Partisan politics should have no role in voting laws

Yet Democrats and Republicans in national and state politics seem to be pushing an agenda with changes to the law. It has got to stop.

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The tug-o’-war between Republicans and Democrats taking place in Congress and in state legislatures over voting laws is over politics (and self-preservation), not public policy.

Democrats contend they want to ease voting restrictions so no eligible voter is disenfranchised while Republicans oppose the effort contending it will promote voter fraud.

Each stand would seem to be reasonable, yet neither are at the heart of why this has become such a contentious issue. Democrats believe fewer restrictions on election day will result in more votes for Democratic candidates. Republicans believe they are right — and don’t want to see Democrats get more votes.

It’s time for both sides to concede their selfish agendas in establish voting regulations that are said to promote participation or prevent fraud.

Washington state has been fortunate that its recent chief election officers — secretaries of state Ralph Munro and Sam Reed to current Secretary of State Kim Wyman — have taken nonpartisan approaches to boosting voter turnout and enacting reforms when fraud or abuse is found. Munro and Reed, both Republicans, took hits from fellow Republicans because they tried to do what was best for the public, not what was perceived to be best for GOP candidates. Wyman, a Republican serving in her first term, is following in the footsteps of her predecessors.

Registering to vote should be easy and so should casting a ballot.

Citizens should have ample opportunity to register. Registrations should be accepted daily at set locations (such as a courthouse, post office and driver’s license office) and special voter-registration drives should be allowed at events.

Polling places need to be conveniently located and open long enough to accommodate all who want to vote. Or, as is the case in Washington and Oregon, elections could be conducted by mail.

Closing polling places early or putting them in a location that would require most to drive is clearly wrong. It makes it tough for those who don’t have flexible jobs or access to transportation to vote.

And since only U.S. citizens can vote, requiring some proof of citizenship at the time of registration is reasonable. So is making sure the voters are who they say they are. Mandating a legitimate piece of ID — a state driver’s license or state-issued ID cards or a valid passport — is not an onerous threshold.

Election laws that serve the public can be enacted. Those elected to Congress and state legislatures know, if they are honest with themselves, what is reasonable.

Comments

PearlY 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Well, most Republicans wouldn't disagree with any of the proposals of this editorial, but Democrats would definitely disagree with the proposals for proof of citizenship to register and proof of ID to vote.

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NewInWW 7 months, 3 weeks ago

In most areas of our national lives, we do a cost benefit analysis - are the costs of the proposed action warranted by the benefits? It seems pretty clear that Republicans are willing to disenfranchise millions of voters to prevent virtually non-existent voter fraud.

We have become a banana republic with despicable and politically motivated voting laws. If all of this were being done in Egypt, for example, we'd condemn it. We should be making it easier for people to vote not harder.

With all the lip service I see given by conservatives to the sacrifices our veterans have made to defend our freedoms, where is the outrage about this Republican sponsored assault on our most basic right - the right to vote?

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downhillracer 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Well said. Don't count on the hyperbole and hypocrisy of the far-right to respond with a shred of logic or reason. They can't win their arguments based on sound policy, so they try to rig the system.

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namvet60 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Yep, I would stake my last dollar on the credibility of www.snopes.com which anyone or anybody can go in and edit?

http://urbanlegends.about.com/

I'm always into Syfy stories and folklore.

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VinoTinto 7 months, 3 weeks ago

I clicked on your link and now understand why you are so paranoid about everything. There's is some pretty outrageous stuff in that rag. The truth shall set you free!

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PearlY 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Where is your evidence that "millions of voters" are disenfranchised by having to show ID to vote? It strains credulity. You have to have ID to drive, apply for food stamps or public housing, cash a check, get a job, get unemployment, get welfare, get a library card, enter a federal building, sign up for Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, Social Security Disability and SSI. In most school districts, you'll need to show photo ID to pick up your child from school during the school day, if there's an emergency.

And even if you don't drive, the DMV will provide non-driver IDs. If the concern is for the fee, the legislature could re-set the fee to be a sliding scale one, or waived for certain classes of people who might otherwise be unable to afford them.

So how many "millions" of eligible voters really lack ID and can't get it? How are they surviving, unable to either work or receive any public benefits?

There is no way to know how prevalent voter fraud is. Like perjury, while few cases are prosecuted, it could be rampant. It's extremely difficult to prove or even become aware of.

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VinoTinto 7 months, 3 weeks ago

So, we should make low-income people pay a voter's tax? Come on Pearl, flow chart some scenarios, because you're over simplifying a very complex issue.

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PearlY 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Re-read my 2nd paragraph, Vino. I do NOT believe low income people should pay a voter's tax; I would support an adjustment to the DMV fee to make sure poor people have access to ID.

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VinoTinto 7 months, 3 weeks ago

So a low income, inner-city, elderly woman who was born in the U.S., never got her license because she uses public transportation, and who is too poor to travel abroad, and therefore doesn't have a passport should be turned away? There are a lot of people like this is the U.S. folks, not everybody lives in Mayberry.

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PearlY 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Does she collect Social Security? She has ID. Is she on Medicare? She has ID. Is she on Medicaid, use public health clinics, live in public housing, own her own home, rent from a well-managed apartment building, live in a nursing home, ? She has ID. Does she get food stamps? She has ID. In using public transportation, did she obtain a reduced fare permit? As a poor, elderly person, she qualifies. She had to show ID to get it.

There are NOT a lot of people like that who really lack ID. And if they are so disconnected from virtually all of these activities, what are the chances they would vote anyway?

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MyFamNews 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Pearly: A social security card or medical insurance card or a bus pass are not valid ID, under most of the current restrictions being put in place. Student ID's have photos and are not excepted under Texas new law but a gun permit without a photo is. Do you see the problem yet?

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PearlY 7 months, 3 weeks ago

No, but you have to show valid ID in order to get any of those cards(except perhaps the student ID).

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PearlY 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Just to be clear about this poor elderly woman:

If she gets Social Security, she had to provide valid photo ID when she applied for it. If she has it direct deposited to a bank account, she had to submit photo ID when she opened the account. After March of this year, if she did not have it direct deposited to a bank account, she had to open a DirectExpress debit card account, for which she had to provide with her application photo ID, a copy of her SS ccheck and a utility bill mailed to her at her current address in the last 60 days.

Isn't it curious that this "draconian" requirement for coming up with ID to receive the benefits keeping this elderly woman alive was implemented under a Democratic Administration, without any thought to the thousands or millions of Democrats who will be left to starve because they aren't able to "jump through the hoops"? Obviously, they don't really believe these requirements are that unreasonable.

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PearlY 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Texas gun permits DO have photos. Washington's don't (or at least, mine doesn't; it might be different in different municipalities).

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NewInWW 7 months, 3 weeks ago

The ID required for most of the circumstances you list needn't be state issued photo ID. As for the millions number, I suggest you Google it. I found lots of hits.

Not surprisingly, conservatives argue that if you can jump through all of the hoops, you're not technically disenfranchised. However, it seems pretty clear that students, minorities and the poor will be disproportionately affected by these new voter ID laws - the intended consequence by the Republican state houses that are adopting them.

I notice that you didn't want to touch the issue of all of these new laws solving a problem - voter fraud - that simply doesn't exist on any scale worthy of the response it's gotten. I'd stay away from it too, as there is simply no rational justification for the Republicans' attempt to skew the voting process because they can't win nationally any other way.

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PearlY 7 months, 3 weeks ago

ALL voter laws "skew the voting process" somehow. Lowering the voting age "skewed the voting process" dramatically, and some would lower it further, all while we work hard to infantilize young people as long as possible. Why do you think Democrats are so anxious to get felons back on the voting rolls? Is it because Democrats value the intellect and public spiritedness of robbers, murderers, drug traffickers, human traffickers, etc.? Or because it will help them win elections and keep the spending of trillions of dollars tightly in their own hands?

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fatherof5 7 months, 3 weeks ago

PearlY, if you were any of the other conservatives that frequent the UB blogs, I would find you the links that show 25 million Texans and only about a dozen legitimate voter fraud cases in 10 years with an AG who has been looking hard.......or the links that show roughly 9% of legal Pennsylvanians who do not have the proper ID and the statistical probabilities that more than 100,000 of them will NOT manage to jump through the hoops necessary to acquire their voter ID. I could show you links to the federal court rulings where the judges have asked why it is necessary to risk tens of thousands of voters in order to stop a problem whose existence lacks any credible evidence.

But you are smarter than that, PearlY. You don't need the links. You know there is a reason why exclusively Republican-controlled states have suddenly become devotees of the ongoing crisis of voter fraud. You KNOW it has nothing to do with voter fraud and that it has EVERYTHING to do with limiting the number of voters who lean Democrat. Be honest.

Why would North Carolina pass legislation eliminating the high school Civics programs that pre-registered high school seniors to vote? I have a friend who teaches social studies in North Carolina. He is aghast at how blatantly political the motivation is to restrict voting. BUT, statistics show that young people tend to vote more for Democrats than Republicans. So, let's figure out how to reduce the numbers of young voters. It's not rocket science. There is no other justification.

YOU think acquiring voter ID is easy. YOU are healthy. YOU have a car. YOU can afford to take time off of work. YOU know how to navigate the system. YOU live in a town with a department of licensing. So do I. But that isn't the case for thousands of legal citizens.

You are smart enough to see this for what it is. And you also have enough integrity to call B.S., even when it's your conservative buddies doing this stuff.

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PearlY 7 months, 3 weeks ago

I happen to know several people (at least 6) who vote illegally (or at least are registered and could). Two are non-citizens (one Canadian, one Mexican). One is registered AND votes in two states, WA and FL. One votes the ballots of her mentally incompetent mother who cannot even remember her daughter's name , and one voted the ballot of his deceased wife through two elections. And the last is a trifecta, a citizen of Mexico who is registered to vote in both WA and CA.

So my perception of voter fraud may be different from yours. I think it's rampant, and many who engage in it feel quite morally justified in doing so.

But I'm glad you have scaled down the claim from "millions of voters" to "thousands." Yes, I think a few thousand people in the country may, in fact, be too incapable of navigating the system to get adequate ID, although that is, after all, what voter registration drives are about.

Will you acknowledge that the relentless drive to allow convicted felons to easily resume voting or even never lose their voting rights is purely partisan on the part of the Democratic party, because they believe (accurately) that felons are a strongly Democratic voting bloc? (And not a very flattering one to your Party, either.) Be honest.

The truth is, I don't think the nation loses all that much if a few people are not able to vote because they are so unmotivated or so incapable of navigating a system as simple as obtaining ID.

But at the risk of diminishing your confidence in my smarts, I happen to believe that the majority of conservatives are in fact trying to fight voter suppression: the supression of lawfully cast votes that are invalidated by the unlawfully cast ones.

I also think it is demagogic to liken voter ID laws such as those being proposed in various states to the REAL voter suppression practices of the past. It grotesquely trivializes the wrongs of the past.

And by the way, when I first registered, I did have to show ID, I did not drive, I was poor, and I could not afford to take time off from work. Unlike today, there were not multiple neighborhood places to register; I had to go downtown on a bus.

A system that is wide open to fraud will sooner or later be totally fraudulent, and very shortly after that, totally deligitimized. Let's not forget, there are literally TRILLIONS of dollars at stake, and lots of money is lots of motive for fraud.

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NewInWW 7 months, 3 weeks ago

I believe the 100,000 figure was for just Pennsylvania.

As for the balance of your comments, most of us learn by the time we're 20 or so that the world is larger than our own experience and that simply because we've experienced something doesn't make it universally true.

Finally, it's incredible that you seem to have personal knowledge of a substantial portion of the voter fraud cases in the entire US.

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PearlY 7 months, 3 weeks ago

The world is larger than our own experience, but it does encompass it, and with adulthood we come to understand that discounting others' experiences because they doesn't suit our prejudices can inhibit learning about that world.

If you had an interest in the issue of voter fraud, you'd probably know as many instances of it as I do. You have no idea how many cases of voter fraud there are, because there is no realistic way of identifying it. I return again to the example of perjury. Is it or is it not rampant? Ask any trial court judge. Yet how many prosecutions take place? Trivially few.

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NewInWW 7 months, 3 weeks ago

I think this is called the "bear in the woods" defense - we can't see it, but we know it's there so we must protect ourselves from it.

Before state legislatures adopted draconian voter ID laws and restricted voting opportunities, I'd want some proof that there was actually an issue. Those who have looked for rampant voter fraud have failed to find it. Perhaps they should have consulted with you.

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namvet60 7 months, 3 weeks ago

With 15 million illegals (potential fraudulent voters) living in the US and your worried about a couple of hundred thousand disenfranchised voters????

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PearlY 7 months, 3 weeks ago

As I pointed out, I happen to know at least six "bears" myself. So even though you might not see them (and perhaps would refuse to believe your eyes if you did), I have seen them. And there's nothing draconian about the voter ID laws that have been proposed.

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MyFamNews 7 months ago

PearlY- If you know personally six people guilty of voter fraud, why haven't you turned them in. Would you stand by and watch a crime and do nothing? Second> In Pa. you have to have a Birth Certificate to get a State ID. The BC costs $10 and then you have to pay for the ID as well. You absolutely can not have one without the other. That's why we call it a poll tax.....

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fatherof5 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Thanks, NewInWW, the 100,000 figure was just for Pennsylvania because that out of the 750,000 eligible voters who do not have drivers licenses, a good chunk of them won't manage their way through the hoops. Here's a link.

This Politifact article explains that in the past ten years - with a population of 26 million people - Texas has managed to catch two (2) voter impersonation instances. Ten years. 26 million people. TWO convictions.

Here the federal court rules that the Texas attempt at voter ID laws would unfairly discriminate against the poor, some of whom would have to travel more than 200 miles round trip to acquire ID.

So, think of that. A state with 26 million people must have what, 15 million registered voters? If 10% of them don't have proper ID and many are poor and without cars and live in counties with no place to get voter IDs, that is over one million people you are forcing to jump through hoops. And for what? To prevent TWO voter impersonation cases every decade???

Bring some evidence to the table - not anecdotes - if you want to propose such a disruption and disenfranchisement of so many people.

What, no evidence of widespread voter fraud? Yeah, that's the problem. This is purely about politics and LIMITING voting. Why is it that Republicans think they would do better if fewer people voted? Sounds pretty undemocratic and unpatriotic to me.

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PearlY 7 months, 3 weeks ago

I read your link on the PA situation. You have seriously misread it, or seriously mischaracterized it. It wasn't about 750T ELIGIBLE voters, it was 750T REGISTERED voters. It said nothing about any number of them who would be unable to "manage their way through the hoops." In fact, it noted there were various other acceptable IDs that those 750T might use, and also that nearly 200T of them were inactive, likely from having moved from their previous addresses. In fact, the article could just as easily prove that there are as many as 750T ineligible voters who managed to register anyway, for lack of any real method of establishing eligibility.

In the context of another right, the right to bear arms, you and others have no trouble demanding highly burdensome and intrusive requirements, fees, delays, investigations, etc. On the basis of what? Not evidence, but demagogy, emotionalism and isolated incidents, most of which would not even be affected by the burdens you want to impose.

Yet the mere request that people who vote should show they are eligible and who they say they are, an ability that there is no real evidence the vast majority can't do if even mildly motivated, is called 'draconian.'

In what other area with huge (as in $$ trillions) incentives for corruption do we blithely rely on "the honor system"? (Oh, except for Obamacare subsidies, coming soon?)

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fatherof5 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Guns have an added element of safety, which necessitates a reasonable level of regulatory caution. You have to register to vote. You should have to register to buy a gun. In addition, if you are a felon or mentally unstable or you just left a fight with your wife and are feeling enraged, it's a good idea to slow down the process.

As for the "eligible" vs. "registered" voters in Pennsylvania, you are right. There are 750,000 "registered" voters (minus the inactives) who don't have state photo ID. Some might have time-stamped school ID or military ID, but the article states the majority would rely on state-issued ID. So...do the math. What does that leave: 300,000? 400,000? Half a million voters are now going to be required to jump through new hoops to get voter ID? What percentage won't do it or will find it too difficult or expensive to do? 20%? That's where I came up with 100,000 voters. But let's say it isn't 20% who don't jump through the hoops. Let's say it is just 2%. That's still 10,000 people who are now disenfranchised. For what? To stop a voter fraud problem that no one can prove exists?

Believe me, some states are trying really hard to prove voter impersonation fraud - the kind of fraud that would be stopped by requiring voter IDs - exists. They can't do it. If they could, you would have heard about it.

Again, the motives are political.

If Republicans want to go out and find a bunch of Republican-leaning folks who don't vote and try to convince them to start voting, that's another matter. Go for it. That's fair game. But they are trying to suppress voting, and not just through voter ID laws. They also want to limit voting times and limit registration efforts. It is wrong.

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PearlY 7 months, 3 weeks ago

You asssume that all those registered people without ID are eligible to vote. Considering that the highest percentages are in a few cities with a history of substantial political corruption, I'm just as entitled to assume they aren't. So from my perspective, indeed they should "jump through hoops" or at least show some evidence they're entitled to vote.

The reason for having to register to vote is obvious. Unlike the right to free speech, to bear arms, to worship, each of us is limited to one vote (at least in theory).

If you feel so enraged after a fight with your wife that you can't trust yourself to own a gun, I strongly urge counseling or divorce. That's just plain unhealthy, not to mention dangerous for your wife.

And I don't know why you think it is perfectly safe for an election to be decided by people too incompetent to even figure out how to get an ID. (Again, not very flattering to the Democratic party that they claim the "denser than lead" bloc as their own.) Decisions by politicians often involve life and death.

Which states are "trying really hard"?

And it's wrong to limit the kind of voter registration efforts that have gotten a few dozen ACORN folks convicted of crimes?

I think you're being wilfully obtuse. The motivation for voter fraud is enormous. Yet you persist in believing that, while every other arena in which there are huge sums of money to be obtained is replete with efforts to do so by fraud, including some where the numbers of actual prosecutions are minute, the voting arena remains unsullied.

I entirely get the political motives for your obtuseness. Since I don't really know you at all, I have no idea if you're lying to yourself as part of it or not. In either case, there's not much point in duscussing it further, but I'd still like to know what states you claim are trying hard.

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fatherof5 7 months, 3 weeks ago

ACORN is a canard, but I'll respond to your last question. I can't link in here, but I'll post a few URLs.

The Republican Ohio AG has been trying to find voter fraud for years with virtually no resulting evidence to support the need for voter ID laws. http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/05/23/Husted-voter-fraud-exists-not-an-epidemic.html

This investigative news story from Minnesota is quite informative and comprehensive on the subject. http://www.minnpost.com/politics-policy/2012/08/cases-voter-id-election-fraud-found-virtually-non-existent

The Republican AG in Texas has only found about a dozen cases in ten years that voter ID laws would have stopped. And guess what, they were stopped anyway. This article provides details as to why the courts had rejected Texas' efforts to impose these laws. http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-08-30/politics/35491521_1_type-of-ballot-integrity-voter-id-law-republican-controlled-texas-legislature

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blue_streak 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Oh, for Pete's sake, PealY, if this was entirely about "voter fraud" and photo ID, you might, repeat might have something resembling a valid point.

But most the photo ID rules are accompanied by laws restricting registration, reducing polling hours, exposing groups like the League of Women Voters to civil and criminal liabilities if even a single ineligible voter is registered.

I don't have the link handy, but officials is Texas are openly clear that their redistricting and voter registration laws are intended to give the GOP a "partisan advantage."

Because of the recent Supreme Court decisions about the Voting Rights Act, those officials think it's perfectly acceptable to rig the voting rules in favor of one political party, as long as there's no blatantly clear evidence that the election-rigging is racially motivated.

That's a travesty, but given recent court decisions, the GOP vote suppressors may be right.

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