voting in city, county, state and federal venues. If you do the census math it should cause you to have some concern as to who is deciding the person or person's that will be running your city, county, state or who will be president of the United States. Is it a U.S.
citizen who cast that vote?
That is certainly a valid argument, +Ingred Scott. However, I look at it as balancing the impact of each side of the argument. I ask again, is it worth demonstrably disenfranchising 12% of the population of otherwise legitimate voters in order to prevent some very small amount of voter fraud? Clearly for Republicans it is, since apparently they are more concerned with winning elections than fairly enabling the democratic process.

Voter registration processes already weeded out the vast majority of fraud while encouraging a fair shot at the process even for the those without access to the limited forms of ID required in these new laws. I submit that the fraud-prevention results of the laws is two to three orders of magnitude lower than their disenfranchisement results. That's just not an acceptable outcome to me.
+Michael O'Reilly - Republicans have demonstrated, repeatedly, that they will fabricate "problems" to push their agenda.

- Voter suppression is spun as "preventing voter fraud".
- The whole "debt crisis/ceiling" is spun as "we must cut all social programs (freeloader) spending".
- Unemployment is spun as "we need to cut taxes on the rich job creators".
- Taxing the wealthy (those with $1 mil+ income / the 0.2%) is spun as "class warfare".

The list goes on...

I have to credit the Republicans that they are incredible spin doctors as, on surface level, the uninformed listener would probably agree with their statements which might explain why they still get votes from the very people their policies oppress.
Any voter fraud is fraud. Our we validating balancing corruption? Or just the argument. It will not matter what side you choose, Democrats or Republicans. Fraud is fraud I% 12% or 100%. People who are not U.S citizen's should not vote until they have become U.S. citizen's. We are not allowed to vote in their country's for the same reason. We are not citizens of their country's. What the registration is asking for is a birth record or record of naturalization in the U.S. This is a very reasonable request. If you wish to vote provide the documentation. I personally do not care which group someone wish's to attach their political views too. I do care that voter fraud is eliminated in the U.S.
+Ingred Scott, government balances competing considerations, risks, and consequences all the time.

People die in car accidents. They are then DEAD. The ultimate consequence. Regulations could be made so that people wouldn't die in car accidents. They could be engineered to have a maximum speed of 5 MPH and have thick, fluffy padding inside and out. However, there are significant enough downsides to doing that, so we don't.

Countries go to war. Soldiers and civilians on both sides DIE. The governments involved have to decide that the consequences of not going to war outweigh the number of deaths their citizens suffer and the economic costs of making war.

Economic policies balance societal costs and benefits to (hopefully) try and create the greatest good for the most people in the fairest way.

100% of voter fraud can be eliminated. The most obvious way to do so is to have no voting. Barring that, you could limit voting to the 400 richest individuals in the country and they could meet in person so that they would all know there was no fraud. However, those solutions are not acceptable to the vast majority of us.

So, there is never going to be NO voter fraud, because we cannot eliminate it without restricting the eligible voting population to an unacceptably small number. Therefore, the question is how to find the best balance between keeping voter fraud as low as possible while keeping the eligible voting population as high as possible. Somewhere in there is the best compromise, and that is what we are debating.
It's bad when someone who shouldn't be able to vote can vote. It's bad when someone who should be able to vote can't. Why is one of these things worse than the other? Either way, it's a one-vote deviation from what ought to be.
Exactly, +Jason Skiles, and if you disenfranchise millions to prevent thousands of instances of voter fraud then the deviation is in the millions. If you enfranchise millions and live with the extra fraud, then the deviation is in the thousands. The clear optimal balance, therefore, is the second case, but the Republicans prefer the first case exactly because it favors them winning.
+Ingred Scott, Voter ID laws are NOT used to verify that the voter's eligibility to vote, but rather their identity. Eligibility is determined at voter registration time (before elections) and, hopefully, continuously updated (i.e if a person becomes ineligible to vote, for example by being convicted for a felony or registering in some other state). Plenty of people have valid ID that's acceptable at the polling station (e.g. current driver's license in TX) without being eligible to vote (I'm one of them).

The purported intent of Voter ID laws is to ensure that the person casting a ballot is actually the person they claim to be. At the polling station, there is no verification of eligibility (including citizenship) related to the ID. If your name is on the list of registered voters, you are presumed to be eligible to vote.

Disenfranchisement can happen by people being incorrectly purged from voter rolls ( as well as via overly restrictive Voter ID laws that only accept very few forms of identification.
When it comes to weighing the options for corruption, welfare fraud is a good example. Welfare fraud exists, and is looked for, but in most cases prosecuting the fraud, and even looking for it too deeply, would cost more money than stopping the fraud would save. Same thing with drug-testing welfare applicants. The number of applicants who (according to studies that have been done) would pop on a test is so low, I think it's less than 1% of the cost of such a program. This is a world of trade-offs. :P I had a statistics professor once who basically said, not in so many words, that abortion should be illegal, because one teenage baby placed in adoption would be worth hundreds of lives lost in back-alley abortions, and that birth control should not be taught, because the few girls who make it through adolescence abiding by their abstinence promises are worth the hundreds of thousands who will contract STD when they fall short of 'the goal.' Clearly this man was on crack. Put in voting terms, if we enforce overly strict Voter ID law, we might be saying that stopping the handful of fraudulent voters is worth the (large number) of non-fraudulent voters who will be denied or discouraged from voting. I will always agree that chasing down someone for punishment at all costs is not the same thing as effective government.
How can I work without an ID? Cash-based work. Stand on a corner or in a work line some place, get hauled off by someone in a pickup for a day's work out at some site or other, get dropped off with a bit of cash in your pocket. It's done for illegals and citizens who are out of work and need anything at all to eat. Or, you wander around doing work for hire -- fix something here, housework over there -- cash passes hands and never and ID or SSN is needed. Lots of homeless families living out of their cars do this. (Granted if they are driving a vehicle around, they probably have an ID, but do they have insurance? Probably not...)

I don't know how this adds to the discussion at hand, but you keep on asking how anyone can live without an ID, and there you go. I'm sure there are other examples -- including living in a hut in the forest somewhere, etc. The point is that your bottom-of-the-barrel where you had an ID and could get whatever you needed and would have been able to vote doesn't necessarily match up with everyone else's bottom-of-the-barrel.

I have little to add to the Voter ID discussion, because I'm against it until we can ensure everyone who wants to vote and is eligible to vote can vote. Until then, I'm fine with the way it is done now.

Watch this and see what these kids have to go through in order to have "addresses" so they can still go to school -- as wellas the other problems homeless families deal with.
I truly believe voter fraud is the distraction. The real election fraud takes place behind the scenes. Stealing the elections with rigged voting machines and corrupt election officials is where the real control is. You don't hear about too many sweeping investigations into that part of the equation. There is almost no real voter fraud, if they could make an example, they would've. That's my $.10.
I completely agree, +Wes Forster. The amount of change possible by individual in-person voter fraud is utterly insignificant compared to that of padding tens or hundreds of thousands of votes through manipulation of electronic voting machines.
Everyone whose has commented on these post have a valid opinion. Fraud by the government or the people, votes through manipulation of electronic voting machines, registration or voting poll's." Everyone in the country say's yes there is fraud, but I am just one person. I do not have the power to change my government." That argument will destroy the United States of America.

The United States Constitution Article IV Section 2. [1] The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in several States

Amendment XV [1870] Section 1. 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. Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce the article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XIX [1920] [1] The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex. [2] Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XXIV [1964] Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for elector for President or Vice President , or Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States, or any State by reason of failure pay any poll tax or other tax. Section 2. The Congress shall have the right to enforce this article by appropriate legislation

Amendment XXVI (1971) Section 1. 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. Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

This is law, the Constitution of the United States is a document of our Federal Laws. It is a non partisan document, it cares not what political party you belong to. This document was written by the citizens of the United States, for the citizens of the United States. The text in this document is Federal Law. Only the United States Supreme Court may argue it's validity.

Anyone wishing to educate themselves in regard to these amendments, may find the Blacks Law Dictionary useful for this purpose. In the back of the book there is a copy of The United States Constitution.

Please let us go back to the original argument Michael O'Reilly. Why voter ID Laws are controversial? Each of the amendments above states very clearly 'United States citizens' in regards to voting rights, in the United States. Everyone who is not a U.S. citizen or have never read the Constitution of the United States or are unfamiliar with Federal Law would be misguided in believing that it is one political party or another which decides voting rights in the United States. Education is a wonderful thing, but only if you do the homework. Please note these amendments are only for voting laws. We are not talking about any other part of Constitutional Law. Each political party likes to stir the pot. It keeps uneducated voters in a state of confusion. And allows for misdirection in their respective political arenas. Keep the voter confused and they will not know what they have voted for or what the consequences will be. If you are not a U.S. citizen. Please do not vote in our elections It is against the law. Now this issue came to the citizens of the U.S. and they have asked the Congress, Senate. House of Representatives and the United States Supreme Court to address the issue of Voter ID registration in the United States. It is not controversial. It is Federal Law. If you are not a U.S. citizen you have no voting rights in the United States. And anyone who is involved in any way with voter fraud, should be prosecuted under the law.
+Ingred Scott "Anyone who is involved in any way with voter fraud, should be prosecuted under the law." I'm not sure I entirely agree. Any effort to write a law that obstructs the exercise of the franchise by any eligible voter is obviously fraud, and a crime against the Republic, but I think it's probably a bad idea to use criminal law to punish legislators for making heinous laws. The proper solution is to simply vote them out of office. We shouldn't criminalize political disputes.
+Jason Skiles - LOL!

+Ingred Scott , you make it sound as if Michael or someone else in this discussion were arguing or advocating for ineligible voters to vote. Being against the disenfranchisement of eligible voters is not at all the same thing.

In my view, some implementations of voter ID laws seem to be violating the 24th (Poll Tax) amendment. If not in law, then definitely in the spirit of it. Interestingly, the same types of ELIGIBLE voters (citizens of the United States) the 24th amendment is supposed to protect appear to be disproportionately disenfranchised by voter ID laws. By enacting impeding voter ID laws, the rights of citizens of the United States to vote ARE being denied or abridged. IMHO.
+Ingred Scott, you said " If you are not a U.S. citizen. Please do not vote in our elections It is against the law." I believe we're all in agreement here. If you're ineligible to vote you should not vote, on account of the fact that you are ineligible to do so.

That said, as +Stepan Riha pointed out several responses back, the point of voter ID laws is not to determine eligibility. The point of the laws is to prove identity, but the overwhelming result of the laws is to prevent millions of eligible voters from voting while preventing very few instances of voter fraud. This is not a just result.
Michael O'Reilly all anyone has to do is get a copy of their Birth Certificate, or in the case of California a copy of their Baptism record or a notarized statement signed by two people stating that there is no Birth Certificate filed on record. And that they were present at your birth and can attest to the date and year of your birth. With one of these documents anyone who was born in the U.S. Will be able to get additional documentation to meet all voting requirements. The Government already has this information on you. All they are requiring you to do is get a copy and get a photo ID and or drivers license. To verify that the name on the voter ID card match's the photo ID. Very reasonable request.
Hmm.. Seems a lot less reasonable than just signing a document that you attest you are who you say you are and you get a voting card, and if you are found out to have lied, you can go to prison. But, assuming everyone is guilty first is the way we do things these days. So, requiring people to purchase a birth certificate or find people who were present at your birth if you are elderly... Doesn't seem very reasonable to me. And if one person is disenfranchised, that is one person too many in a country that supposedly values freedom and democracy. Even in Iraq all they asked was for you to dip your finger in purple ink.
My reaction is about what it'd be if someone wanted to put metal detectors and soldiers with machineguns at polling places. It seems like a pretty radical change, and you need to start by convincing me that there's a problem that's worth going to all this trouble to solve. Some guy writing "Mickey Mouse" on a voter registration form doesn't seem to me like a problem worth reacting to.

When someone proposes a radical solution to a trivial problem, I figure that they're lying about their real motives.
Bless all the paranoid, We are not talking about the homeless here, we are talking about people that have entered our country illegally from all country's. Weather they are on expired visa or not. Every country has rules to live by, if you want to vote in this country get in line and follow the rules. Or do not participate and go on with your every day lives and quit talking about the fact that you are not eligable to vote in this country be cause you are not a U.S. citizen. The alternative is to become a U.S. citizen so that you are able to vote in our elections. That way you do not need to have all the other documentation.
+Ingred Scott, we are talking about the homeless, and the poor, and all the other U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote but cannot due to voter ID laws. There are far more of them disenfranchised by those laws than ineligible people who try to vote illegally.
+Ingred Scott Everyone agrees with you that people who aren't eligible to vote shouldn't vote. What needs work is your argument that your proposed remedy does more good than harm.

I'm not surprised that you're finding that to be a difficult case to make--I certainly shouldn't like to try it--but that's where you're running into disagreement.

Can you, for instance, fill in the blanks in this sentence: "A remedy that results in _ eligible voters not voting is acceptable if it prevents _ ineligible voters from casting ballots." One suspects that you won't answer, because your answers would be "any number" and "any," respectively. That'd give away the game by revealing that the resulting voter disenfranchisement is the point of the entire exercise, and not merely some regrettable side-effect of pursuing these mostly-imaginary fraudulent voters.
Anyone who is a U.S. citizen can vote. No matter what your physical circumstance are. You may go to any post office to get a form to register as well as the DMV. And other out reach programs in the State of California designed just for the displaced. Including shelters. When someone applies for welfare in this State, they ask if you would like to sign up for voter registration if you are a U.S. citizen. They will even verify your birth information through there multiple State computer system. There really is no reason why anyone, would not be able to get what they need in documentation to register to vote. With so much help out there, it is difficult to worry about those who feel that they are disenfranchised.
I'm trying to figure out who's paranoid here. Is it the ones defending the right to vote for all citizens, or the one who sees some kind of huge threat from a few illegal immigrants.

I also don't know of a visa that allows an immigrant to vote. As of May 2010, no foreign national is allowed to vote in national or state elections. Even before that, it was only allowed in about 20 states -- it was a state government decision, which is as it should be since according to the Constitution the States are reserved the power to deal with elections. A few local governments do still allow it. Every other immigrant has to become a naturalized US citizen in order to vote.

And, when they are naturalized, they're going to have to deal with all the problems of getting a proper photo ID in order to vote, which could mean them having to contact their home country and dealing with all of that. Hopefully, by the time they are naturalized, they already have what they need to get a voting card in their state, but can we guarantee that? Nope.

How paranoid am I? Since the mid-90s, whenever I have to renew my driver's license, I have to go through a thousand steps to prove that I am not a black man from Tennessee who happens to have my name, my birth date, a suspended license, and a rap sheet a mile long. when I recently moved to Oklahoma, I was almost denied my driver's license until I finally found someone at the top of the food chain who saw the ridiculousness for what it was and called the peon at the license agency and told them to give me my license. But that might not happen next time. And then, I won't have a photo ID (much less be allowed to drive), and I won't get to vote.

My story is not unique. Bureaucratic BS can happen to anyone, and when it does, they'll see what these kind of laws do to law abiding citizens just trying to vote and get on with their lives.

tl;dr version:
You're paranoid. Temporary immigrants can't vote anyway. Under these photo ID laws, I might lose my right to vote.
I have my birth certificate, past driver's licenses (or records of), I'm white, and I am still routinely told I am a black man from Tennessee (and Ohio area) who has had his license revoked since the early 1990s. Your birth verification system wouldn't help me. I wouldn't have a photo ID/driver's license. I would be denied my right to vote -- actually, I will be if I can't get through the bureaucratic BS next time, because these laws are already in place, even here in Oklahoma.

What do you have against someone signing that they are, in fact, Joe or Jane Public and then being prosecuted if they lied and voted illegally? Why treat everyone as a criminal and deny anyone -- even one person like me -- his or her vote? Treat the criminals as criminals. I'm more wary of actual large scale vote fraud perpetrated by government and election officials than I am of the rank and file citizen.

By the way: These laws are killing voter outreach and registration drives:

"But in Florida this year, the state League of Women Voters announced it was discontinuing all voter registration activities in the state. Why? A new Florida law (opposed by Democrats and civic groups and passed in May on a straight party-line vote by the Republican legislative majority) makes it nearly impossible to register voters.... [The League] has said that the new law “imposes an undue burden on groups such as ours that work to register voters,” and that the League “cannot place ... volunteers at risk, subjecting them to a process in which one late form could result in their facing financial and civil penalties.”
+Ingred Scott You don't know how many fraudulent votes you'll be preventing, and you aver that you don't care how many legitimate votes you'll be throwing out. I care about both numbers because I see the the latter as a cost that has to be weighed against the former.

One suspects that you wouldn't dismiss the impact of your proposed obstacles to voting quite so breezily if you didn't imagine that the burden would fall disproportionately upon people who vote against your side anyway. You don't know how many fraudulent votes you'll be preventing, and you aver that you don't care how many legitimate votes you'll be throwing out.

I care about both numbers because I see the the latter as a cost that has to be weighed against the former. You don't care because you see both as beneficial. Once they're stacked on the same side of the balance, it doesn't matter how big either is because they're not offsetting one another.
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