Thursday, September 13, 2012

New ID Law Fails NH

The primary on September 11 was the first election since the implementing of the Voter ID bill passed this year by the legislature. This is the same legislature that promised a laser-like focus on job creation. That campaign promise fell quickly by the wayside, as the legislature turned immediately to ensuring less government intrusion into our lives by attempting to regulate marriage, regulating the uterine bearing segment of the population, and now passing a Voter ID bill, despite the absence of any proven voter fraud.

Rep. Umberger had a column in last week’s paper about Voter ID that was long on anecdote, and short on provable fact. She mentioned people who live in one town and vote in another, live in one state and vote in another. I would hope that Rep. Umberger immediately reported any such transgressions to the proper authorities.

That’s the funny thing about this voter fraud scam. Every Republican has a story about someone who commits voter fraud. Under questioning the story always falls apart. Usually it’s third party nonsense – they’re repeating a story told by some other storyteller. None of them have actually witnessed fraud at the polls.

This new, badly written law provided all manner of opportunities for abuse.
The Conway Sun quoted Bartlett town clerk Leslie Mallet as saying she was requesting photocopied ID for absentee ballots. The absentee ballots were exempted from the new law, so Ms. Mallet was essentially making up her own rules. Electronic road signs were up at both ends of Newington, reading: “New Law, Bring Photo ID.” Other towns had signs up stating that Voter ID was required. It was not required for the primary. It was requested by ballot clerks, who were then intended to hand folks a piece of paper explaining the new law and what would be required for the November election.

The end result of the poorly written law is confusion. Some towns are making up their own rules. Voters were turned away in a number of places, including a couple of wards in Manchester. The most notable case of that was in Ward 8, where twice ballot clerks told Eva Castillo that she must present an ID. It behooves me to point out that Eva is a US citizen, who came here from Colombia. She has an accent. That accent may have had some bearing on the situation. Eva is also a Police Commissioner for the City of Manchester. Oops, ballot clerks in Ward 8. The Union Leader is following this story. (Disclaimer: I know Eva Castillo.)

Claire Ebel of the NH ACLU reports hearing of voters having problems in a number of towns, including: Barrington, Boscawen, Canterbury, Chichester, Epping, Farmington, Goffstown, Kensington, Londonderry, Manchester, Newmarket, Pelham, Peterborough, Rollinsford, Salem and Thornton. It’s obvious that it’s not just voters who need more education about this law. Town and ballot clerks need to be further educated, and instructed on actual procedure. Voters without ID were supposed to be issued a voucher for their “free” ID, but when asked about that, Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlon said that the NH DMV is not ready to provide those IDs, so no vouchers were issued.

In other words, voters will be expected to have ID in November. If you need one of the “free” IDs that the state is supposed to provide for you, that’s going to be your tough luck. It’s a beautiful Catch-22. You’re supposed to have an ID, and according to the law, low-income folks can get free ID from the DMV, who can’t actually give you that free ID. This is not surprising. Remember last year’s plowing debacle, when the Dept. of Transportation didn’t have enough money in their budget, so they were going to cut plowing down on secondary roads? It’s the same thing. The NH legislature is controlled by people who think they can cut their way to prosperity, something even the pinkos at the US Chamber of Commerce acknowledge as being bad strategy. The states doing best right now are states investing in education and infrastructure. NH is doing neither. This irresponsible body passed this Voter ID bill without a fiscal note spelling out how it would be paid for. (Kind of like George Bush and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.)

There is one especially interesting aspect of the new law. A person who purposely or knowingly uses false proof of identity to procure a ballot in NH is to be charged with a Class A felony, and given a mandatory sentence of no less than 30 days in the county correctional facility. Why hasn’t faux journalist James O’Keefe (of the Brietbart crime syndicate) who committed exactly this crime – on videotape – been extradited to NH to be tried and imprisoned?

There is election fraud, in the US; it’s just not the kind that showing an ID will address. The biggest case of election fraud took place in Florida, in November of 2000. Republicans don’t wish to discuss that. The real fraud is committed with electronic voter machines. The ID issue is just smoke and mirrors, to get low information voters all wound up about a nonexistent problem. Republicans go on and on about how it’s Democrats who are committing all manner of massive voter fraud – the dead are voting, union thugs from out of state, and so on. If Democrats are clever enough to commit voter fraud on such a massive scale, why aren’t they running the state? The country? Why do they lose so many elections? Apparently we’re not supposed to follow that so-called logic all the way through.

This new law is intended to gum things up at the polls, and disenfranchise some voters. (The elderly, students, people of color, women, and the poor.) The legislature never proved that voter fraud was a problem in our state. We’re told it was necessary because it COULD happen. If that’s how we write laws these days, ALL of us should immediately go to prison, because we MIGHT commit some crime. It’s a flimsy pretext, but in a world where politics has become partisan shouting, and facts don’t matter (see: Romney, Mitt) it is no surprise that the corporate shadow group ALEC has been so successful in getting this sort of bill passed in a number of states around the country.

If the GOP/ALEC could legislate that only angry white male Republicans were allowed to vote, they most certainly would have done so.

© sbruce 2011 published as an op-ed in the September 13, 2012 edition of the Conway Daily Sun.


NH Labor News said...

Amazing as always

Anonymous said...

Republicans and their hollow headed followers thrive on nothing more than fear. And I've always been perplexed by this aspect of their particular type of thought processes. I'm so glad you mentioned the W wars that were financially unplanned and that clearly landed us in the mess we are in. Although, this was a bumper summer in the valley. As far as this summer is concerned, it didn't appear to my frustrations that anyone was lacking for recreation money. As to the voter ID which had been stewing for many years, I had started showing my Driver's license here in Jackson for the past few years. (I knew eventually the GOP would force it through). It was, in many cases, rather rudely waved away. That will now be changed in November. I'm also pleased you mentioned the 2000 fiasco which I always use in arguments with certain individuals who to this day have never educated themselves on facts and have never heard of Diebold etc. Republicans love to wave "their" Constitution which is ironic, considering they are actually discounting it and altering its very structure by disenfranchising citizens. As to your friend who holds public office and has an accent. Been there done that many times and it's interesting that it is usually someone of the right persuasion who questions my patriotism etc. because "I'm not like them". Almost thirty years a citizen isn't good enough most times.

Anonymous said...

Great post. In there area of voter fraud you could have also included Ohio 2000, the Pennsylvania GOPer who accidently spoke the truth about their voter ID law being designed to hand Romney the election, the voter purges in Florida and the failed attempt in Ohio to limit voting hours in Democratic districts while expanding them in Republican district.

Kate said...

Incomplete Democracy = No Democracy

susanthe said...

Thanks, Kate - your heading sums it up in a nutshell.