Monday, December 3, 2012

Voter ID? Or Something More?

Yes, we're back to talking about Ross Miller's election reform proposal. However, we saw another Democrat speak in favor of it today. Prominent Las Vegas based Democratic consultant Andres Ramirez took to The Nevada View to offer an alternative perspective to this debate.

[... T]he proposal being offered by Secretary Miller is an innovative and intelligent way to solve the concerns that people have about preventing fraud in our elections, as well as increasing protection for voters. Proponents of voter id laws generally claim that voters need a form of identification with a photo to provide the greatest assurance that the voter is who they claim to be. This proposal solves that issue without requiring and burdening voters to spend money on identification or taking additional time out of their schedules to obtain an identification card.

On the voter protection side of this issue, it is a common problem in minority communities for voters to get challenged at polling places by poll watchers intent on disrupting the process. Generally, they target people who are not carrying identification cards to force that voter to cast a provisional ballot or to intimidate the voter from casting a ballot at all. Oftentimes voters will just leave without casting a ballot after being targeted by unscrupulous poll watchers. Those voters that choose to stay and cast a provisional ballot are limited to only voting in federal races, and are denied from making choices in important state and local races. This process proposed by Secretary Miller will eliminate that situation from occurring, and ensuring that voters will not be denied the opportunity from casting a ballot due to not carrying an identification card. Secretary Miller may not need to prevent fraud in our elections, but there is definitely a need to increase the protection of voters’ rights at the poll. This proposal will actually benefit minority voters as opposed to disenfranchising them. Secretary Miller should be commended for tackling this issue in a smart and effective method.

This is another way to look at it. What about all the voters who are forced to cast provisional ballots after being challenged? Might this be a way to cut down on provisional ballots and allow more legal voters to vote whole ballots?

And might this be a way to actually cut down on voter suppression? Will teabaggers still be so eager to challenge voters if there was a way to instantly verify voters? And how can they keep harping on "voter fraud" if this kind of system is implemented?

May this also pave the way for more progressive election reforms? Since Ross Miller is seeking an electronic poll book to instantly verify voters, might this allow for same day voter registration? Can this actually increase voter participation?

Not everyone is convinced. Even some progressives are still expressing serious doubts about Ross Miller's proposal. Hugh Jackson announced on KSNV's "The Agenda" today that he's still not a fan.

And even Ramirez admitted that there may be better uses for the cost involved with this proposal. But then again, running elections well doesn't come cheap. Might this be worth the cost? Or is this just an unnecessary solution in search of a nonexistent problem that would only lead to further complication of the voting process?

I'm sensing this won't be the last time we talk about this.

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