Here’s a headline from the Washington Examiner this past week: “Just 4 in 10 confident vote will be counted accurately.” In the article, Paul Bedard reports that some “elections experts have raised questions about the accuracy of computerized voting systems.” One expert even admitted “that manipulating the total vote count in states is ‘child’s play.'”
Bedard cited a recent study:
Americans are almost evenly divided over what constitutes the more significant problem with U.S. elections today: People casting votes who are not eligible (37 percent) or eligible voters being denied the right to vote (41 percent).
So there’s the trifecta: rigged computerized voting machines, ineligible people allowed to vote (and I assume that includes the dead), or eligible voters being denied the right to vote (and I would assume that includes vote-by-mail or early voting ballots winding up in the trash). On the latter, it is not an unknown for votes cast in a heavily Republican area, for example, to be discarded by Democrat election officials.
Voter fraud has been big news this election season — you can survey four dozen recent articles on the topic here.
The issue of improving ballot security has been an ongoing effort for many years. Recently I wrote about the topic (Voter Fraud: A Political Battlefield that Cannot be Surrendered). After reading the article, one veteran Illinois election judge sent me a note filling in one of the blanks I’d left out:
It will be impossible for us to insure that voters registering the day of the election are not voting in several precincts that day. The new rule allows for voters to register in the precinct where they live and vote the same day. They will only be asked for 2 pieces of ID and only one needs to have their current address. The ID with the current address can be any piece of mail received at the address where they are voting. This can be a birthday card or …. whatever. There is no check with the county to see that they are not voting or registering elsewhere.
So …. if you have friends in several precincts, just send yourself something to their addresses and use all of them at different precincts on election day. You can vote as many places as you have mail and time to register and vote on November 8th. I have suggested that the ID required was very ‘soft’ to my Democrat County Clerk. She agreed, but said it is the law. I was encouraged when I heard there was a lawsuit to stop election day registration except at the county court house, but that was thrown out and we are back to this crazy loophole on election day.
So there’s another matter to consider — laws that make fraud even easier to commit.
State lawmakers are not the only ones guilty, however, of helping to undermine ballot security. Some judges around the country also do their part by ruling against legislation requiring a photo ID in order to vote.
In North Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, Virginia, Kansas, Florida, Indiana and other states, laws requiring a photo ID have been challenged or overturned.
Several of the lower court rulings overturning voter ID laws have been issued after the 2008 Supreme Court’s Crawford v. Marion County Election Board decision, where the Court voted 6-3 to uphold Indiana’s requirement to have a photo ID in order to cast a ballot.
The dissenters in that case, Justice David Souter, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, argued that the law imposed “an unreasonable and irrelevant burden on voters who are poor and old.” Justice Stephen Breyer, the third dissenter, wrote that the law was too burdensome and costly, despite the fact that Indiana’s ID cards are free.
Americans need a photo ID for many things that have nothing to do with voting. They need one to drive a car, board a plane, open a bank account, get a passport, purchase a firearm, purchase alcohol, and enter a court room. In light of just that partial list it’s easy to assume that most American adults already have some sort of state-issued identification card such as a driver’s license.
The legal system likes to over-complicate almost everything it touches. Check out some of the photo ID court cases — the filings by the challengers and defenders, and then the sometimes very long court decisions supporting or over-turning the laws. Lawyers like to sound intelligent by using a lot of words, but that doesn’t obscure the basics: it’s a fight between fraud-prevention and “discrimination.”
Having attended law school, I remember well how the law professors trained their students to treat most legal issues as lofty, highly intellectual, and complex. The fact is, however, that most legal issues are none of the above. It has only been in recent history that lawyers began to pretend (or actually believe) that their work involved matters far too complicated for the regular Joe to understand. Truth be told, the more they can fog-up what is otherwise clear, the more they’re needed and the more money they can make.
When it comes to presenting a photo ID, phrases such as “civil rights” are tossed around as if Moses came down from the mountain with a third tablet containing the Fourteenth Amendment. Some of us have long viewed the legal arena as society’s plumbing system. One big difference, of course, is that lawyer-plumbers are as often paid to stop things up as they are to get things moving.
This is how simple it is: In order to vote you have to be an American citizen, a resident of the local election jurisdiction, at least 18 years-old, and registered to vote. The idea that requiring proof that you meet those criteria is somehow un-American or a violation of someone’s civil rights is silly.
With exceptions, of course, typically the divide is that Republicans are for requiring a photo ID to vote, and Democrats are against it. Republicans say they’re needed to cut down on fraudulent voting. Democrats say that Republicans are attempting to deny minorities the right to vote.
So, are Republicans really motivated by the desire for clean elections — or is this just another act of discrimination and vote suppression?
The existence of voter fraud has been proven countless times, and by some estimates, it’s only getting worse. Requiring a photo ID is one common sense way to lessen the threat of fraud.
Image credit: Cartoon by A.F. Branco.