Friday, September 21, 2012

What's wrong with Voter ID laws

It's not the fact that it's a solution to a non-existent problem.  There have been almost no prosecutions, let alone convictions for voting as someone else - the only kind of voter fraud this law could possibly prevent. 

It's not even the fact that a Republican admitted the law was written specifically to dis-enfranchise democrats (source).  This is evil,  and the reason why the laws are written so poorly, but the motive is not the problem.

It's not the fact that it does nothing at all to affect the actually dangerous voter fraud of stuffing ballot boxes and intentional miscounting. 

The problem is the laws don't stop voter fraud and are specifically written to ensure the real voter fraud continues, while at the same time stopping legitimate voters from voting.  They take affect immediately, with little warning, and no preparation.  No attempt to work the kinks out of a law that will affect who is president.

So, let's suppose you were in fact concerned about voter fraud.  How would you write the laws to fix it?

  1. Ease into it.  Don't do it in a presidential election year, start with smaller stakes, and slowly build it up, over five or six years.  This lets you work out the kinks, as opposed to immediately affecting a national election.   You won't say "oops, we didn't know we were preventing all black people from voting".
  2. Make it easier to get ID cards.  Right now it is both physically impossible for certain people to legitimately get an ID card, and at the same time, ridiculously easy for con men to do so fraudulently.
  3. Build teeth into the law - that is, after the five/six year build up, if you attempt to vote without the ID card you don't simply get sent away, you get arrested and charged with Identity Theft.   If you win the legal case, the judge declares your identity and gives you official ID.  If you lose, you go to jail.
So lets look at these factors in depth.

One:  The right way to do Voter ID would be to ease into it.  First two years, you get asked to show ID and if you have it, fine.  If you don't, you are given paperwork - in your own language - telling you how to get ID, and what will happen next.   Third and fourth year you are given a provisional ballot and have to show up in court to get it counted.   Fifth and Sixth year you finally can't vote and (see rule #3) are arrested if you don't have ID. 

Two:  Our ID requirements now are fairly ridiculous, particularly for someone that lives in a different state than what they are born into, and/or if there were fires/other destruction of governmental ID.   For example, in South Carolina, their ID law lets people vote by declaring that they don't have and ID because they don't have transportation.  But then you have to show up at a hearing to prove it - which you can't easily do without transportation!  Ridiculous.  It's a trick.  Similarly, they let people vote with expired gun ID's but not with current college photo IDs.

Here are the four things you need to get an ID  in the United States.:

  1. Proof of Citizenship.  In general you need a Birth Certificate - issued by a city.country, state, or Consular.  Or if you were not born a citizenship, you need a Naturalization Certificate or Certificate of Citizenship.  But ANYONE can get a birth certificate from the state by mail.   It just costs money, no proof needed beyond your personal word that you are that person (or that person's guardian).  You need to know their full name, where they were born, and the date of their birth.  Nothing more.  Birth Certificates prove that the person was born in the country, not that you are the person.
  2. Social Security Card matching that citizenship. To get one of these without other government ID, you generally need Employ ID, School ID, Health Insurance Card.
  3. Identification showing who you are.  Generally it it is a bunch of rather easily obtainable stuff such as Library Card, School ID cards, pay stubs, a witness who knew you for at least two years, Credit Card, Employee ID, bills, etc.   To get them you merely have to spend a couple of years living under that name.
  4. Finally you need transportation and the time to wade through the bureaucracy.  The working poor have neither.  College students and senior citizens often don't have the transportation.
In other words, basically anyone can get these ID's rather easily, it just takes time and knowing the name, date and location of birth.

So why not make it easier?  It's easy to eliminate issue four, which doesn't affect security.  At every single Post Office, have  a direct virtual private network (computer speak for very secure) link to all 50 states Birth Records department, plus Consular Records, plus the Social Security Administration.   A single unified location to go in with your evidence and out with a photo ID.


I know, some of you are thinking "That will just make it easier to commit ID theft."

A centralized system makes it easier to catch the ID theft, not to do it.  If your the federal government takes you picture gets taken when you apply for the various ID cards, then they can compare it to a national database.  If your picture already exists or does not match the existing one, they look into it further and fix the problem.  We could even set it up as an optional system - you can use the regular method, or the 'expedited version' - which is free and quick, but involves fingerprinting and iris scanning.  We could also check all other information we have on the person to make sure that they aren't committing fraud and/or don't have arrest warrants out for them.  We can compare with existing photos.  For example, we could check death certificates as well as birth certificates (something we don't do now when you ask for a birth certificate).

 Centralized systems prevent fraud, at least if they are done correctly.

Three:  Finally, we should be trying to catch these voter frauds, not catch and release.  The very idea of simply stopping a criminal from voting as opposed to stopping them and arresting them is quite frankly vile and evil.   If someone is committing a crime we should arrest them, not look the other way.

The only reason the GOP doesn't already demand the arrest is that they know everyone they arrest would be innocent, costing the state millions, if not billions, and ending with the GOP being thrown out of office for wasting our time and money.

Well, we shouldn't let them waste the time and money of our legal, patriotic voters anymore than we should let them waste the time and money of our courts.

1 comment:

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