Monday, September 25, 2006

On Georgia's voter id law

I actually agree in principle with the alleged intent of the law - ensuring that only those eligible vote. My problem has been that the implementation appears to be intended to deny access to otherwises eligible instead of to the ineligible. Oh, it's subtle, but there are two parallel issues that make me lean toward this opinion.

First, it's a "right now" law. A problem was identified - the difficulty of a proportion of eligible voters in getting photo ID cards. Two solutions were possible: A massive ID program so as to minimize the effect for the upcoming elections; a lesser intensive ID program that would still be functionally effective for all potential voters by the time the law took effect in XX years. The solution chosen was a less intensive program (six mobile units that went to high-density locations only, with minimal notice of their appearance) for the then-upcoming election. The appearance was for denial of certain groups.

Second, and actually more important, is that while the voter ID fraud for polling places is uncommon, voter ID fraud on absentee ballots is one of the most common such frauds. Yet the legislature not only didn't tighten those laws, they loosened them so that committing such fraud is EASIER.

I've a solution to the latter problem, one which would actually make it more likely that I accept the alleged intent is the real intent. Add a simple three requirements for absentee ballots in Georgia. Note that applications can be submitted by mail, by fax, or by direct submission at the office of the county registrar. The requirements plus some commentary are:

1 - An absentee ballot application submitted by mail or by fax must be notarized. The notary block must include a 'how identified' section (which happens to be something already required of the notaries of almost every state).
2 - Absentee ballot applications turned in at the county registrar's office require the submitter to present ID as though they are voting.
3 - Absentee voter applications that are "on behalf of" applications can only be submitted at the registrar's office. Yes, you can submit on someone else's behalf in Georgia. It's done, for example, when the actual voter is in the hospital, or college student says to Mom "Help, I need an absentee ballot", or... It's a rather generous list of people who can submit applications on behalf of others. However, this line creates a traceable line for fraudulent applications while allowing the 'on behalf of' clause to continue.

On a list to which I submitted this, another person wanted to add the requirement of the ballot going to the home of registration. That rather defeats the intent of the absentee ballot, unfortunately.

Oh - regarding item one. A requirement of the registrar office shall be to contact the notary public to verify they notarized the document. For those who haven't dealt with notary publics in depth, this is a fairly easy requirement. The state - every state in the US - maintains a record of contact for registered notaries public. And the notary is required to maintain a log of all items notarized. Two phone calls, then, complete the verification. No contact for the notary or notary cannot confirm the signing? Ballot application denied.


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