Voter ID – A National Perspecitve

(In addition to my normal disclaimer on notes I take at a conference, I want to make EXTRA clear these notes do not reflect my opinion, but are the notes I took from all the panelists, as I heard them. The Voter ID blog is worthy of its own special disclaimer because of some of the statements made that I absolutely disagree with!! Your eyes will roll when you read some of this. Your blood pressure may spike. But, I want you to read what is being said by all sides. Now…..The following are my notes from a panel discussion I attended at the National Conference of State Legislatures. These notes do not reflect my opinion on the subject matter, but rather serve to let you read what the dialogue was and with whom.)

Peggy Piety (Indiana Legislative Services – panel moderator)

  • Very active issue in 2011
  • 32 states with Voter ID laws in place for the November 2012 elections
  • NCSL listed Voter ID on top 12 nationwide for 2012

J. Christian Adams (Election Law Center of Virginia)

  • Public hysteria not necessary; so many myths that poison the discourse
  • More about scaring people; more “light” than “heat”
  • Scaring people that civil rights are under attack

Myths about Voter ID

  • Voter ID infringes on a fundamental right – not a single court decision in the US has ever reached this decision; Crawford v Marion County upheld; says there need not be rampant evidence of fraud, but legislation can be put in place as a prophylactic
  • Partisan conspiracy around the country –  it is not; Democrat in Rhode Island was sponsor of their Voter ID bill and had Democrat support; Kansas has support of Democrats; 80% approval nationwide of Voter ID legislation
  • Leads to massive disenfranchisement
  • Reduces turnout – Indiana participation went up; American University found less than .5% do not have an ID

Voter impersonation does not exist – Mr. Ike Brown was told publicly to vote under a false name because “you won’t get caught.”

Voter fraud in West Virginia is rampant; even a local Sheriff has been convicted of fraud

Senator Brenda Council (Nebraska)

  • Defeated Voter ID in the most recent legislative session; identical to Indiana bill and ALEC pattern bill
  • Unicameral legislature
  • Data showed more than 100,000 Nebraska voters did not have the photo ID required by the bill
  • More than 25% of her district residents do not have access to a vehicle
  • In her district, there are elderly African-Americans who were birthed at home who do not have a birth certificate
  • Nobody wants an impediment to electoral process, but we do not want to prohibit someone to exercise their right to vote
  • Why is a mail ballot more protected than voting in person? The fraud is in the mail

Rep. Patricia Harless (R-Texas)

Overview

  • Texas history of Voter ID
  • 3rd attempt to pass in Texas
  • Modeled after Indiana and Georgia (Georgia law has been implemented since 2005)
  • Listed different forms of ID accepted
  • Texas provided access to polls with provisional ballot
  • Exemption for “disabled” voters under federal ID definition
  • Ballot by mail addresses over 65 concerns, those not present on election day, and the disabled
  • Partisan issue? Passed 101-48 in Texas with the support of 2 Democrats and all the Republican ethnic minorities
  • Texas AG filed a suit in federal court, still waiting for decision

Texas trial facts

  • U.S. Dept. of Justice looked for a witness – just one – to use as an example of being disenfranchised in Texas but could not find one
  • 50,000 dead people are on Texas voting rolls
  • 239 dead people voted in Texas March primaries; 213 voted in person!
  • Voter turnout higher in Georgia and Indiana; they were more confident in their election process
  • Votes do matter; every vote counts; ex: Howard, Miller, Macias, Vo, Miles had election results that varied from the single digits (7) to a few dozen.

Eric Marshall (Election Protection)

3 MAIN POINTS

  • Voter ID laws are barriers not seen since Jim Crow
  • “rampart voter fraud” is non-existent
  • We should look for real solutions to real problems

Voter ID has been proven to disenfranchise thousands of eligible voters

Nationwide 11% of US citizens lack photo ID; 18% over 65; 25% African-American

(he lists lots of examples, specific people, but went too fast for me to write them here)

(he lists examples of ID’s that are and are not acceptable in various states; just too fast for me to write them here)

  • “Free” ID’s are not free
  • “Simple to get one” is not really simple
  • “Voter impersonation” does not exist; where are convictions?
  • Policies in place are working
  • Inefficient way of registering voters; voter registration rolls have over 12,000,000 errors due to moving and other reasons

What should we be working on?

  • Voter registration to 21st century technology
  • Automatic, permanent registration
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