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A Voting Proposal

There has been a bit of debate lately on the issue of voter ID laws. Supporters claim it will reduce fraud, opponents say it will disenfranchise minorities without preventing a significant amount of fraud. Mirabile dictu, Republicans have largely been in the group trying to enact and enforce anti-fraud measures, while Democrats have been in the forefront of those opposing such measures.

Democrats will aver that, inter alia, there is no evidence of systematic fraud; and even if there is, the number is so small we needn’t worry about it; and even if the number were significant, voter ID laws wouldn’t cure the problem; and even if they would, it would disenfranchise the black and the elderly. Those opposed also claim that there is more fraud in absentee balloting, early voting, and bad procedure than in the types of fraud that ID laws would combat. Which may be true. Oddly enough, though, one of America’s most notorious Democrats, Jimmy Carter, is in favor of Voter ID laws.

In 2005, James Baker and Jimmy Carter led a bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform and concluded that both parties’ concerns were legitimate. Their report states that “a free and fair election requires both ballot security and full access to voting.” Carter also said “voter ID laws are not a problem in and of themselves.” That from the most leftist of all American presidents, with perhaps one exception.

In support of the side of Voter ID laws, we have Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption. It announced in June of 2010 that it had obtained documents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) related to the 2007 investigation and arrest of eight St. Louis, Missouri, workers from the “community organization” Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) for violation of election laws and voter fraud. The documents include handwritten notes from FBI investigators interviewing canvassers working with Project Vote, an ACORN affiliate. Among the highlights from the FBI handwritten notes:

[ACORN] “Told employees not to talk to the FBI. ‘FBI trying to intimidate you.’”

Fraudulent cards:

To cause confusion on election day to keep polls open longer

To allow people who can’t vote to vote.

To allow to vote multiple times.

Project Vote will pay them whether cards fake or not.

ACORN HQ is wkg for the Democratic Party.

More? It’s out there. If one were to be honest, one would have to admit to the existence of election fraud. Edgar Allen Poe was paid for his vote. Tammany Hall got, and stayed in, power through fraudulent methods. LBJ stuffed ballot boxes to get elected to congress, and everyone has heard of the Chicago dead voting for Kennedy. But there’s also more recent stuff.

2008 The New York Post reported that ACORN submitted a voter registration card for a 7-year-old Bridgeport, Arkansas, girl. Another 8,000 cards from the same city will be scrutinized for possible fraud.

2009 In September, 11 ACORN workers were accused of forging voter registration applications in Miami-Dade County during the last election. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the state attorney’s office scoured hundreds of suspicious applications provided by ACORN and found 197 of 260 contained personal ID information that did not match any living person.

2008 Election officials in Brevard County have given prosecutors more than 23 suspect registrations from ACORN. The state’s Division of Elections is also investigating complaints in Orange and Broward Counties.

2008 Clerks in Detroit found a “sizeable (sic) number of duplicate and fraudulent [voter] applications” from the Michigan branch of ACORN.

Just last year, Nevada officials charged Acorn, its regional director and its Las Vegas field director with submitting thousands of fraudulent voter registration forms. Larry Lomax, the registrar of voters in Las Vegas, says he believes 48% of Acorn’s forms “are clearly fraudulent.” Catherine Cortez Masto, Nevada’s Democratic Attorney General, told the Las Vegas Sun that Acorn’s training manuals “clearly detail, condone and . . . require illegal acts,” such as requiring its workers to meet strict voter-registration targets to keep their jobs.

The opposed-to-Voter-ID-law side cite a few nebulous statistics about the number of people that “might” be disenfranchised. The Supreme Court, after looking at the evidence, agreed with the Appellate Court that found those numbers unsupported. That was in the Indiana case, where the Supreme Court upheld Voter ID laws.

But it doesn’t matter. Those who oppose voter ID laws do so for political reasons. Facts won’t convince them because they are more interested in potential voters than the integrity of the system.

So I have come up with a solution. The Constitution relegates the regulation of voting largely to the States. As long as there are no impermissible bars to voting, like literacy tests, or poll taxes, States are free to set up their systems as they see fit. Some, like Ohio, incur Federal wrath by letting the military vote early longer than those not in the military, for example.

The solution is two-fold. First, enact and enforce Voter ID laws. Ensure that the IDs are available free, and are easy to obtain. Continue the practice of provisional ballots until everyone has had an opportunity to get an ID card. The easiest way would be to have an ID provider at each polling place. Bring some form of ID, fill out a registration, and get an ID card on the spot.

Second, eliminate absentee ballots and early voting. The only exception would be the military, and those out of the state through no fault of their own. This would include, among others, CIA agents, remote embassy and State Department types. The military exception could be limited to those unable to vote in person, say in front of a JAG officer. Everyone else would be required to vote in person, in their district or precinct, on election day.

Rights are inextricably and intimately bound up with responsibilities. The right to vote, like any other right, is not absolute. Having the right to free speech does not require that anyone provide you a platform, nor does the second amendment require the government to give you a gun. Likewise, the right to vote does not require that the government allow you to do it early, or at your convenience, or at your choice of location. Sometimes the hard work of being a good citizen requires sacrifice. It may not require heroic virtue, but it requires some effort. Voting on election day is not that great a sacrifice that it should be abrogated capriciously.

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