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Voter ID=Voter Intimidation

[ 22 ] October 31, 2012 |

Excellent story about a reporter in Williamson County, Texas (deep red suburbs north of Austin) trying to vote with a utility bill as an ID. Mind you, Texas doesn’t require photo ID for voting since its law is being challenged in the courts. But precinct workers are demanding it. This reminds me of the old Jim Crow era literacy tests, where local election workers got to decide who voted and who didn’t. A white person who is going to vote for the powers that be and is illiterate–go right ahead! A black college professor–not literate! America’s decentralized election system creates and exacerbates power inequalities through allowing for intensive intimidation of voters. In states with voter ID laws, you have older Republicans making decisions over who can vote in Republican dominated counties. I don’t see any way these laws lead to greater democracy. Which is exactly the point.

Comments (22)

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  1. John says:

    Let’s clarify here that what happened was that one poll worker told him that the utility bill wasn’t sufficient, but that another poll worker recognized the correct law and allowed him to vote.

    • Cody says:

      Yes, this isn’t “voter intimidation” obviously. Though it is a good anecdote of what increasing voter ID laws does.

      I guess on the plus side for Voter ID laws, it appears a lot of poll workers don’t know it’s not already the law. It’ll eliminate some confusion!

      Down side is, anything other than a driver’s license probably isn’t going to be accepted even if the law states there are other options. You’re really just putting more power into workers Republicans conveniently can’t afford to give training to.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      Only because he pushed the issue. A lot of people would have just hung their head and walked away.

      • ploeg says:

        Agreed. And the cherry on top was the poll worker claiming that he wasn’t a registered voter because she mistyped his name into the ledger.

      • Joel says:

        Thankfully, this is not in play across the entire state.

        When I voted in Dallas County — more indigo than crimson — there was a prominent sign from the county elections board clarifying that there was no photo id requirement in place for this election, and listing all the possible forms of voter identification that would work for elections purposes. They are the same forms of ID that have been on the list since I started voting almost 2 decades ago.

        I handed over my registration certificate (with my name, address, voter ID number, precint number, etc — but no photo) and I was promptly escorted to a voting booth. No one demanded, asked, or even suggested that I show any alternate identification.

        Then again, I am a 30-something white male, and I appreciate that my experience may not be representative of all voters.

    • Anonymous says:

      Peggy did the following:
      1. She asked for ID that wasn’t required.
      2. She screwed up checking his registry and told him he wasn’t registered.

      So basically she told him twice that he couldn’t vote, and it was up to him to insist that he had the right. The key thing for me is that she was acting as a gatekeeper not a facilitator of the voting process.

  2. Jameson Quinn says:

    The Constitution states:

    The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, …

    SCOTUS has held, starting with Luther v. Borden (a particularly egregious case in which Rhode Island reformers were arrested for “insurrection”), that this clause is “non-justiciable”. That is, it’s the job of Congress, not the SCOTUS, to decide what this means.

    Thus, Congress could pass a right-to-vote law, and that law would have all the force of article 4 of the constitution. The states would have to shape up. (A good right-to-vote law would of course allow reasonable, proportional fraud protections.)

    Furthermore, a right-to-vote law would help the fight for voting system reform. Plurality voting depends on discounting “overvotes”, anyone who votes for more than one candidate. Approval voting would re-enfranchise such voters, and thus accord better with the right to vote. (Other good voting reforms, such as Majority Judgment or SODA voting, would do the same. That does not hold for half-assed voting reforms such as instant-runoff.)

    Obviously, asking for a good law like that from the current dysfunctional congress is a fool’s errand. But if you, dear reader, find a tight congressional race and start making calls to GOTV for the Democrat, there is an outside chance that the next Congress will not be so dysfunctional.

  3. DrDick says:

    And strangely enough the vast majority of voters negatively impacted by these laws just happen, totally by chance, to overwhelmingly vote Democratic.

    • RhZ says:

      Right. Its muddy water like this that allows all sorts of gamey activities to be tried out.

      We are just going to have to have monitors everywhere in the future, and try to document every instance of misinforming voters.

      One thing that bothers me is that the local governments who have played the ‘oops, wrong date for the election on the notification card’ will never be punished.

  4. Dude says:

    This is not surprising at all. My parents live in an “adult community” in Williamson County and this election has seen numerous instances of Obama yard signage being stolen, grafittied, or just destroyed. There have been so many instances of this that there had to be an editorial published in the community newsletter reminding people that this is unacceptable behavior. I might add that in order to live in this community, one spouse has to be at least 55 years old and you can’t be raising children (with a few exceptions for special needs). So if adults are going to behave like teenagers when it comes to campaign signage it’s no surprise that things like voter intimidation at the polls are rampant.

  5. kate says:

    I voted in Texas on Monday using my drivers license. What the poll workers really seemed to want was the voter registration postcard mailed to our house several months ago. Possessing *only* my license, I was asked several times if I’d moved, if this was still my current address, did I still live on x street, etc. It seemed a tad excessive. And then, when it came time to sign the book, I had to check a special box since I had used an “alternate form” of ID. This is in a pretty red suburb, natch.

  6. Thom says:

    For what it’s worth, I cast an early vote last week in Williamson County. I asked the poll workers what I needed to present, and they said “nothing, but it will go faster if you have your voter registration card” (which I did). So I don’t doubt the story, but the reporter’s experience is not universal even in “deep red” Williamson County.

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