Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Things We'll Never Know

There's been much trumpeting in recent days about the report that Minnesota Majority produced that shows as many as 341 felons voted illegally in the 2008 election in Minnesota. Since Al Franken's official margin of victory was only 312 votes, there have been more than a few people who have surmised that these felons may have provided Franken with his margin of victory.

It's possible, I suppose. We'll never really know, which is the problem. I don't know that convicted felons are a reliable DFL voting block. I do know that the law states they are not allowed to vote and that under the current system, there's really no way to stop them from voting. All that can be done is to punish them after the fact.

The bottom line is this: it is exceptionally easy to game the system in Minnesota. We do not require photo identification to vote in Minnesota and we allow same-day registration. We get strange results because of this -- I'll never forget the 1998 election, when we had scores of giggling 20-something dudes with mullets lined up in the new voter registration line at my polling place, all awaiting their chance to vote for Skip Humphrey. No, I'm kidding. They wanted to vote for Jesse Ventura and it was their votes, cast mainly as a lark, that put a bullet-headed conspiracy theorist in the governor's chair.

Personally, I'd like to see two things happen:

1) Require photo identification to vote. I need to show an i.d. to do many other things.

2) If we think felons should vote, let's change the law and let them. If we don't, we need to enforce the law and stop them. But we need to decide.

I'd also like to see Mark Ritchie, who allowed all manner of shenanigans to happen in the 2008 cycle, out on his ear. But that's another post.


Anonymous said...

Think of the magnitude of Franken winning, and the crap that went on to get him in office. Health Care, Fillibuster Proof Senate, and that's only the beginning.

As long as the system is set up so it's easy to cheat, the system will continue to produce "winners" like Franken. At best, it stinks like limberger cheese, and at worst it fully cooks elections. We all know that the convicted felon issue is not the only issue here.

Funny how the UN monitors elections worldwide, and we have such widespread "improprieties" right here.

W.B. Picklesworth said...

Elections are rife with corruption. We need serious checks on voter registration. Yes to photo ID. No to motor voter. No same day registration.

There will be the cries of racism, of course, claims that such reforms will "disenfranchise" certain people. That is a fantasy used to ensure that the folks already being disenfranchised (due to corruption) stay that way.

my name is Amanda said...

If it were so easy to game the election results, and if of course the Democrats are the evil ones behind it, then why did we elect Pawlenty twice? How in the heck has Bachmann continued to get elected? Along with every other Republican who has been elected? Including Coleman himself!

WBP says "elections are rife with corruption" like it's some hard-bitten, undisputed fact. How would you know?! Honestly. What is "rife" anyway - where is our scale for judging "a little" corruption (such as jobless people being paid to register voters and then, oh what do you know, fraudulently turning in more registrations in order to get more money - shocker, that one) to a lot (say, the SUPREME COURT deciding "who won"). You wouldn't be saying any of this in 2000, when for some reason droves of old, Jewish Florideans were just gangbusters to vote for career anti-semite Pat Buchanan! Nope, when it goes your way, no complaints here!

Anyway, I have no arguement that felons shouldn't vote. I actually think it's wrong, that they cannot. If they've served their time, they deserve to live in our country as citizens, which includes voting.

When we talk about limiting voting to people with IDs, who are we thinking might not make the cut? Illegal immigrants? Fine - they're not allowed to vote anyway. But who else? If we want Republicans to win their elections, who should we exclude, and how would limiting it to people with photo IDs help?

How would limiting voting to people with IDs stop corruption? When you vote, you already have to show proof of residence, or have another registered person vouch for you - then it's all documented. How would having an ID make that more "official" or ungameable? Honestly, I really want to know.

Because all I can see, is that yes, as WBP also says, "certain people" will be disenfranchised. (Am I to understand they not as important as the upper-to-middle class white MN Republicans supposedly disenfranchised by the Franken win?)

We already talked about the difficulty of simply getting to the DMV in the Arizona conversation (end of April/beginning of May-ish). (So I'm not going to repeat myself, or revisit that personally upsetting thread to copy what I wrote.) When you actually do get there, they require for a new ID, a birth certificate or passport. When I changed my license from SD to MN in 2002, I was priviliged enough to own a passport, which was lucky, because I had no idea where my birth certicate was.

And philosophically, it's like saying that you don't count as a citizen if you don't have a current, legal ID. (I HATE how bars and such think they are allowed to regulate this - like, my ID proves that I'm 31 - why do you care if it's almost expired or if it's clipped because I changed my address. REALLY P***** me off. Now I just use my passport when my DL is in a transitional state, because I can't stand non-law enforcement personnal thinking they have the right to comment on it.)

If there really needs to be a movement to ensure that all of our citizens have photo IDs (and thus, be able to produce them when they vote) then our government needs to work to make it easier for them to obtain them - for example, why should all the poor people in St. Paul be forced to go to the insane Midway DMV if they're not even getting a DL? There needs to be more places to get a State ID, it needs to be cheaper, and it needs to have hours that make it easier for people who work three jobs to get there.

Mr. D said...

How would limiting voting to people with IDs stop corruption? When you vote, you already have to show proof of residence, or have another registered person vouch for you - then it's all documented. How would having an ID make that more "official" or ungameable? Honestly, I really want to know.

You don't have to show proof of residence to vote, Amanda. I have offered my driver's license to the election judge every time I've voted and every time I've been told, "I don't need to see that." They take my word for it. I could have moved years ago, or died, but if someone claiming to be me shows up at the polls, since my name is on the roll, that person would get a ballot. And the person who vouches for you could be anyone.

More later.

Gino said...

i kinda like the old system:
only free men of property were allowed to vote.
it was good enough for the founders, it'll be good enough for us.
some of the benefits would be kinda cool.

and i'm not entirely joking.

W.B. Picklesworth said...

I'm not going to get in one of these elongated conversations, but I will clarify my position.

Through the years both sides have cheated because human beings are sinful. Nobody's on a white horse.

But Democrats have a long tradition of really taking it up a notch, making an art out of it. Voter fraud and Democrats are like cheese and wine; they go well together. No doubt they do it because the ends justify the means and we all know what good intentions Democrats have. Just to reiterate, Democrats cheat.

So I want voting reform that disenfranchises the dead, the busloads of people from other precincts, the non-citizens, Fluffy and Fido and the rest. I want the government to prosecute racists who try to intimidate voters with the "wrong" skin color. And they should prosecute Acorn at it.

But feel free to just chalk that up to racism or classism or whatever else excuse you can get out of your Magic 8 Ball.

Bike Bubba said...

Regarding Amanda's comment, felons are generally not allowed to vote because they have, by the crimes, shown their hostility to the republic.

(not coincidentally, they also tend to vote overwhelmingly Democratic, even when factors like race, ethnicity, gender, and such are accounted for)

Moreover, if we value the principle of "one man one vote," it is very important to make sure that (Chicago rules here) dead people, felons, and duplicate registrations are removed from the voter rolls. I'd even favor eliminating same day registration and motor voter. We are a republic, not a democracy, and it should take some initiative and documentation in order to act the part of the elector.