Modern Poll Tax?

At least there was a place you could go and pay that!

The Brennan center reports (and there is a handy map) that if you live in a poor, rural area, especially one that has a high percentage of African Americans (i.e. the “black belt”) you might have a hard time finding a place to get a state issued identification. Which would be ok, if it wasn’t required for voting and voting weren’t a fundamental right.

I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

Here’s the Brennan caption:

The map demonstrates that in the areas with the greatest concentrations of rural black voters, no state driver’s license offices are open more than two days per week. The figure also shows that many of these states’ part-time offices are located in the areas with the highest concentrations of black voters. The crosshatched areas outline the 13 contiguous “black belt” counties in Mississippi, 11 contiguous “black belt” counties in Alabama, and 21 contiguous “black belt” counties in Georgia where all state driver’s license offices are open two days per week or less.

The whole report can be found here. According to the report, 11% of voters in states with restrictive voter ID laws (such as this one) lack identification. They will likely need birth certificates to get an ID, but many are old and probably consider their very existence proof that they were born, either don’t have cars or shouldn’t be driving, and many of them live more then 10 miles from any place they can get documents, in areas of the state with no public transport. Ah, democracy, I knew you well.

93 comments

  1. jbgotcha says:

    Yep. Voter suppression is in full swing this election cycle. I guess progress is taking 10 steps back and only 2 steps forward. Unfortunately, people are distracted, tired, and so busy living in this illusion of choice that is presented to us every 4 years that effective organizing is nearly impossible. Somethings got to give.

    • bgsmallz says:

      Can we at least have some perspective on this…?

      1- This isn’t about living without an I.D. That is a choice, just like voting is a choice. This is about access if you would like to vote.

      2- The map above is fun with colors and lines, but what is it really telling us about access? That it is more difficult to find an ID office if you live in the sticks and that the sticks have a more diverse ratio of blacks to other races.

      Seriously, let’s break this down. First of all, the map saying the ID office is open “Zero” hours a week is stupid. Let’s assume all of those offices are open 5 to 10 hours a week. You are telling that 260 to 520 hours a year (that is equivalent to 6.5 to 13 full 40 hour weeks) is per se discrimination?

      The other thing that ticks me off about that map is that it doesn’t take into account actual population. The State of Georgia has 3,000,000 persons identified as black according to the US Census. 1.7 Million of those folks live in the Atlanta metro. Another 400,000 live in Macon, Savannah, and Augusta. I imagine that once I got down to actually covering Columbus, Valdosta, Dalton, Athens, Brunswick, Albany, and the other places on that map with 40 hour a week coverage, we would be talking about a very small percentage of blacks that aren’t in or nearby a statistical population area with an ID office open 30-40+ hours a week.

      It’s a huge and completely false leap to go from ‘there aren’t ID offices in areas with higher percentages of African Americans compared to total population’ to ‘a high percentage of African Americans don’t have access to an ID office.’

      Also, why is the problem the law rather than the access? Wouldn’t establishing a mobile ID unit be a fair alternative to cussing the law that people have some sort of ID in the 21st century?

      • griftdrift says:

        “Wouldn’t establishing a mobile ID unit be a fair alternative to cussing the law that people have some sort of ID in the 21st century”

        Which is what Georgia did (once again, after it was pointed out access was a problem).

        • bgsmallz says:

          Access in rural areas is an issue. No getting around that. Getting folks that live in far off regions accounted for has always been an ordeal. But setting it up with colorful maps that really don’t tell you anything about the number of people without access, unnecessary and inaccurate race baiting, and ‘democracy, I knew you well’ is garbage.

          Should figure as much coming from “the New York University”…liberal bias against the South!!! (that was a joke)

          • griftdrift says:

            It was a bit overwrought. Cut the Democrats some slack. They’re pretty tired after criss-crossing the state attempting to find a single person with standing for another court case.

  2. peachstealth says:

    When I applied for social security and medicare I had to travel 30 miles ( one way) to the closest social security office. I had to present my social security card (to prove I’d worked under social security) ,my drivers license ( to prove who I am) and my birth certificate ( to prove my age) .
    Do you think the government is attempting to keep me from collecting Social Security?

    I’ve never applied for welfare or food stamps but I assume they want to know who you are before you can get them. I also assume you probably have to travel to apply for them or do the come to your home to sign you up?
    Like Don Quixote, I think you’re tilting at windmills.

    • Blake says:

      No, the government is attempting to keep you from committing Social Security fraud. Of course the bar should be higher for you to collect thousands of dollars over multiple years than it should be for you to exercise THE fundamental political right.

      • peachstealth says:

        And voter ID is attempting to keep you from committing vote fraud by voting more than once.
        Perhaps we could require you to stick your finger in a bottle of ink as they do in some countries, but we’d have to eliminate absentee and early voting to make it effective.

              • CobbGOPer says:

                You mean Lorraine Minnite, Barnard College (and former Columbia University) professor? Whose other publications include “Keeping Down the Black Vote”? Excuse me for being skeptical since it seems like her areas of research follow a political agenda.

                • CobbGOPer says:

                  By the way, she co-authored that last book I mentioned with Francis Fox Piven. Who last year advocated Americans striking and rioting in “Greek-fashion” among other socialist rantings.

                  So yeah, Lorraine Minnite doesn’t have an agenda at all. [eyeroll]

                    • Blake says:

                      Okay, but did they in this particular case?

                      Speaking of agendas, here is a quotation from griftdrift’s comment below where he cited her:

                      “In her 2010 book, The Myth of Voter Fraud, Lorraine Minnite tracked down every single case brought by the Justice Department between 1996 and 2005 and found that the number of defendants had increased by roughly 1,000 percent under Ashcroft. But that only represents an increase from about six defendants per year to 60, and only a fraction of those were ever convicted of anything. A New York Times investigation in 2007 concluded that only 86 people had been convicted of voter fraud during the previous five years. Many of those appear to have simply made mistakes on registration forms or misunderstood eligibility rules, and more than 30 of the rest were penny-ante vote-buying schemes in local races for judge or sheriff. The investigation found virtually no evidence of any organized efforts to skew elections at the federal level.”

                      The Bush administration had an agenda to find vote fraud to bolster the case for vote-franchise restricting ID laws; they poured the Justice Department’s resources into finding it, and *this* is what they came up with.

                      The days of Tammany are over. There is no more “vote early and often.” Vote-rigging happens, but by political leaders with ever-more sophisticated electoral map-drawing and laws like voter ID & ex-felon disenfranchisement restricting the voting pool–and possibly electronic hacking.

                      Seriously, who the hell would bother to go the old-fashioned early-and-often route when you can just run a program/virus and flip the results, which will never be discovered because there is no paper trail to audit them?

    • Lea Thrace says:

      I thought it was obvious. Poor people clearly always suck on the government’s teet. And if they are on welfare, why should they get to vote???

      /s

  3. peachstealth says:

    It proves that in order to function in this society you need to be able to prove who you are. Would you have been happier if I had used cashing a pay check, opening a bank account and boarding a plane as examples?

    • griftdrift says:

      That there are people in this society that get by without an ID is self-evident.

      Any of those examples would have been fine because just like welfare and food stamps, not everyone is paid by check, has a bank account or flies in planes.

      • peachstealth says:

        It’s self evident that anyone who is that far off he grid would’t go to the trouble to vote anyway.

        • objective says:

          and it’s also important to remember that the folks at highest risk are the elderly and disabled. i have done some work in this area, and there are a good number of people caught up in a loop- which is if you want to obtain a copy of your birth cert., they ask you for a photo ID. but that’s exactly why you need the cert. to begin with! so many just live without. becuase if you have this problem, you need a lawyer, and Legal Aid can not be everywhere.
          but yes, some people will give up. because of the efforts it would take to get the ID. but that doesn’t mean that their vote should be thrown out before it was ever cast. that means we the people must provide free, accessible, and universal solutions to any barriers to democracy, especially after we the people put the barriers up (even if the barriers were put up with good intentions) .
          i see mobile units, and specialized rules and assistants, to address the barriers such as the above as key to maintaining access to democracy while protecting against any fraud.

  4. jiminga says:

    The author would have you believe the only place to get a photo ID is at a DMV office in GA. He’s biased and wrong. Kinda overlooked the county registrar’s offices in his attempt to mislead us.

    What IDs are acceptable?
    Any valid state or federal government issued photo ID, including a FREE Voter ID Card issued by your county registrar’s office or the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS)
    A Georgia Driver’s License, even if expired
    Valid employee photo ID from any branch, department, agency, or entity of the U.S. Government, Georgia, or any county, municipality, board, authority or other entity of this state
    Valid U.S. passport ID
    Valid U.S. military photo ID
    Valid tribal photo ID

    • Jackster says:

      It was supposed to say: (Lives in Buford, Ga) – So that’s where the black folks are.

  5. griftdrift says:

    Some thoughts on this endless debate

    Voter ID is a solution in search of a problem

    It’s not that big a deal in Georgia as evident the Democrats hapless quest to find someone who can’t get ID

    But that’s only because the original bill was altered to create access to a free ID after people pointed out requiring people to buy a state registered ID in order to vote is in fact…a poll tax

    So, not that big a problem in Georgia, other states like Mississippi are not Georgia and have actually created processes so labrythine that people actually will have trouble voting.

    And now that we will have the inevitable round and round about how people can’t exist in society, since there are hundreds of thousands of people in these states that don’t have ID and are still breathing, it’s self evident that it is possible. No matter how much that shocks your sensibility.

    And away we go…..again….

    • Harry says:

      It’s not a big problem in Georgia because Georgia is not a battleground state. The fraudsters will focus their money and talents on the battleground states. Where there is inadequate ID standards, dogs and dead relatives will be registered to vote, and they will vote by absentee ballot or otherwise. Do you know that in Democratic areas of battlefield states with inadequate ID verification, people are already receiving unsolicited voter application forms in the mail with names of their pets already filled in (information presumably obtained from veterinarian offices), together with instructions on how to vote absentee?

      • griftdrift says:

        Ummmmmmm. No.

        http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2012/07/is-voter-fraud-a-problem.html

        “In her 2010 book, The Myth of Voter Fraud, Lorraine Minnite tracked down every single case brought by the Justice Department between 1996 and 2005 and found that the number of defendants had increased by roughly 1,000 percent under Ashcroft. But that only represents an increase from about six defendants per year to 60, and only a fraction of those were ever convicted of anything. A New York Times investigation in 2007 concluded that only 86 people had been convicted of voter fraud during the previous five years. Many of those appear to have simply made mistakes on registration forms or misunderstood eligibility rules, and more than 30 of the rest were penny-ante vote-buying schemes in local races for judge or sheriff. The investigation found virtually no evidence of any organized efforts to skew elections at the federal level.”

  6. greencracker says:

    In the country, drive 30, 40, 50 miles to a DMV that’s only open <10 hours a week?

    Man, I'm not even talking about voting, that's just straight up difficult for anybody who has business at DMV.

  7. jpmsouth says:

    I looked up the Brennan Center to read the details of “The Challenge of Obtaining Voter Identification” by Sundeep Iyer and Keesha Gaskins.

    To understand the Center I looked at some of the articles being pushed on the Center’s site and decided before judging the conclusion I’d have to review how Mr. Iyer and Ms. Gaskins came to their conclusions. The article is relatively short [40 pages with a LOT of blank space], but the summary is telling in their conclusion that the requirement to provide a voter ID can shift the electorial votes in the coming election [their conclusion] and therefore is bad.

    If it is so difficult for people to travel to a location 10 miles away (their magical distance number) to get a free ID, how do they manage things like; food, doctors, school, clothing, etc.? The article goes on to rail against the unfair cost of birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc. for those living below the federal poverty level. Table 3 in the report ties the amount of dollars invested in public transportation to voters living 10 miles or more from an ID issue site.

    Understand, my perspective – I was born/raised/educated in one of the poorest counties in Georgia. The schools, selective service office, drivers license office, grocery store was 15 miles away and I did not have a car. I managed to sign up for selective service and register to vote when I was 18. Personally, I support purging the voter ID rolls of the dead folks in the grave yards that have managed to vote in national elections since the 1960 Presidential election and do not believe obtaining a govt. ID is unreasonably difficult if one truly believes in representative democracy.

    • benevolus says:

      Well that settles it then. Since you can do it, anyone can!
      Either you are the dumbest, least capable person in the state and therefore everyone has at least the same capability as you, or you just don’t understand/believe that there might be people less smart and less capable than you. Is there another choice?

      • Stefan says:

        The problem with Voter ID is that it is a tremendous waste of money, paper, and time, to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. It is a statutory bridge to nowhere.

  8. TheEiger says:

    Yep, voter fraud is possible and it doesn’t happen. “As long as you are who you say you are you can vote.” That is why a valid ID id needed to vote.

      • TheEiger says:

        Are you that naive? How do you know it doesn’t happen. You don’t. When elections are decided by slim margins like the Bush vs Gore race in FL you honestly believe people will not cheat the system? You are either naive or just plain ignorant to how the world works.

          • TheEiger says:

            http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/story/2012-03-19/voter-ID-Texas-fraud/53658158/1

            “The electoral system cannot inspire public confidence if no safeguards exist to deter or detect fraud or to confirm the identity of voters.” That was the conclusion of the bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform, headed by former president Jimmy Carter and former secretary of State James Baker. The commission recommended stronger photo-identification requirements at the polls. Its logic was straightforward and convincing: Americans must show photo identification for all kinds of day-to-day activities, such as cashing checks or entering government buildings. The many photo ID requirements we encounter in our daily lives are legitimate, effective security measures. Securing the ballot box is just as important.

            • griftdrift says:

              Neither of those give evidence of regular voter fraud. Yes, they advocate stronger controls but they don’t actually point to regular voter fraud. Which is what I asked for.

              And in fact the second one states this….

              “In addition to statewide registration systems and provisional ballots, HAVA requires that states insist on voter identification only when a person has registered by mail for the first time in a federal election.”

              That ain’t showing ID every time you go to vote.

              So I guess I remain a lost cause.

              • TheEiger says:

                I guess you will.
                http://www2.staffordcountysun.com/news/2012/apr/25/3/state-police-find-evidence-voter-fraud-virginia-ar-1868254/

                Richmond had by far the largest number of voter-fraud cases opened by state police — 124 — followed by Fairfax County with 37, Chesterfield and Prince William counties with 20 each, Alexandria with 19, Henrico with 17 and Petersburg with 13, according to state police data requested by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
                A total of 194 cases statewide where police determined a violation likely occurred

                • griftdrift says:

                  “many were unaware of a state police investigation that, so far, has resulted in charges against 38 people statewide for voter fraud. Warrants have been obtained for a 39th person who can’t be located”

                  Wow. 38. Statewide. Out of 3.5 million votes cast. Rampant.

                • benevolus says:

                  What does all this have to do with Georgia? Different states have different registration/voting laws. Georgia’s laws were pretty robust before the ID with zero cases of voter impersonation. If some other state had lax laws then maybe they need to fix them, but who here knows the voting laws in all the states?

            • griftdrift says:

              I know this is confusing but I’ll try to keep it simple.

              Registration and voting are not the same thing.

              If Rosie showed up at the polls, I’m fairly confident she wouldn’t get a ballot.

            • objective says:

              i tend to think that if any organization sends a registration form with a pet’s name on it, that it is the organization, not the dead cat (or it’s owner) that is committing fraud. and for that, voter ID is not the solution. but some other sort of prosecution is.

              • objective says:

                and, perhaps we should start a database wth pet’s names, so we can purge voter rolls of pets as well as dead people? maybe florida is working on it already? but what happens if your first name happens to be Kitty, or Buddy?
                (btw, is there a way to indicate sarcasm when posting?)

                • griftdrift says:

                  Actually with your sarcasm you hit the nail on the head. It’s a problem with voter registration database accuracy. But that’s not fraud. And requiring IDs to vote has nothing to do with it.

                  • objective says:

                    i think there remains a real question, then, about the inaccurate purging of databases, which may eliminate the democratic rights of so many in the name of eliminating the fraud of the few. there is a present DoJ suit against FL for this, yes? i would say start with the problem of addressing widespread disenfranchisement, and build in quality controls to maintain accurate records. accuracy should prevent fraud best. quality will cost, though…

    • griftdrift says:

      Here, I’ll help you out. The Georgia Secretary of State’s office investigates 100s of voter fraud cases every year.

      http://www.politifact.com/georgia/statements/2012/feb/06/brian-kemp/kemp-makes-case-voter-id-law/

      You’re right! That’s awful!

      Oh. wait a minute. There’s more.

      “In June, PolitiFact Georgia checked out a claim by Kemp that the elections board had handed out about $275,000 in fines for violations of Georgia’s absentee ballot law. The number of cases since 2007, by our count, was 59.”

      My goodness. It’s right there in their own facts. They have prosecuted voter fraud! Darn those absentee ballots! Good thing we’ve got an ID law to solve that!

      • DavidTC says:

        It’s really astonishing how the pro-restrict-the-vote-to-people-with-ID like to do what Kemp did: Conflate all voter fraud with fraud that would be stopped by voter ID.

        There is fraud going on. Probably about 50% of it is simply people registered, and voting, in the wrong place. Another part of it is, maybe 10%, is coercion or vote buying schemes. Neither of those can possibly be fixed with voter ID. Those voters are exactly who they say they are.

        The rest is absentee ballot fraud, where people steal, or forgery, or tamper with, absentee ballots. Now this could, in theory, somehow be stopped with voter ID, but it’s hard to see how it could still work as ‘absentee’…and none of the voter ID laws deal with this.

        The absolute only thing that voter ID laws can solve is a) people voting who are not eligible to vote at all, or b) people voting under other people’s names. (Please note that (b) is unrelated to the issue of bogus _registrations_, which are usually people with absolutely no intention of voting.)

        The problem is, while there is ‘voter fraud’, that specific sort of voter fraud does not exist. I do have to give props for someone actually finding a _single_ example of this named ‘Maria Azada’. One example, in the entire country.

        Good work, although I do have to point out, while I don’t know the situation here, illegal immigrants often have forged or stolen documentation, and thus would pass the ‘voter ID’ check! Most people here illegally simply don’t commit voter fraud because it’s stupid to draw attention to yourself by voting, not because they couldn’t.

        So we’re talking about 0.1% of voter fraud.

        And while it’s certainly fun to say ‘But any voter fraud is worth stopping’…oh yeah? Then why do we still allow absentee voting, which is a _much_ larger source of voter fraud? (Both because of the ability to tamper with, and the fact votes can be coerced with it, i.e., ‘Your boss demands you register absentee and bring your ballot to work so he can see it, or you’re fired.’)

        The real reason we allow people without ID to vote absentee (That we don’t even know are actual individual people and not some guy collecting the ballots of other people) whereas we don’t allow people without ID to vote in person (but who nevertheless stand in line and thus actually exist) is that one group votes for one political party, and the other group votes for a different one.

    • griftdrift says:

      And as to the Heritage report, I’ll just repeat myself.

      “It’s not that big a deal in Georgia as evident by the Democrats hapless quest to find someone who can’t get ID

      But that’s only because the original bill was altered to create access to a free ID after people pointed out requiring people to buy a state registered ID in order to vote is in fact…a poll tax”

      • peachstealth says:

        Isn’t that kinda like saying the only reason the Braves lost last night is they scored fewer runs than the Giants?
        If there’s something wrong with a law, fix it, don’t throw the whole thing out.
        The Mississippi law requires a birth certificate to obtain a picture ID and a picture ID to obtain your birth certificate.
        To law requiring a picture ID to obtain a birth certificate wasn’t put there to feep folks from voting, is was put there to prevent welfare fraud.
        You see, a several years ago (it may have been late 1980’s ) there was trouble with people going to the library to look through the obits in search of people who had died as children who would be about their age, sex and race. They’d then claim to be that person and request a birth certificate and use it to obtain a social security card. That’s all they needed to apply for government assistance under multiple ID’s.
        If I remember correctly one of the networks did a piece about it. I think it was 60 minutes but it may have been one of it’s clones.

        • griftdrift says:

          Okayyyyyy.

          But you do see the point of why Mississippi’s law is screwed up and no matter how well intended will prevent people from voting, right?

          Frankly, if they would just model their laws after Georgia’s useless law this would all go away.

          • peachstealth says:

            The difference between you and me is that I assume states are attempting to eliminate vote fraud and any problems people incur in obtaining proper ID is unintended and will be corrected when recognized.
            You seem the think the problems people may encounter were intended and are the actual purpose of the law.

            • griftdrift says:

              Not really. I think you could make the argument that it was the intent of the original unmodified law.

              I think the intent of the law was to make a lot of stir out of something that isn’t really a issue but the perception that it is a problem is easily amplified. It forces the Democrats on the defensive and makes them look like they are against a common sense measure.

              And then because this is what they do, the Democrats came up with their own non-issue (grandma can’t get to the DMV!) and proceeded to amplify that non-problem to put the Republicans on the defensive.

              Both bases get really amped up. In the meantime, we show our ID at the poll and go about our business and voter fraud is not affected one whit.

              But hey. That’s politics.

  9. griftdrift says:

    Since Eiger and I are having dueling links and he’s uncovering dozens bad votes in Virginia, I thought I’d share the New York Times investigative piece where their conclusion that voter fraud of the type that voter ID would prevent are virtually non-existent and in most cases the result of people filling out the wrong forms or trying to vote when they are not eligible.

    The whole thing is worth reading.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/12/washington/12fraud.html?pagewanted=all

    • TheEiger says:

      March 17, 2011:

      LAKE COUNTY, Ill. – An illegal alien from the Philippines was arrested Thursday morning on a felony complaint charging her with 17 counts related to voter fraud in Lake County. The state charges resulted

      from a joint investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Lake County State’s Attorneys Office. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also provided assistance.

      Maria Azada, 53, of Grayslake, Ill., was arrested March 17 by ICE HSI agents and a Lake County State’s Attorneys special investigator. Azada faces 17 felony counts in Lake County Circuit Court of perjury,

      mutilation of election materials, and tampering with voting machines in connection with illegal voting by a non-U.S. citizen.

      The investigation began in February 2009 when Azada admitted to a USCIS officer during an interview for an immigration benefit that she had voted in an election. It is illegal for foreign nationals to vote in national or state elections in the United States.

      http://specfriggintacular.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/democrats-arrested-andor-convicted-of-voter-fraud/

      Sure Absentee Ballot Voter fraud is a real thing as well and should be handled, but people do show up in person to commit a crime. Your continued defense of not needing a valid ID to vote leads me to believe you are okay with people committing a crime as long as only a few people get caught. It is a felony. Why should we not stop it if it is as simple as asking prove you are who you say you are?

      • griftdrift says:

        I’m an advocate of felons! That’s quite the leap!

        Once again, here’s what I said

        “Of course it’s possible. Does it happen with regularity? No.”

        Of course we should prosecute voter fraud. My only point is requiring ID is solving a edge problem that really has little real world effect. To use your Viriginia case. They found 38 cases of fraud. The only election that would possibly effect would be the Fairfax County dog catcher.

        Let me put it another way. If you had an ingrown toenail would you amputate your leg? I mean that would effectively solve the problem.

        • TheEiger says:

          Your reasoning is exactly what is wrong with Washington and politics in general. Their absolute refusal to act on small things such as 38 cases of fraud or running “small” deficits for the past 12 years leads to a point to where you have 15 trillion dollars of debt. That is the point where you have to amputate not one but both legs. My point being; why not stop a problem before it gets out of hand like so many other problems our country faces? The complete blindness by some to see and comprehend a future disaster has gotten this country into many of the situations we are currently in.

            • Blake says:

              I don’t know why you’re blaming Washington for voting issues. That is 100% decided at the state and county level.

              • TheEiger says:

                Because the Attorney General, who is apart of Washington, is the one fighting the states that are implementing voter ID laws.

                • Blake says:

                  Yes, the AG does care about minor things like civil rights.

                  Anyhow, thanks for the clarification. What you originally said was “their absolute refusal to act on small things such as 38 cases of fraud,” which is what I was saying is a state issue.

      • griftdrift says:

        Oh and I’m not really defending not needing an ID. Once they fixed the Georgia law, it’s not so bad, practically useless but more of an annoyance than anything. I doubt it denies anyone the ability to vote.

        My point is Mississippi is not Georgia. And Mississippi’s ID law is royally screwed up and will almost definitely prevent legitimate voters from voting.

      • objective says:

        from my shaky memory of Constitutional law, “fundamental rights” are rights construed by the judiciary pursuant to the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses. In addition to these, the Constituion is certainly not silent on voting rights (e.g. non-discrimiation, no poll tax..)
        it would certanly be nice to have straightforward rules written into the Constituton; I suggest many such amendments are in order.
        But i think it quite impossible to have equal protection of the laws without equal representation before the law.

    • Stefan says:

      That’s only somewhat true.

      The Constitution addresses voting in Article II and four subsequent amendments (the 15th, forbidding discrimination in voting on the basis “of race, color, or previous condition of servitude;” the 19th, forbidding discrimination in voting based on sex; the 24th, prohibiting “any poll tax” on a person before they can vote; and the 26th, granting the right to vote to all citizens over the age of 18). The Supreme Court has chosen to also strictly scrutinize restrictions on voting other than those specifically prohibited by the Constitution because, in its words, the right to vote “is preservative of other basic civil and political rights.”

      So yeah, I suppose a state could not allow anyone to vote, but if they allow only some people to vote, that infringes on a fundamental right.

      Please note I refuse to read Bush v. Gore, so if you respond with anything from that case I suppose I will have to concede.

  10. Harry says:

    Thankfully Georgia has adequate ID requirements, but the real voter fraud problem in 2012 will take place in battleground states with inadequate protections, and it will be massive in scale. It’s been that way for 100 years.

  11. SingingLawyer says:

    This debate would be more relevant if the Voter ID law had not already been upheld as consitutional by both the Georgia Supreme Court and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, who both found that those challenging the law it had not shown evidence that theID requirements place an undue burden on voters and that Georgia has a legitimate interest in preventing voter fraud.

    And earlier commenters are correct that voting is not listed as a right in the Articles of the Constitution but subsequent amendments protect the right to vote. The Sup Ct has found that the right to vote is a consitutionally protected right, but the right is not absolute and states may place reasonable restrictions on voting to serve a legitimate interest (such as preventing fraud).

    • Stefan says:

      All that is true and accurate, but it doesn’t make the law a good idea. If there is a problem with the numbers of people voting its that thee are too few, not too many.

      • SingingLawyer says:

        Well the whole premise of your post is that the law is a bad idea because it disenfranchises blacks, and you extrapolate this sweeping conclusion from one map. But, as the court found after the parties litigated this dispute for years, there is “not a single piece of evidence of any identifiable registered voter who would be prevented from voting pursuant to [the 2006 Photo ID Act] because of his or her inability to obtain the necessary photo identification.” So maybe you should have some actual evidence before you publicly accuse well-meaning people of having racist motives.

  12. Edward Lindsey says:

    All:

    This is a very long entry but well worth the read and I know the readers of Peach Pundit are up to the challenge. The language below is not mine but excerpts from the decision of U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy in the case of Common Cause/Georgia v. Billups, 504 5. Supp. 2d 1333 (2007), which found in favor of the State of Georgia on its voter identification law.

    The plaintiff’s lawyers in this case against the State of Georgia were a who’s who of prominent Democratic and liberal attorneys in Georgia including Emmet Bondurant, Jason Carter and Gerald Weber among others. The action was fashioned against not only the State of Georgia but also the Floyd County registrar so that it would be heard in front of Judge Murphy, a preeminent trial judge appointed by President Jimmy Carter and a member of the prominent Democratic Murphy family in west Georgia. The plaintiffs had over a year and a half to collect evidence of so called discrimination.

    In politics, everyone is entitled to their own opinions but no one is entitled to their own facts. Below are the facts and opinions of Judge Murphy who found no evidence of racial discrimination in Georgia’s voter identification law.

    Representative Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta)
    Georgia House Majority Whip

    Portions of the Judge Murphy’s opinion:

    Election laws will invariably impose some burden upon individual voters. Each provision of a code, “whether it governs the registration and qualifications of voters, the selection and eligibility of candidates, or the voting process itself, inevitably affects—at least to some degree—the individual’s right to vote and his right to associate with others for political ends. Consequently, to subject every voting regulation to strict scrutiny and to require that the regulation be narrowly tailored to advance a compelling state interest, as petitioner suggests, would tie the hands of States seeking to assure that elections are operated equitably and efficiently.” Accordingly, the mere fact that a State’s system “creates barriers … tending to limit the field of candidates from which voters might choose … does not of itself compel close scrutiny.”

    Instead, … a more flexible standard applies. A court considering a challenge to a state election law must weigh “the character and magnitude of the asserted injury to the rights protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments that the plaintiff seeks to vindicate” against “the precise interests put forward by the *1377 State as justifications for the burden imposed by its rule,” taking into consideration “the extent to which those interests make it necessary to burden the plaintiff’s rights.”

    Under this standard, the rigorousness of our inquiry into the propriety of a state election law depends upon the extent to which a challenged regulation burdens First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Thus, as we have recognized when those rights are subjected to “severe” restrictions, the regulation must be “narrowly drawn to advance a state interest of compelling importance.” But when a state election law provision imposes only “reasonable, nondiscriminatory restrictions” upon the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of voters, “the State’s most important regulatory interests are generally sufficient to justify” the restrictions.
    . . . .

    . . . the Court finds that Plaintiffs simply have failed to prove that the character and magnitude of the asserted injury to the right to vote is significant. Although Plaintiffs contended at the preliminary injunction hearings that many voters who do not have driver’s licenses, passports, or other forms of photographic identification have no transportation to a voter registrar’s office or DDS service center, have impairments that preclude them from waiting in often-lengthy lines to obtain Voter ID cards or Photo ID cards, or cannot travel to a registrar’s office or a DDS service center during those locations’ usual hours of operation because the voters do not have transportation available, Plaintiffs failed to produce admissible evidence to that effect at trial. Indeed, the two named Plaintiffs both testified that they could and would travel to their local registrars’ office to obtain a Photo ID card if the Court upheld the 2006 Photo ID Act, and their testimony, contrary to Plaintiffs’ arguments, did not establish that either of the two named Plaintiffs would suffer an undue burden from traveling to the local registrar’s office to obtain a Photo ID card. In particular, although the two named Plaintiffs testified that their children would have to take time off from work to take them to the registrar’s office, the testimony in the record demonstrates that the two named Plaintiffs’ children regularly take the two named Plaintiffs places, and that transportation may be available from other sources, including rides from friends. Additionally, although Plaintiff Bertha B. Young stated that her bus ride to the registrar’s office would take one hour each way, she also testified that her friends could drive her, and it appears from the record that her friends and employer regularly transport her.

    Similarly, Mr. Dewberry testified that he could walk one-quarter of a mile to the registrar’s office to obtain a Voter ID card, and stated that obtaining a Voter ID card would not be a significant hardship for him. Consequently, the Court cannot find *1378 that the Photo ID requirement is unduly burdensome for Mr. Dewberry.

    Likewise, Annie Johnson testified that she goes to Americus at least once a month, that her friends or family members drive her there, and that she would obtain a Voter ID card the next time she went to Americus. This testimony fails to support Plaintiffs’ contention that requiring Ms. Johnson to obtain a Voter ID card would unduly burden her right to vote.

    Further, although Plaintiffs contended at the preliminary injunction hearing that many voters who lack an acceptable Photo ID for in-person voting are elderly, infirm, or poor, and lack reliable transportation to a DDS service center or a county registrar’s office, the evidence in the record fails to support that contention. Even if the Court accepted Dr. Hood’s testimony indicating that a higher percentage of the individuals who appear on the DDS no-match lists are elderly, or are African–American or other minorities, the testimony in the record established that the large numbers reported on the DDS no-match list were far from reliable.FN6 Additionally, as previously noted, Plaintiffs proffered precious little admissible evidence showing that voters who lacked Photo ID had no transportation to a DDS office or a county registrar’s office. Further, even if a voter’s name appears on a DDS no-match list, the voter still may have some other form of acceptable Photo ID, and neither Dr. Hood’s analysis nor the DDS no-match list purported to address that issue. Plaintiffs thus simply have not satisfied their burden of proving that the 2006 Photo ID Act unduly burdens minority or elderly voters.
    . . . .

    At the trial, . . . , the evidence revealed that the State made exceptional efforts to contact voters who potentially lacked a valid form of Photo ID issued by the DDS and who resided in the twenty-three counties that planned to hold September 18, 2007, elections, and to inform those voters of the availability of a Voter ID card, where to obtain additional information, and the possibility of voting absentee without a Photo ID.FN7 The evidence in the record indicates that the State also provided information to voters in general by advertising on the Clear Channel radio network, and by partnering with libraries *1379 and nongovernmental organizations. Additionally, the Photo ID requirement has been the subject of many news reports, editorials, and news articles. Under those circumstances, Plaintiffs are hard-pressed to show that voters in Georgia, in general, are not aware of the Photo ID requirement.
    . . . .

    Additionally, individuals who do not have an acceptable Photo ID for in-person voting can obtain an absentee ballot and vote absentee by mail without providing an excuse. Although Plaintiffs contend that the average Georgia voter cannot read and understand the absentee ballot request form, there is no requirement that a voter complete that form. Instead, a voter need only write his name, address, and date of birth on a piece of paper, indicate in which election he wishes to vote absentee, and mail the piece of paper to his registrar. If he cannot do this, or if he cannot complete the absentee ballot request form, he can obtain assistance from a family member. Similarly, if the voter cannot read and complete the absentee ballot, a family member can help him. The State thus has not, as Plaintiffs contend, completely barred voters who lack Photo ID from voting.
    . . . .

    Despite apocalyptic assertions of wholesale voter disenfranchisement, Plaintiffs have produced not a single piece of evidence of any identifiable registered voter who would be prevented from voting pursuant to [the 2006 Photo ID Act] because of his or her inability to obtain the necessary photo identification. Similarly, Plaintiffs have failed to produce any evidence of any individual … who would undergo any appreciable hardship to obtain photo identification in order to be qualified to vote.

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