U.S. House Proposal for Voter Photo I.D. and Citizenship Proof is Playing Politics With the Future of the United States's Democracy
The proposal of the House of Representatives to require voters to show photo identifications and proof of citizenship before voting is nothing more than playing politics with democracy in order to score "gotcha" points on the campaign trail before the November Mid-Term elections.
First of all, it is important to remember that all voters are already required to sign-in before voting, usually twice. This signature is checked against a roll book which contains the person's signature. Identification to prove valid residency is already required before voters register for the first time. So, the U.S. House proposal requires the millions of people who already vote legally to spend time and money obtaining extra identification in order to vote in the future.
The House proposal addresses a problem that does not exist. Allegedly, the proposal is to stop non-citizens and illegal aliens from voting. But is there any proof that illegal voting is taking place on a wide scale? Not only is there no proof of illegal voting, there is ample proof that no illegal voting is taking place.
All Congressional Districts Are Equal in Population, but the Number of Votes Cast In Each Varies Widely
The United States Census tries to enumerate all individuals living in the country every ten years. It counts, not only citizens, but foreigners, convicts (who can not vote) and even tries to count the illegal aliens. Using this population count, and using a complicated formula to account for the fact that every state in the Union is entitled to one representative in the United States House of Representatives regardless of population, every state has between 1 and 52 congressional representatives representing districts of approximately equal population.
If you look at the election results, you will notice that in Montana, which has only one member of the House of Representatives, in 2004 the results were: Democrat Tracy Velazquez 145,606; Libertarian Mike Fellows 12,548; Republican Congressman Denny Rehberg 286,076; and 11,866 skipped the race for a grand total of 456,096 votes cast in one Congressional District. And this was 71% of the total number of registered voters, meaning there was another 188,000 legal voters who did not bother to go to the polls.
Now, let's look at the 16th District in the Bronx, New York. Democratic Congressman Jose Serrano received 111,638; his Republican challenger Ali Mohamed got 5,510 and 30,875 voters skipped the race for a grand total of 148,123 votes.
The total number of ballots cast in the Bronx's 16th District barely exceeded the vote total of the losing candidate in Montana's House race. In other words, a vote in the Bronx's 16th district House race is worth at least twice as much as a vote in Montana's House race. Why? Because the Bronx is filled with foreigners and people on parole.
And if you look at all the Congressional District election results around the country, you'll see that in those districts with a high concentration of immigrants, both legal and otherwise, usually in the central cities long since abandoned by native born Americans, voter turnout is relatively small. It takes relatively few votes to get elected to Congress or the state legislature, or the city councils of those neighborhoods because the foreigners who live there do not vote.
In normal off-year elections, barely 50% of the people legally eligible to vote are showing up at the polls. Now, the majority of the House of Representatives is going to erect another barrier for legal voters because people who are not allowed to vote are allegedly voting. When people who are allowed to vote do not bother to cast a ballot, rest assured that people ineligible to vote are not flocking to the polls either.
And remember, illegal voting is a crime. How many illegal voters have been apprehended and prosecuted? In the 46 years I have been paying close attention to politics and elections, I can remember exactly zero.
The Real Intent of the Voter Identification Legislation is to Disenfranchise Voters - Mostly New, Young, and Poor Voters, those who tend to vote Democratic
There is a long and dishonorable history of voter disenfranchisement in American political history. In the days of the paper ballot, the clerks who opened the sealed ballots used to break off pencil leads under their fingernails thereby defacing the ballots as they opened them in districts expected to vote against the desires of the election worker. When opening ballots from districts expected to favor the candidate desired by the election worker, the pencil lead was removed.
Voting machines were invented to prevent voter the disenfranchisement described above. But ever creative, election workers invented new ways to disenfranchise voters.
In most elections, half the vote comes in in the morning: people on their way to work, mothers who have dropped their children off at school, etc.; and the other half comes in at night, people on their way home from work with an after dinner rush. Retirees and people who work locally, students and others trickle in throughout the day.
With the old Shoup machines, party faithful would show up early to vote with a screwdriver in their pockets. Once in the booth, they would vote, and then pry the voting lever off one of the lesser offices or issues on the machine.
Now the machine was "broken" and could not be used until the maintenance crew came to repair it. Breaking machines is a tactic designed to lengthen the lines and increase the time needed for voting. Now you have people on their way to work, especially people who get paid by the hour or who are docked for lateness, standing in long lines wondering whether they can afford to wait to vote. This is standard operating practice, especially in poor neighborhoods.
Or, as the Republican Party did in Governor Tom Kean's squeaker victory over Jim Florio in New Jersey in 1981, private "Ballot Security Squads" are deployed to the inner cities to "warn" prospective voters about potential illegalities in unauthorized voting. These tactics were designed to frighten and discourage poor and new voters, many of whom are unsure of their rights in the first place, and the Republican Party had to enter a consent decree with the Federal Justice Department not to undertake such activities in the future.
The Voter Identification Bills Are Just Another Attempt To Disenfranchise Poor, Minority and Young Voters
As everyone knows, the more things one has to do the more likely it is that something will not get done. The more you require of people in order the vote at the polls, the more likely it is that people will not be able to vote.
Voting is a right for which countless people have given their lives. The purpose of government is to secure these basic rights for the people, not to erect barriers. Increasingly, partisan considerations, not just in the legislature but in the courts, especially the supreme court, have chipped away at people's right to vote. When the highest turnout in 50 years is 120,000,000 voters out of an eligible population of 190,000,000 or more, one would think that the elected officials would be wondering what they need to do to make it easier for the 70,000,000 who do not vote to cast a ballot, not what do they need to do to make it more arduous for the 120,000,000 who have already overcome the countless obstacles that government has put in their path.
This voter identification legislation is fraud, pure and simple. Anyone who believes in democracy and values their right to vote should not cast a ballot for anyone who supports these draconian identification measures for voters. Just because voter fraud was widespread in the past, does not make it acceptable in the nuclear age. The state of the nation today, at war with most people facing declining standards of living is a direct result of the Supreme Court's decision that put the loser, Bush, in the White House with these words, "There is no right to vote for president under the constitution."
So it is no surprise that this administration has been operating substantially outside the law and the constitution. The secret prisons and torturing, the presidential findings that Bush uses to ignore legislation from the congress, and now this, making it more difficult to vote - when elections are being discarded by the courts anyway; all this has flowed logically from the corrupted presidential election of 2000.
Now, the frontal assault on the millions of law abiding, hard working, tax paying illegal immigrants is going to plunge the United States into another great depression. These illegal immigrants are major contributors to the prosperity of the nation. They have maintained the real estate values in the inner cities (where they don't vote) so that the fleeing Americans can afford to put a down payment on their McMansions in the suburbs.
Remember Emma Lazaruses lines, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these to me." George Bush's religious crusade is in danger of destroying America's soul. We are becoming like the Nazis, criminalizing people for who they are, or where they came from, all because the Republicans want another two years control of congress and need to do something to get voters minds off the disasterous war in Iraq which we, at the moment, are losing; primarily because of Bush's disastrous decisions.
If illegal immigration is halted, if the 11 million already here are deported, the giant sucking sound that Ross Perot warned of in his presidential campaigns is not going to be jobs going abroad, but the sound of America's net worth going down the toilet. And once that happens, those people remaining will find that when they go to the polls to try and change it, either they won't be allowed to cast a ballot, or there will only be one candidate on the ballot anyway.
At the moment, Al-Queda and the 9/11 attackers are winning, because the United States does not need to be attacked again. We are committing suicide ourselves by discarding the basic values and processes that made us a great country in the first place. Most Americans, like George Bush, think that the United States can't fail no matter how badly it behaves. But that's because most people really don't care about the soldiers being killed in Iraq. Most people think 1,000 or 2,000 American dead a year, it's an acceptable price to pay, just as long as it's not my son or daughter, or father, or brother or sister. But Bush's problem is that he is learning disabled, which is worse than being stupid; it means he can not learn from his mistakes, which can be suicidal in this nuclear age.
The Institute of Election Analysis is based on the premise that every vote counts. If every vote counts, how much more does every life count.
Return to Institute of Election Analysis Home Page
Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf