Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Voter ID laws

Several states have instituted voter ID laws.  The GOP claim they are intended to prevent voter fraud, but statistics show that is very, very low.  The Democrats claim that it is just another barrier to stop people from voting.

In general, the laws are designed to allow drivers that live where they got their license to vote without any additional change.  But that means non-drivers, or worse, people that don't live where they got their license, have a much harder time voting.

Let me list some of the people that are inconvenienced by the law:   Elderly (don't drive/nursing home), College kids (may not drive, not living at 'home'),  Homeless, and the poor in general. Oh, the laws let a poor man get a free ID, but he still has to pay the bus fare, and possibly miss a day of work to get the card.  Not to mention he has to deal with the bureaucracy /ignorance of the people giving out the IDs.  Often the people giving out the ID's are ignorant of what they have to do.

Some of the laws make it much harder to do absentee balloting.  In effect that prevents college kids from voting.  Others, go out of the way to help nursing patients to vote, but do nothing for college kids.  In general the laws require a photo copy of a photo ID to obtain an absentee ballot.  Fairly silly as there is no guarantee that the photo copy looks anything at all like the person mailing it in.  There it is only done to ensure they have an ID, not to actually prevent fraud.

Voter fraud rates are fairly low. We get numbers ranging from 1 in 100,000 to 1 in 2,000,000  (Source)  Lets use the higher number.    I estimate more than 1 in 100 Americans are currently in college (80 year life span, 4 years of college, = 1/20 chance of being in college, assuming 20% graduate = 1/100).  About 50% of college age students vote.

So, to stop 1 in 100,000, we are going to make it much harder for 500  in 100,000 people to vote.   Lets assume that only 1% of the people will be stopped by the laws.  Seems low to me, I bet more like 5% to 10% will be stopped, but lets be generous.    OK, so to stop 1 in 100,000 bad votes, we are going to also stop 5 legitimate votes in 100,000.

Now some bright moron is going to start arguing that "If they don't care to vote, then they shouldn't get to".  Unfortunately that argument you gave has been ruled unconstitutional.   First of all, you are intentionally selecting poor, sick, and young people to block their vote (not to mention the obnoxious ruling that lets gun licenses count but not student IDs).    If you want to stop the unmotivated members of my party from voting, I demand the right to stop the unmotivated members of your party.  ou hare 90.

But that is irrelevant, the Supreme Court already outlawed such 'barriers' to voting.  You see in the old days, the big, bad Democrat party tried to stop blacks from voting (my how far we have come - and how far the Republican party that freed the slaves has fallen).   The Democrats used poll taxe, literacy tests, party restrictions (Texas made it illegal for blacks/hispanics to join the Democratic party - preventing them voting in the primary, which was what mattered) and other such barriers.  Eventually the Court in a series of rulings, prevented all of these things (Harper v. Virginia, Nixon vs Herndon, Nixon V. Condon, Smith v. Allwright, etc. etc.)

Unfortunately people do not have a constitutional right to vote, the states do.  No part of the US constitution gives any individual the right to vote, just the states.  The Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlaws discrimination based on race or color, but not on age or poverty.  So those court rulings above?  They flow from that act.

But just because something is legal does not mean it is ethical.  What we have here is a bunch of slimy, liars trying to disenfranchise Democrats by pretending to fight voter fraud.  So far they have succeeded, but...

They are only getting rid of 5 legitimate votes in 100,000.   People tend to win elections by more than .005%  It may be a slimy tactic, but it won't be particularly effective.  Don't be surprised if those Voter ID laws are either changed or thown out after 2012.

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