Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ross Miller Responds re His Voter ID Bill

Obviously, I was taken aback when I first learned of Ross Miller's proposed voter ID bill. Why would someone of his stature lend credence to nonsensical conspiracy theories and frightening efforts to prevent legal voters from casting their ballots? What. The. F**k?!

So perhaps I overreacted. Fortunately, Mr. Secretary of State was courteous enough to explain what he's proposing... Via Twitter.

@atdleft @LauraKMM this doesn't require an ID card to vote - we'd input photos from DMV into poll book & take photo for those lacking an ID

@atdleft @LauraKMM correct, no fee or requirement to bring an ID to polls; if you have a DMV photo we'd use that, otherwise we'll take photo

Wait... What? Basically, Ross Miller is now running with an idea originally proposed by Minnesota's Secretary of State as a way to do voter ID without resorting to voter suppression.

The gist is election judges would have photos of the voters right there in the poll books (the books the election judges have in front of them with voters' addresses and a place for their signature), which should satisfy advocates of photo ID, and they should appreciate that this eliminates one of the objections of those of us opposing photo ID requirements, namely that photo IDs can be forged (I sometimes wonder that advocates seem to have never heard of fake IDs). It also eliminates the argument that a current technology is getting enshrined in the constitution, assuming, that is, that electronic poll books aren't just added to the amendment bill.

Setting this up is still an unnecessary cost since it accomplishes nothing. I can also imagine the delays, especially the first time, as voters without photos have to have them taken and election judges struggle with unfamiliar equipment with the predictable technical issues. If the poll books connect to a central database, and it goes down on election day, well, every computer person reading this just shuddered. However, since the voter doesn't have to acquire a photo ID regardless of their ability to do so, it gets rid of the disenfranchisement argument. This assumes the rules for voter ID remain as they are, namely that non-photo ID remains acceptable for registering. Such being the case, I could live with the rest. Yes, it still seems unfair and pointless to make people without photo IDs go through the delay of getting their photo taken, at least when lines are long and there are equipment or operator problems (if this is set up and you need a photo taken, go vote in the primary for local elections or special elections --- no lines), but at least they won't be told they can't vote.

Seconded. This would still lead to longer waits at the polls if implemented. And as I mentioned earlier, there's still the $7-10 million price tag to consider. Frankly, I'd still rather fund road maintenance than this.

However, the intent of this clearly is NOT voter suppression. There is no poll tax involved. And no one will be turned away for lack of a driver's license. If we must have some kind of voter ID law, this is a proposal that progressives and civil rights advocates can live with.

I apologize for jumping the gun on this. Now that I better understand what Ross Miller is proposing, I can clearly see his voter ID proposal is nothing like the tea party's. Again, no voter suppression is involved.

Still, I am concerned about the "tea party" alternative to this. At the very least, this likely means we will see a fight over voting rights during the next session of the Nevada Legislature. And civil rights activists will have to keep their eyes out for what comes next. Fortunately, they can at least breathe easier about Ross Miller's bill.

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