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BLOG: Voter Photo ID Not Necessary

Sen. Jennings' photo ID bill is not needed.

Senator J.B. Jennings has introduced SB 412 which would require photo ID’s at the polls. There are several problems with this bill.

The first is that we already have enough checks in place for the election judge to know with certainty that the voter is who they say they are.

The second is we are setting ourselves up to become dependent on ID cards with photos. We all know that photo IDs are more greatly respected because all we have to do is match the picture to the face. This seems to immediately make sense. But I would ask each of you to consider how easy it is to fake a photo ID. All checking will stop when we assume the ID holder matches the picture.

This legislation is unnecessary because there are multiple checks that election judges to ensure the person in who he or she says they are. We ask for their address. We ask for the month and date of their birth and they usually tell us the year. If there is some kind of discrepancy, then we can ask for their ID card. As per current directive, we must ask for their ID card under certain circumstances. Just because there are dead people on the voter roll does not mean they vote.

I would like to see the so-called fraud number for the state of Maryland. What goes on in Florida or South Carolina has no bearing on what goes on in Maryland.

What Sen. Jennings should be doing is finding a way to ensure that voter records are updated. I work as an election judge, and I request each person who presents answers which do not match the data base info to fill out a card (which goes back to election headquarters) to update that info, which is not always done. Several voters have told me they have filled out an update card more than once. I ask Sen. Jennings to look into that matter.

This, in my humble opinion, is where the focus of his reform should be. I have lived in my house for almost eight years now and when I put my address into to voter data base I find a person registered to my address who I do not know.

Let’s fix the real problem. Requiring photo IDs will actually disenfranchise older people who no longer drive and young people who cannot find jobs so they have no need to drive.

This smacks of a partisan attempt to control who has access to voting.

You can follow the progress of this bill, SB 412, here.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Felicia February 21, 2012 at 02:15 PM
The people who keep saying a voter ID would disenfranchise certain people must live in a bubble. A photo ID is required for obtaining any kind of government service - this includes getting a library card. I just had jury duty and had to show a photo ID. Doctors (at least for the first visit) require a photo ID. Any kind of medical testing requires a photo ID. By the waym, no one has ever said the photo ID had to be a drivers license. Maybe there's no requirement for older people or young people without jobs needing to show photo ID's. Just middle aged people.
Paul Amirault February 21, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Mark, you are right. Photo ID is an attempted scam to reduce voter turnout by scaring people into thinking all of these dead people are voting. Photo ID is a form of a poll tax. Poll taxes are outlawed by the US Constitution. You can not force people to pay for the right to vote. If I have to pay for the ID it is a tax. What astounds me the most, is the perception that if you don't have voter ID you allow fraud. What should scare voters from both political sides is not the dead voting, but having electronic vote totals changed after the polls are closed. It is nearly impossible to vote several times or have several thousand people involved in a conspiracy to vote falsely. It takes a very few people to change via conspiracy the electronic vote totals that are summarized and sent up the chain. If you wish to throw an election, go for the big numbers, not the one or two here or there.
Stephanie February 21, 2012 at 03:53 PM
I agree with Felicia. I interact with many older folks who don't drive, and every single one of them has a photo id that they know is required at many doctor's offices. I have in fact taken some of them to the MVA to obtain their photo id. To say that a photo id would make it more likely for fraud to occur on the basis that no other information would be required other than the photo is ridiculous. Every time I vote, I leave thinking, wow, that sure would have been easy to pretend to be someone else. I've never been asked for my birth date, just my address. And the photo id would simply be one more layer of checking one's identity--then you have their address, birth date, AND photo.
Charlene Clark February 21, 2012 at 04:05 PM
They sure didn't do any checking at Colgate. All they wanted was my name. Actually, I thought that was pretty outrageous.
Brandon February 21, 2012 at 04:18 PM
If the the poll worker did not ask you for your address he or she was doing an inadequate job. It they are doing an inadequate job now, how is requiring a photo ID going to make this process any more likely to prove you are who you say you are? If they are unwilling to scrutinize your information is it likely they will care enough to think about whether you ID is real or fake. I tend to think it will make poll workers even lazier.
Paul Amirault February 21, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Next step would be to give them the light scanners like TSA has to get onto a plane. Come on folks, where's the crime? Show me the thousands of people it would take to swing an election. Give me a good geek and he can change votes in a heartbeat and not get caught. Now there is a good conspiracy. Probably make a great movie.
Felicia February 21, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Ah my post went to outer space. I'll try again. Ref my previous comment - I have no idea if a photo ID would decrease voter fraud - I have no idea how much of a problem voter fraud really is. However, I do not believe the argument most give about not having a photo ID would disenfranchise a group of voters. Use a different argument to prove the point - not one that doesn't make sense.
Brandon February 21, 2012 at 05:23 PM
How about you prove how voter fraud is as big a problem as those pushing for picture ID say it is. Our system works because we ask those seeking to change it can prove it needs to change.
K Blue February 21, 2012 at 06:57 PM
I think that the author of this article has misstated the contents of Sen. Jennings' bill by omitting relevant information. A link to the bill would give people the opportunity to read it, and also demonstrate that this bill is not a strict photo id bill. The bill provides for alternative forms of identification that would permit a person without a photo id to cast a general ballot vote on the day they vote (utility bill in their name, property tax bill, certified birth certificate or naturalization record, etc) and also provides for a provisional ballot for those people who cannot present any of those items on the day they vote. Whether voter fraud exists or does not exist in this State is not a determining factor. The general public's perception of the validity of the votes is. Personally, I am tired of hearing people scream voter fraud whenever their candidate does not win. The passage of this bill would alleviate those claims. This bill is not a strict photo id bill; if it was, I would be hollering louder than anyone. As for updating the records, the passage of this bill would provide a means by which to do that. The local election boards may have to work a little harder in the first few years to accomplish the goal of updating and verifying, but isnt that what they are there for in the first place. It appears to me that the author wants to save the local election boards some work.
K Blue February 21, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Here's a link to the bill: http://mlis.state.md.us/2012rs/bills/sb/sb0412f.pdf
K Blue February 21, 2012 at 07:24 PM
You do not need a photo id under the proposed bill to cast a general ballot if you can produce a certified birth certificate, ceritfied naturalization certificate, utility bill, credit card statement or property tax bill. If you dont have any of that, you can still cast a provisional ballot and the local election board needs to verify your eligibility.
Neil B February 21, 2012 at 08:08 PM
I don't think bringing some form of ID to vote is that big a deal. It doesn't say you have to have a photo id. What you would need to bring is listed below. 1. A CURRENT GOVERNMENT–ISSUED PHOTO IDENTIFICATION; OR 2. IF THE VOTER DOES NOT HAVE A CURRENT GOVERNMENT–ISSUED PHOTO IDENTIFICATION: A. A CERTIFIED COPY OF A UNITED STATES BIRTH CERTIFICATE; B. CERTIFIED DOCUMENTATION OF NATURALIZATION; C. A UTILITY BILL; D. A CURRENT CREDIT CARD STATEMENT; OR E. A PROPERTY TAX STATEMENT.
Brandon February 21, 2012 at 08:12 PM
The things listed are already valid forms of presentable ID. Election Judges are required to ask for a valid form of ID if there is a discrepancy which how the voter has responded to the questions of the election judge. The implementation of requiring the election judge to ask for ID of every single person is unnecessary. Photo ID are currently a valid form of ID is requested. This bill makes it mandatory to ask, and that is necessary.
Paul Amirault February 21, 2012 at 08:28 PM
The bill attempts to fix a problem that does not exist. So what is the purpose of the bill? Republicans campaign on no "unnecessary" regulation or laws should be passed. Please someone explain their motive then.
Ktown February 21, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Voter ID is a must. Walking in and saying you are a certain person at a certain address is not good enough. Case in point - when my father in law passed away I could have easily voted at his precinct. Knew the address, name, date of birth, etc. Same with some of my shut in near family members that stopped voting after Maryland threw out write in ballots in an election in the last several years (governor election ? Can't remember). If I say I am them and know enough of their details I can vote for them. Most people have some sort of ID anyway, and I am not adverse to being asked at the polls. I cannot see how being asked to prove you are who you say is an infringement on the Constitution or being "disenfranchised" in the process - in times past people have been asked to show a voter card and this even isn't done anymore. In the last 10 years I have not been asked - and in years past you always had to provide this to vote. Older citizens certainly have to show some sort of ID at the doctor's or at a hospital to get care unless they come in via ambulance, and even then identification is established, so I cannot buy the point of being disenfranchised as an older citizen that doesn't drive. Those that cannot drive still have the right of a write in vote as long as a judge does not throw the write in votes out.
Mark Patro February 21, 2012 at 08:34 PM
when you walk in and try to present yourself as your father-in-law you would obviously be younger than the year he was born. This would be a signal to the election judge that something was amiss. This is a perfect example of when, under current rules, and election judge is REQUIRED to ask you for your ID. That is the current situation. What makes any change necessary?
Ktown February 21, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Can you make an obvious distinction between a 46 year old man and one that is 64? They are not always that obvious. I already asked an election judge if they wanted to see my ID and they say that they don't need to. The system needs better control, and the old voter's card was just dandy.
Paul Amirault February 21, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Ktown, what are you fixing? The system is not broke, the system works fine.
Ktown February 21, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Just making the suggestion that prior to voting that a person needs t - I am OK with being asked - to show a voter's card or some sort of ID. That is not asking much for me to validate who I am prior to becoming engaged in something that is important to being a citizen. When I look at close elections with researchers examining "hanging chads" to decide intent, it would be good to know that those that voted were able to vote legally in those elections.
hockeybuck February 22, 2012 at 01:11 AM
The system as it stands is wide open to fraud. I'm not saying it has or hasn't been a factor in voting results but it could easily be abused. While I'm sitting here at my computer I could search a few public records sites and find dozens and probably hundreds of people to fit my age and sex and then find their addresses. With this information I alone could spend the day traveling around to vote all over the state. Imagine if an organized group wanted to do this?
Stephanie February 22, 2012 at 01:36 AM
And why is it so wrong to pass legislation to make it more difficult for fraudulent voting to occur? Do we really need to wait for blatant charges of voter fraud to be brought up after an election, when we can take measures to make it less likely before it happens? There have been elections in other states that have been very close, when voter fraud charges have been alleged. No, this bill would not make it impossible, but it might provide us with another layer of safety. And just because the system is open to other forms of fraud, such as fiddling with the electronic vote totals, doesn't mean that we shouldn't do what we can to tackle this potential problem first. Just because we can't fix all of the "potential" problems doesn't mean we shouldn't work on one of them.
Paul Amirault February 22, 2012 at 02:18 AM
Hi hockey. Follow your own logic for a second. You have people's names and addresses. You believe they are a similar age and sex and race. You must assume they are registered to vote. You try to vote, oops they have already voted. You are arrested for a felony and go to jail. Now imagine a grand conspiracy to do this. You organize this group without the police knowing? Terrorists get caught in small groups, don't you think someone will squeal? You have committed a felony and go to jail again. Now you and one or two others try to find a way to change electronic vote totals which can change an election in a heartbeat without leaving a trace of what you have done since paper ballots are disappearing. Which one would you do? So the logical question is why would anyone pass a law that seems to have very little, if any effect? Well, look to who is proposing the legislation, Republicans are, not Democrats. So one or both of them believe there is some advantage to what they want. We have voted this way for over 200 years and have not had any problems. Why change? Last point, in Iowa and in Maine, the Republican primaries this year had voting tabulation problems. The Republicans did not demand voter ID but for some reason votes were not counted or summarized properly by the vote tabulators. The mistakes or some say fraud was at the summary level, not the voting level.
Mark Patro February 22, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Republican voter fraud: "Republican Secretary of State Charlie White has held on to his office for more than a year despite being accused of lying about his address on voter registration forms." This man was a official of the voting system. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57371606/ind-election-chief-found-guilty-of-voter-fraud/
Mark Patro February 22, 2012 at 02:47 AM
While the GOP likes to claim they're attempting to institute these laws to curb "voter fraud," they're unable to show evidence of virtually any polling place impersonation that would supposedly be prevented by such laws. For example, in rejecting the South Carolina GOP's new Photo ID restriction last Friday, finding that that the state's own statistics showed the law would be racially discriminatory, the U.S. Dept. of Justice noted [PDF] that the state failed to point to "any evidence or instance of either in-person voter impersonation or any other type of fraud that is not already addressed by the state's existing voter identification requirement and that arguably could be deterred by requiring voters to present only photo identification at the polls." http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brad-friedman/republicans-require-no-ph_b_1173283.html

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