Do Absentee Mail Voters have to show ID in North Carolina?

The short answer is no. Only persons voting in person must show ID.

From the comments to this post showing differences by party of same day registration/voting as compared to absentee via mail voting was the following comment (shown in full):

It could be argued, of course, that the Obama vote totals in both ’08 and ’12 were unjustly enriched from a no-ID policy, if one believes that matching an ID to the vote is an appropriate regulation in a democratic system. The new law, in this view, would correct the “over-vote” for that candidate.

I’d be interested in knowing whether the presentation of an ID in order to obtain or register a mail-in ballot is a requirement under the new law.

Answering the question but skipping the evidence-free innuendo, the only form of voting under the new North Carolina election law that does not require an ID to be shown to someone to legally vote is absentee mail voting. From the text of the H589: Continue reading “Do Absentee Mail Voters have to show ID in North Carolina?”

The Democrats’ House Majority

No, not really.  But sort of.  Ian Millhiser explains that Democratic House candidates actually got more votes nationwide than Republicans, by around 500,000.  So how could the Republicans maintain their majority?  Simple.  It was gerrymandering.  Nick Baumann at Mother Jones has the goods (h/t Dayen):

  • North Carolina, which Obama lost by around 2 percentage points: 9-4 GOP
  • Florida, which Obama won by around half a percentage point: 17-10 GOP
  • Ohio, which Obama won by nearly 2 percentage points: 12-4 GOP
  • Virginia, which Obama won by around 3 percentage points: 8-3 GOP
  • Pennsylvania, which Obama won by more than 5 percentage points: 13-5 GOP
  • Wisconsin, which Obama won by 6 percentage points: 5-3 GOP
  • Michigan, which Obama won by 8 percentage points: 9-5 GOP

Now, in fairness, it is not all about partisan gerrymandering.  Some of this is also because of the creation of majority-minority districts, particularly in the south.  But that is decidedly a secondary impact.

Last week, I argued that if Obama were to win the electoral college but lose the popular vote, that should not affect his legitimacy as President: that’s the way that the system was set up.  So does that apply here?  Not so much: the Electoral College is created by the Constitution.  Partisan gerrymanders are created by — Republican state legislatures.  They created this distorted system; they can’t argue then that they were simply playing by the rules.

I’m not precisely sure what it means to question the “legitimacy” of some governing institution.  But to the extent that any duly and legally elected House majority is illegitimate, it is this one.  Let’s have none of the idea that the voters wanted to support conservative ideology by returning John Boehner to the Speaker’s chair.  They didn’t.  They wanted change.  And the GOP figured out how to prevent them from exercising their will.

Virginia is for Voters

Virginia has a nonpartisan election board. The rest of us ought to (though we need a backer for the cause).

Lots of people are talking about how likely election chaos in Florida and Ohio—by design; the Republicans in charge of both states (in the case of Ohio, the Secretary of State more than the Governor) have done everything they can to make it as hard as possible for people to vote, in the hope that this will disenfranchise far more would-be Democratic voters than Republican ones.

Nobody is saying that about Virginia. Why not? It has a nonpartisan election board , whose website seems unusually helpful and informative. It does have a Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office, but it doesn’t supervise elections: it’s basically a personnel office that vets applications for state commissions.

Why don’t more states follow Virginia’s example? Every state with a partisan—or, to my mind, nonpartisan—election for the election-watchers is an anti-democratic train wreck waiting to happen. Many states, including California, have a long tradition of elected Secretaries of State who have managed elections impartially, ranging from glorified nonentities like March Fong Eu to people who went on to grander things like the current governor, Jerry Brown. But lots of states that thought they had long traditions to this effect rapidly sloughed them off once the new breed of Republican got elected Secretary.

People who propose federal-level uniformity in how we run elections need to read the Constitution, which leaves election administration to the states (and leaves ratification of amendments to the states as well, which are not likely to take kindly to the suggestion that the federal government can supervise elections more reliably than they). But state-by-state campaigns for nonpartisan election boards would face no constitutional problems. Their absence reflects, presumably, the lack of an interested constituency with money behind it. If only Molly Munger had a stronger sense of civic virtue than of her own importance..for now, calling Nicholas Berggruen?

Republicans are hoping that pictures like this one* will help them win this election.

GOP hoping that voter suppression will help them. It won’t be enough. And it has tarnished the Republican brand for years to come. hindering the efforts of low-income Democrats, Latinos, and African-Americans to cast their votes. Yet the efforts by Republican governors in battleground states have been so blatant and so baffoonish—in Florida, Colorado, Ohio, and elsewhere-that I believe this will have the opposite effect.

Everyone on all sides of the ideological divide understands what’s happening here. This strategy is deeply contrary to our nation’s core democratic values. It will have lingering after-effects.

Had Mitt Romney began the general election with some decent share of the Latino vote, he probably would be winning today. Instead, GOP tactics (along with harsh rhetoric regarding self-deportation and so many other matters) have alienated the fastest-growing constituency in America. Republican political professional watching the numbers in (say) Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado must be pulling their hair out as they grasp the full extent of this. And as David Weigel observes in Slate, voter suppression efforts may also have solved Democrats’ enthusiasm gap among key constituencies hurting in the current recession.

Sure, these shenanigans will suppress some Democratic votes. It won’t be enough. Republicans will still lose on Tuesday. They certainly deserve to. And the manner of their campaign will tarnish the Republican brand within many, many communities. You tend to remember when one party seeks political advantage by making your mom stand in line for six hours in the hope that she’ll decide it’s too much hassle to cast her vote.

I hope decent Republicans aim for a more honorable and inclusive strategy next time around.

*Tweeted by Ian Koski here. Yeah there are hundreds of others in Florida and Ohio today.

What’s happening all over? I’ll tell you what’s happening all over-*

Mark asked for an update on Iowa, but I’ve moved out of the field operation and into voter protection at national headquarters. We sit at telephones and computers and people call in from Nevada and North Carolina and Ohio-especially Ohio!-and Florida and Wisconsin and ask where they can vote early and whether they’re properly registered and what i.d. they need to vote and why their absentee ballot still hasn’t arrived; and tell us that someone came to their door claiming they needed their naturalization papers to vote or that someone came to their nursing home and distributed and then collected absentee ballots which were not the absentee ballot they’d asked to have mailed to their daughter; and we review pages of FAQs and statutes and Board of Elections regulations and say, “You can vote at the public library on Route 31-do you know where that is? Is that close to your house?” and if it’s not we connect them to the local Obama office for rides. And the people who call know all about the Republicans’ efforts to keep them from voting and are getting out to vote early to make sure they don’t get turned away on Election Day and are concerned and disappointed if their state doesn’t have early voting.

When I mentioned to the Latina grandmother confirming her registration that the California Board of Elections Website made it hard to do so, she instantly asked, “Do you think that’s part of voter suppression?” Is that a question you would know to ask in your second language?

Probably I’m just high from solving problems and occasionally seeing celebrities (the First Lady came in today and made some voter outreach calls); but it seems to me every effort to reduce Democratic turnout has only made Democrats more committed to get to the polls.

Start with a fugue, end with an anthem. “You can bend but never break me, and it only serves to make me more determined to achieve my final goals . . .”**

Quick, somebody cut off my supply of caffeine!
*Guys and Dolls
**I Am Woman.

Voter Suppression and DWB

I got a ticket on Wednesday for changing lanes without signalling. (Yes, Chicago’s coffers are in need of a refill.) Because I’m no longer a motor club member, I no longer have a bond card, the thing you can give the cop instead of your license. So she took my license, and now I’m driving on the ticket.

But here’s the thing: I want to vote early, and to do so in Chicago I’m required to show a government-issued photo i.d.-like, oh, say, my driver’s license, which I won’t have back until I complete traffic safety school and mail them $167. And even if I do that today, there’s very little chance I will receive my license back in the mail before November 6, much less in time to vote early.

Now, as it happens I have a passport, so I’ll be able to get around this difficulty. But when I realized the impact my ticket could have on my ability to vote, it occurred to me that this is another way in which voter i.d. laws help suppress voting by minority-group members, the young and the elderly.

We’re all familiar with the traffic offense of DWB: Driving While Black or Driving While Brown. Nonwhite motorists are more likely to be stopped for moving violations than whites, and more likely to be ticketed when they’re stopped. The ones who, like me, don’t have bond cards-whether because they can’t afford motor club membership or they just never thought of it-will have to surrender their licenses; and then, unless they happen to have passports (also less likely, statistically, than among white people) they won’t be able to vote in states requiring voter i.d. So combine discriminatory policing with photo i.d. laws and you’ve got a perfect tool for keeping black and brown people from the polls.

The elderly, meanwhile, are more likely to be stopped for traffic violations because they’re actually driving badly; but once again, that shouldn’t deprive seniors of the franchise. And the same can be said for young drivers, who may be careless behind the wheel but are entitled to vote if they’re 18 or over.

So the next time someone tells you that voter i.d. laws are fine because “everyone has a driver’s license,” ask if s/he’s ever had to drive on a ticket. Then mention that this commonplace experience would mean the inability to vote, and see what s/he has to say.

Good for Michigan governor Rick Snyder

Michigan’s GOP governor does the right thing on voter ID laws.

Republican politicians across the nation are pushing voter ID laws and similar measures ostensibly designed to thwart (the largely fictional problem of) voter fraud. Despite various flimsy justifications offered, most of these new laws are obviously intended to prevent or to hinder voting among traditional Democratic constituencies, particularly low-income people, the less-educated, and nonwhites. Various Republican politicians have said as much, occasionally captured through incautious comments captured on video or the occasional cellphone recording. When laws are enacted on a partisan basis which allow (to take one obvious Texas example) prospective voters to use concealed weapon permits but not state university photo id cards, we’re long past the point of pretending this is a cute inside-baseball story.

It’s natural to view these efforts as continuations of GOP race-pandering from the  “southern strategy” to Willy Horton. This might be unfair. Maybe these voter ID laws just reflect the more bipartisan tradition of election-stealing we’ve seen before, certainly here in Chicago.

Whichever-it’s disgusting to seek political advantage by preventing other people from lawfully voting. Such tactics undermine Americans’ confidence in the legitimacy of our political process. The also unavoidably stain Republicans’ reputation and legacy, as that party continues its post-1964 self-deportation from a position of respect within minority communities.

Some GOP politicians have chosen a more decent path. Florida’s Governor Crist did the decent thing regarding felony enfranchisement.  (His clownish successor, Rick Scott, is another matter.)  Now Michigan governor Rick Snyder has done the decent thing, too. He surprised and disappointed many Michigan Republicans by refusing to sign similar bills. As Eric Kleefeld described in TPM:

One measure would have required voters to reaffirm that they are U.S. citizens, and would have instituted photo-ID requirements for voters receiving an absentee ballot at a local government office. Another would have required training for people, companies and organizations participating in voter registration. The Grand Rapids Press reports that Republicans in the legislature argued that the measures were needed to combat voter fraud, while Democrats charged that the bills would unfairly target poor, minority and elderly people who favor the Democratic Party.

The New York Times’ Steven Yaccino rightly observed: “The vetoes are an election-year rarity for the party, which has pressed for tougher voter identification laws nationwide.”

Good for Governor Snyder. I don’t know that much about him or whether this was a profitable political move. It was a rare honorable move in a pretty dirty campaign season.

On Wisconsin!

On Tuesday I’ll drive from Chicago up to Sauk City, Wisconsin, to do voter protection, that is, pollwatching while holding a law degree.  Wisconsin historically has offered exceptionally inclusive voter access, including in-precinct same-day registration.  But one of the many delightful consequences of the Republican takeover of the state is a photo-i.d. law which isn’t supposed to take effect til the first of the year but is unclear enough to make for messy election days-precisely what the sponsors intended.  So I’ll go up there and do what I can to make sure everybody can vote, and hope that the selfsame “everybody” will throw the anti-collective-bargaining rascals out.

(Last weekend at the Bughouse Square debates-the Newberry Library’s annual effort to restore the fine art of soapbox speaking-the central topic was public-sector collective bargaining.   The young man speaking in opposition wore a Solidarity t-shirt as he argued that “public employee collective bargaining inserts needless conflict between citizen and citizen.”  Does he realize that Solidarity was a public-sector union?)

I’m going to Wisconsin because it’s a political situation about which I can do something-contra the whole debt-ceiling mess, about which I can do absolutely nothing.  I disagree with my colleagues on the left who think the President got backed into a corner on the debt ceiling because he’s weak.  He got backed into a corner because he’s actually trying to govern and the people he’s dealing with are not.

When the President was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, skeptics wondered what he could possibly have done to deserve it.  It seemed pretty straightforward to me: his election meant the restoration of constitutional government in the world’s only superpower.  What could be more essential to peace?

Unfortunately, the Constitution had been damaged more than most of us realized, and merely electing a President didn’t guarantee its restoration-not when anti-government idealogues control the legislature and the judiciary.   All the finger-pointing on the left ignores the extent to which the right is engaging in the deliberate destruction of our governmental system.

The idea that people who hate government are controlling ours is actually more frightening than the notion that the President somehow betrayed us by averting a default.  The scary thing is, he did as much as he could.

Applying social pressure to boost electoral turnout

Sending out mailings to a neighborhood showing which residents voted in the past two elections and which didn’t, and promising to send out a similar mailing after the next election, boosts turnout at less than $2 per additional vote. Let’s get organized to do it.

Kevin Drum reports on the most practical piece of political-science research I’ve ever seen: a demonstration that sending out a mailing telling people which residents in their neighborhood (including themselves) voted, and who didn’t, in recent elections, and promising to do so again after the next one, increases turnout at a fraction of the cost of other sorts of campaign activity.

This seems to have the potential to transform the political landscape.

Continue reading “Applying social pressure to boost electoral turnout”