Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I.D.'ing the Problem

It was a long debate, but the Minnesota House finally approved putting Voter I.D. on the ballot as a constitutional amendment yesterday. If the Senate approves later in the week, the final vote could come by the end of the week.

The discussions over Voter I.D. are particularly irritating because they never really get to the heart of the issue. The problem that no one really wants to face is why having a valid identification is such a problem for a lot of people -- one reason in particular is something no one wants to discuss. If you move around a lot, there are a lot of costs involved in keeping your identification up to date.

You have to renew your driver's license in Minnesota once every four years. I paid $24 for a renewal last year. If you move, you need to pay $13.50 for an update. As a practical matter, a lot of people don't want to bother with that cost and don't get a replacement license each time they move.

Why is this? Neither side wants to admit it, but there are some people who live in Minnesota who move a lot. Renters are one class, but there are rather a lot of people who bounce around from place to place and really don't have a fixed address. Someone I know very well works in a public sector job. In the course of doing her job, she is often required to ask people for identification. She has told me that on a daily basis, presenting a current i.d. is a problem for some people. When she inquires, as she must, if the address on the identification card is current, the answer is often "no, I live someplace else now" or "I live over South" (that would be South Minneapolis) or somesuch. In a surprising, and mildly alarming, number of cases, the individuals don't bother carrying a driver's license at all, which is especially interesting since the place my public sector confidante works is in a suburban location in which the vast majority of visitors arrive via car.

So what is the problem? Is it the fee structure for getting an i.d.? Is it the hassle of taking time out of work to get to the DMV? Is it just laziness? Are a lot of people going Galt and resisting the entreaties of their government? Do some people simply resent having to show their papers, please? Or are a lot of people living here without identification because they are here illegally?

Those are questions that I can't answer. And a lot of those questions are ones that we are hesitant to ask in a polite society. While I am convinced that the primary reason the DFL doesn't want Photo I.D. is because it makes it easier to cheat, we still need to address the mechanisms involved in getting proper identification.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Since you "move around a lot," you're going to have to update your ID every time you move, or at least on your last move prior to voting. Your ID isn't just for who you are but where you live! If you don't want to update your drivers license (which I think by law you are required to do?) then you'll just have to update your FREE Voter ID card. Horrors!

The DFL are absolutely shameless in their lying and hyperbolic opposition to protecting their cheating ways. There is no other rational explanation.

J. Ewing

Mr. D said...

If you don't want to update your drivers license (which I think by law you are required to do?) then you'll just have to update your FREE Voter ID card. Horrors!

I hear you, JE, but what I'm saying is that people don't do these things. And we need to know how we'll handle it when they show up at the polls. I believe it will be provisional balloting, but there are a lot of details. And we need to address as many of them as we can in advance.

Brian said...

Voter ID laws (generally) are tricky. Clearly, the integrity of the process demands some reasonable standard of verification that votes are legitimate. On the other hand, voting isn't a privilege. It's a right for those that are eligible.

I think a pretty strong case can be made that requiring a state-issued photo ID--and more importantly, an ID that has to be updated every time you move by showing up in person at the DMV (does that ever take less than an hour, anywhere?) during restricted business hours and at a voter's expense each time--is an unreasonable burden on a substantial portion of the population.

And let's be honest here: "people who move a lot" overlaps substantially with "poor, under- and unemployed, largely minority people." There is a long and sordid history of trying to deny that population the vote, and to pretend that isn't an issue is obtuse.

It seems that modern technology could go a long way towards making this simpler. When I lived in AZ (and this may not be the case anymore, because AZ has gone completely bananas since I left) drivers' licenses were issued with an expiration date of your 65th birthday (if you were under that age)...so you could go a very long time without needing to show up at the DMV. (I think you had to come in for a new photo every 10 years or so.) If you changed addresses, you could simply go on the DMV website and fill out a form to that effect, and the electronic record tied to your license would be updated, even though what was printed on the card was not. That was free, and you were expected to keep it current. If you wanted a new one printed, there was a nominal fee (I want to say $5) and they simply mailed the replacement to you.

That (or something like it) would make a voter ID requirement much less burdensome, IMHO.

Mr. D said...

And let's be honest here: "people who move a lot" overlaps substantially with "poor, under- and unemployed, largely minority people." There is a long and sordid history of trying to deny that population the vote, and to pretend that isn't an issue is obtuse.

Yep, and that's precisely why I mentioned it.

It seems that modern technology could go a long way towards making this simpler. When I lived in AZ (and this may not be the case anymore, because AZ has gone completely bananas since I left) drivers' licenses were issued with an expiration date of your 65th birthday (if you were under that age)...so you could go a very long time without needing to show up at the DMV. (I think you had to come in for a new photo every 10 years or so.) If you changed addresses, you could simply go on the DMV website and fill out a form to that effect, and the electronic record tied to your license would be updated, even though what was printed on the card was not. That was free, and you were expected to keep it current. If you wanted a new one printed, there was a nominal fee (I want to say $5) and they simply mailed the replacement to you.

That (or something like it) would make a voter ID requirement much less burdensome, IMHO.


Yes again. While there are ulterior motives for the Democrats in trying to stop voter i.d., it doesn't follow that the stated rationales we hear are all groundless. That's simply not the case. And if a state wants to make a change, the government needs to make sure that getting i.d. isn't an onerous proposition.

Anonymous said...

I am astounded that you defend the GOP while calling the Dems cheaters. If the GOP actually cared about the voters, if they actually cared about having a voting system with integrity, if disenfranchising voters was not their sole objective here, then why have they made no attempt to address these issues?

You bring up some great points here and some solutions are offered in the comments (the old AZ model) but even wise words from a fellow democrat basher will be ignored because a functional voting system is not the actual goal.

All of this springs from the ugly notion that "voting is a privilege". Because if voting is a privilege, who exactly gets that privilege? Land owners? White people? Literate people? People with an ID? If voting is a privilege then somebody decides who gets that privilege. Who gets the power to decide? Who can stop them from using that power for political gain?

When voting is a privilege democracy is a sham.

Mr. D said...

If the GOP actually cared about the voters, if they actually cared about having a voting system with integrity, if disenfranchising voters was not their sole objective here, then why have they made no attempt to address these issues?

Well, you don't know that they haven't, now do you?

The point I'm making is that the current system provides the means and opportunity for parties to cheat. And one party benefits from the status quo. But changing things doesn't just require a constitutional amendment. There's more work to be done and I'm attempting to be honest about what the challenges are.

And the "voting is a privilege" rant is a straw man, because it's an argument I'm not making.

Brad Carlson said...

As a friend of mine pointed out last evening, the DFL arguments against voter ID sound exactly like the arguments one would expect to hear from a party who's benefited from voter fraud.

That said, you've raised some very legit issues, Mark. I know this was part of the discussion when compiling this legislation, so one can only hope it's been rectified.

Gino said...

we should go according to what the framers of the constitution intended.

only free men can vote, who owned property.

it would save a lot of time and money, stream line democracy, and create a system where only those who have a stake in it's outcome and propsperity have a voice.

it would also decrease the liklihood of amateur coeds becoming important beyond their level of social contribution.

Anonymous said...

The problems aren't legitimate at all. The fact is that transient populations will always have difficulty proving residency, which is required to vote just as much as proof of identity is. That they can get this ID free is actually an improvement over the requirement that they update the drivers license for a fee.

And notice that if the Republicans really wanted to disenfranchise these people, they would simply eliminate same day registration, which gives these transients a way to vote wherever they happen to be at the time, though perhaps with a provisional ballot. What the unique photo ID eliminates is the kind of fraud where people can go from precinct to precinct on election day and vote dozens of times. Nothing in the law prevents it, currently. Go ahead, prove to me that it doesn't happen.

J. Ewing

Mr. D said...

What the unique photo ID eliminates is the kind of fraud where people can go from precinct to precinct on election day and vote dozens of times. Nothing in the law prevents it, currently. Go ahead, prove to me that it doesn't happen.

And that's ultimately the goal, JE. And you'll notice that I'm not disagreeing with you. The only way you can continue to allow same-day registration, in my view, is with provisional ballots and the ability to check unique ID through a database. Legitimate votes will get counted, which is the point.

And you are right about residency. I was saving a story about that issue for a future post.

redsquirrel said...

There are all the legit questions and points, pro and con, that reasonable people can argue about....and then there's Take Action MN., who are completely maniacal.

Their argument is that the eeevil 1% have bought the Republican lawmakers, who support Photo ID so as to disenfranchise the blackhispanicpoorelelderly voter and 'subvert democracy' in MN.

Yeah. It's the eeevil 1% and their voter suppression efforts. THAT'S what they do all day.

Anonymous said...

If the GOP actually cared about the voters, if they actually cared about having a voting system with integrity, if disenfranchising voters was not their sole objective here, then why have they made no attempt to address these issues?

"Well, you don't know that they haven't, now do you?"

I do know that any attempted remedies, amendments, and alternatives addressing these issues have been pushed aside. The lack of discussion and flexablitity shows me that this is either a thoughtless move or an intentional power grab.

"The point I'm making is that the current system provides the means and opportunity for parties to cheat."

These opportunities are minimal. They absolutely should be fixed. But voter ID just doesn't address the actual issues out there. It creates far more problems then it fixes.

"I'm attempting to be honest about what the challenges are."

You certainly are and I can't express how much I appreciate that. It's a rare quality in these hyperbolic times.

"And the "voting is a privilege" rant is a straw man, because it's an argument I'm not making."

This was in response to another commenter.

Regards

-O-

erikhare said...

I want to thank you. I'm a DFLer, pretty solid, and I oppose VoterID. Then again, when I lived in Florida I'm pretty sure I had to produce a photo ID to vote and it was not a big deal at all. You are asking all the right questions as far as I'm concerned.
If we do want to tighten up the voting system to make sure there are no cheaters, let's do it right. Let's ask the tough questions and make it easy to do things the right way. That seems like a very reasonable compromise and approach to this and nearly everything that people think is a problem.
I'm in no way convinced that we need to do this, but if your side insists then let's do it right. Some of the questions you are asking apply to many things other than voting - difficult kids in schools, for example, that have no stable homelife or friends as their parents move around from job to job. Yes, let's get to the heart of the really tough questions like this and argue with some solid data in hand.
Thank you again. You make debates like this far more interesting.