Wednesday, December 12, 2007

uncounted ballots

in his "news of interest" widget, doug links to this tpm muckraker piece about how the DoJ has filed an amicus brief with the US supreme court supporting indiana's draconian voter ID law. the supremes will hear arguments in january for the case.

the tpm muckraker post links to this post on the election law blog. but what really caught my eye was this post, also at election law blog, which links to this brief filed by the marion county election board.

in the brief, the election board claims that at least 32 voters were disenfranchised by the voter ID law in marion county last month:

Provisional ballots were not counted in the 2007 municipal election because of the Voter Identification Statute

In the 2007 municipal election, some votes of otherwise-eligible individuals were not counted because they did not comply with the Voter Identification Statute. The Election Board can verify that at least thirty-four persons arrived at the polls and presented themselves for voting without appropriate photo identification (others may have done so without making a record through the provisional balloting process). As required by statute, each of the thirty-four filled out and signed provisional ballot paperwork, then cast a provisional ballot that was not counted, but rather was sealed and sent to the Election Board for further review. Of the thirty-four provisional ballots cast, only two voters followed up by bringing their compliant identification to the County Clerk's Office so that their provisional ballots would be counted. The other thirty-two did not bring compliant identification to the Clerk's Office within the time period designated by statute, and their votes therefore were not counted. See Ind. Code § 3-11.7-5-2.5.

All thirty-four individuals appeared at the polling place for the precinct in which they were registered. All signatures appearing on their provisional ballot envelopes matched the poll book signatures.4 Two of those whose votes were not counted had voted in fifteen previous elections at their precincts. Six others had voted in fourteen elections at their precincts. Four others had voted in thirteen prior elections at their precincts. One had voted in twelve elections at her precinct, and another had voted in ten elections at her precinct. Only six had no history of voting in a Marion County election, and the remaining persons had voted a handful of times at the precinct where they were registered and appeared on November 6, 2007.

these 32 people showed up at the polls intending to vote, yet their votes were not counted because they could not meet the strict requirements of the voter ID law. of the 32, 26 were regular, long-term voters who had been voting in that location for years, but this year their votes were taken away from them. and that's just in marion county, in one election that had low turnout in many areas. how many more were disenfranchised statewide? and how many more will be disenfranchised if the law isn't overturned?


varangianguard said...

That is an interesting counter-balance to the hints coming from Terre Haute where the losing incumbent Democratic Mayor is in the middle of a recount, and is challenging votes based on the charge of voter fraud.

Left hand should really keep track of what the right hand is doing, before opening another Pandora's Box.

varangianguard said...

OK. I looked over the document you linked to.

A) Bill Crawford's name is attached. Strike one in my book.

B) The 32 voters in question didn't seem motivated enough to follow up. Whose "fault" is that? The law's? Please. Without any context of why those 32 people failed to validate their provisional ballots after the election, the complaint becomes inherently meaningless.

C) One of the points mentioned is that it is a felony to impersonate a voter, and people could go to jail for breaking the law. So, people won't break the law to commit voter fraud. That is just about the most laughable bit of "logic" I have read this whole year. OK. Not laughable, pathetic.

D) I agree that the Supreme Court should review this law. The Indiana law may, or may not, be written well enough to stand the test of time. But, the arguments that I have seen so far from opponents are weak. I would think that better argumentation could be found if it were there to be found.

stAllio! said...

they didn't "seem motivated"?

they were motivated to come out to the polls to vote, in some cases for fifteen years straight. they were motivated enough to cast provisional ballots rather than merely go home.

talk about your laughable bits of logic. ok. not laughable, pathetic.

varangianguard said...

Humorous, but misleading. You, like all critics of voter I.D., don't actually answer the concern at hand, but simply attempt to turn it back upon me as being faulty logic on my part. So, Let's talk concrete examples, not insubstantial potentialities.

The citizens I personally know who do not have I.D. (that would satisfy the law), do not have I.D. because they do not want to have I.D. And I do know of more than one, in case you care.

Not because they can't get it, because they don't want it. I see that as a personal choice, separate from the issue of being unable to obtain valid I.D.

I don't see that as a justifiable complaint for them not being able to vote. Those persons have made a concious choice which causes a collateral effect of their own creation.

Unless I am able to ascertain the exact reasons for why 32 out of 34 persons did not deem it possible/necessary/warranted/worthwhile to certify their identities as per the law pertaining to provisional ballots, then I also deem it a superfluous and specious argument for anyone to claim that any voters have been disenfranchised.

If citizens really want to vote, then get a valid I.D. Don't want one? Then take responsibility for your own personal choices and quit trying to impose your own personal choices upon anybody else.

You lack perspective, and it shows. This shouldn't be simply an exercise as to who thinks who is the wittiest. Without a real argument and without some conclusive evidence, I can only make my conclusions based upon what I have read. So far, I have read that 32 out 34 people failed to follow up upon their casting of provisional ballots in the municipal election. All else is conjecture, and your suppositions fail to convince me as mine fail to convince you.
This filing shouldn't convince a 1st year law student. Still, it isn't up to you, me or a 1st year law student, is it?

stAllio! said...

i lack perspective?

here are the facts. of those 32 uncounted votes, 26 had signatures that matched the signatures on the roles. this means that, without the voter ID law, those 26 votes absolutely would've been counted. in other words, they have been disenfranchised.

you can assume that they're lazy shiftless bastards or fraudulent voters like the commenters at doug's place if you like, or that they've somehow consciously decided to go "off the grid" and yet didn't know about the voter ID law (which is frankly silly), but occam's razor suggests they're just normal voters who for whatever reason were unable to get a valid ID and get over to the county clerk's office within the allotted time.

frankly i don't care why they don't have ID. if they are legitimate voters, their votes should be counted. period.

the problem with the voter ID law isn't that it exists; it's that it's way too restrictive. many of us opponents of the law would be satisfied with a more flexible law.

varangianguard said...

Yes, you do. Your progression of logic as to disenfranchisement is flawed. You oversimplify to coerce your own conclusion upon a reader. Your conclusion does not but answer itself. You won't allow for any alternative conclusion which is intellectually dishonest.

If I were compensated for the time and effort, I could register at as many precincts as I might care to. It's called cheating. Think I couldn't get as many fake I.D.'s as it would take to convince you? Think again. Would it stand up for 15 consecutive elections. Well, maybe and then maybe not. Would that validate your opinion on matching signatures? Signatures are meaningless without context. Valid I.D. is context.

It really doesn't matter what kind of voters they are, whether real or imagined. They haven't followed the law. Which by the way, I hardly consider burdensome in the 21st century. You, and I are putting our own assumptions ahead of whatever the reality is, because we don't know the reality.

Occam's razor? Your assumption is absolutely no better than the assumption that 32 liars got caught out. That assumption is no less simple than your own. Insincere, at least, for you to think otherwise.

You cannot know if they are "legitimate" voters or not. You simply want them to be. Why, because it fits your own preconceived view. That doesn't count, period.

I agree that the law should be reviewed, or haven't you let that sink in yet? What we seem to vehemently disagree upon is whether or not the oppposition has more than a specious argument, or not. I don't think they do. And, if I'm right, their "arguments" are going to get spanked in front of the Supreme Court.

stAllio! said...

fake IDs? are you serious? if these voters had fake IDs, then their votes would've been counted! shit, if it's that easy to get fake IDs, then there's no point in having a voter ID law because the fraudsters will just get a wallet full of fake IDs.

you're undermining your own arguments, buddy.

besides, you must realize that everything you're saying about me applies equally well to you. yes, i, like the marion county election board, find it self-evident that many, if not all, of those 32 were legitimate voters. i'm happy to admit that a few might be suspicious, but the laws of probability and, yes, occam's razor suggest that many of them were legitimate disenfranchised voters.

you, on the contrary, seem utterly unwilling to acknowledge that even one of them mighthave been genuinely disenfranchised. now, which one of is being intractible and illogical?

in other words, i'll admit my arguments are specious when you admit that yours are.

Wilson46201 said...

Todd Rokita and the Bush Justice Department told him that the VoterID Law was God's way so don't argue with a True Believer.

varangianguard said...

I agree. You and I don't know what the deal is with those 32 voters. Since we don't know, I agree that either of our arguments are purely speculative in nature. I admit to being stubborn, but not illogical. I just don't fit your opinion. That hardly qualifies for making something invalid.

In the absence of verifiable information, Occams' razor is less than effacious in attempting to explain unknown behavior or phenomena. Just because an explanation is simple, doesn't make it correct. Look at the differences between "classical" physics and more contemporary theories, for example.

I am unwilling to acknowledge that any one, or all, of those citizens were disenfranchised because there is no evidence (compelling or otherwise) that they were. 32 deposed statements is all I ask for. I know you can't provide them, but Rep. Crawford should have been able to. Somebody did go to a lot of work to write up that filing, but it was goobledygook. Throwing out a large list of references doesn't necessarily make anything more respectable or more correct. 32 depositions would have been much more compelling evidence. The rest is nothing.

I do know one thing more than you here. The suit was filed against the Marion County Election Board, not by it.

Wilson, please take your pigeon act to another posting. I'm trying to be serious here.

Wilson46201 said...

Varangian: you forfeit major points by carelessly and callously dismissing Representative William Crawford's participation in the case. You'll discover he was the winning plaintiff over a number of years to major civil rights cases dealing with representation and voting in Indiana. On these issues, I'll stand with the NAACP, ICLU and Bill Crawford - you can stand with Todd Rokita and the Bush Justice Department!

varangianguard said...

Wilson, forfeiting any points with you is just breaking my heart.

If this filing is an example of Rep. Crawford's best work, then law schools ought to be taken out back to the woodshed.

Civil rights cases since the late 1960's are easy compared to some legal issues that have been debated over the 200+ years. Anybody with a modicum of aptitude should have been able to shred the opposition during the last 30+ years.

I do not carelessly dismiss Rep. Crawford's work. But, no need to get into a snit about him personally. I dismiss lots of political attorneys' work, so it's just that his name is on this particular filing that brings him to mind.

I think I would have fainted had you claimed that you would not be pandering to your usual organizations. You won't believe it, but they are human too, and aren't always shining examples for those who aren't blinded by partisanism.

Like everybody else, you fail to let it sink in that I welcome this challenge at the Supreme Court level. And, unlike you and your ilk, I will not second guess and/or whine like four year olds about the Court's majority opinion if it goes against my own views on the matter.

Wilson46201 said...

Rep. Bill Crawford was the plaintiff reflecting the deep concern African-Americans and other citizens have about this issue of voters rights. He's not an attorney - others did the lawyering.

You seem to welcome and support the original flawed idea that there's such rampant voterID fraud that is worth the restricting some citizens right to vote by the countermeasures imposed. The ACLU, NAACP and I disagree with you.

varangianguard said...

Hmmpf. Rep. Crawford needs to find some better attorneys then. These churn out work that is less than acceptable for the SCOTUS level.

As usual, you only comprehend what you want to. I don't mind voter I.D. because:

a) It's the 21st century and every U.S. citizen should have a valid I.D. I admit it. That is my opinion. But, it's also my opinion, based upon real life experience, that people who won't get a valid I.D. have an ulterior motive for not doing so. That is their personal choice and the effect of that choice is their own personal repsonsibility, not mine. So, it is unfair to demand that the society as a whole pander to the personal wishes of a very small percentage of the citizenry. For everybody else who might not be able to easily come up with the required documentation, there are provisions for that in the law. You are too lazy to read that far down in the documentation.

b) You throw out the term flawed without any kind of substantiation. That is intellectually disengenuous of you. I know for a fact that voter fraud has existed (proven, people sent to prison, etc) in the U.S. (Indiana, even). If it has existed, then under my own social philosophy of behavioral persistence, it likely still exists to this day. In fact, I believe that you would accept my behavioral persistence theory as well, because it would equally apply to the continued pattern of individual and institutional racism that persists in the U.S. today.

c) You, and others, play the African-American card because it suits you to do so. You hope for an easy "out" of having to provide a real argument when the race card is played. Others may fall for it, but don't expect me to. I think opponents would do themselves a BIG favor if they quit whining about the black man beat down. Especially, when it comes from successful African-Americans. Do you not see the contradiction you parade in front of everyone when you do that? Well, since you continue to do so, I suppose not.