Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Voter fraud's veil of ignorance

I haven't had a chance to spend much time with the Milwaukee Police Department's report on irregularities in the 2004 election and probably won't until later today. I agree with Jay Bullock that it's something of a political Rohrschach test. (Subliminally influenced there, Jay?) The voter ID issue in general is such an issue. My sense of the issue is that voter ID would deter very few votes and prevent very little fraud. Where you come down tends to turn on how you weigh the ease of voting vs. the potential for fraud.

But I approach the debate with one huge qualification. There is really no way to know how much fraud there is because, at least in Wisconsin, we have created a system where it is damn near impossible to get caught. I assume that there is not wholesale schemes to game our elections because I suspect that somebody involved would talk, but no one can really know. And, when elections are as close as they have been here, even a little cheating can go a long way.

I have always thought that the combination of no real identification requirement combined with same day registration (along with partisan registrars)pretty much amounts to a license to cheat. I don't know how many people actually do so, but, then again, neither does anyone else.

In the 2004 election, I watched a guy from a Democrat front group (Americans Coming Together)register people at the polls on election day based on things like a lease or utility bill. In that particular case, I am confident that he did not knowingly abet fraud because I happened to know the guy (we worship at the same church) and I don't think he'd do that. But I also know that he had no way to tell if he was being gamed and neither did I (or the other seven lawyers that were lolling around the polling place).

But, without regard to who it hurts or helps, shouldn't this make us uncomfortable?


Craig Nolen said...

I couldn't do anything but agree more as a former special registration deputy in Madison. When we would register people all we would ask for is a driver's license. It did not matter if the people were actually Madison residents or could provide any verification of such information that they provided on their registration. The early registration that I participated in caused a substantial burden on the city hall in Madison by requiring countless hours of data entry followed by no verification of such information. People who pre-registered would not even have to provide any verification at the polling place other than their driver's license. A voter ID card should be accompany a citizen's drivers license and be scanned to verify a voter's ability to vote in a district. While this would create a burden on individuals to re-certify their residence with every change in their domicile, the system would be served much more efficiently and fairly.

Craig Nolen said...

needless to say, I don't actually remember being required to show an ID at the polling place, I can't really confirm or deny what I was required to do to vote

Publius said...

I was sorry to note the passing of William F. Buckley, Jr., today. Despite being a Yale Grad, Bill rose to prominence and is responsible for many of the basic tenants of “Conservative Thought.” Until I saw him on TV with(or against) Gore Vidal during the 1968 Democratic Party convention, I thought al politicians were “Marble Men”, like Washington and Lincoln, monolithic (or is it monomythic) statues who never disagreed.

Anonymous said...

I watched a guy from a Democrat front group (Americans Coming Together)register people at the polls on election day based on things like a lease or utility bill.

I suggest you go read the state law on registration.
You look closely, or have someone show you how each point can be validated by the other.
Utility bill? The point to an address, which also validates a name at that address, which is ilkely to show up on a prior voter registration....
And what do you find?

A voter, a real life honest voter living in Wisconsin!
And then we could add the other points, like a DL number, WIsc ID number...all traceble and easily validated by the state, which it does for the counties, after every election.

Driver's Licenses last 8 years, many people move, so they validate themselves, as citzens of age with that DL, then add the utility bill to validate where they now live, during registration....

How many parts of blind ignorance, has to hit the right wing before they realize there is no fraud?

Is there a reason Mr. Nolan is a FORMER pollworker?
His reason may answer that question...
When a person moves to a new ward, that voter ID is useless.
Wrong address on it, they died their hair, shaved off the beard and are wearing colrred contacts, instead of glasses....did I mention they lost 120 lbs since the last election?
The the 80 year old pollworker with cataracts is qualifying what? The photo part of the ID?

The current system is excellent and cross-references all those points of identity.

Again most registrations are simple address moves for people who have voted in Wisconsin.
Not the incidious terrorist plot portrayed.

If you are so worried about a non-issue, here is your solution.
Use an absentee ballot.
Vote from home.

Craig Nolen said...

To anonymous:
I was not a poll worker, but rather a special registration deputy who went around campus at UW-Madison to register voters on the behalf of student organizations at UW-Madison.

Utility bills and leases are easily forged or counterfeited. All someone needs is a copy machine to forge a utility bill or MS-Word to counterfeit a lease. A driver license was not even necessary to register to vote in Wisconsin if you were not a Wisconsin resident, rather the individuals solely needed the last four of their social security number. Wisconsin residents needed their drivers license only to fill in a blank that asked for their drivers license number.

Asking citizens to remain up-to-date on their drivers license or state ID in order to vote would not be an extreme imposition on those parties. Hell, we could even have the DMV officials registering and confirming voters at the polling places.

I have voted numerous times as an absentee because I choose to keep my residency in Monroe, WI because one of my friends is the state representative.

When you refer to me, please make sure that you spell my name correctly as well. In addition, it'd be great if you weren't a coward and went by anonymous.


Anonymous said...

I'm sitting here pondering whether
Anonymous 9:41 is profoundly stupid, dishonest or just a moron.
The conclusion I'm coming to is that he is stupid and a moron.
To be that dishonest would give Bill Clinton a run for his money.
But to be that stupid, would require a lot of kool aid drinking and a modicum of moron.