Senator Brown Opposes Safe Guarding the Ballot Box

Robert Brown,the Senate Minority Leader, is asking the federal government to block Georgia’s Voter ID law.

State Sen. Robert Brown is urging the U.S. Justice Department not to approve a new law that would require voters to show a photo ID at the polls.
In a letter to a top federal official, Brown, D-Macon, said the law “would transform Georgia’s election laws into the most restrictive in the nation,” and place undue burdens on elderly, poor and black citizens.

“My objections to voter identification provisions are grounded in decades of history and legal precedent, as well as striking contemporary evidence,” Brown wrote in the letter addressed to R. Alexander Acosta, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department.

The trouble for Brown is that he is wrong. Louisiana has an equally, if not more restrictive VoterID bill. Also, the bill does not create a poll tax. Brown, who I consider a notorious race baiter, enjoys throwing the race card at Republicans. It seems to me that were Brown to have his way, we’ll see the Georgia Democrats return to their race rhetoric of the past going so far as to say Republicans want to burn down black families’ homes and put them back in chains.

Sen. Cecil Staton, R-Macon, sponsored that portion of the bill. He said it’s a needed antidote to voter fraud, and he said Brown and others who object to the bill are falsely characterizing it.

“I continue to be amazed at the amount of misinformation that is being promulgated about this bill,” Staton said. “I’m just shocked at how this is being politicized. I think my Democratic colleagues are using this as a means to, frankly, stir up their base.”

He pointed out that the bill requires the state to issue free ID cards to voters who need them.

But Brown said many rural voters must travel across county lines to get a card, because there are only 50 state offices to issue identification cards for Georgia’s 159 counties.

It seems to me that Brown is admitting or suggesting that lots of Georgia voters break the law. If it is such a burden to get a Driver’s License, does it mean that many Georgia voters who drive do not actually have a driver’s license? Also, several studies have shown that the rhetoric Brown is using is vastly overstated and that, in fact, there are more people registered to vote with drivers licenses than people who are not registered to vote who have drivers licenses.

Most likely, pretty much everyone who votes does have identification.

In fact, this is an issue that can help Republicans, if used in the right way. We all now have to have identification to get into a lot of federal buildings. So, why should it be easier to vote — a right we certainly don’t want abused.

Brown’s notion is silly and outdated. His rhetoric is racial prejudice and outmoded.

Full Disclosure: I helped write one of the first drafts of the Voter ID bill.

[UPDATE] As Mike Krempasky points out, the person to whom Brown wrote no longer works at the DOJ and hasn’t for a while. Bawhahaha.


  1. memberg says:

    I agree. Getting a free ID card will be easy for rural Georgians. They can get one when they come up to Atlanta a second time, after the required 24-hr waiting period for abortions.

  2. polysci1 says:

    I must say that the comment by memberg is tacky and was apparently put on here without any kind of brain function.

    As far as the I.D. card for voters goes, it is long over due to put a stop to voter fraud. I agree with it whole heartedly. It’s about time something was done to put a stop to the illegal practices that the Democats have been so successful at using.

  3. Tater Tate says:

    Where I come from, a pint of booze and a copy of someone’s utility bill and you’ve got a vote. In fact, the same homrless drunk might vote two or three times. Thank God for this new law.

    It’s not p.c., but the reason the dems are so against this is because they know it will cost them a point or two in any election. It takes away one of their well known methods for manipulating elections in certain areas of the state where voter fraud is a way life.

  4. Tate,

    In order for a homeless drunk to vote two or three times using a utility bill, he would have to have utility bills (or fraudulent ones) of two or three actual registered voters. Where is he going to get those from? And how is a homeless person going to get fraudulently registered names registered a month in advance of an election in the correct precinct so those fraudulent names would be waiting on the rolls when he shows up to vote multiple times?

    Are you suggesting (1 or 2 points) that somewhere between 35,000 and 70,000 of the ballots cast November 2nd were by drunked homeless men who had copies of real voters utility bills and were voting instead of them? That just doesn’t make sense. I believe the last case of election fraud in Georgia occured in Dodge County — certainly that used to be a Democratic county but it isn’t anymore and that was over 10 years ago.

    Before that, the most serious case of fraud where someone was actually convicted occured in Gwinnett County around 1990. A Republican elections official withheld ballots for Democratic state Senator Don Peavy, which caused him to lose the election night count until a recount was performed and that election official’s fraud was discovered.

    I guess Republicans just can’t understand how a non-fraudulent process could produce Democratic votes upwards of 85% in majority black precincts, while at the same time seeing nothing fishy about Bush getting close to 85% in heavily white Forsyth county.

    Ultimately I don’t think the voter ID bill will have the effect its Republican sponsors envisioned. It would be nice if the second part of being in favor of a bill such as this was to at least pretend to be concerned about how those Georgians who legitimately don’t have a picture ID will get one (even if their numbers are small, they are out there).

  5. albert says:

    It will make the voting process go far more smoothly. I don’t think any poll worker would oppose this. Politicians and panderers sure.

  6. Paul Bennecke says:

    For the record:

    Cathy Cox, our Elections Superintendent, is publicly and emphatically against the Photo ID requirement.

    Also, Cathy Cox is against a paper receipt for the electronic voting machines. Surely if you can get a print out at the gas pump or the ATM, people should be able to get a print out of their vote.

    These are two examples of commonsense items that protect the integrity of the election process. For the State elections superintendent not to support these improvements is beyond me.

    This is the same Cathy Cox who defended in court the gerrymandered, unconstitutional maps in 2003-2004 that were thrown out. How and why would you defend those maps that had a 10% population deviation, split communities, and confused voters with multi-districts?

    See a trend????

  7. Tater Tate says:

    Hey Chrisishardcore. I actually pulled a copy of this bill off the legislature web site and read it. You’d do well to read it too. You’ll find that the small group of people who might find a way to live in this world without a photo id, can get one free. I wonder how anyone lives without a photo id. You got to have it to get on an airplane, to cash a check, to rent a video, to get a medical procedure.

    I think the Democrats insult perhaps the most significant part of their base with their attitude on this one. Do African Americans not do the things most other Americans do that require a photo id? How insulting.

    And yes, in my neck of the woods the crooked politicians do pass out information necessary to vote and use anyone they can get for a pint to do it. Take your head out of the sand. Voter fraud is real, even if it is not prosecuted or talked about by the media that lean toward the dems or because of political correctness.

  8. Tate, where is your neighborhood? Also, you may be suprised how many people in Georgia have never flown on an airplane, rented a video, things like that. I can not remember the last time I had to show an ID at the bank, since I deposit most of my checks and rarely ever cash them for money.

    If you live in a small town, and have lived there for your entire life, you very easily could go through your day to day existence without a photo ID. I’d imagine at one point in your life you had some sort of photo ID, a drivers license. But imagine an 80 year old grandmother who let her DL lapse 5 years before because she can no longer safely drive. So she has friends and relatives take her to the bank (where the manager and tellers know her personally and she doesn’t need to show ID). She’s never rented a video because her grandchildren always bring over a DVD or VHS to watch, of course she since grew up poor she’s never flown on an airplane (and never really had a reason to) and the only doctor she’s ever used is a local practicioner who has been in practice for 40 years in that town. If she has to go to the hospital she’ll bring her social security card and her expired drivers license.

    I reject the notion that thousands of Georgians are committing some sort of fraud that a voter ID bill will cut down on. If it’s so obvious “in your neck of the woods” that fraud is going on then certainly the local election officials are in on it. Is a new law going to stop them from aiding the fraud if existing laws forbidding it have done nothing?

    A lot of WHITE elderly Georgians don’t have valid photo ID’s. And many don’t have a need to renew their ID, or live close to a renewal center anyway. Now that this law has passed, I certainly hope that they’ll get one. But why do I get the feeling that in order to prevent some people from voting illegally, Georgia Republicans are more than happy to introduce new hardships to legal citizens’ continued participation in this process?

    All I’d like to see is some Republican somewhere, anywhere, to admit that this will cause some hardship for a non insignificant number of legitimate voters out there. I’d also point out that my position (against this bill) is the same as Republican Senate Majority Leader Tommy Williams, who voted against this bill in the Senate.

  9. Maverick says:


    I’ll just remind you that if you’d read HB 244, you’d know that there’s a provision that allows a senior citizen with an expired license to use that expired license as proof of identity to vote.

  10. Erick says:

    I wrote an intial draft of the bill. First, the legislature was far more lenient than I wanted in the first draft of S.B. 18. Second, while a voter cannot sign an affidavit saying they are who they say they are, they can always go get their ID if they forgot it. Third, the legislature provided much, much help in getting free photo identification for people.

    Sure, it will provide some obstacles, but don’t we want some obstacles to ensure that the franchise is not defrauded?

  11. landman says:

    Erick,you are absolutely correct,the only people who have a problem with tougher voter ID regs are those who look to cheat the system.

  12. Re: the franchise being defrauded. It would just be nice if someone could give me one example (it doesn’t even need to be of partisan Democrats stuffing ballot boxes) of voter fraud that this specific law would have avoided.

    And I’d like one actual example and not Tate’s neighborhood drunken homeless wino. Why not spend half the amount of energy getting voter verified paper trails, which IS a legitimate problem, as you spend slaying this phantom scourge?

  13. stephaniemills21 says:

    Well Erik. First off, I hope you mean SB 84, not SB 18. Two different Bills with two very different purposes. Thought the author would know that.

    Also, another exception I take is that your original piece of legislation took out provisional balloting, which was made mandatory through HAVA, that was passed by a republican congress. Definitely would have thought someone as well thought of as you, and up on election law as you claim, would have written a bill that didn’t violated federal law. Just a thought.

    This situation that Chrisishardcore describes is real. There are plenty, mostly elderly, people in the state who have no need for a picture ID. Many do not have ones they let expire as they aged, and many never had had one. I am sorry, but if you live in Alma, GA there really isn’t a need if you never drive or fly or any of the other reasons people need ids. Second, there are only like 50 drivers license offices in the state, and there is not even one in the city of ATLANTA. Now, tell me that is not a hardship for someone that does not drive.

    Second, for all you who are so high and mighty about stopping voter fraud. Then do something about absentee voting. That is where the real fraud is. Heck, you do not even need an ID to do that. In fact, the bill has a provision to send in an absentee ballot without proof of ID:

    …shall include with his or her application for an absentee ballot or in the outer oath envelope of his or her absentee ballot either one of the forms of identification listed in subsection (a) of Code Section 21-2-417 or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of such elector.

    Yes, most people have an ID these days, in fact, almost everyone does, but there are still people out there who come from a different era. Let them vote!

  14. Melb says:

    Don’t forget most voter fraud in America is in absentee ballots, which the republican admin. loosened restrictions on. So was the purpose to target people who tend to vote Democrat or stop fraud. If it is to stop fraud then why would you make it easier. I also think that you should be able to use your social security card or birth certificate to vote as well, those are what you use to get a license.

  15. Erick says:

    Beyond Stephanie’s snideness, she is correct. SB84 was the Voter ID Bill. The House version, HB 244 was actually the version that was adopted, though the bills were very much the same on that point. The House version was a more comprehensive reform effort.

    And, as Stephanie says, absentee ballot fraud is also a huge problem and one the legislature needs to address. However, to say we should fix one area and not fix another or to say that one area is being ignored to focus on another is fatuous.

    In a 40 day session, only so many issues can be addressed. Absentee balloting will be addressed.

  16. Melb says:

    No they did address absentee balloting, they made it easier. They didn’t ignore it they enhanced it and the likelyhood of fraud.

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