Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Old Tricks

One of the oldest political techniques in the book is for a politician to create a fake crisis and then pretend he is the only one available to avoid disaster.  The Republicans remind me a little of the old story about the old maid who always feared finding a man hiding under her bed, but was disappointed when he really wasn't there.  The Republicans are a lot like that when it comes to looking for voter fraud.
During the last session of the Legislature, our governor declared as an emergency a measure to require all voters produce picture identification in order to vote.  Not just any picture identification, however--it specified a narrow group of photo IDs that would qualify.  The premise of the legislation was to deal with voter fraud which in fact did not exist. For the last several years, the primary source of voter fraud in texas, what little there was, stemmed from mail-in ballots--which was totally ignored by the Republican legislation requiring voter identification.

While the Republicans blandly say it really has nothing to do with preventing persons from voting, hearings before federal courts have revealed very clearly that it does.

One example is my mother, who will be 98 before the year is out, who has been voting ever since she was old enough to pay for a poll tax.  Clearly desiring to vote and having some time back forfeited her driver's license, she did not possess a voter ID which would pass muster under the Republican legislation.  Because she clearly wants to vote in the future, I bundled her up, took her from the assisted living residence and traveled to downtown Port Arthur to get a photo ID from the drivers license office.  After a wait of about 45 minutes, her picture was taken and in exchange for the $10 fee she was given an official Texas Identification Card containing her picture.

Other evidence brought forth in federal court hearings shows there are counties in Texas which do not offer a Department of Public Safety drivers license office.  This would require, in some instances, poor people to drive many, many miles in an effort to obtain a sanctioned picture identification card.

Comments from various Republicans make it clear what this is about--such as a Republican leader in Pennsylvania who boasted that now that voter ID had been passed in Pennsylvania Governor Romney's election would be assured.  Facts uncovered since the plethora of voter limiting proposals offered by Republicans is further evidence that Republican concern for voter fraud is phony.
The Associated Press has recently revealed the fact that in Colorado--where the Republican Voter Registrar estimated almost 12,000 non-citizens on the voter rolls when checked--only a small handful of non-citizens were on the rolls.  Less than 200 out of the estimated 12,000 of those had actually participated in voting.    
North Carolina and Florida were other examples.  Particularly in Florida, where huge estimates were made of illegal or non-citizens being on the roll, in the final analysis less than 1/100th of a percent were discovered on the voter rolls.  It is absolutely clear the efforts to limit voter registration and throw roadblocks into voting is a solution in search of a problem.
Communists in despotic countries use police force, the military and other totalitarian ways to stop people from voting.  Unfortunately, one of the major parties in the United States has adopted a more subtle but equally dangerous threat to voter participation.


  1. This is a subject that completely pisses me off.

    In my former life, I was a lawyer for the Republican Party of Hudson County, New Jersey, which includes the City of Jersey City, which had gone 100 years without a Republican mayor with but a handful of Republican city councilmen. The entire Republican Party of Hudson County could have traveled comfortably in a Volvo sedan.

    One of my responsibilities was to monitor elections. And in view of the power of the local Democratic political machine, trouble was always to be expected.

    But it never came in the form of aliens or felons or dead people voting. It was always in the form of ballot boxes and voting machines that mysteriously disappeared or malfunctioned. And it was, more often than not, internecine warfare - Democrat against Democrat, Republican against Republican!

    Impersonating dead people is a damned stupid and inefficient way to try to steal an election. And we cannot get undocumented aliens to report rapes and murders, so I don't know what it is that makes Republicans think that undocumented aliens are going to draw attention to themselves and risk deportation by showing up at the polls and attempting to cast an illegal ballot.

    But they say they can't imagine how anyone can survive in this day and age without a valid ID. Hey, I can't imagine why anyone facing criminal prosecution would show up in court in a tank top and gym shorts and flip-flops - but they do, all the time. We don't all share the same reality. Parker's Mom surely hasn't needed a photo ID for anything. I frankly can't recall the last time anyone asked to see my photo ID.

    And as Parker noted, the situation in Texas bears little resemblance to the situation in, for example, Pennsylvania. There are vast expanses of Texas which are 50 miles or more from the nearest DPS drivers license office - an office which might only be open for business on Tuesdays. If you're a farm laborer, or a housebound senior citizen in one of these remote locales, first, you probably have little or no need for a state-issued photo ID, and it's probably a hell of an ordeal to get one.

    By the way, you know what a lot of these people use as identification? You guessed it, their voter registration card.

    Another galling fact: If you don't have a state-issued photo ID and need to obtain one, you will be asked to provide your birth certificate. And if you don't have that, you'll need to send off for one. Guess what they'll ask you to attach to your request? You guessed it - your state-issued photo ID card.

    If you have neither, they will accept some secondary forms of identification such as tax receipts and utility bills. Guess what - when you register to vote, these same forms of identification are acceptable in the absence of a photo ID or birth certificate.

    So all this voter ID nonsense is just that - nonsense. It's forcing people to jump through needless hoops after they have already provided proof of their identity which was sufficiently satisfactory to register them in the first place.

    The whole thing just pisses me off.

  2. Dickson, if you ever write a book, I want to be first in line to buy it.

  3. If I ever do write a book, it'll probably be banned in large parts of Texas. :-)

    In fact, I knew our school systems had gone completely to hell when one day I boarded a Capital Metro bus and sat down next to a schoolkid who had a textbook in his lap. The title of the book gave me shivers:

    "WORLD HISTORY -- Texas Edition"


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