Friday, March 01, 2019

Voter ID

A good reminder to self to read, rather than scan the article if I am planning on writing about it. The Federalist had an interesting article about a National Bureau of Economic Research study on Voter ID. I had somehow taken it into my head that the study showed that requiring voter ID did not actually reduce the number of illegals voting.  That's what happens when you skim, and arrogantly think you know everything.

I thought it was a surprising but plausible result, and immediately compared it to gun control. Gun regulators are just sure that legislation A or B is going to result in less violent crime, because it just has to. I thought this was an interesting mirror issue, of conservatives believing that requiring voter ID would just have to reduce the number of illegals voting. It's just one of those assumptions they make, but without data it's not any better than the gun controller's argument that increasing registration or waiting period is just obviously going to work. "Just obviously" is not an argument.  It is in fact dangerous territory. I was composing this post in my head, working from that assumption.

The study is actually something different.  It may still be true that voter ID doesn't reduce illegal voting, but there is nothing here that gives evidence for it. That wasn't the intent. The NBER was looking for something else.  The study shows that requiring voter ID does not depress minority turnout, as has been widely believed. If this evidence holds up, it removes the only serious obstacle to states requiring the ID.

Now that it has come up, though, I'd be curious if requiring voter ID actually does reduce illegal votes.  I'm not in favor of regulations that only look like they are going to work, just because.


Christopher B said...

Even without data I'm not sure that requiring ID would stop illegal aliens from voting. My impression is that in certain jurisdictions the combination of 'Motor Voter' laws and allowing illegals to get driver's licenses enables and even encourages them to vote. ID is not really a barrier there. It might be in some other places that make ID and registration harder.

I suspect, though without much evidence, that much fraud happens via absentee ballots but mostly by inflated voter rolls. I doubt greatly that the classic scenario of someone else voting in your name happens much but it's clear from vote harvesting operations that interested parties with access to registration lists can figure out exactly which names are extra, and use that information to inject fraudulent ballots into the system while keeping the tallies in balance.

Not to say voter id is a bad thing but it seems largely symbolic on both sides. Cleaning up registration rolls and reducing the opportunities to insert fraudulent ballots via early and by mail voting would be more effective but less visible.

Boxty said...

There's also this shenanigan in addition to what Christopher B mentioned:

Same-day registration is sometimes referred to as Election Day registration. As of May 18, 2018, 18 states and the District of Columbia had enacted same-day registration provisions enabling voters to register and vote at the same time.

Sam L. said...

I suspect that states run by Democrats will let everyone of age, or close to it, register to vote, n questions asked. Cynical? Moi??? Yep.

DirtyJobsGuy said...

The biggest issue is voting outside of your district, especially for local elections. This was the traditional Tammany method of voting several times for a beer. Bigger is that all the “easy voting” laws minimize the commitments you make to the community. In the past property ownership rules for voting ensured the voter had a substantial commitment. In the early days of the republic farm ownership was relatively widespread. Having to visit the local registrar of voters and swear an oath helped make voting more of the public responsibility than being automatically registred. The same applies to voting only on Election Day with minimal absentee voting.

Aggie said...

The first time a kid gets a driver's license, they are required to show their birth certificate. It would be quite a simple matter to require this of everybody, and to follow up with license formats for citizens and aliens. Producing a certified ID is not a hardship or a travesty of Civil Rights, it's a simple inconvenience. The motor voter roles could be updated in real time to strip out wrongly-registered non-citizens when they get their new license formats. After a period of 5 years or so (the renewal cycle), the problem would be corrected and only new applicants would have to produce a certified ID.

It sounds like the purpose of the study was to simply show the absence of effect on a protected group. Seems to me like they are being methodical and using a brick-by-brick approach, a good thing.

All that's missing is the manifestation of political and social will to actually make it happen. I myself would like to see us using photo ID's and purple finger ink.

Texan99 said...

I favor voter ID for the same reason I favor finding some way to preserve a paper trail, even if the vote tabulation is increasingly electronic. Some procedures are an invitation to fraud, even if you can't quite prove the fraud already takes place. I have no suspicion whatever of the upright citizens who run my county's elections. So what? Somewhere, some day, someone who's thinking of hacking into the vote tabulation will think twice if there's a paper trail that will likely convict him if he arouses suspicion. Someone who's thinking of bussing co-conspirators to multiple polling places where they're not actually entitled to vote will think twice if each of his partners in crime has to submit a driver's license with each vote. There should be a variety of spot-checks and red flags. They'll not only increase confidence in the integrity of the election but help us spot trouble in areas where we barely expected it. Voter photo ID is a good example, not burdensome, and not suspect on any legitimate social justice grounds.

Grim said...

I favor voter ID for the same reason I favor the wall: not that I think it'll necessarily work, but that it's the common sense solution to a serious problem. In a republic, there's something to be said for doing the thing that is obvious to everyone, assuming it doesn't violate anyone's rights to do it. Maybe it works and maybe it doesn't, but not doing the thing that is obvious to everyone looks a lot like preserving the problem because it's useful to you.

If we do the obvious thing and it works, great. If we do the obvious thing and it doesn't get the job done, we can do a less-obvious thing too; but at least everyone can see that we're taking the problem seriously and going through the clearly indicated steps to address it. That builds popular confidence in the republic among the ordinary people on whose confidence the republic depends.