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What About Those Nuns?

The WSJ's John Fund suggests there's a little more to the story of the "disenfranchised" nuns who could not vote on Tuesday because they lacked adequate IDs.

the story turns out to be much more complicated. The nuns had all been told earlier that they would need an up-to-date ID to vote. But none of them had asked to be taken to get an ID, and some flatly said they did not want to. Then on Election Day the nuns all showed up to vote.

They could have been given provisional ballots, which would have counted if they had shown up at a county clerk's office within 10 days to show an ID or sign an affidavit testifying to their identity.

The nuns would have none of it. According to the Associated Press, they told Sister McGuire that they were not interested in getting an official state ID. She decided it was futile to offer them a provisional ballot. She says it would have been impossible for them to get them to a motor vehicle branch--the nearest one is two miles away--within the allotted 10 days after the election.

But if their mobility is restricted, the Indiana law provides other ways in which they could have voted. Nursing homes can get a waiver of the ID requirement for residents to vote. And any Indianan over 65 is automatically eligible to cast an absentee ballot.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. What About Those Nuns?
  2. Effects of Voter ID in Indiana Primary:
Ugh (mail):
If there's so many exceptions, why do we need the ID requirement in the first place?
5.8.2008 12:12pm
cirby (mail):
If you read carefully, they're not so much "exceptions" as "alternate ways to qualify." You still need to either show ID or have someone swear that you are the person who is voting.

It's still a lot better than "um, yeah, I'm, er... THAT guy on the voting rolls!"
5.8.2008 12:26pm
Observer:
Presumably the nuns would vote Republican, so the ID requirement may help Democrats after all (unless they are really not representative).
5.8.2008 12:31pm
AntonK (mail):
With an incoming Liberal-Left presidency a possibility, my guess is that the nuns didn't want to risk acquisition of an 'official' State id. To do so would put these people of religion at risk of being rounded up and interned.
5.8.2008 12:35pm
PLR:
Is there any right more fundamental to Americans than the right to vote for the government's leaders?

This is not a good result, and I cannot fathom why the average libertarian (not to be confused with a Libertarian) can support any official hoops that must be jumped through before one may exercise his or her right to vote.
5.8.2008 12:43pm
cboldt (mail):
-- Is there any right more fundamental to Americans than the right to vote for the government's leaders? --
.
That probably depends on the American. I hold a number of rights to be at least as fundamental, and at bottom, maybe moreso. Ballot box isn't the end of the line.
5.8.2008 12:45pm
Rohan Verghese (www):
Is there any right more fundamental to Americans than the right to vote for the government's leaders?


Yes, the right to vote in a fair election. I suggest that being allowed to vote in a rigged election is a meaningless right.
5.8.2008 12:46pm
pete (mail) (www):

Is there any right more fundamental to Americans than the right to vote for the government's leaders?


How about the right not to have your vote cancelled out by a fraudulent vote?
5.8.2008 12:53pm
Gabriel Malor (mail):
This is not a good result, and I cannot fathom why the average libertarian (not to be confused with a Libertarian) can support any official hoops that must be jumped through before one may exercise his or her right to vote.


I can't speak for libertarians, but there seem to be a number of justifiable "hoops that must be jumped through" to vote, including (1) using a proper ballot or voting machine, (2) properly completing the ballot or using the voting machine, (3) voting on the proper day (or within the proper period for early and absentee votes), and (3) voting at the proper location. One cannot just stand on the roof and yell one's vote towards the polling place.

In other words, there are numerous and justified "official hoops that must be jumped through."
5.8.2008 12:58pm
Hoosier:
This is clearly the result of a concerted campaign of ANTI-CATHOLIC BIGOTRY!

I am OUTRAGED! And I DEMAND compensation!


CATHOLIC STUDIES DEPARTMENTS at all major universities! REDUCED 'standards' for tenure and promotion! NOW!!!!
5.8.2008 1:13pm
Some_3L (mail):

...I cannot fathom why the average libertarian ... can support any official hoops that must be jumped through before one may exercise his or her right to vote.


Illegal aliens + voter fraud
5.8.2008 1:14pm
What's a Hoosier?:

And any Indianan over 65 is automatically eligible to cast an absentee ballot.

"Indianan"? I've lived practically my whole life in Indiana and I can't remember anyone using the term "Indianan". The online dictionaries include the term, but it's very obscure in actual usage. "Hoosier" May not make a lot of sense, but I'm surprised that Mr. Fund doesn't know the more proper term.

Sorry for the rather irrelevant distraction.
5.8.2008 1:16pm
Alan Gunn (mail):
According to this morning's South Bend Tribune, the nuns were unavailable to the press for questions. We had another disenfranchisement story, too, about a college student who was outraged that they wouldn't accept her California driver's license as ID. She had gotten a California ballot, but then decided that our election was more interesting. Haven't heard about any dead people being rejected, though.
5.8.2008 1:20pm
Seamus (mail):
Presumably the nuns would vote Republican, so the ID requirement may help Democrats after all (unless they are really not representative).

Only people who have never talked with real nuns would make a claim like this.
5.8.2008 1:24pm
Hoosier:
What's--A distraction, perhaps. But also a discussion I had with colleagues at work yesterday. Indiana has been in te news for a couple weeks. And the news people ae the only people I have ever heard use the term "Indianans."

Most seemed to go out of there way to avoid using any term, since they clearly didn't want to say "Hoosiers." For what it's worth to those who care, WE who live in Indana NEVER call ourselves anything other than Hoosiers.

Let us have an end to this lingusitic imperialism!
5.8.2008 1:27pm
Bretzky (mail):

But if their mobility is restricted, the Indiana law provides other ways in which they could have voted. Nursing homes can get a waiver of the ID requirement for residents to vote. And any Indianan over 65 is automatically eligible to cast an absentee ballot.

So you have to show ID to vote, unless you meet certain criteria. That makes perfect sense. I mean, there's no possible way anyone could commit fraud using absentee ballots, now is there.
5.8.2008 1:27pm
Hoosier:
Seamus--So true. VAT II damaged the religious without eradicating them. It's always funny watching how Hollywood portrays nuns as cloistered old conservative women in full habit.

The sisters that I know are more likely to be found handing out condoms at Gay Rights rallies.
5.8.2008 1:29pm
samuil (mail):
Yes, AntoshKa, the incoming LIBERAtion from radicalism and extremism of the Bushnuttism will be hear just in a 7 more months. Thank you, God...
5.8.2008 1:30pm
astrangerwithcandy (mail):
ugh -

if there are so many exceptions in the tax code, why do we need taxes at all?
5.8.2008 1:34pm
Aultimer:

So you have to show ID to vote, unless you meet certain criteria. That makes perfect sense. I mean, there's no possible way anyone could commit fraud using absentee ballots, now is there.


And to think I was worried that the losing side in the next voter-ID-required elections would have to just accept the results as legitimate.
5.8.2008 1:36pm
Oren:
They could have been given provisional ballots, which would have counted if they had shown up at a county clerk's office within 10 days to show an ID or sign an affidavit testifying to their identity.
Is there any compelling reason not to sign the affidavit right there with the provisional ballot? I don't see any reason why signing it has to take place elsewhere.

At any rate, these laws probably prevent more legitimate votes than they prevent fraudulent votes and so are, on the balance, bad public policy (though that doesn't make them unconstitutional). Anyone ever hear a compelling version of Blackstone's ratio for votes? Certainly is better to let one fraudulent vote go through than to prevent 10 legitimate voters from voting!
5.8.2008 1:39pm
Syd Henderson (mail):
Does the nun's order have a prohibition on being photographed?
5.8.2008 1:50pm
genob:
The nuns' goal was clearly to protest the law and provide evidence or an example of how it disenfranchises a sympathetic group of people...yet by refusing to take the many avenues offered them that would have enabled them to vote, they only succeeded in demonstrating that the ID law is barrier only to those that really are determined not to vote.
5.8.2008 2:02pm
Iolo:
This makes me want to watch that old Donahue episode about nun beating...
5.8.2008 2:17pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
genob.
Yeah. Nobody can be anything but mushily sympathetic to nuns--unless there's something unpleasant the RCs are doing.
Best group for making a statement I can imagine. But, as you pointed out, they went too far.
Nobody blames the jailer when a prisoner goes on a hunger strike. They just pretend to. Same here. The nuns turned down too many options available to the rest of the voters to make a solid case.
5.8.2008 2:17pm
erics (mail):
PLR:

I'm a libertarian who knows that both Obama and/or McCain will continue to screw up this country, yet neither will really make my life more or less miserable. Secure in that knowledge, I value the 21st amendment far more than the right to vote.
5.8.2008 2:25pm
PLR:
At any rate, these laws probably prevent more legitimate votes than they prevent fraudulent votes and so are, on the balance, bad public policy (though that doesn't make them unconstitutional).

Agree, except for the "probably" part.
5.8.2008 2:29pm
theobromophile (www):
Let me get this straight. These nuns, for some reason, don't have driver's licenses, or other forms of ID, which are needed for a variety of things in life (getting a bank account, driving, senior citizen's discounts). There are alternatives available to them, both legally and socially (such as the waiver provisions for the housebound and groups who will ferry people to the DMV). They refused all of those, demanding to simply show up and vote, without demonstrating that they are eligible to vote in the manner required by law.

Pardon the rant, but do these ladies ever stop to think that people DIED for their right to vote? That we fought a war to get that right, a few more wars to preserve it (arguably), another war to get it for blacks, and, of course, a decades-long campaign (which included torture and imprisonment) for women to get that right? So people fought, died, risked their lives and their families for their right to vote, and they can't be bothered to either show ID or sign a bloody affidavit, when they live in a country where 1 in 25 people are here illegally, and a lot more people are not eligible to vote?

I'm glad that they disenfranchised themselves.

/rant
5.8.2008 2:38pm
Smokey:
From the Ass. Press story:
...it would have been impossible for them to get them to a motor vehicle branch--the nearest one is two miles away--within the allotted 10 days after the election.
Gee, these must be legless nuns.
5.8.2008 2:44pm
genob:
Has anyone shown that a single voter was "prevented" from voting because of this law? The nuns chose not to vote as a protest. They certainly weren't prevented. I haven't seen a single other example of anyone being actually prevented or even significantly hindered from casting a legitimate vote...so it seems like the score on hard evidence here for both sides is a 0-0 tie.
5.8.2008 2:45pm
Kazinski:
I mean, there's no possible way anyone could commit fraud using absentee ballots, now is there.

It isn't a requirement that every possible avenue to prevent election fraud be closed before the legislature address voter ID requirements. That is a ridiculous argument, well really it is no argument at all.
5.8.2008 2:52pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Nobody blames the jailer when a prisoner goes on a hunger strike. They just pretend to. Same here. The nuns turned down too many options available to the rest of the voters to make a solid case.


Agreed, the number of people who were legally entitled to vote but could not vote because of the Indiana ID Act remains at zero.
5.8.2008 2:53pm
Dave N (mail):
We had another disenfranchisement story, too, about a college student who was outraged that they wouldn't accept her California driver's license as ID.
Because we know that college students always have valid ID.
5.8.2008 3:02pm
rarango (mail):
genob has it nailed. And in the fewest words.
5.8.2008 3:12pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Has anyone shown that a single voter was "prevented" from voting because of this law? The nuns chose not to vote as a protest. They certainly weren't prevented. I haven't seen a single other example of anyone being actually prevented or even significantly hindered from casting a legitimate vote...so it seems like the score on hard evidence here for both sides is a 0-0 tie.


That depends on how you interpret the cases where someone was from or lived in a different State where they were registered to vote and then tried to vote in Indiana's election. While I'm sympathetic to the case of some college students who are going to school in Indiana and decide they want to vote there, the fact that they didn't cast a provisional ballot and then get their ID legally changed within the 10 day period suggests that it's likely they wanted to be able to vote in both places.
5.8.2008 3:18pm
Adam J:
Kazinski- it's a ridiculous argument to point out the law does nothing to prevent the most prevalent way of committing voter fraud??? Um... if you say so.
5.8.2008 3:21pm
Piano_JAM (mail):
Is there any right more fundamental to Americans than the right to vote for the government's leaders?

Uh, sorry, but there is no right to vote in the Constitution. It is a privelege granted to those who are eligible.
5.8.2008 3:38pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
It sounds like the only problems with the Indiana Voter ID Act have come from those people who deliberately decided that they didn't want to follow it just to "make a point."

Instead of garnering sympathy for changes in the law or its enforcement, what they may have inadvertently accomplished to make the point that the law's requirements and the accommodations it makes are more than reasonable.

It's almost as if you really have to want to be disqualified from voting to be affected.
5.8.2008 3:39pm
KeithK (mail):
More than that Thorley. The fact that the student had a California license strongly indicates that she was not a resident of Indiana and therefore not entitled to vote in the May 6 election.
5.8.2008 3:48pm
Bretzky (mail):
In 2004, John Kerry received 969,011 votes in Indiana. In the 2007 primary, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton combined for 1,274,993 votes.

That's some vote suppression I must say.
5.8.2008 3:55pm
Bretzky (mail):
That of course should be the 2008 Indiana primary. Fingers, go slow!
5.8.2008 3:57pm
wfjag:
What ever happened to "We're on a mission from God" as being completely sufficient -- or does that only work in Illinois?
5.8.2008 4:05pm
glangston (mail):
I don't get it. People of faith saying something like getting people 2 miles to a DMV office was impossible?
5.8.2008 4:16pm
Zeno (www):

In 2004, John Kerry received 969,011 votes in Indiana. In the 2007 primary, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton combined for 1,274,993 votes.


Is this true? If so, the Republicans are going to have one hell of a time winning this election.
5.8.2008 4:17pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
More than that Thorley. The fact that the student had a California license strongly indicates that she was not a resident of Indiana and therefore not entitled to vote in the May 6 election.


My understanding was that college students from out-of-State can change their legal residency to their dorm address (or wherever they're living while attending school) and then vote in local elections. So she could in fact become a resident of Indiana while attending school there but she would have to change it and she didn't take the steps to do so (even with a 10-day window).
5.8.2008 4:33pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
In 2004, John Kerry received 969,011 votes in Indiana. In the 2007 primary, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton combined for 1,274,993 votes.


Is this true? If so, the Republicans are going to have one hell of a time winning this election.


Bush got 1,479,438 votes in Indiana in 2004. No doubt many of the 300,000 plus "new" voters are people who are voting in the Democrat primary because the Republicans already have their nominee. Some people do so to commit mischief (see Limbaugh, Rush) and others because it gives them a chance to have greater influence with their vote by having a say in who one of the party's presidential nominee will be -- even if they don't plan to vote for them in the general election.
5.8.2008 4:42pm
Oren:
The fact that the student had a California license strongly indicates that she was not a resident of Indiana and therefore not entitled to vote in the May 6 election.
I have an IL license but I'm a part time resident (student) of MA. According to my lawyer, I can chose to vote in either (but of course not both) without changing my status. I think you forgot that a US citizen can concurrently be a citizen of more than one state.

Of course, the utility of voting in either IL or MA is close to zero, so I don't bother but that's entirely beside the point ;-).
5.8.2008 4:48pm
gasman (mail):

This is not a good result, and I cannot fathom why the average libertarian (not to be confused with a Libertarian) can support any official hoops that must be jumped through before one may exercise his or her right to vote.

Even a libertarian can recognize that their own vote is diminished if appropriate 'hoops' are not in place to ensure that others are not voting more times than is their share. That is, I will suffer some inconvenience in casting a ballot to ensure that it is not a free for all with others stuffing the box with contrary votes unfairly negating my vote.
5.8.2008 4:53pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
I think you forgot that a US citizen can concurrently be a citizen of more than one state.


That's news to me. I seem to recall from Civ Pro that State citizenship is based on residence and residence is based on the location of your primary domicile.
5.8.2008 5:05pm
PLR:
[At 1:25]I'm a libertarian who knows that both Obama and/or McCain will continue to screw up this country, yet neither will really make my life more or less miserable. Secure in that knowledge, I value the 21st amendment far more than the right to vote.

Strange post. Technically, we don't even get to vote for Obama/McCain, only for our state electors. And most elections don't involve the presidency at all.

But you value the amendment that empowers your state legislature to keep the state dry of intoxicating beverages?
5.8.2008 5:08pm
Think38 (mail):
Most states have requirements that you cannot be a transient and still vote in that state. In the case of students, if they intend to return their home state at the end of the academic year, then they are not legal voters in the state of their school.
5.8.2008 5:13pm
KeithK (mail):
If you can be a citizen/resident of more than one state I wasn't aware of it (and wouldn't support that policy). Think38's description matches what I thought the law(s) generally was.
5.8.2008 6:40pm
KeithK (mail):
I don't get it. People of faith saying something like getting people 2 miles to a DMV office was impossible?

On first reading I was struck by the statement that it would be "impossible" to get the nuns to the DMV within the allotted time. On further reading I think what the poll worker nun may have been saying was that it would be impossible to convince the other nuns to go within the allotted time. Because they were insistent on making a political statement here.
5.8.2008 6:43pm
William D. Tanksley, Jr:
erics said: "I value the 21st amendment far more than the right to vote."

PLR replied: "But you value the amendment that empowers your state legislature to keep the state dry of intoxicating beverages?"

Er... No, he values the amendment which _repealed_ that one. I think you're incriminating yourself -- better plead the 21st. ;-)
5.8.2008 6:48pm
Oren:
That's news to me. I seem to recall from Civ Pro that State citizenship is based on residence and residence is based on the location of your primary domicile.
I claim residence in multiple states because I spend significant amounts of time is multiple states. I don't know any reasonable way to determine which one is primary. You seem to be confusing domicile (only one), which residency (as many as you like). See here for a decent explanation.

Also, the DOJ has cracked down very hard on state AGs that attempt to prevent students from voting based on bogus arguments that they are not residents (if they are residents of anywhere, it's the state of their school, not their home state, since they spend more time there).
5.8.2008 6:49pm
Hoosier:
>>>I don't get it. People of faith saying something like getting people 2 miles to a DMV office was impossible?

Well, believe me, I know South Bend. And the probelm with your statement: The route from SMC to the DMV on McKinley Ave does NOT present any water to walk on. Which is the root of ALL of these problems.

PS--As a Catholic, I am somewhat offended by the tactical use of elderly sisters for the sake of political grandstanding.
5.8.2008 6:55pm
Hoosier:
>>>Is this true? If so, the Republicans are going to have one hell of a time winning this election.

SHHHH!

THAT'S why we are trying to suppress the nun-vote.
5.8.2008 6:57pm
PDXLawyer (mail):
Oren:

Perhaps you can place this quote:

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." (emphasis supplied)
5.8.2008 7:12pm
LM (mail):

She decided it was futile to offer them a provisional ballot. She says it would have been impossible for them to get them to a motor vehicle branch--the nearest one is two miles away--within the allotted 10 days after the election.

This is the part I don't follow. Why did she think it was impossible, and what right did she have to withhold the provisional ballot?
5.8.2008 8:03pm
Oren:
PDXLawyer, you have taken a single phrase out of context while I have provided a link to sound legal advice on multiple residence.

The phrase in question only meant to emphasize that, in the wake of the Civil War, the Federal government was not stripping citizens of the right to state citizenship but creating a system of dual Federal/State citizenship that has bedeviled law students for a while (and thankfully kept law profs off the streets so they can't do any serious harm).
5.8.2008 10:09pm
Oren:
As a Catholic, I am somewhat offended by the tactical use of elderly sisters for the sake of political grandstanding.
Use implies someone else is pulling the strings. What if the protest originated from them entirely?
5.8.2008 10:09pm
Toby:
Different people comsider reisdency differently. At UNC, everyone can vote for anything properly, but you will neve get awarded in0-state tuition with a California license...
5.8.2008 11:19pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

have someone swear that you are the person who is voting.

Great idea. Have the election official who lives with the nuns swear that they are who they say they are.

Voter ID - a solution in search of a problem.
5.8.2008 11:53pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
why the average libertarian (not to be confused with a Libertarian) can support any official hoops that must be jumped through before one may exercise his or her right to vote.

Some libertarians don't think anyone should vote. So regulation of such would be irrelevant.

I dislike other uses of ID but I find that I hardly ever have to present one. Since we don't cash checks any more and since I don't get stopped by cops much, I don't use my ID much. Even my building pass is an RFID bearer instrument that could be used by anyone to enter the building.
5.9.2008 11:56am
alias:

She says it would have been impossible for them to get them to a motor vehicle branch--the nearest one is two miles away--within the allotted 10 days after the election.
They must walk extremely slowly, or the batteries in their scooters don't carry enough charge. Are nuns dramatically busier and less mobile than the rest of the population?
5.9.2008 12:11pm
alias:
wfjag, I think that only works if you're wearing sunglasses
5.9.2008 12:14pm
whit:
"Since we don't cash checks any more and since I don't get stopped by cops much"

hey, if you feel neglected, maybe i could change that.

i'm from the government and i'm here to help!
5.9.2008 12:27pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

Are nuns dramatically busier and less mobile than the rest of the population?

Not per se. These nuns are mostly over 90 years old. I don't know about you, but all my relatives were essentially immobile by the time they hit 90. Hey -- maybe they could go to the DMV by ambulance -- that's how my relatives went places.
5.9.2008 12:37pm
whit:
"but all my relatives were essentially immobile by the time they hit 90"

me 2. coffins are generally restrictive to movement
5.9.2008 2:04pm
snarky:
And the record number of voters blocked by the ID law remains . . .

nun.
5.9.2008 3:28pm
Kathi Smith (mail):
But still, you have to see the delicious irony in the first publicized victims of the Catholic cabal on the S.Ct. being 90-yr-old Catholic nun civil disobeyers.
5.9.2008 5:26pm
Kathi Smith (mail):
Oh, and: leave it to the right wing smear machine to dig up all it can about those ridiculous vote-attempting nuns.
5.9.2008 5:28pm
Hoosier:
"Catholic cabal"?

I think you are confusing your religious hatreds. "Cabals" are composed of "Jews."

A group of Catholics with posh law degrees is called a "country club."
5.9.2008 5:42pm
Rich Rostrom (mail):
William D. Tanksley, Jr: States enacted Prohibition as early as 1851. The 18th Amendment authorized Congress to enact laws against
the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors...


The 21st Amendment repealed that authority, but specifically left intact the power of a state to prohibit
transportation or importation... for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors...


The 18th Amendment also gave Congress and the states power to enact "concurrent legislation" for enforcement. This was repealed too, I guess, but that would not affect the pre-existing power of states to enact Prohibition, which as mentioned was reaffirmed.

Hoosier: As to "cabals", the "Cabal Ministry" under Charles II (Lords Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale) had no Jews and two Catholics. It was subsequently a generic term for intriguers of all sorts: in Candide, Voltaire mentions the "canaille cabalant" of Paris.
5.9.2008 8:41pm
Aleks:
Here's a question: What impact will the RealID law have on these voter ID laws? RealID (if enforced rigidly) will leave a non-trivial fraction of the population unable to get licenses, due to sloppy record keeping (their birth certificates are missing or inaccurate). Some estimates of the affected population go as high as 5%. Will these voter ID laws still pass muster then, or will the courts have to strike down RealID?
5.10.2008 9:51am
William D. Tanksley, Jr:
"What impact will the RealID law have on these voter ID laws?"

Great question and good point. It seems to me that if a RealID is too hard to get for voting purposes, it's likely that a lower requirement must be established, in much the same way that you can vote with either a driver's license (hard to get) or a free ID card.

I wonder, though... If your birth cert is missing, can you register to vote? I don't remember. Don't you have to demonstrate citizenship somehow? If the RealID requirements are merely to establish citizenship, it's possible that they could be upholdable even for voting purposes.
5.12.2008 4:58pm