Carol Platt Liebau: Protecting the Franchise

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Protecting the Franchise

It's amazing how much time and energy some will put into opposing a law that's aimed at protecting the franchise for everyone.

Certainly, reasonanble measures should be taken to ensure that those too poor to afford a $35 fee to obtain picture ID are able to do so. But having just witnessed a succession of Iraqi elections where people far poorer than Americans were willing to risk death, walk miles and incur other inconveniences just to vote, it seems to me that a requirement to show picture identification isn't too much to ask of Georgians.


Blogger Greg said...

Of course the Democrats oppose this law. It makes sense, therefore they don't understand it.

Or, probably more accurately, they DO understand it and they still oppose it. After all, it will reduce voter fraud. They absolutely can't have that happening!

What would they have left to blame their electoral losses on? Surely they can't be expected to face the possibility that they're losing because of their political platform!

This law cuts the Democrats with a two-edged sword. It reduces their ability to manipulate the vote. And it reduces their ability to blame Republicans for manipulating the vote.

The Democrats must stop this law at all costs!

5:51 AM  
Blogger Mr. Twister said...

From a little piece of paper, I like to call the Constitution of the United States...

Amendment XXIV - Poll tax barred.

1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Ratified in 1964, I believe.

6:54 AM  
Blogger Mr. Twister said...

Greg with his usual spouting of right wing talking points wrote, "After all, it will reduce voter fraud."

Given Greg's wont for in depth research before posting, I am sure he has come across the following.

1) During the course of the lawsuit, the Georgia Secretary of State certified she knew of no instances of voter fraud that this bill would have prevented.

2) The Georgia law expressly ignores the major source of voter fraud in Georgia--absentee ballots. Of course, absentee ballots in Georgia, like most areas, strongly lean Republican.

So no actual effect at curbing voter fraud and a disproportionate disenfranchisement of minorities and the poor. I can see why Carol and Greg like this bill so much. (And that's before we even get to the stuff they really like, such as being found to be a violation of the Voting Rights Act.)

7:16 AM  
Blogger Mr. Twister said...

Carol wrote, "Certainly, reasonanble measures should be taken to ensure that those too poor to afford a $35 fee to obtain picture ID are able to do so."

And should "reasoanble measures" be taken to also cover the cost of getting the ID? For example, due to new regulations enacted since 9/11, the cost of getting a certified birth certificate has gone up substantially across the nation.

And should "reasonable measures" also be taken to ensure there is equal access the obtaining the ID cards. Under the Georgia law you are so in favor of, only 58 DMV stations exist that can sell you your ticket to vote, while Georgia has 159 counties. (Not surprisingly, poor and predominantly minority counties are least likely to have a DMV station. For example, Atlanta has no such station.)

And should "reasonable measure" also be taken to provide for those citizens that lack the necessary ID to get the official ID? Back in the first half of the 20th century, it was not uncommon for hospitals to refuse to admit blacks. As a result, in a large majority of cases, no birth certificates were issued.

7:43 AM  
Blogger wile e coyote said...

Twister seems to make three arguments: (i) this is a poll tax; (ii) the lack of DMV sites imposes an unreasonable burden on the the right to vote; (iii) the cards are not reasonably related to the legitimate government purpose of preventing vote fraud.

Question for Twister on (i) and (ii): would you be satisfied if the fee were waived and the number of card issuing sites were increased? How many sites would satisfy you? 500? 1,000? 5,000?

Question on (iii): you cite the certification if the Georgia Secretary of State that she knows of no instances of fraud that would be prevented. Thie implication is that the ID requirement is not rationally related to the fraud problem. You failed to note, though, that she is a Democrat and that her opinion on such a partisan issue might not be fair and balanced. How should we deal with a certification to the contrary by a Republican Secretary of State? What weight should we give her "certification"? Why is her assessment any more valid than the legislature's?

I agree with the larger point: that our national history must make us hyper sensitive to any restrictions on the right to vote, both as a legal/constitutional matter and a political matter.

11:36 AM  
Blogger Mr. Twister said...

Rzafft starts, " Twister seems to make three arguments:..."

Two points of clarification are in order. First, there are a large number of issues with the Georgia Photo ID proposal--I merely chose three obvious examples. Second, your wording of item iii may cause confusion later. I'm not arguing that the law wouldn't theoretically help prevent voter fraud--I am arguing that it is unconstitutional and not the least intrusive method of attaining the goal.

I should also point out for those not keeping score at home--there is already an injunction against the Georgia Photo ID law in place. A US District Court Judge has ruled that there is a substantial likelihood that the Plaintiffs, claiming the law places an unconstitutional burden on voting rights, will prevail. This ruling has been upheld by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Rzafft asks, "Would you be satisfied if the fee were waived and the number of card issuing sites were increased?"

One portion of the Georgia law in question, actually raised the cost of state issued IDs, so this is completely hypothetical. Having said that, however, if for every citizen the fees were completely waived, and all ancillary fees, like the cost of obtaining a certified birth certificate were covered by the state of Georgia, then by definition there would be no poll tax.

The problem with the stations is one of accessibility not of quantity, so there is no sense in picking a number out of thin air.

Rzafft continues, "What weight should we give her [the Georgia Secretary of State's] 'certification'? Why is her assessment any more valid than the legislature's?"

Four points here, rzafft.

1) One of the main duties of the Secretary of State is to oversee elections and to enforce election law. As such, higher weight should be accorded her certification on these matters lacking some actual evidence to the contrary.

2) The role of a trial judge is to serve as an arbiter of fact. The Secretary of State's assessment was found to be more valid by the trial judge, and the trial judge's ruling was affirmed on appeal.

3) On the other side, the Secretary of State also noted that her office had received numerous complaints of voter fraud related to absentee ballots. If the legislature's true goal of the Photo ID law was to limit voter fraud, why did they specifically neglect to include absentee ballots in their law making? This brings into question the validity of the legislature's assessment.

4) It is a fairly silly thing to build an entire argument on the hypothetical bias of the Secretary of State based only on her party affiliation. Do you have any evidence that the Secretary of State actually provided a biased opinion, or are you engaging in unfounded speculation for sport?

Finally, rzafft wrote, "I agree with the larger point: that our national history must make us hyper sensitive to any restrictions on the right to vote, both as a legal/constitutional matter and a political matter."

This is especially true, IMO, when what is proposed is a return to a poll tax, a primary of suppressing minority enfranchisement throughout the Jim Crow era.

9:55 PM  

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