Monday, April 10, 2006

Katie doesn't want 'em to vote

One of Spot’s really good friends was a poll watcher on an Indian reservation during the last presidential election. He said it was a very interesting experience, especially as it related to the issue of voter registration.

Katie writes about voter registration in her usual nuanced way today in It's much too easy to vote illegally in Minnesota. Here are Katie’s breathless opening graphs:
Which of the following do you need to register to vote in Minnesota?

A driver's license? Some form of government-issued ID that proves your identity and residence? Proof of American citizenship?

Wrong on all counts. In Minnesota, you can register on election day without showing poll workers one piece of paper. All you need is a "voucher" -- a person registered to vote in that precinct who is willing to sign a sworn statement that you live there.

Let’s start out with a simple proposition: if you are a citizen of legal age, and you live in the precinct, you’re entitled to vote. (There are some limitations for things like mental competence, offender status, etc., but not many.) That’s true whether you live in a homeless shelter, a battered-womens’ shelter, an Indian reservation, or on Chantry Road in Edina.

In the case of the shelters, the voter might have some ID, but it has the wrong address, and there won’t be any utility bills to prove the address of the voter. In these cases, a “voucher,” often a shelter employee, can be the only way to verify the residence of the voter.

Similarly, assume you are a young adult in a multi-generational household on an Indian reservation. You don’t have a driver’s license or the state ID that you have to go in and pay for, maybe you have a tribal ID but maybe you don't, and since you live at home, utility bills don’t get sent to you – that is assuming that your family has any utilities supplied that you have to pay for. If someone doesn’t vouch for you, you won’t get to vote.

This latter situation happened a couple of times in the observation of Spot’s friend the poll watcher. In each case, there was always a neighbor who said “oh yeah, that’s so-and-so’s kid; he still lives at home.” In one case, the “voucher” was the chief election judge, a white woman, vouching for a native kid. Spot’s friend says that will always be a prized memory for him. There are many other perfectly legitimate scenarios like this.

People who live on Chantry Road? Well, they can take care of themselves.

Which of these people does Katie want to deny the franchise? You know the answer, boys and girls.

As far as same day registration is concerned, it saves a lot of people who recently moved, or who are not engaged enough in politics to seek to or maintain a registration in advance of election day. Often, people think they are registered when they are not. A registration will lapse if you miss a couple of elections, even if you don’t move. As Spot understands it, a lot can depend on the zealotry – and maybe the politics – of the County Auditor.

Same day registration preserves the franchise for a lot of people, which is partly why Minnesota leads the nation in voter turnout, election after election.

Remember, both the voter and the voucher have to affirm, under penalty of perjury, that the voter is a resident of the precinct. And the voucher already has to be registered, also with an address in the precinct.

Why are Katie and Kiffmeyer shrieking in terror about voter fraud, even when it is demonstrably not a problem in Minnesota, anyway? Guess.

Tags: shrieks

No comments: