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May 06, 2008

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Well, since it's an open thread and all...the city of North Lauderdale has passed a resolution calling for the splitting of Florida into two states--one north, and one south. The ironic part of this is that the northern part of the state is far more southern than the south part is--I call it, the "up south" myself.

They're really pretty harsh about the voter ID thing. There was a huge sign saying I wasn't allowed through the door without an ID, and I was challenged pretty fiercely to produce ID before I could walk in. (Had brought both passport and driver's license, in case.) The weird thing was that this was taking place in the community building of the sleepy little apartment community that I live in. I was wondering whether I'd be allowed through to door to, say, go to the gym or pay rent or something, if I couldn't produce photo ID.

The other odd thing was that the ID checking seemed completely pointless, because the woman who asked me to show ID didn't check to see if it corresponded with a name on the register, and once she let me in, the person checking names on the register didn't ask for my ID. And the woman checking ID also can't have been checking to see that I was an Indiana resident or something, because my passport doesn't show that.

So really, I could just have used my ID to prove to the lady at the door that I was me, and then given someone else's name to the woman in charge of the register.

So ultimately the only thing that they verified to allow me to vote, was that I did, in fact, possess an ID, but not that I was a resident of Indiana or that I was who I said I was. So pointless. And so wrong that those nuns weren't allowed to vote as a result.

Thank you hilzoy.

I asked Hilzoy if she could put up this thread so i could make a pitch on behalf of a dog, It is really nice of her to comply since most ObWi readers don't live near enough to help even if they wanted to.

But some do, so here's my pitch:

Lassie needs a home. She's a good, good dog and she's never had a home so I hope that someone will be able to help her.

I have been feeding her for about a year. One of my clients lives in a neighborhood taht is overrun by stray and semi-stray dogs. lassie was one of a crew that overturned trash cans at his houe regularoy. i started giveing them food to keep them out of the trash.

My client has an old shed in the back yard that's full of decaying furniture. When the weather is bad dogs take refuge there. One day in February my client told me that an injured or sick dog was living on the funky old couch out there. he had been throwing hotdogs out his back door to feed the dog.

I went out to look. It was lassie. Her face was criscorssed with lacerations and her paws were so swollen that she couldn't walk. I washed her wounds, brought her some food and awter and wrapped her up in an old comforter. For rthte nesxt week or so I spent part of every visit to my client out in the shed with her. We got to be frieds and I started calling her Lassie.

I found out later that she had an owner of sorts by she is an alcoholic and was in jail most of last winter, the time Lassie moved into the shed.

So lassie became more or less a fixture at tmy client's house. Both of us fed her and she usually slept in the shed. Then this spring things got to the crisis stage.

Her person moved away, thus, in my mind, relinguishing what rights she nmay have ahd to Lassie, and Lassie got pregnant.

So I got her into a local no kill shelter. She's getting spayed today.

I'm not wrting about this very eloquently. I'm not conveying how much I care about her. She's a good, good dog, very dignified, polite, quiet. She's playful with other dogs and to people she is quietly friendly. To me she's a facelicking tailwagger.

I'm afraid for her future because she is part pitbull. Too many responsible people are afraid of pitbulls and too many sleazy nastly people think that they are cool. She isn't a dog to be afraid of. She's independent, resilient, smart, and, if you are affectionalte to her, she is affectionate back.

She's about sixty pounds, has a build like a retreiver, thick course fur like a shepard, a tail that curls over her back like a husky, and she is mostly brown with white on her face. One of her back legs is damaged but it's an old injury that doesn't seem to bothehr her.

I live near Shelton Washington, a littel north of Olympia. I would be happy to drive her as far as Spokane or Portland to get her to a good home/

Thanks agisn Hilzoy. for putting up this thread.

I forgot: [email protected]

So really, I could just have used my ID to prove to the lady at the door that I was me, and then given someone else's name to the woman in charge of the register.

Airport security has the exact same problem: to reach the gate, you need any old boarding pass and an ID that matches your boarding pass, but to board the plane you need a valid boarding pass. That means that any idiot can print out an old boarding pass (after changing the date in photoshop) and enter the gate area without even having a ticket. Heck, there used to be a website that let you print your own BP.

It also means that you can fly even if you're on the no fly list: just buy a ticket online with a fake name and print two boarding passes. The first is the "real" BP that gets you onto the plane at the gate. The second is an edited version of the first where the fake name you used to purchase the ticket has been replaced with the real name on your ID.

This is an easy problem to fix (theoretically): airport security has to ensure that the BP you hand them is a valid BP by running it through an airline scanner.

We refuse to fix this problem in airports where the consequences of screwing up are literally life and death. Of course we won't fix it in the 8 million crappy polling places scattered throughout this country where the consequences are mere disenfranchisement of marginalized members of society. This is why I laugh at people who talk about using ID to prove identity in order to reduce voting fraud.

Thanks for doing this wonkie, thanks for trying.

Heck, there used to be a website that let you print your own BP.

A number of airlines still do. United has a nifty online check-in-cum-boarding-pass gizmo that I love, and I think other airlines are doing it too.

Hillary Clinton has actually (finally?) introduced a gas tax bill.

According to early exit polls, half of Clinton's supporters in Indiana would not vote for Obama in a general election match up with Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

A third of Clinton voters said they would pick McCain over Obama, while 17 percent said they would not vote at all. Forty-eight percent of Clinton supporters said they would back Obama in November.

Obama got even less support from Clinton backers in North Carolina where 45 percent of Clinton supporters said they would vote for him over McCain. Thirty-eight percent of Clinton supporters said they would vote for McCain while 12 percent said they would not vote.

This from CNN's main story on their website.

I'm sorry but the democratic party chiefs are morons, they need to show some guts and pull the plug on Clinton - she is handing this election to McCain on the basis of 'vote for whitey'.

The three "as applied" Justices in Crawford (Stevens et al) held that the challengers of the Indiana law had not provided a single example of a legitimate voter disenfranchised by the rule -- nor could any such circumstance be reasonably be contemplated.

This was obviously a carefully orchestrated stunt to "prove" otherwise. (Note especially the fact that a fellow nun was the agent blocking her Sisters from voting.)

wonkie: she sounds like a great dog. I hope someone gives her the home she deserves.

A number of airlines still do. United has a nifty online check-in-cum-boarding-pass gizmo that I love, and I think other airlines are doing it too.

Oh, lots of airlines will let you print boarding passes online, but that's not what I was referring to. The site I referred to asked you for a name and a flight and allowed you to print out a fake Northwest boarding pass for that flight with the name already written in.

In other words, it allowed anyone to reach the gate area without buying a ticket as long as they had some kind of picture ID. Those boarding passes can't be used to get onto a plane (because they're not valid boarding passes that the airline knows anything about), but they can get you through security.

Open thread, cool, I'll post the question I put on a previous thread, which was how much is a gallon of gas going to cost if oil costs $200 per barrel? Slarti said ~$7, but he did that based on actual math, rather than ritual speculation, so I don't trust him.

More open thread: Is it stupid for TSA screeners, when you've been selected for extra screening, to ask what bags are yours? Suppose there's two of you and you point to the other person's bags, which, in fact, don't contain the contraband? And can we get rid of the stupid liquids in a plastic bag rule already? Can I sue them if I get a foot fungus from taking off my shoes? And is there any more evidence that we're all sheep than the disrobing we go through at screening?

Even more open thread: The voter ID requirement is a poll tax by another name, and thus unconstitutional. Why SCOTUS doesn't understand this is beyond me, though perhaps I should read the opinion first (although the fact that Stevens joined the majority makes me less concerned).

Still more: I'm not a big fan of dogs. Well, let me re-phrase that, I'm not a big fan of certain dog owners and the consequences visited upon various people by said owners' dogs.

Last one: My prediction for the general election is in line with The Poorman's (my google skills are failing for his actual post) - McCain wins because America won't vote for The [email protected]@er. And I weep.

Well, KipEsquire, in response to your comment:
1) I don't know about you, but I've frequently voted at polling places run by nuns, because they are civic-minded and are able and willing to spend the time.
2) The nuns I've known - and I've known a few; I'm Jewish, but there used to be a small nunnery on my block growing up - were incredibly nice people, and (unsurprisingly) very nonconfrontational and very straightlaced (not every nun is Helen Prejean). I doubt they jaywalked, and I don't think they'd break the law for the convenience of their friends, even if they knew they'd still be respecting the spirit of the law.
3) If it was a set-up, so what? It seems like a pretty good test case: they really did have poverty-stricken mobility-impaired citizens lacking photo ID. Who cares if they happen to be nuns recognized by the poll worker? Wouldn't visibly getting rejected by the terms of a bad law seem to be an excellent form of protest - call it 'civil obedience', if you will.

Open thread, cool, I'll post the question I put on a previous thread, which was how much is a gallon of gas going to cost if oil costs $200 per barrel? Slarti said ~$7, but he did that based on actual math, rather than ritual speculation, so I don't trust him.
I don't know where Slarti is getting his price, but it looks suspiciously similar to ($200 per barrel/$110 per barrel)*($3.60 per gallon).

Now, I know nothing about refining, delivery, marketing, etcetera; but I will note that ten years or so ago gas was at $15-20/barrel, and gas prices were maybe as little as a third of current prices.

This gets more complicated because American gas taxes tend to be a fixed amount per gallon, rather than a percentage surcharge, but I think that - presumably because of the relatively fixed costs of refining, delivery, and marketing - we can deduce only a part (rough back-of-the-envelope estimate of a third?) of your gallon's price reflects the price of a barrel of oil.

I would, of course, eagerly welcome an actual informed opinion, or my possible comeuppance by Slartibartfast (or by another).

This was obviously a carefully orchestrated stunt to "prove" otherwise.

It is not obvious to me. In fact, I imagine that 80+ year old nuns who cannot walk and live in an isolated rural convent might easily not have up to date ID. Driver's licenses wouldn't be much use. Most nuns aren't earning enough cash to support frequent vacations in europe, so why bother keep a passport current (renewing a passport is not cheap)? I imagine that 80+ year old women don't get carded buying booze very often.

(Note especially the fact that a fellow nun was the agent blocking her Sisters from voting.)

I'm trying really hard to understand why the fact that the polling worker was a nun proves anything. Are you saying that if the polling worker was not a nun, the other nuns would have been able to vote?


Ugh: according to this site, crude oil makes up 72% of the pump price (the other bits are distribution/marketing, taxes, and refinery costs). Assuming that refinery costs don't change, that suggests the pump price should be $6.02 ((1.0+0.72)*$3.50).

Good luck with Lassie, wonkie.

On another matter, anyone with an interest in western European history, particularly in the 8th-12th century, really ought to read God's Crucible by David Levering-Lewis. Lots of very interesting stuff about early Islam, the Muslim conquest of Spain, the rise of the Carolingians, conflicts, comparisons, Roland, Charles Martel, etc.

Levering-Lewis plainly thinks Spain the far superior society of the time, and even suggests that Martel's celebrated victory at Tours, stopping the Muslim advance, was something of a disaster for the future of Europe.

Actually, you ought to read it even if you don't care about all that, because you will when you finish.

This was obviously a carefully orchestrated stunt to "prove" otherwise.

It is not obvious to me.

Actually, what's obvious is that folks are arguing more from the gut than from the head. Data would be better, imo.

(And data rooted in reality, please; any argument that refers to "everyday ID requirements" like passports, renting DVDs, cashing check is from someone who isn't paying attention).

On a lighter note:

If you're in the Pacific Northwest, please come see my zombie + Shakespeare + martial arts show. Might be amusing for some folks.

The usual ObWi discounts apply.

Gwangung, I'll go to your show if you adopt my dog! :)

Those are great reviews on the web site. What a cool concept for a show!

"They weren't given provisional ballots because it would be impossible to get them to a motor vehicle branch and back in the 10-day time frame allotted by the law, Sister McGuire said."

If they asked for the provisional ballot, and were denied it for that hokey excuse, the Sister is guilty of an election crime. If they failed to ask for it, nothing is proved, because the choice not to obtain ID manifestly does not prove the impossibility of obtaining it.

I expect it was a stunt, but purely for PR purposes, because for legal purposes it constitutes evidence of nothing.

I really doubt it was a stunt. I live here (South Bend) and I know people who know some of the Holy Cross nuns. Not that they've told me anything one way or the other, but it sounds unlikely.

And as I said before, the way the ID law was implemented where I voted wouldn't actually prevent voter fraud, so the legitimate purpose claimed by the state wasn't being served by the law as implemented. Of course, that's just one polling location, but they seemed to be acting in accordance with a set of rules they had been trained to follow, and they were certainly much more interested in whether I actually possessed an ID than whether it matched the name of a registered voter, or whether I was a resident of the state.

I don't have any objection, in principle, to people having to prove that they're who they say they are if there's some question. But to require ID and then not check it against a set of names on the voter rolls seems more like an attempt to disqualify a group of people that will tend to vote a certain way than a serious effort to prevent fraud.

FWIW.

There is now hard evidence of legitimate voters being turned away because of their lack of ID. Acquring such represents a non-trivial expenditure of money and effort solely for the purpose of voting. Thus, for these nuns, the ID requirement is precisely equivalent to a poll tax.

Whether it is possible for these elderly citizens to produce or to procure birth certificates or other proofs of citizenship remains an open question.

Dear Hilzoy: I trust you are well.

I thought the story about the nuns not being able to vote was sad. There should be some way for people who don't drive cars to be able to easily produce satisfactory identification. One suggestion might be for the various car licensing agencies of the states to also offer legally acceptable ID cards. I stress these cards would not be driver's licenses.

Perhaps I'm spoiled, but I never had that kind of trouble in Essex county, MA. I merely registered (GOP)at the local city hall, and that was that. No one ever asked me for identification at my precinct. But I assume that was merely because the precinct workers already personally knew me.

Sincerely, Sean

Dear Hilzoy: A quick correction.

My name WAS checked off the voter lists, coming and going, at my precinct.

Sean

Here come the Lake Country results, 28% in so far with a net gain of almost 20k for Obama...

Sean, I believe every state offers an identity document to its residents similar to a driver's license; these cards don't permit you to drive legally of course. However, the cards are not free and in order to get one, you must prove your identity to the satisfaction of the new post-9/11 standards. For the poor or elderly, this can be quite difficult. The easiest ways to prove required aspects of identity are often not available to them (passport and driver's license expired for less than one year). Birth certificates may not be accessible, etc. Also, I believe the only way to get these such an identity card is to travel to the DMV/RMV which can be quite difficult in rural areas. Once you get there, because of the complexity of the documentation process, you may have to stay there for several hours and you may have to make multiple trips. I know people with graduate degrees who have done both.

I believe that MA only requires voter ID for first time voters; also, I think (but am not certain) that MA will accept something like a utility bill or bank statement rather than government issued photo ID.

"I forgot: LKoerber...."

For future reference, unless your desire is to maximize your spam, it's a terrible idea to put your email address up straight, rather than in any of the usual non-copyable-as-an-address forms, such as LKoerber889 at aol dot com, etc.

"There should be some way for people who don't drive cars to be able to easily produce satisfactory identification. One suggestion might be for the various car licensing agencies of the states to also offer legally acceptable ID cards. I stress these cards would not be driver's licenses."

Of course, every state in the union has offered a non-driver's license ID since long before I was born.

I take it you know absolutely no one who doesn't drive, to be ignorant of this basic fact.

But since IDs don't have a free teleport option to pick them up, this is completely irrelevant to the point, which is that poor people tend to have endless for-want-of-a-nail problems that can make obtaining a state ID range from time-consuming (half a day or so travel time, and lose half a day's pay, or half to pay childcare, etc.), to terribly time-consuming (multiple days of travel to various agencies in an attempt to procure sufficient paperwork to obtain an ID), to nearly impossible (you're disabled, and have no means of transport, etc.).

But since IDs don't have a free teleport option to pick them up, this is completely irrelevant to the point, which is that poor people tend to have endless for-want-of-a-nail problems that can make obtaining a state ID range from time-consuming (half a day or so travel time, and lose half a day's pay, or half to pay childcare, etc.), to terribly time-consuming (multiple days of travel to various agencies in an attempt to procure sufficient paperwork to obtain an ID), to nearly impossible (you're disabled, and have no means of transport, etc.).

This, of course, means nothing to those wedded to this particular solution, and are only interested in winning, as opposed to solving a problem. It simply isn't "proof" to them.

According to early exit polls, half of Clinton's supporters in Indiana would not vote for Obama in a general election match up with Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

I just emailed TPM about this very same bit of nonsense. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I'm getting really sick of seeing this meaningless data point getting so much attention, because it's playing right into the hands of those most invested in manipulating public opinion.

Look, whenever you poll a question where the answer makes one candidate look better or worse, you have to understand that people who are passionately for one candidate or another are going to answer based on what they think will help their candidate, not on what they actually think or plan on doing. While there’s probably a small percentage of supporters for each candidate willing to cut off their nose to spite their face, you can bet that nearly all of these people bleating about how they won’t vote for Obama if Clinton isn’t the nominee (or vice versa) are spouting complete BS to try to make the other person look like a weak candidate whose support will collapse in the fall. It’s a FUD strategy, nothing more and nothing less.

If you drew a Venn diagram for people who passionately believe in a given Democratic candidate and people who vote loyally Democratic, the overlap would be nearly total. Most of the people saying they’d vote for McCain before they vote for Obama will pull the lever for whoever the (D) candidate is in November, and you can pretty much ignore anyone making noise to the contrary as they are almost certainly not telling the truth—-no matter how much they protest their sincerity at the moment.

(Yes, I realize there's one or two on these threads who will likely pipe up, but the plural of "anecdote" is not "data".)

so I don't trust him

You are wise, Ugh.

Here's how I got my result. It's probably wrong, but I don't have anything better to work with.

When the price of crude was 36.90 a barrel, the cost of gasoline at the pump (this is sort of a nationwide average, and hence invalid for analysis, but you work with the numbers you can get) was $1.85 and broke out this way: $0.22 distribution and marketing, $0.33 refinement cost and profit, $0.43 tax and $0.87 cost of raw material. When oil was $50.23 a barrel, gas cost $2.27 a gallon, and broke out $0.20 D&M, $0.43 refinement and profit, $0.43 tax, and $1.20 cost of raw materials.

All of this from here. Granted, I could have searched harder and found numbers that were spread out over a longer time, and gotten a better fit to "noisy" cost data, but such weren't all that readily available.

So, I computed my results as follows: assumed D&M cost will rise by about 25% (lacking any data, but assuming fuel cost is at least part of D&M) to 0.25 a gallon, assuming refinement costs are linear with cost of fuel (i.e. it takes fuel energy to refine gasoline, and profit tends to be a constant multiple, nearly, of fuel cost), so a linear fit to the two data points yields, at $200 a barrel, $1.57 a gallon in refinement costs. This part is the most iffy, I admit, but as I said: I don't have any other data to work with. Tax is a average $0.43 a gallon, nationwide. Apparently most states have elected to assess a cents-per-gallon tax, rather than a cents-per-dollar tax. And of course the material cost I assume simply scales linearly with the cost of crude, so that would come to $4.79 a gallon. Strictly speaking, a barrel of crude is 42 gallons, so that number is actually $4.76.

Add it all up and you get $7.04. Probably bogus, but it'll do until a better set of data and assumptions comes along.

"And as I said before, the way the ID law was implemented where I voted wouldn't actually prevent voter fraud, so the legitimate purpose claimed by the state wasn't being served by the law as implemented."

Yes, Beren, you might ask them, (Your local elections officials.) why they deliberately chose to implement the law in a way which would be exactly as inconvenient as the appropriate way, while not obstructing ballot fraud. Perhaps they're not sympathetic to the law, and wish to make it look stupid. Perhaps they know some people who engage in impersonation voting, and approve of it. Could be a lot of reasons, but they didn't HAVE to do it that way.

"Nun shall pass"

[/Montypython]

Slarti - good work!

Thanks, Ugh. It didn't take me long to do; it's more of a conversation starter. Someone with a bigger database and some actual knowledge of the cost functions could probably do a much better job. My analysis, though, assumes a constant profit margin by the oil companies. In recent history, I think that's a valid assumption, but I can't predict what's next.

"Analysis" ought to have been in sneer quotes.

Slarti - this guy says $7.52

His rule of thumb is demonstrably inaccurate. If you predict backward from $7.52 to $30 a barrel (which we had in 2003), you get they have to pay you 98 cents a gallon to get rid of it.

So, I think his prediction is even worse than mine.

Yeah, your method seemed more reasonable.

I'm replacing my crappy 12-year old Ford Explorer (when I needed a new car, the price was right -- free) with a Prius this summer. As best I can tell, gas will have to get above 8 bucks a gallon before I'm back to paying the same amount each month in gas bills.

My wife drives a Beetle, and puts less than a thousand miles a year on the car. So me getting a new car is seriously cutting my gasoline usuage. I already reinsulated my house, upgraded my AC -- I live in Houston, where cooling bills are KILLER in the summer -- luckily I can get wind for 14c, fixed.

My electrical bill is down over a third, I'm about to cut my gas costs by almost 2/3rds -- I'm shedding my little remaining debt rapidly (it's my number 1 priority) -- and I hope to god it's enough to insulate me until a new status quo emerges on energy prices. Universal health care would help a lot, though. :)

Morat20: welcome to the world of (latte sipping, Birkenstock wearing) Prius drivers! They are awesome. I cackle as I drive by Hummers.

I also recommend demand hot water heaters. I got one, and my gas usage in the summer (which is pretty much all hot water heater) dropped to *one sixth* of what it had been.

I was considering an on-demand system, but ended up having to repipe the ENTIRE house and couldn't afford to upgrade to on-demand too.

My next major home repair -- replacing the soffit, gutters, and replumbing my AC drain pan into the sewer. (30 year old house -- drain pan empties out into the side of the yard, which becomes "marsh" several months of the year. Why they didn't pipe it to sewer remains a mystery. Both the main drain line and the tattle-tale vent out the side of the house, although the main line at least runs down to the ground. :)

Dear Turbulence. Thank you for your note.

Then I simply don't know what else can be done. MY view is that if voting is IMPORTANT for an individual, he should, if possible, make the sacrifices needed to both register and/or obtain satisfactory documentation. If properly planned and timed, it should not be too burdensome for most.

Perfection is not possible in this fallen world, so a relatively workable system may be the best we can get.

But I like the idea of using two or three documents like a utility bill or bank statements as proofs of identity.

Sincerely, Sean

Dear Gary: thanks for your note.

"I take it you know absolutely no one who doesn't drive, to be ignorant of this basic fact."

Not many true. Both of my parents, even in their eighties, had car licenses and drove.
Having a car license as a proof of identity has become the INGRAINED standard. Too much so, I agree.

I agree a wider range of legally acceptable proofs of identity is a good idea.

Sincerely, Sean

"But I like the idea of using two or three documents like a utility bill or bank statements as proofs of identity."

I don't. They're moderately good proof that somebody by that name lives at that address, but they're not proof at all that the person holding the bills is that somebody.

Sean! Representing Essex County, yo!

Yes, here in Essex County MA you have to give good evidence of who you are when you register to vote. When you actually go to vote, they ask you your name and address, look you up in the list of registered voters, and check you off before and after you vote.

This is susceptible to fraud in that I could walk into a polling place and claim to be Joe Smith at 15 Wisteria Rd, then vote as Joe Smith. When the real Joe Smith shows up, however, there will be a problem.

As a practical matter, I can't see that you, or even any organized collection of yous, could get away with this enough times to actually influence an election without the fraud being discovered.

Add in the fact that you can ONLY vote in the one and only polling place for your district, and that the poll workers and other voters are your neighbors, and you end up with what is in practice a pretty fraud-resistant protocol.

No id required.

There are lots of ways that fraud could be perpetrated in the absence of a photo id. Most of them are, I think, not that plausible in real life.

AFAIK, voter fraud in the real world is pretty damned rare.

Thanks -

Let's see if this posts -- I just love having comment after comment rejected for absolutely no reason, other than that Typepad rejects my name and URL and email address and IP and so on.


"MY view is that if voting is IMPORTANT for an individual, he should, if possible, make the sacrifices needed to both register and/or obtain satisfactory documentation."

And yet you presume that's possible for everyone. But you're not willing to go provide babysitting yourself, or make up the lost days income, or otherwise make it possible for people to fulfill your wish. You just put it on them.

"If properly planned and timed, it should not be too burdensome for most."

This is simply ignorant and untrue. Look into what it's like to be poor, uneducated, ill, disabled, without family, and without resources, I suggest.

Voting is a right. A Constitutional right. It can't be allowed to be a burden of any kind that prevents someone from voting, or we're not guaranteeing people's right to vote. Everyone (over 18). The poor, the disabled, the elderly, the homeless: everyone (aside from felons and mentally ill people barred by law, of course).

Dear Gary: thanks for your note.

"I take it you know absolutely no one who doesn't drive, to be ignorant of this basic fact."

Not many true.

I'm afraid I don't understand what that means.

"Having a car license as a proof of identity has become the INGRAINED standard."

I don't follow your point. Millions of non-drivers have state ID. I've had one most of my life, despite some trouble getting one at times.

"But I like the idea of using two or three documents like a utility bill or bank statements as proofs of identity."

It may not have crossed your attention that most homeless people, and innumerable poor people, have no bank accounts, or utility accounts. That's the whole point: poor people, it turns out, tend to live lives that are fairly different from those of the middle class.

But if they really cared, gosh darn it, they'd just earn that money and straighten out their lives, and cure their disabilities, and so on.

-- Gary Farber

It may not have crossed your attention that most homeless people, and innumerable poor people, have no bank accounts, or utility accounts. That's the whole point: poor people, it turns out, tend to live lives that are fairly different from those of the middle class.

You know....this point has been made eight or nine times in this thread alone.

And it keeps getting ignored.

No wonder these same people have problems with Rev. Wright---they have no conception of a world that differs from their own...particularly when the degree is 20-30 degrees instead of 90 or 180....

Dear Brett. Thanks for your note.

I do understand your point re using utility bills and bank statements not being NECESSARILY proof the person who has them is actually the person whose name is on them.

In that case, I can only think of one realistic alternative. Having the state DMVs issue legally acceptable ID cards. Without them being car licenses.

Sincerely, Sean

Guy: I'll keep this short.

It's one thing to say I'm mistaken or wrong. it's quite another to use offensive terms like "ignorant."

And I still say it's up to VOTERS themselves to make at least minimal efforts to register. Not the Mommy state.

Sean

Yo, Russell! Thanks for your note.

It's been so long now since I've registered at my local city hall (1970's)that I dont clearly recall presenting proof of identity to the city clerk. But I'm sure I had to show my driver's license.

And how you described the procedure at my local precinct was spot on!

But some parts of the US are notorious for voter fraud, I'm sorry to say. One example being the Cook County Democrat Machine in Chicago.

Sincerely, Sean

Dear Gary: Thanks for your note.

I had in mind that car ownership and driving is so common in the US, that, in my town, at least, I don't know many non aged persons who have SOME access to cars.

And I'm glad millions of Americans use legally acceptable ID cards in lieu of driver's licenses for proofs of identity.

As for homeless people and the other types of poor persons you listed, my view is that before they get help, they should also prove they are willing to do SOMETHING to improve their situations. Alcoholics, for example, quitting drinking and joining AA.

And it still remains up to them, not the state, to make the effort needed to register to vote. It's no use trying to force them to vote if they don't want to.

Sincerely, Sean

some guy: Sean is right. Name calling violates the rules.

Sean, in an earlier comment on this thread, I explained how identity checking by the TSA at airports is a complete joke. It literally accomplishes nothing, nothing whatsoever. Now, I happen to think that as a society we've spent a lot more time and money ensuring that our airports are secure than we have ensuring that our voting is secure. We have a very large government bureaucracy dedicated to securing air travel which expends billions vast sums of money: in 2007, TSA had a budget of $4.7 billion and employed over 43,000 people. There is nothing remotely comparable for voting. If we screw up identity checks in airports, then many many people may die horrible violent deaths. If we screw up identity checks at a polling place, odds are nothing happens at all. What I'd like to know is: why do you think it is likely that we are going to effectively check IDs at polling places if we can't do so in airports when the stakes are much higher and we have far more resources?

I really am curious.

As for homeless people and the other types of poor persons you listed, my view is that before they get help, they should also prove they are willing to do SOMETHING to improve their situations. Alcoholics, for example, quitting drinking and joining AA.

Get help? Exercising a fundamental right is not a matter of getting help. People without homes are entitled to vote. Period. They don't need to prove anything to you, even if they are alcoholics. Citizens are entitled to vote even if you think poorly of them.

It is unclear why we should tolerate barriers to the exercise of fundamental rights ostensibly imposed to solve a problem that we have no evidence is occurring.

And it still remains up to them, not the state, to make the effort needed to register to vote. It's no use trying to force them to vote if they don't want to.

I don't think anyone has said anything about forcing people to vote. Am I mistaken? Can you quote the argument on this thread where this was suggested?

Let me suggest an alternative way of thinking about this: if securing an ID is required for voting, what is the maximum percentage of one's annual income that should we insist people must expend to secure that ID? Even if the ID is free (it is often not), time is not free, especially time for people working multiple jobs. Such people cannot take off several hours from work or they might not have a job when they return. They often have limited transportation; many people in rural environments live many miles away from the nearest DMV. Beyond that, working through the documents is hard work. I had to stare at these documents for a good long while before I could convince myself that a trip to RMV wouldn't be wasted, and I'm much better equipped than most people.

I'd like you to look at this and this and imagine you need to get an MA ID. Imagine that your reading comprehension is not so great or that you're just exhausted from working two jobs and trying to take of your kids or that maybe your english isn't so hot or that you're just really old and aren't as sharp as you used to be. Read these two documents and tell me how hard it would be to get an MA ID assuming that you don't already have a passport and a driver's license. Bear in mind that birth certificates may be lost to the sands of antiquity. Obviously, nothing is ever impossible. But we can raise barriers sufficiently high so as to cause very serious problems.

"It's one thing to say I'm mistaken or wrong. it's quite another to use offensive terms like "ignorant.""

I don't mean to be rude or offensive, Sean. If you're aware that every state offers a non-driver's licence, and has for many decades, I apologize.

If you're ignorant of that simple fact, that's fine.

If you're not ignorant of that fact, do feel free to explain why you keep "suggesting" something happen that has been the norm since before you were born. Perhaps there's another explanation.

I'm ignorant of an infinite number of things, myself. But I try to restrain myself to not talking about them much in public. YMMV. I'm not in the least offended if someone notes that I'm ignorant of everything and anything about plumbing, or calculus, or how to transplant a heart, or gardening, or a billion bazillion other things, myself, so long as the observation is, in fact, accurate. It's only through having no embarrassment at admitting my ignorance that I can start lessening it, after all. I'm ignorant of most things there are to know, and life is a learning process.

But it is not my intent to anger or offend you, and I apologize for any offensive implications you may perceive in my sugggestion that, because you keep suggesting something that is the case, you might be ignorant that it is the case; I will happily accept your word that you were making the suggestion, repeatedly, for some reason other than ignorance of the facts.

"And I still say it's up to VOTERS themselves to make at least minimal efforts to register."

Indeed, and it's up to the state to not put unnecessary blockages intended solely for partisan reasons to lower voting rates for the Democratic Party, in the paths of voters, since voting is a constitutional right.

"As for homeless people and the other types of poor persons you listed, my view is that before they get help, they should also prove they are willing to do SOMETHING to improve their situations."

Do you have a cite to which provision of the Constitution mandates such a requirement in the right to vote, please? Or to a relevant SCOTUS decision?

If not, I'm unclear what the relevance of your opinions on constitutional law are: are you a federal judge, perhaps?

"I had in mind that car ownership and driving is so common in the US, that, in my town, at least, I don't know many non aged persons who have SOME access to cars."

Try looking it up. But if you'd like to volunteer to drive every carless person in the U.S. to get their free ID, and compensate them for time off work, child-care, etc., kewl.

"And it still remains up to them, not the state, to make the effort needed to register to vote."

And who are you arguing with on that? Cite?

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.

link

I wanted to wait a bit before suggesting it was a stunt, but now there is some pretty good evidence that it was a stunt.

Dear Hilzoy: I trust you are well.

Thank you.

Sincerely, Sean

Dear Gary: Thanks for your note.

I don't expect ID checks at either airports or voting precincts to be perfect. Nor do I expect problems like this to ever be wholly solved.

But,I do want some effort to be made at airports and precincts to establish one's identity.

Perhaps we are misunderstanding one another, but I don't think we truly disagree on this matter.

Sincerely, Sean

Dear Turbulence:

A correction! I mistakenly addressed the note above to Gary, not you. Apologies!

Sincerely, Sean

Wait a minute, if all it takes to vote using a provisional ballot is showing up at the county clerk's office and signing an affidavit, then what's the point of the ID requirement? Right now, I can't imagine the threat model is designed to counter. If we're going to trust people won't engage in voter fraud simply because they promise they're not engaging in voter fraud, what sort of security benefit have we achieved over...trusting people not to engage in voter fraud?

I don't expect ID checks at either airports or voting precincts to be perfect. Nor do I expect problems like this to ever be wholly solved.

Huh? I don't expect perfection from any system. The problem with airport identity checks is not that the system is imperfect: the problem is that the system will not work to defeat any terrorists that are smart enough to have seen the internet.

Do you understand the magnitude of this problem? Millions of people understand how to trivially subvert airport identity checks. Most of the people in my office know how do it. This isn't a secret: people have been talking about it on the internet for years. That means that any terrorist smart enough to google "bypass airport security identity check" and read the first result has completely defeated the system.

Despite all this, TSA doesn't care. The government doesn't care. We blow billions of dollars in lost time checking IDs at airports for nothing.

I don't think there is any reason to want identification document checking at either airports or polling places. When voting, you want to ensure authorization. When flying, you want to reduce risk. ID document checking doesn't do a good job of solving either of those problems.

Dear Turbulence: Thanks for writing.

1. I said NOT a word denying the right of homeless persons to vote.

2. I was trying to separate two things: problems like alcoholism or drug addiction from difficulties registering to vote.

3. I accuse no one of trying to force anyone to vote. I take that back. And if it caused any offense, I apologize.

4. I do understand, despite being a mere single guy, that a man or woman with jobs and children will not likely have much time for things getting driver's licenses or IDs. Yet, millions of people have done so.

5. I skimmed thru the links to the MA DMV sites listing the kinds of proofs demanded. I agree they can be difficult to understand if you are tired or not very familiar with English.

All these points being said, I don't know how to make voter registration easier to do when to make it too easy might open the door to fraud. I'm not even sure if we are disagreeing with each other.

Sincerely, Sean

"I don't expect ID checks at either airports or voting precincts to be perfect."

Dear Sean: there's no Constitutional right to fly. Thus these two things have nothing to do with each other.

"All these points being said, I don't know how to make voter registration easier to do when to make it too easy might open the door to fraud."

What "mak[ing] voter registration easier" issues are you referring to?

We've been talking about the new restrictions on voter registration, Sean. What's wrong with the way we've run voter registration for the last hundred years, pray tell?

If you'd like to link to any cases of significant voter fraud in the last decade in the U.S. -- "significant" defined as "remotely capable of coming remotely close to swinging an election," please do so. Otherwise, what are you talking about?

Sean,

Thanks for clarifying some of those issues. I should point out that I'm OK with the current state of affairs in MA. The issue isn't really whether we should reduce identification requirements in MA so much as whether we should increase them as Indiana has done.

Dear Turbulence: Thanks for writing again.

You are correct that airport security can be bypassed. I have seen stories in the media about people deliberately "cracking" security checks to show how easily it can be done. Airport security in this age of terrorism is a very worrisome problem.

IMO, about the only practical ways to improve security at airports is to check passengers and cargos for explosives and weapons.

As for voting, the only ways I can think for establishing one's authorization to vote is by going to the city clerk and showing proofs of identity/residence while registering.

Sinceerly, Sean

Dear Gary: Thanks for writing.

I misunderstood you. Fro which I apologize. I forgot this started originally about INDIANA. I was thinking too much about the procedurs I DO have some familiarity wity, in MA.

Sincerely, Sean

Dear Turbulence. Yet another goof!

I blundered again addressing a note to Gary which I meant for you.

This is getting annoying!

Sincerely, Sean

"As for voting, the only ways I can think for establishing one's authorization to vote is by going to the city clerk and showing proofs of identity/residence while registering."

Sean, I repeat: what's wrong with the voter registration methods used by the various states and territories for the past 100 years? Why do you seem to believe there should be some kind of radical change?

May I ask how familiar you are with the history of voting rights legislation, SCOTUS decisions, and the evolution of those voting rights issues in the past 100 years? Are you familiar, say, with these basics?

Dear Gary. I hope you are well.

THIS note is meant for you. (Smiles). I see now what the problem was. I forgot or misunderstood this discussion started about what was going on in INDIANA, not MA. I had in my mind what I was familiar with in MA, when I should have been thinking about Indiana.

Sincerely, Sean

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