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Federal Court Enjoins Ohio Voter ID Rule:

Today's Cleveland Plain Dealer reports:

A federal judge Thursday evening blocked enforcement of new identification requirements for absentee voters, agreeing that the state's voter ID law is vague, confusing and unevenly applied by Ohio election boards since early voting began this month.

"Absentee voters are suffering irreparable harm right now," said U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley in announcing his decision. . . .

The emergency order will be in effect until Nov. 1 when Marbley will hold a full hearing that will also address whether the ID requirements should be suspended at the polls on Nov. 7.

The Associated Press further reports:

Under the law, an absentee voter must submit a written application that includes a driver's license number, the last four digits of the voter's Social Security number, or a copy of a current photo ID, military identification, utility bill or bank statement.

Lawyers who filed the lawsuit said the law, which also requires voters to produce identification when they check in at polling stations, is unconstitutional because of the inconsistencies in the way it is being enforced.

The secretary of state's office has argued that county boards of elections should have a clear understanding of the law because the state sent instructions to them at least twice since May.

Ohio State's Election Law @ Moritz site has lots more details, including copies of the orders and some initial commentary.

John T (mail):
Hmm. In the previous discussion of a voter ID law, there were several who commented claiming that voter ID in person was a sideshow, and that the "real fraud" occurred in absentee voting. (A point that I have some sympathy for.) However, some of these same posters also claimed that Republicans would refuse to crack down on absentee voting for partisan reasons or some such. I don't think that that is the case. I think that, in general, the same people who support voter ID laws also support voter ID and other safeguards for absentee voting.
10.27.2006 12:30pm
Sarah (mail) (www):
This makes no sense to me. My mom's a precinct judge in our area (as was I in the last election -- my academic responsibilities are thankfully keeping me from having to get up at 4am this November 7th;) they warned us about the changes during the primary, they sent out the official instructions about a month ago (it's not hard, though the flow chart is kind of funny, since there are so many different options that voters can exercise,) and they had a training night just in case people didn't understand the rules. AND our board has been successfully fielding questions about this for weeks now, and there will be huge 4-color posters in the polling locations explaining the whole thing for anyone who's nervous. And the procedures are essentially the same as they were before for provisional voters (except the list of documents is a little longer.) I am highly skeptical that hordes of absentee voters (who, incidentally, still have another full week to try and sort things out) are being denied the opportunity to vote because board members aren't following the directions provided to them...

In any case, apparently if you don't have any ID at all and don't pay any bills and have no SSN and no way of proving your identity or your address -- though you can't get a job, buy most things, go anywhere, or receive so much as a library card -- you can now vote in Ohio until the end of the month. Woohoo!
10.27.2006 12:55pm
Tek Jansen:
Does Ohio provide free IDs? If not, why would this law not be seen as obviously unconstitutional?
10.27.2006 1:35pm
godfodder (mail):
Only lawyers could make something as simple as showing ID into such a circus. You can do literally nothing in this country without some form of ID: electronic or otherwise. You can't cash a check, write a check, get on a plane, check out a library book, drive a car, have a job, buy property, buy a beer, buy anything (except, perhaps a candy bar), open a back account... the list is nearly endless. Oh, except vote! You can vote all day long... Mr. John DoeSmith.

It is obvious that no system created by mankind is perfect. Why is the voting system being held to this ridiculous standard of unachievable, perfect access?

Look, there are two competing interests here-- those who want to vote but lack even a scrap of ID (who are these people?), and those who wish to limit voter fraud. Which one has the more legitmate interest? Which one is more important to the public's confidence in the voting process?

Absurd... and embarassing to the legal profession, I would think.
10.27.2006 1:43pm
alg35:
The problem is that there is a common characteristic among most people who don't have ID that makes this tantamount to a poll tax or poll test. We're talking about people who don't drive, don't have bank accounts, don't have a regular job, and don't have utilities in their name. These are the very poor, perhaps homeless, that nonetheless deserve a vote under our system.

Voter fraud is a serious issue, but not necessarily more serious than the disenfranchisement of a class of voters.
10.27.2006 2:10pm
pete (mail) (www):
<blockquote>
The problem is that there is a common characteristic among most people who don't have ID that makes this tantamount to a poll tax or poll test.
</blockquote>

As the article said you can use "the last four digits of the voter's Social Security number"

Are homeless people too poor to know the last four digits of their social security number?

I agree that if we require an ID to vote we should make the ID free, but the Ohio law allows the would be voter a wide variety of ways to provide ID some of which like social security numbers are free.

I do not know Ohio voting law other than this article, but I believe Minnesotta allows same day registration with no requirment other than that someone else (who also does not have to have ID) vouches that you are who you say are and live in the area. St. Louis recently had hundreds of false voter registration address changes mailed in and Washingston state has had loads of trouble with people who provided false addresses on registration forms to the point where the current governor probably got a minority of the legitimately cast vores in the last election.
10.27.2006 2:34pm
farmer56 (mail):
I just returned from a visit to my county auditor to pick up my absentee ballott. I cant. It can only be mailed. I returned with the app that had my name and address. I was told that I failed to fill out the space for a drivers lic. number. I said 'I did not know I had to drive to vote.

This system is a huge problem.

I can go to twenty counties and vote twenty times.

A fix needs to be done
10.27.2006 2:35pm
pete (mail) (www):
I should add that I voted earlier this week in Texas and you have many ways to prove who you say you are when you vote, but almost everyone uses either a state ID (not free) or a little card the elections official mails to your address each year (free).

Here is a good list of various state's requirements for IDs when voting.
10.27.2006 3:03pm
Ken Arromdee:
While not letting people vote because of lack of ID can cause irreparable damage, stopping the ID rule and allowing people to vote without IDs can *also* cause irreparable damage, if enough noncitizens vote that it affects the outcome of the election.
10.27.2006 3:39pm
msj (mail):
Voting is a right. Renting a movie is not. While the state can set standards for voters it cannot actively seek to prevent citizens from voting. The burden of proof should be on the government here not on the citizen.
10.27.2006 3:40pm
Houston Lawyer:
"We're talking about people who don't drive, don't have bank accounts, don't have a regular job, and don't have utilities in their name." Most of those people in this country are illegal aliens, not entitled to vote.
10.27.2006 4:02pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Most of the illegal aliens I've known have had regular jobs... Of course, the reason I met them and knew they were illegal is because I was working with them, so there might be an inherent bias in my dataset.
10.27.2006 4:24pm
alg35:

Most of those people in this country are illegal aliens, not entitled to vote.


I'm talking about the homeless citizens, not illegal aliens. Although I don't know any homeless people personally, I do know people who have some of those characteristics. For instance, people with roommates (or who live with significant others) often do not have utilities in their name. A lot of people do not have bank accounts and prefer to have cash - this is why check cashing places are so profitable. Many poor people do not have state issued IDs because they have no need to drive, nor any reason to pay for a non-drivers ID.

Those who have none of the identification (especially SSNs) but are nevertheless citizens of the US are a small minority, but they do exist, and deserve the right to vote.
10.27.2006 4:30pm
pete (mail) (www):
"Those who have none of the identification (especially SSNs) but are nevertheless citizens of the US are a small minority, but they do exist, and deserve the right to vote."

Considering that the government gives out social security numbers for free when you are born, it is not an unreasonable requirement to expect you to put down the last four digits of your number, which is good enough ID for Ohio. While it takes some effort to show who you are and what voting precinct you live in, it is not an unreasaonable one or a tax.

Potential voters should have to provide some means of identifying themselves at the polls or some people will vote repeatedly in the same election (or will vote in elections where they should not be eligible to vote), which can be worse that denying someone the right to vote. Someone voting ten times in one election can effectively disenfranchise nine people who voted a different way by cancelling their vote.

For those of you opposed to any form of ID requirement, including one as liberal as Ohio's, what is your solution to stop people from voting more than once in an election? If you can provide a convincing one, I will gladly end my support for voting ID requirements.
10.27.2006 5:03pm
farmer56 (mail):
A SSN Someone, (Hell! anyone), explaine why a SSN is required to vote. Last I checked I do not need one. To all those that want a form of ID to vote... I'm in. Just that you have all entered into the world of a National ID.

I do not want to play. If I cannot make the illegals show ID, then I refuse. As per the ditrict court of Ohio
10.27.2006 5:32pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
I'm just back from filing suit in Indiana to enjoin Indiana's voter ID. Hope to get a hearing next week.

Pete: My solution would involve large rewards for information leading to successful prosecution, searches based on probable cause and or a warrant,prosecution of violators. If it works reasonably well to deter murder, it should work reasonably well to deter voter fraud. Meanwhil, Pete, what are the last four digits of your soc?
If you wouldn't want to disclose it here, you shouldn't expect people to want to disclose it to a government agency that refuses to comply with the Privacy Act.
10.27.2006 5:33pm
JDS:
The bigger scandal is the move toward absentee (non-secret) balloting.

The purpose of a secret ballot is to make it impossible to sell your vote.

Is it not legal to be paid by an observer who watches you vote, seal, and post your ballot?
10.27.2006 6:02pm
Dan Hamilton:

Pete: My solution would involve large rewards for information leading to successful prosecution, searches based on probable cause and or a warrant,prosecution of violators. If it works reasonably well to deter murder, it should work reasonably well to deter voter fraud.


I am sorry but are you really that foolish. How could you possibly PROVE that someone voted illegally? You have NO ID on them. Do you think ANY jury will believe that the Pole workers would recognize one person out of the thousands that voted that day. This is the foolishness that comes from trying to find any reason to NOT require Voter ID any reason at all no matter how lame or unworkable.

The very idea that no ID is required to vote is absurd. Without ID you cannot know if someone has the right to vote in that election. And with same day registration with some else who also doesn't have to show ID vouching for you it is BEGGING to be abused. You don't have possible fraud you are setting up the system FOR FRAUD to make it easy.

Doing anything about Voter Fraud AFTER the election is insane. THE ELECTION IS OVER. THE FRAUD HAS WORKED. See the last Washington Governors election. What does the party or the canidate CARE if some low level operative goes to jail. It cannot get to their level and THEY HAVE WON!!!

Voter Fraud has to be fought by stopping the vote being made. Voter ID does that. NOTHING else does.

To fight against Voter ID is to fight for Voter FRAUD. It is as simple as that. The Fraud FAR outweighes the very few people that will not come up with ID. Not CANNOT but WILL NOT.
10.27.2006 6:23pm
pete (mail) (www):
"A SSN Someone, (Hell! anyone), explaine why a SSN is required to vote. Last I checked I do not need one. To all those that want a form of ID to vote... I'm in. Just that you have all entered into the world of a National ID."

You do not need a SSN to vote. It is one of many different options of ID. You also do not need a national ID. A state ID card like a drivers license is fine. In Ohio you can even use a piece of mail sent to your address. You just have to show something tangible and not easily falsified that shows you not some person who picked a random name and address and are going from polling place to polling place voting as a different person each time.

I personally am in favor of states granting free photo ID cards since the cost to the state is minimal (the infrastructure is there already) while the benefits to society are very large.
10.27.2006 6:27pm
Dan Hamilton:
Yes voting is a right.

You say the Government should have to prove that it is illegal for you to vote. Not that you should prove it is legal.

EITHER WAY YOU HAVE TO SHOW THE GOVERNMENT WHO YOU ARE WITH AN ID!!

Or do you really want the Government to have enough information on you so that it can ID you in a few seconds before you vote? Do you really want that? It is one or the other! Either the Government has to be able to ID you in a second ot less OR you show ID.
10.27.2006 6:32pm
pete (mail) (www):
"My solution would involve large rewards for information leading to successful prosecution, searches based on probable cause and or a warrant,prosecution of violators. If it works reasonably well to deter murder, it should work reasonably well to deter voter fraud."

Election fraud is a unique and insidious crime in that it effects who gets to enforce the law. If the local sheriff, district attorney, or judge got their position through election fraud there will be no incentive to fight it and may even be an incentive to ignore it, in a way that is not true of murder or other crimes. Also, unlike many other crimes, the damage can not be undone and may not even be visible if no one catches it. With other forms of fraud you can return stolen money, but once the vote goes into the box you have disentranced a voter and, except for the person who cast the fraudulent vote, you do not even know whose vote got cancelled out or even if a vote got cancelled out. A successful fraud could sway an election and no one except the people who committed the fraud would know. How do you prosecute that?

While high murder rates may hurt society a lot they do not undermine the very legitimacy of the government. We lucked out in this county because in the 2004 elections Wisconson's electoral votes didn't matter. But there is a good chance that if you only counted the number of votes that were cast legitimately (one adult who was a citizen and resident of the state casting one vote) than George W. Bush may have won Wisconson, not John Kerry. In Milwaukee more votes were cast than the number of eligible voters who lived in Milwaukee according to the US Census.

Is requiring some form of readily attainable ID really too high a price to pay to keep our democracy legitimate?
10.27.2006 6:38pm
RHD:
"I'm talking about the homeless citizens, not illegal aliens." At least in NY, the "homeless citizens" I've run across are all suffering from mental problems, and typically serious ones. The notion that these are just down-on-their-luck folks is not true, and has the unhelpful side effect of brushing aside the mental problems and substance abuse that go hand-in-hand with homelessness. If the idea behind the Ohio case is that this is the class at issue, I think that there may be another kind of voter fraud afoot -- the old fashioned kind where a party worker pays someone a few bucks or with a pack of cigarettes to vote for one candidate or another. In the last election, there were reports of such goings-on.

As for the idea that it's unconstitutional for the State to require an ID unless the State provides the ID free of charge, there is no such requirement that I am aware of. The SCOTUS long ago upheld the constitutionality of various fees charged by the Gov't. It's even constitutional to charge a fee as a prerequisite to filing a petition for relief under the bankruptcy laws. (Yes, Virginia, you can be too poor to obtain relief in bankruptcy.) The right to petition the Gov't for redress of grievances, by starting a lawsuit in federal district court or seeking relief in federal bankruptcy court, is obviously fundamental, but can be burdened with a direct requirement for the payment of fees. A fortiori, a nominal fee to obtain some documentation that in turn may be required to obtain a voter ID if the partricular voter doesn't have the kind of documentation that the Gov't sends out free (e.g. a Soc Sec card), is subject to the same analysis.

The readiness with which courts are striking down these voter ID requirements (with the exception of the SCOTUS, of course), is in stark contrast to the treatment of campaign finance laws. In the latter context, courts have deferred to the legislative judgment that the regulation of political speech and contributions is justified by the potential for corruption and the loss of public faith in the political system that an unregulated system of political contributions presents. The same problems are presented by vote fraud, as when the dead in Chicago vote en masse or those not legally qualified to vote nevertheless do so. As many have noted, the voter ID requirements address the corruption and loss of faith that occurs when these problems are allowed to fester. Yet the legislative judgment in this context is subject to much judicial second-guessing. Democrats -- it's always Democrats -- nevertheless resist any efforts to combat vote fraud of this sort, and invariably do so by suggesting that the whole idea is just a racist effort to keep "the poor" from voting. Oh, please. It just tells you which side thinks it can squeeze more votes out of the "homeless," and are willing to do what it takes in terms of incentives to achieve that result.
10.27.2006 6:42pm
dick thompson (mail):
I would assume that there is some sort of ID to get welfare. If the people are that poor, then they are probably eligible for welfare and that would provide them an ID.

I really cannot fathom why people are so adamant that requiring any ID at all to vote is an invasion of privacy. So far as I can recall they just look at the ID and then have you sign the register that you voted. They don't copy the ID down so how is it an invasion of privacy. Ludicrous!!
10.27.2006 7:06pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
If you are a man born in the US then you must register for the draft, so you have your draft card as ID. If you are a woman then you should at least have a birth certificate. If you are a naturalized citizen, then you should have your naturalization papers to prove who you are. That leaves women born in the US who have no social security number, do not drive, lost their birth certificate and are so poor the nominal fee for an state issued ID card is an impediment to voting. How large can this latter group be? Why should we put integrity of the electron system at risk to catering to them? Isn't this really a political fight where one side thinks it's going to get more illegal votes than the other?
10.27.2006 7:21pm
Anon. Lib.:
Voter impersonation is simply not a real problem. Thats why these laws are being struck down. They impose a small but real burden on certain classes of voters but serve no actual purpose. The burden is on the proponents of these laws to put forward some evidence that voter impersonation is more than a speculative fear. In Missouri, the defenders of the ID law could not point to a single instance of voter impersonation to support their claim that this problem justifies imposing this burden. As the Missouri Supreme Court stated earlier this month---

"While Missouri has a compelling state interest in preserving the integrity of the election process and preventing voter fraud, the trial court properly found that the evidence presented negates the claim that the photo ID requirement is narrowly tailored to accomplish that purpose. The parties acknowledge that the photo ID requirement can only prevent impersonation of a registered voter and will not affect absentee ballot fraud or registration fraud. There was no evidence of any voter impersonation fraud in Missouri since the general assembly enacted the previous version of section 115.427, which was passed in 2002 in response to the federal Help America Vote Act and allowed voters to present many more and different types of identification in order to vote. While Missouri also has an interest in combating perceptions of voter fraud, where the fundamental rights to vote of Missouri citizens are at stake, more than mere perception is required for their abridgment."
10.27.2006 7:28pm
pete (mail) (www):
Of course St. Louis has no one pretending to be someone they are not when voting. From UPI to days ago:


Hundreds of bogus address changes have surfaced near St. Louis and the election board is warning voters to make sure they get a polling-place notification card.

If the card does not show up, a voter's address may have been fraudulently changed, the county elections director said.

The bogus address changes are among fraudulent voter-registration cards turning up in St. Louis County within the past couple of months, The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported.

The bogus registrations included at least one dead person, officials said.

Most of the suspicious registrations and address changes were submitted by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, known as ACORN, election officials said.

ACORN is under scrutiny for thousands of suspicious voter registrations submitted in St. Louis, which is separate from St. Louis County, and Kansas City.


And it is not like dead people have ever voted in New Jersey or Chicago.
10.27.2006 7:57pm
TJIT (mail):
Pete,

Thanks for posting that article.

Those that adamantly oppose voter ID can't seem to understand that letting someone vote who is not supposed to is exactly the same as not allowing someone who has the right to vote admission to the polling place.

Opposing voter ID in the name of preserving voting rights is rank hypocrisy.
10.27.2006 8:22pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
In Missouri, the defenders of the ID law could not point to a single instance of voter impersonation to support their claim that this problem justifies imposing this burden.
How could they, if people aren't required to show ID? Great catch-22: make it impossible to ever catch someone impersonating someone else, and then claim that the fact that we haven't caught anybody is evidence it doesn't happen.
10.27.2006 9:12pm
Truth Seeker:
I really cannot fathom why people are so adamant that requiring any ID at all to vote is an invasion of privacy.

Because they are leftists who know they can't win a legitimate election and their only hope is massive fraud. This crap about there might be someone out there with no ID or no social security number is bogus.
10.27.2006 11:19pm
Federal Dog:
This is so much crap. Courts waive fees all the time for the indigent. This is nothing more than a shrill demand to turn a blind eye to massive voter fraud.


The problem is that many of us are simply not blind. Get over it.
10.28.2006 8:52am
markm (mail):
"If you are a man born in the US then you must register for the draft, so you have your draft card as ID. If you are a woman then you should at least have a birth certificate. If you are a naturalized citizen, then you should have your naturalization papers to prove who you are. That leaves women born in the US who have no social security number, do not drive, lost their birth certificate and are so poor the nominal fee for an state issued ID card is an impediment to voting." And whom also is not collecting welfare, because welfare requires IDs, and will help applicants obtain them. In other words, the "excluded class" is homeless people (a very small class) who have systematically avoided any interaction with government agencies (an even smaller class). Why do you think they would want to reverse their policy of avoiding official notice to vote?

As for those claiming that fraudulent voting isn't an issue, look at the last gubernatorial election in Oregon. There were precincts that reported more votes than their total adult population. The proven irregularities amounted to many more votes than separated the winner from the loser. If you're claiming that fraudulent voting isn't a serious problem, either you've got your head in the sand, or you're an unprincipled partisan of the politicians that benefit from election fraud.
10.28.2006 10:42am
markm (mail):
"If you are a man born in the US then you must register for the draft, so you have your draft card as ID. If you are a woman then you should at least have a birth certificate. If you are a naturalized citizen, then you should have your naturalization papers to prove who you are. That leaves women born in the US who have no social security number, do not drive, lost their birth certificate and are so poor the nominal fee for an state issued ID card is an impediment to voting." And whom also is not collecting welfare, because welfare requires IDs, and will help applicants obtain them. In other words, the "excluded class" is homeless people (a very small class) who have systematically avoided any interaction with government agencies (an even smaller class). Why do you think they would want to reverse their policy of avoiding official notice to vote?

As for those claiming that fraudulent voting isn't an issue, look at the last gubernatorial election in Oregon. There were precincts that reported more votes than their total adult population. The proven irregularities amounted to many more votes than separated the winner from the loser. If you're claiming that fraudulent voting isn't a serious problem, either you've got your head in the sand, or you're an unprincipled partisan of the politicians that benefit from election fraud.
10.28.2006 10:42am
Anon. Lib.:
Just to note --- the Ohio order discussed above concerns the requirements for obtaining an absentee ballot. The court concluded that the law violated EP on Bush v. Gore grounds, i.e., that the law concerning what constituted adequate ID was so vague that it was likely to lead to local variations in who would be allowed to vote.

As for people's concerns about voter impersonation---you can complain all you want in these comments that its a problem. But if the parties defending the voter ID laws fail to identify any evidence that voter impersonation occurs, no reasonable judge can justify upholding the law. Maybe you should get in touch with the litigants and share your ideas.
10.28.2006 5:27pm
curious Ohio lawyer:
If the Ohio case involves a vagueness challenge, isn't that aspect entirely facial? Even if other counts relate to as-applied, isn't a statute's vagueness always facial? Is there any such thing as vagueness-as-applied?

And if it is facial, why wasn't this filed when the law was passed at the beginning of the year, rather than this week? Do election lawyers only get let out of their cages in October?
10.29.2006 12:47am
Bryan DB:
markm,
Given that Oregon is vote-by-mail, how to do you get more votes than adult voters? Did the ballots appear by magic? Unless someone manufactured look-alike ballots, I'm not sure how you get more votes than voters. Well, I can think of one: if the number of adult voters is based on the most recent census, and the tallied votes are from people who moved to the precinct *since* the last election, it would be pretty simple to reach the horrible result you postulate and yet still be a perfectly innocent situation.
10.30.2006 3:27pm