published Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Photo ID law fails to produce hysterically predicted disenfranchisement

Remember the near-hysterical claims that Tennessee lawmakers were trying to disenfranchise minorities and the elderly when they enacted a law requiring voters to present photo identification at polling places?

Well, so far it seems the panic didn't pan out. State officials said that not even 50 of the 201,000 people who voted early in Tennessee's primary lacked appropriate ID. And in our area, "Neither the local NAACP nor local political parties reported any major run-ins over the new photo ID requirement" Tuesday, the Times Free Press reported. The story appeared to be the same around the state. And the few people who didn't have proper ID had the option to cast a provisional ballot and present ID later to have the ballot counted.

"Voter suppression"? "Disenfranchisement"? Hardly.

In fact, this mirrors results in states such as Georgia that passed ID laws without creating the predicted waves of disenfranchised voters.

What we don't know is how many people who might have voted fraudulently in Tennessee stayed away from the polls Tuesday because they knew the ID law would trip them up.

That's an issue with which opponents of the law have been unwilling to grapple. The law targets a type of fraud that can be extremely hard to head off. It keeps someone from presenting himself to poll workers as someone other than who he is and voting under the name of that person -- who may have moved to another state without notifying election officials or who may even have died.

Dismissing such fraud as virtually nonexistent just because there are few "documented" cases of it is illogical. Without photo ID, a poll worker would have to know the person whose identity is being misused by someone else in order to stop it. It does not lend itself to detection, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. So efforts to prevent it are reasonable.

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.

Total turnout was under 600,000 people, and you don't realize how it's not representative of anything to do with your much vaunted law?

More people turned out for the Gubernatorial primary in 2010, it's closer to the number of people who voted for the losing candidate in that election. Do you really think there were 100,000 fraudsters deterred from going to the polls?

More importantly, I think your priorities are skewed, you're not even realizing the lack of genuine representation of the electorate at all!

Participation was minimal. That is what you should be worried about, not your phantom of fraud.

March 8, 2012 at 9:35 a.m.
conservative said...

"Photo ID law fails to produce hysterically predicted disenfranchisement"

Yes, but it will not stop the kooks from crying about having to obey the law.

March 8, 2012 at 10:43 a.m.

It's not about obeying the law, it's about the existence of the law.

The only effect it serves is disenfranchisement, as the real threat to the integrity of the electorate is systemic compromise, both from a corrupted administration and from non-participation.

March 8, 2012 at 10:48 a.m.

HWNB, How could a responsible adult possibly be disenfranchised by this law? Doesn't everyone have an id? How do you get a job without an ID? You can't open a bank account without one or even go to college, cash a check or buy alcohol or tobacco. Who is left to disenfranchise? Your premise is riddiculous. Your argument is completely unsupported by facts.

March 8, 2012 at 2:24 p.m.
Plato said...

"What we don't know is how many people who might have voted fraudulently in Tennessee stayed away from the polls Tuesday because they knew the ID law would trip them up."

The other thing we don't know is how many people didn't have the resources or a half or full day to devote to a trip to DMV, and perhaps concluded that no matter what they do, the system will always be rigged against them.

March 8, 2012 at 3:06 p.m.
328Kwebsite said...

I was almost stopped from voting during early voting at the Hamilton County Election Commission. They could not find my voter registration in their database.

I am a former military officer of the state. I vote regularly.

When I voted in the 2012 presidential elections at that same polling place, election commission workers insisted on using my driver's license to verify my identity. This time, when I went to vote during early voting at the same place, that same driver's license could not be effectively used to verify my voter's registration.

Failed search terms included: variations on spelling my last name, my address, and my social security number. During previous voting sessions, I had been able to vote when all of those kinds of searches were easily verified.

They could find some of my deceased relatives' voter registrations, but not mine. It looked for a moment there like they were not going to be able to find me in the computer database.

I have an unusually spelled name.

Fortunately, my voter's registration was verified by someone else who worked at the election commission who knew me personally.

I served the state as a military officer for several years. That's the treatment I got: courteous and well-meaning, but flawed. I don't think the employees were trying to cause trouble, but I did see that the system is not perfect.

Even if one person runs into trouble while trying to vote, it makes the voter feel upset. In my case, the issue was resolved because someone remembered who I was and was able to refine the search accordingly.

We have millions of voters in our state; with a population of six million plus, it's likely that we'll have at least two million voters, maybe more. The idea that the Photo ID law is going to go smoothly, without any disenfranchisement, is not a realistic assessment of the situation. There will be problems at almost every polling place solely because of the massive numbers of times the searches will need to be conducted: at least one search per voter. In my case, it took about ten; only after I was personally recognized did the computer search go well.

While I don't consider this incident a major problem, I think that the editorial fails to consider what a realistic assessment of the voting process looks like. Of course there will be problems. Handling those problems to allow proper voting while preventing unnecessary denials is part of the reason why we employ election officials.

March 8, 2012 at 3:07 p.m.
LibDem said...

I know a person whose name had already been checked off as having voted. I expect voter fraud is either perpetrated by poll workers or simply innocent goofs (as in this case). Given our dismal turnouts, I'd rather we err on the side of inclusive rather than exclusive.

March 8, 2012 at 4:28 p.m.

FlyingPurpleSheepleEater, actually, it's the argument by the people alleging electoral fraud that doesn't add up. It's lacking in substance to justify the actual burden being imposed. That's the premise that is ridiculous. The facts show that this problem is inconsequential at best. Such voter fraud is so rare as to not even merit as much concern as a ballot miscount. (BTW, I looked up the previous primary in 2008, it had about the same participation as the 2012 one, which if you're going to complain about something, why not complain how barely over half a million people voted? Does nobody care about that?? I certainly don't think it kept any dedicated fraudsters away from the poll, they certainly had the time to make some acquire some fake ID.)

Still, I wouldn't have a problem with this law IF my conditions were met. I've stated them before, the state must proactively seek to provide ID. It doesn't. Why not? The excuse I get is that it's too expensive for some reason. As if their own efforts weren't costing money already with little, if any return.

But yes, I can imagine not having Photo ID even in this day and age. Not everybody buys tobacco or alcohol, even those who do, don't necessarily get carded. It may be stated policy, but reality is they don't look all the time. Many people have bank accounts they got before they were asked for ID, and now, you don't have to go into the bank for ANYTHING. ATMs and Electronic banking easily handle the common operations. And of course, there are some people who don't even use Banks. Which leads to working, yes, there are people who work entirely for cash, without getting into the system, for various reasons. Or who just work for relatives who hardly need Photo ID.

But there's another flaw to your argument...not all ID is considered suitable for electoral purposes, even if it's valid for the others. So your protests that one couldn't live life don't add up either in substance or detail.

Still, if you're going to MAKE the state provide valid Photo ID, I can live with it being required. Let me know when that happens.

March 8, 2012 at 4:46 p.m.
joneses said...


I bet because this voter id law worked really pisses you off. Causes a burden? When did you pathetic liberals care about "causing a burden" on anyone? Again you have showed howblind and foolish you are.

March 8, 2012 at 6:05 p.m.


They were giving the IDs away for free. NO COST. All someone had to do is show up with a birth certificate or some other document that proves they are who they say they are. If someone wants to vote they have to take the time to go to the polling place and possibly wait in line just as they would at the DMV. Your arguments that the requirements are overly burdensome are weak at best. Much ado about nothing.

March 8, 2012 at 6:24 p.m.

joneses, worked how? The turnout was arguably unchanged (like half a percent difference downwards), and that certainly wouldn't impact the outcome given the margins.

Please tell me when you have evidence of accomplishing something other than just your fantasies.

FlyingPurpleSheepleEater, the ID was free? Great, but did I say anything about the price of getting it? No, I was not talking about that, though the lack of a charge from the state means nothing to the cost of traveling to get the ID, to get the other documents you need,. But if you look closely, I said nothing about cost except the objections people made to making it the burden on the state, which I consider tenuous since it's not like the programs that have been implemented are of no cost.

And actually, there have been lawsuits over excessive lines at polling places. Have you never heard of them? Do you not know why Early voting exists? Or even no-cause Absentee Ballots? Your rationale to excuse the problem fails, because none of it matches my concerns, and your defense of a line at the polling precinct is actually valid grounds for legal action.

Try at least sticking to what I'm saying, not what you think is my objection, and really, don't try a defense that actually shows another problem that does have to be solved. My reasons for requiring proactive behavior from the state are based on the principle of the state being required to meet a burden to restrict the citizens from a civic right. Cost of acquiring the ID is the least of it.

March 8, 2012 at 6:42 p.m.
Lr103 said...

Was the choice for county commissioner suppose to appear on all ballots or just some, depending upon the area the voter lived?

March 8, 2012 at 8:31 p.m.

Just district 3 I think.

March 8, 2012 at 9 p.m.

Some of your concerns seem to contradict your other concerns. You claim it is overly burdensome to travel to the dmv to get the ID and yet the voter would have to travel to vote. I don't consider traveling to vote or acquire an ID overly burdensome since it is unavoidable. Your arguments are circular and riddiculous. These people that you claim are being disenfranchised seem to be impossible. Who are these disenfranchised souls with no money, transportation or legal identification? How would they ever get anywhere to get food, clothing, medicine or anything else? Carta even has a free shuttle for the poor that goes to the persons house and picks them up.

Much ado about nothing.

March 9, 2012 at 9:15 a.m.

FlyingPurpleSheepleEater, your contradictions are based on fabricated ideas of what I support instead of actual knowledge of it. Instead of assuming there's something going on, why don't you ask me some questions instead of making up the answers. There's a reason why I support absentee ballots being available on demand, and why I endorse the electoral system of Oregon where all ballots are cast by mail. Wait, wait, that means they are avoiding traveling to vote! Unless you count going to their mailbox as traveling, which...yeah, I don't buy that. And can you imagine how photo ID would work in Oregon? It wouldn't!

Your protests are frivolous and based not on anything I've said, but your own tortured imagined justifications that you're using to defend this law instead of you know, actually confront the ineffectiveness and pointlessness of it.

But if you want to find some people who were put in a bad position by this law, you could have read the paper and found out about them. They were named.

BTW, CARTA is just Chattanooga, don't forget there's a whole state out there, of which apparently you care nothing. Are you sure they're also being served adequately to ensure their voting is accessible or not?

Or you can keep trying to sell this phony law that solves no significant problem, and keep trying to ignore my reasonable request, while you keep putting up phony barriers that have only exist in your imagination, not in me.

The more you do that, the more I know this law is a fraud.

March 9, 2012 at 11:52 a.m.

I guess there is no getting past your ignorance. I will post one final thing on this. If voting isn't important enough to someone to go through the trouble of acquiring a valid ID, I wouldn't want them voting anyway. In a free society, there will always be winners and losers, rich and poor and strong and weak. The real world is full of contrasts and imbalances. If a free man wants to vote, he will comply with the laws that govern voting even if it inconveniences him. I was inconvenienced tues morning when I was late to work because of voting and I still count it as not only a right, but a priviledge. At least I know my vote will be less likely to be cancelled out by some worthless criminal working for acorn or some other marxist organization.

March 9, 2012 at 2:13 p.m.

FPSE, you're the one who is ignorant, not me. Your beliefs are backwards. Voting is not something you earn, but something that the government provides to earn its own right to sovereignty. Voting is important enough to NOT deny it to somebody for specious reasons that serve no purpose, but instead for EVERY possible effort being made to get it.

When voting is treated as something earned, it becomes a tool for abuse of those who aren't believed to be deserving.

Your opinion on who you don't want voting is representative of that. Voting as a privilege, as something selective, where you seek out only those who you think deserve it...has been abused, and is exactly why suffrage must be universal, and every effort made to make sure everybody's vote is counted.

And what's worse is you don't even realize that the criminal is likely the one behind the election, not the organizations which you have been indoctrinated to believe are engaging in some massive conspiracy to defraud the voting system when no such thing was happening at all.

Ignorance is your problem, not mine. But there's still people alive today who remember when their vote was kept from them, or when the system was exploited to weaken their votes. Baker v. Carr was decided in living memory. And the 24th Amendment was passed because of abuses in the system.

The inconsequential fraud you're worried about? Pales in comparison to the real effects of systemic compromise that you could find about, from the people who saw it happen.

Cure your own ignorance. Find out the real danger. Or does your belief about being among the elite and deserving make you think they never will threaten you?

March 9, 2012 at 8:12 p.m.
please login to post a comment

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »


Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.