It Has Gotten Harder to Vote! A democratic/liberal mime we hear often in regard to the increasing expectation the voter will have to have the ability to verify they are who they say they are. We see article after article of some hapless individual who claims they are unable to secure any form of identification, sometimes pictured, sometimes not.
What is the scale of the problem that drives one party to seek voter ID and the other to oppose it, as if being able to prove your identity is tantamount to a human rights violation? The Internet is full of sites claiming to provide the real facts on the level of fraud. Some, like http://voterfraudfacts.com, are so flagrantly bias as to only be credible to the left, while others like http://townhall.com offer the stories clearly inflated to incite the fears of the conservatives. As with all issues when they become polarizing political footballs the truth is nearly impossible to ascertain.
I believe we see in the United States that fraud and corruption are the key tools a political machine will use to maintain its position. For example, consider New York City through the nineteenth century where Tammany Hall ran the city. The most famous of the leadership was “Boss” Tweed who ran the city in the years following the Civil War. He was made famous, as a target of the political cartoonist Thomas Nash, who used his position and talents to expose the corruption of the Tammany organization. To say voter fraud did not exist, or was not used to keep one party in power for over a hundred years flies in the face of the facts.
The same thing can be said of the democratic machine in Chicago where stories of individuals continuing to vote for years after their deaths are popular urban lore.
We hear a lot of voter suppression through the requirement of identification, referring to the Jim Crow laws Southern Democrats put into place following the Civil War to support the racial segregation and suppression of the blacks set free as a result of that war. Clearly these laws were targeted against a specific group and imposed increasingly insurmountable hurdles to maintain the Democratic Party’s position of absolute authority in the block of Southern states. There is a huge, and somewhat disingenuous cry from the liberals that requiring ID will disenfranchise whole segments of society (presumably their voters). What I can’t find is any indication that the requirements for a specific form of identification to compare an individual to the voter registration list will significantly impinge on the rights of one entire ethnic class of voters.
So what do other countries require for their citizenry? How about the Scandinavian countries? I hear so often about the qualities of their education system and how well socialism is working there, can anyone walk up and vote?
According to Wikipedia,“Possession of an ID card or any ID document is non-compulsory in Finland, though interactions with officials and companies, like voting, picking up a parcel from Itella offices or buying alcohol when a salesperson suspects buyer to be under 18 or 20 years old, can be difficult or impossible without an ID card, a passport or a driving licence.”
And according to ABC news,“Voting in Sweden (unlike constructing Ikea furniture) is not a huge headache. The Swedes have a virtually automatic enrollment system, which tracks every citizen's name, address, birth, and marital status. Voting registration is automatic, and for every election, proof of registration material is sent to the homes of every eligible Swedish citizen in the national database. Read more here about Sweden's voting practices.”
Again, according to Wikipedia,“All citizens and residents of Norway are included in the national register, Folkeregisteret, where each person is assigned a personal number of eleven digits which include the person's date of birth. The register is used for tax lists, voter lists, membership in the universal health care system and other purposes, and it is maintained by the tax authorities. All eligible voters receive a card in the mail before each election which shows the date, time and local polling place. Only citizens may vote in national elections, while longtime residents may vote in local and regional elections. Voting is not compulsory.”
How about our southern neighbor… does Mexico require ID? The answer is yes.
“In Mexico, there is a general electoral census. Any citizen of age 18 or greater must go to an electoral office in order be registered into the electoral census. Citizens receive a voting card (credencial de elector con fotografía), issued by the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) that must be shown to vote in any election. The voting card also serves as a national identity document.”
In all cases, registration and identification are required. Even then it appears voter ID will not guarantee honest elections. That can only be accomplished through legitimate and fair oversight.
Even in Iran there is an identification requirement. In that case it seems to be a birth certificate verified by the local political leadership… hmmm, can you say Tammany Hall?
I don't think the Scandinavian systems would work for us for two reasons: scale and mobility in the society. We have a population that is significantly bigger and more mobile, and we citizens have become increasingly lazy about updating the government on our whereabouts.
You may notice I highlighted the Democrats use of fraud, I do so only because they are the ones in this case crying about the inequity of voter ID. I suspect if I looked deep enough I could find similar cases, perhaps on a smaller scale, where Republican’s have also maintained their power base through voter manipulation or fraud, but they just don’t spring quickly to the front of my research, but at the end of the day I still don't know if fraud is a localized or national issue.