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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Voter ID Laws Are Unwarranted

Our polling place here "in the sticks" requires me to sign a book next to my name and all the signatures I've made over the years ostensibly so that a poll worker can confirm it. Not sure how long that system has been the norm, but it's basically all I've ever known. 

Even that bastion of liberal journalism, the WSJ, published the same data I've read in other places. 10 cases of voter impersonation since 2000. Ten. (

Were there more? Undoubtedly. In a perfect world, we'd have zero impersonation but we don't live in a perfect world. 10 cases in 12 years sounds to me to be statistically zero. I think we have bigger problems to solve than this one. After all, the evidence points to a reasonable conclusion that we seem to have been collectively behaving ourselves in the voting booths. 

Voter ID laws strike me as one of those "intrusions into our lives and a waste of taxpayer dollars" that is always part of the rallying call from conservatives. It strikes me as completely antithetical to the principles of smaller government and less waste. 

Anyway, this all got started when I decided to try and figure out what I would have to do if I didn't have a driver's license. First obstacle: what if I was poor(er), didn't have Internet access, or lived way out in the country? Not sure how I would go about even finding out what to do. I guess I'd start with the mayor's office to see if they could point me to the local elections officials. Make a bunch of phone calls. Leave messages. Hope to get a call back. Find someone to give me a ride, etc. etc. 

The simplest of the possibilities I looked at was what if I had had a driver's license that expired more than 1 year ago but after 1990. In that case, and if I could find a way to get to a PennDOT office, I could get a free photo ID without any other documentation. (That seems to be the simplest possibility, but does nothing for someone who has never had a license.) I still have to find a way to get there. We all know they aren't located on every corner or open outside the normal work day. So, now I have to locate the nearest office, check bus schedules or find a ride, take time off work, maybe ask someone else to take time off their job......I could go on and on, but this is way too long already. Not very simple.

IMHO, it's a solution looking for a problem. All I think that it will accomplish is to deter certain voters who, as the data shows, are not breaking any laws today by impersonating others on election day. 

Fox reports that nearly 759,000 PA voters don't have the required ID. Barely 1% have so far received the free ID. ( Why is that? Could it be that it's because it's not so simple? That's the conclusion I've come to after looking at the state's own web site.

I'm convinced that this whole effort is meant to disenfranchise certain voters. Plain and simple. Mathematically and legally, there is no problem here that needs solving. Voter impersonation simply does not exist. Putting that aside (although I don't know why we should) what the "Postpone" post ( saying is let's postpone the voter ID law until after the election. 

If we're going to put this law into place while the data proves there is no problem, can't it wait so that 759,000 voters in PA who aren't breaking any laws today can still vote this year without the photo ID they've never had to have before? 

Don't we owe it to all the people who aren't  breaking any laws to be able to exercise their most valuable freedom and civic responsibility? Why would we want to make that harder when there is no impersonation? 

Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? 

My personal opinion is that this a law that is completely unwarranted, totally motivated by partisan politics, and never should have been passed. It spends money we don't have in the state coffers, is an onerous and burdensome intrusion into innocent lives, is meant to solve a problem that simply doesn't exist, and is completely contrary to some principles of conservatism as far as I understand them.

Then again, maybe it's a good thing. It starts to look like a government jobs program. Someone has to take all those new pictures!!