Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Voter ID? We don't need no...

Unlike the trend of states requiring government-issued photo ID for voting, we won't even be voting on that here. The AG's office says a ballot initiative on it would be unconstitutional.

Tip of the toupee to Adam at Universal Hub.

Numerous socially conservative states (think SC) have passed such legislation one way or another. Down in Columbia, Gov. Niki Haley poo-poo'ed obvious judgments that the law was anti-poor/anti-black in punishing people who did not have licenses or passports. She claims that nearly everyone does and make the fatuous statement that she'd drive anyone who needed to go to motor vehicles for a state ID there herself. I hope she has lots of gas and time. That would be over 178,000 sandlappers. Regardless of the BS, the feds have said show us how this won't disenfranchise large numbers of citizens. To be continued...

Here, AG Martha Coakley's office points to matters excluded from ballot initiatives, as detailed in our constitution's article 48, including:
No proposition inconsistent with any one of the following rights of the individual, as at present declared in the declaration of rights, shall be the subject of an initiative or referendum petition: The right to receive compensation for private property appropriated to public use; the right of access to and protection in courts of justice; the right of trial by jury; protection from unreasonable search, unreasonable bail and the law martial; freedom of the press; freedom of speech; freedom of elections; and the right of peaceable assembly. 
It's the old freedom-of-elections bugbear.

The sticking point is that getting an ID requires at least $25 per person. That would be unconstitutional for those who cannot afford this.

The current law (Chapter 54 §76B) reads that a voter has to show ID if poll workers ask it. This can be a current, valid photo ID or "a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter..."

While most folk think that the lengthy, detailed law works fine, the petitioners for the initiative (11-21) figure otherwise. They write that having every voter show government-issued photo ID every time helps meet their goal of "desiring to preserve the integrity of the voting process,"

As it is, voters show up and orally ID themselves by address and name. If there's a question, they can present a photo ID, like a license or passport, or bring a recent utility bill or such.

As a long-term poll worker, I have not seen any problems. The initiative proposer, Mansfield Selectman Olivier Kozlowski goes for the apocryphal. He told the local Sun Chronicle newspaper that even though there's no evidence of even sparse voter fraud, "Every election you hear stories."

He also brought out the old better-safe-than-sorry routine so beloved of those who favor wiretaps, TSA body probes and such. Since you have to show ID for so many things, why not add voting?

Unfortunately, he falls into and is swallowed up by the huge trap of common sense. "It's only common sense" is what people say when they have nothing. That translates into, "I'm going to make wild assertions and don't want any questions or comments."

Well, Coakley had a comment. Good on her.t.

1 comment:

Uncle said...

This lovely Commonwealth of course has a long and dubious tradition, ID or not, of "vote often, vote early." What if MA volunteered to beta test every ID proposal made anywhere. Given our glorious past, we ought to be able to arrive at infinite ways to throw spanners in the works. The public hilarity potential is enormous.