Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Important enough to have its own post

Just a couple of posts down I wrote about the Supreme Court case on the Indiana law requiring a photo ID in order to vote - a case which, I should have mentioned but failed to, is to be argued tomorrow. Requiring such ID is, as I said,
a practice that many fear will lead to (further) disenfranchisement of already-underrepresented poor and minority voters
and through that very means disproportionately benefit one major party over the other. The counter-claim to that made by advocates of the additional roadblocks on the way to the ballot box is that opponents of the law in Indiana and the more than two dozen other states that had adopted similar requirements have failed to present anyone who was actually prevented from voting by the law.

Well, guess what.
[O]n Election Day last November, Valerie Williams became that evidence, [reported the New York Times on Monday].... After Ms. Williams grabbed her cane that day and walked into the polling station in the lobby of her retirement home to vote, as she has done in at least the last two elections, she was barred from doing so.

The election officials at the polling place, whom she had known for years, told her she could not cast a regular ballot. They said the forms of identification she had always used - a telephone bill, a Social Security letter with her address on it and an expired Indiana driver’s license - were no longer valid under the voter ID law, which required a current state-issued photo identification card.

“Of course I threw a fit,” said Ms. Williams, 61, who was made to cast a provisional ballot instead, which, according to voting records, was never counted. Ms. Williams - who has difficulty walking - said she was not able to get a ride to the voting office to prove her identity within 10 days as required under the law, and her ballot was discarded. ...

Mary-Jo Criswell, 71, who, like Ms. Williams is an Indiana voter cited in the case before the Supreme Court, had her vote thrown out in November after she was told the identification she had used in previous elections - a bank card with a photograph, a utility bill and a phone bill - no longer sufficed. ...

“It’s like I’m having to recreate my identity and build a paper trail after all these years of never having problems,” she said, explaining that her epilepsy had prevented her from ever getting a driver’s license. Her passport expired in the 1950s, she said, and she did not have a copy of her birth certificate last November.
Which wouldn't have helped her anyway because it's obviously not a photo ID. Ms. Williams and Ms. Criswell are not the only ones:
A brief filed with the Supreme Court by the Marion County Board of Elections, the state’s largest voting jurisdiction and a defendant in the case, said Ms. Williams - who is a black Republican - and 31 other voters had to cast provisional ballots because they showed up at the polls without the state-required ID.... Because they also failed to appear later at county offices with the identification required to validate their identities, all of these voters had their ballots thrown out, records show. In interviews, many of these voters said they could not find transportation or could not afford the IDs.

All of these voters appeared at the polling place for the precinct in which they were registered, and all of the signatures on their provisional-ballot envelopes matched the appropriate poll book signatures. At least 14 of these voters had voted in 10 elections before last year, according to voting records.
It's important to repeat the point that Indiana has never prosecuted a single case of voter impersonation. But that, of course, doesn't matter to the brilliant legal minds of the Shrub gang, for who torturing logic comes as naturally as torturing prisoners:
The Bush administration, arguing in favor of the law in a brief filed with the Supreme Court, suggested it was not necessary to prove fraud was actually taking place, given the importance of preventing such fraud.

“The state’s interest in deterring voter fraud before it happens is evident from the monumental harm that can come from such fraud,” the brief said.
Okay, by that logic, I expect the Shrub gang to push Congress to pass a measure making it illegal for space aliens to impersonate humans. I mean, think of the incalculable harm that could arise from having space aliens undetected among us! The fact that there's absolutely no evidence that it's happening (or even that intelligent extraterrestial life exists) is completely unimportant, irrelevant, even!

If and when the WHS* do that, I will take their argument to the Supreme Court seriously. Until then, they can kiss my ass.

Oh, by the way, studies by state officials of Georgia, Michigan and Missouri
found that at least 4 percent of registered voters lacked the type of ID needed under the strictest voter identification laws. A 2007 study by political scientists at the University of Washington found that about 13 percent of registered voters in Indiana lacked the required identification.
But those are just more of those stupid fact-thingies and we know what the right wing thinks of them.

*WHS = White House Sociopaths

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