What Fresh Hell Is This?

April 30, 2008

The Trib's Odd Little Editorial

This morning, The Clinton-loving Editorail Board at DickieCougarMellonScaife's Tribune-Review took on the the editorial board of the New York Times.

The result was an odd editorial that left out more than it included. The issue at hand is the recent Supreme Court ruling upholding Indiana's Voter ID law. Here's The Trib:

Leave it to liberals to declare that protecting the integrity of the franchise somehow is a threat to our democratic republic.

Yet that's exactly how The New York Times characterized the U.S. Supreme Court's commonsense ruling upholding the constitutionality of requiring voters to prove they are who they say they are at the polls.

"Democracy was the big loser" in Monday's 6-3 decision upholding an Indiana law, The Times opines. Fraud prevention, these whacked-out liberals contend, is an "interference." The ruling "solves a nearly nonexistent problem," it notes.

Which is true, by the way. According to this study, voter fraud is nearly non-existent. Take a look:

At the national level, a major new project at the U.S. Department of Justice, the Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative (BAVII) has resulted in only a handful of convictions. according to the Attorney General, since the inception of the program in 2002, "we’ve made enforcement of election fraud and corruption offenses a top priority." The result? Government records show that only 24 people were convicted of or pleaded guilty to illegal voting between 2002 and 2005, an average of eight people a year. This includes 19 people who were ineligible to vote, five because they were still under state supervision for felony convictions, and 14 who were not u.s. citizens; and five people who voted twice in the same election, once in kansas and again in Missouri.

In addition, the BAVII uncovered several vote buying schemes that have resulted in the convictions or guilty pleas of about 30 people, though most of those convicted were party and election officials, candidates for public office and elected officials, and in one case, the commander of a local VfW post. The vote buying cases involved a handful of elections in the appalachia regions of eastern Kentucky and West Virginia, East St. Louis, Illinois and Caldwell County, North Carolina.

So between 2002 and 2005 there were a few dozen of convictions during which time millions upon millions of people voted. Yet the Trib board counters that with a stunningly placed non sequitur:
Like the atrocious, political-speech restricting campaign finance laws that those of The Times' ilk support?
I don't know if I need to remind anyone, but the trendy thing for conservatives to oppose in campaign finance laws is "McCain-Feingold" also known as "Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002." It too passed Supreme Court muster. In 2003.

If an OK by the Supreme Court is enough to placate the Trib's editorial board, then how do they explain their reaction to the "atrocious, political-speech restricting" laws that the Supremes have already OKed?

I wonder.

Anyway, the Trib ends things this way:

The coup de grace of the high court's voter-identification ruling is that the lead opinion was written by dedicated liberal John Paul Stevens. Which makes the liberals' protestations all the more laughable and all the more suspect.

Democrat-sponsored voter fraud certainly must be pervasive.

Again, no it isn't. But it's certainly interesting to point out what the Trib doesn't complain about in the Times editorial. The Times goes through a discussion of the issue:

In 2005, Indiana passed one of the nation’s toughest voter ID laws. It requires voters to present government-issued photo ID at the polls. Private college IDs, employee ID cards and utility bills are unacceptable. For people without a driver’s license — who are disproportionately poor and minority — the burden is considerable. To get acceptable ID, many people would be forced to pay fees for underlying documents, such as birth certificates.

This should not have been a hard case. The court has long recognized that the right to vote is so fundamental that a state cannot restrict it unless it can show that the harm it is seeking to prevent outweighs the harm it imposes on voters.

The Indiana law does not meet this test. The harm it imposes on voters, some of whom will no doubt be discouraged from casting ballots, is considerable. The state’s interest in the law, on the other hand, is minimal. It was supposedly passed to prevent people from impersonating others at the polls, but there is no evidence that this has ever happened in Indiana. It seems far more likely that the goal of the law’s Republican sponsors was to disenfranchise groups that lean Democratic.

Here's the curious part. At the tail end of the editorial we find:

Hovering over Monday’s decision was a case that was not mentioned: Bush v. Gore. In 2000, the Supreme Court took seriously the claims of one individual — George W. Bush — that his equal protection rights were being denied by a state election system, and the court had no hestitation about telling the state what to do.

On “60 Minutes” on Sunday, Justice Scalia yet again told the public to “get over” that ruling. There are many good reasons to remember Bush v. Gore, and Monday’s ruling was a reminder of one of them. Seven years after it invoked the Constitution to vindicate what it saw as Mr. Bush’s right to fair election procedures, we are still waiting for the court to extend this guarantee with equal vigilance to every American.

The Trib pounces on the first paragraph of the Times editorial but leaves this unmentioned?? What, didn't they bother to read the whole thing?


Anonymous said...

John K. says: Voter fraud is a myth. LOL LOL LOL Tell that to the people of Chicago and Detroit. LBJ used to keep two boxes of unmarked ballots under his desk at election time just in case. I got more if you need it.

Char said...

Well, I'm going to put forth what will probably be a very unpopular opinion.....

We humans will never be able to pass any law which is 100% "fair" on anything. The best we can do is remain sensible and consistent.

We require proper ID to purchase liquor or cigarettes, to fly on a plane or travel to other countries. Voting is an extremely important function, one where proper ID is logical and should be required.

I feel the hypersensitivity to voter ID laws is very similar to the hypersensitivity regarding many of the proposed gun-control laws, for instance. The mandatory reporting of stolen guns to help end the "straw man" purchaser scam comes immediately to mind.

I think voter ID is just inherently reasonable.

Anonymous said...

the only "voter fraud" that i have seen in my lifetime, has been at the hands of the republicans in florida and ohio.

but then again, those votes went YOUR way, john k. so i guess that's just sour grapes and whining?

kinda' like bringing up elections from DECADES ago???


Fillippelli the Cook said...

OK, OK, I know that a certain troll's rants have become, I have to admit, less than 100% batshit insane. They now hover around the 75% batshit insane, indicating that the pharmaceutical industry is not an entirely useless operation.

That said, there is no more futile or time-wasting effort than attempting to respond to or engage said troll in any way. You can get more enjoyment testing out new cheese graters on your forearm.

As for the post topic, I can see both sides of the argument. While it seems fairly intuitive that securing some form of valid ID and presenting it to vote is by no means unreasonable, for a good portion of our populace, they often lack even a stable location that they can call a residence, making it very difficult to even get an ID.

Then again, I always find it so funny that so many on the right are so concerned about the integrity of elections, but I never hear a one come out and say what is patently obvious: if you want to ensure the integrity of our electoral system, then there should be a federally funded, 100% standardized procedure for holding elections in every state. No deviations from state to state. No cute little quirks. No interesting deviations from the norm that give some state's elections their own special character. One system, standardized from top to bottom, to ensure that the very motherfucking foundation of democracy, the right to vote in free and fair elections, works as it's supposed to.

But that would only benefit the whole country, and members of Congress from both parties wouldn't want that to happen.

Eric W said...

In principle I agree with Phillippelli's assertion that "if you want to ensure the integrity of our electoral system, then there should be a federally funded, 100% standardized procedure for holding elections in every state". I must disagree with it in practice, though.

First, the people do not directly elect the POTUS. The popular vote in each state determines how state electors are selected to vote in the Electoral College. Consequently, the election of the POTUS is not truly a national democratic election. As a state-level election, states have the constitutional authority to specify how electors are chosen. The federal goverment might have the authority to set minimum standards that must be met by states; a constitutional law scholar would have to check that out.

I'm not making any value judgments about the Electoral College. I'm merely pointing out that, love it or hate it, it's the only body responsible for electing the POTUS. Unless that's changed via an amendment, a federally mandated and funded electoral system would be unconstitutional.

Second, I'm very wary of giving additional powers to the federal government. It has a bad habit of taking a foot when given an inch (the corruption of absolute power, and all that). It also has a reputation for handling matters with maximum bureaucracy and minimum efficiency.

Lastly, expanding on granting additional powers, I worry about giving a governing body the final say on the rules for electing its members. Such power would almost certainly used to favor incumbents and party insiders.

In conclusion, I do not believe that a federally mandated and funded electoral system would safeguard democracy, assuming that is possible and/or desirable. For good or for ill, our country is a democratic republic with limited federal powers. Thus, protecting direct democracy in an inherently indirect system amounts to misplaced effort.

Maria said...

"We require proper ID to purchase liquor or cigarettes, to fly on a plane or travel to other countries."

You have no constitutional right to purchase anything in particular, fly on a plane, etc., but you do have a constitutional right to vote.

You should not have to pay -- purchase a particular ID -- to do it.

There are other forms of ID that could be allowed -- and are currently in some states -- from voter registration card to a utility bill.

Fillippelli the Cook said...

Agree that giving the feds too much power over elections is not necessarily a good idea. The idea of strong, minimum standards -- accompanied by sufficient federal funding to meet them (don't like mandates without funding) -- would be good.

But it's obvious that something has to be done. The current system is a mess. We are the most technologically advanced country in the world, and yet the nightmare that has befallen our country came about, in no small part, because of hanging chads. That is an absolutely appalling thought.

EdHeath said...

I would side with the people who want less or no ID's for voting. Preparing people's taxes (charging and now for free), I have seen how poor people frequently do not have ID. Some also have very little (official) income, possisbly working under the table or selling merchandise out of the back of their car trunk (DVD's, t-shirts, guns, drugs, what have you).

Yes, there are legal limitations on certain transactions without an ID, like purchasing alcohol, flying or traveling abroad (or driving). But these situations exist because of the public interest in regulating these things, to prevent underage drinking or inhibit terrorism, for example. Their is a public interest in preventing voter fraud, but that intrerest can be served using other ID's, such as combinations of utility bills and a credit card or some social service ID. I ould hesitate to put this at the same level as gun control laws. With gun control, at least of handguns, the public interest is better served by more restrictions than less.

Bram Reichbaum said...

Oofah this is a tough call. I'd say definitely it should be *constitutional* for states to require voter ID's -- provided it passes muster with the STATE constitution -- but if I'm in Pennsylvania I'm voting against it. A man's rights shouldn't depend on his portfolio of documents.

Anonymous said...

John K. says: Those voter ID things get so in the way of a Democrat victory. Just ask the people of WA State where ACORN registered over 6,000 fake people. But what did it matter. Its Democrat victory that matters. And all those voter ID's do is prevent Democrats from voting as many times as they feel necessary to win. LMAO Democrats are so afraid of a fair and accurate vote.

Joshua said...

The only way to get anyone's attention outside our little circle is to call this what it really is--a POLL TAX, which is forbidden under the 24th Amendment. Unless, of course, the federal government (or state governments) wishes to issue a photo ID that does not require any form of payment, but I doubt it. We must eliminate the poll tax AGAIN!