Monday, April 10, 2006

Kersten on voting fraud

In previous posts I have excorciated Katherine Kersten for either being wrong or intellectually lazy. So it's only fair to point out that I largely agree with her column in today's paper. It is much too easy to vote illegally in Minnesota.

Does that mean it's a huge problem here? Not necessarily. But since the problem can be addressed with reasonable precautions, we should take them.

Kersten does a good job of laying out the issue, and the solution -- some form of photo ID or provisional ballots -- seems obvious. But Kersten, perhaps because of space limitations, doesn't really get into what we should do. She mentions a bill by Rep. Tom Emmer that would require a photo ID to vote; but all she does is ask "Is Emmer's bill perfect? Maybe not." She does not get into why she thinks it might not be perfect or what she would do instead.

The key is to have some sort of safeguard against fraud without raising undue barriers to voting. The electoral system hasn't collapsed with the current lenient rules, so draconian new rules aren't called for. Some form of photo ID, with a fallback option for people without such an ID, should do the trick.

As an aside, I wasn't impressed with Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer's complaint that she had no idea what had happened to the cases she referred to county attorneys. Her main point -- that there's no system for tracking vote-fraud cases -- is well taken. But her example is weak. She has the suspects' names, and knows which county attorneys she gave them to. How hard is it to pick up the phone and ask what became of the cases? Or look them up in the court database?

Minor nit, though. Kersten found a solid issue and wrote fairly thoughtfully about it. Good for her.

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Anonymous gigi said...

As an election judge in the past, believe me it is not that easy to vote illegally.

Minnesota has not had a major problem with this and it is easily tracked.
Having to have a Photo ID would restrict many people who have moved and not had a chance to change their drivers license.
Kathrine Kersten has one thing in mind..that is to keep democrats from voting... you give her far to much credit.

4/10/2006 6:51 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

You have more experience than me in that regard, so I won't presume to argue. And I agree it doesn't seem to be a major problem.

I benefited from the easy registration when I was a student at the U of M. I had just started renting an apartment, and I hadn't yet gotten a Minnesota driver's license, not having a car. I was allowed to vote in the 1988 presidential election with only my gas bill as evidence.

That said, I don't see how a photo ID requirement is a huge hurdle, as long as there is a provisional ballot backup for people without such ID. That way you don't turn people away from the polls, but you don't leave a loophole for voter fraud. Seems reasonable to me.

But is this a top political issue? Not by a long shot.

4/10/2006 7:01 PM  

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