January 30, 2008

How can paper ballots violate constitutional rights?

I saw on Instapundit — through to Slashdot — that the ACLU was suing a county for moving from touchscreen machines to paper ballots, and I couldn't even think of a bad argument. Slashdot describes the argument this way:
[T]he system chosen tabulates all votes at a central location. This means that voters don't get notified if their ballot contains errors, and thus they have no chance to correct it.
What? I still don't get it.

More here:
The ACLU alleges that the optical-scan system and centralized vote tabulation would not give voters notice of ballot errors — such as voting for two candidates for one office.

Opponents of the system say scanning should be done immediately at the precinct level to alert voters to such errors and allow them to correct invalid ballots.
So the constitutional violation is that the paper doesn't prevent you from mismarking it? If you're supposed to check one box and you check two, the paper doesn't call you a fool?

IN THE COMMENTS: Rastajenk writes:
I am a precinct captain in Ohio...

The system used in our county places scanners at each precinct; the voter marks his paper ballot and slips it into the scanner himself. If it is marked properly, the voter sees the ballot counter increase by one...he knows his ballot has been counted, right there on the spot.

If he doesn't mark it correctly...if he marks three school board members when he should have voted only two...or if he leaves blank an issue where he had no opinion...or if he doesn't vote at all for an uncontested position...any of these kinds of situations, the scanner would beep and produce a message saying where the error occurred, and give the voter a chance to repair the error, or accept it as is.

It's a very simple safeguard to address the whole undervote/overvote issue that Florida 2000 introduced to the world. If a person needs a new ballot, there are very simple procedures for giving him one and voiding the original.

What the ACLU is doing is promoting the system used in our county over the system proposed in Cuyahoga, wherein all the paper ballots are collected and sent to a central counting location. Any number of shenanigans can occur there that cannot occur in our situation. For once in my life, I am in the ACLU's corner on this one.

Ohio Sec of State Brunner issued a report last month recommending all counting be done in central locations. Brunner is a Dem; connect the dots.

Another feature of our precinct-counted system is that at the end of the day, I produce and post at that location a report of our activity: how many votes each candidate or issue received in our precinct. I can compare that report to official reports on the county's website and verify that they are the same; each precinct official can do the same for his precinct. At no point can the numbers suddenly change or not add up correctly using this system. Accountability starts at the bottom, not at some closed-door top level. This is what the ACLU is against. Forget the invectives about stupid voters; support them on this as I have.
I'm persuaded that the scanners are better, but I still don't see a constitutional argument.

ADDED: Here's how the complaint puts it:
The dual system of voting created by Defendants has resulted in the following inequity: voters living in election jurisdictions using voting systems without error notification... are significantly less likely to have their intended votes counted than voters who live in election jurisdictions that use voting systems with error notification....
This seems to be an attempt to use the Equal Protection argument from Bush v. Gore:
Equal protection applies... to the manner of [the exercise of the right to vote]. Having once granted the right to vote on equal terms, the State may not, by later arbitrary and disparate treatment, value one person's vote over that of another. See, e.g., Harper v. Virginia Bd. of Elections, 383 U.S. 663, 665 (1966) (“[O]nce the franchise is granted to the electorate, lines may not be drawn which are inconsistent with the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment”). It must be remembered that “the right of suffrage can be denied by a debasement or dilution of the weight of a citizen’s vote just as effectively as by wholly prohibiting the free exercise of the franchise.” Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 555 (1964)....

The question before the Court is not whether local entities, in the exercise of their expertise, may develop different systems for implementing elections. Instead, we are presented with a situation where a state court with the power to assure uniformity has ordered a statewide recount with minimal procedural safeguards.

55 comments:

Original Mike said...

It's simple, Ann. Stupid is now a protected class in this country.

One thing that amazed me in the 2000 election Florida mess were the people who felt no embarrassment over not being able to properly fill out a ballot. They trumpeted the fact on national television. Me, I'd have silently kicked myself for being an idiot.

Simon said...

Well... If you reject Justice Scalia's approach where the original meaning doesn't control, and where traditional practices have nothing to say in giving content to ambiguous text (probably most clearly exposited in U.S. v. Virginia, which you've written about before, of course; but see Greenberg & Litman, The Meaning of Original Meaning, 86 Geo. L.J. 569 (1998)), why not? At most, it seems to me, you could say that the dispute is unripe - that like the question of whether the 8th Amendment forbids lengthy detention before execution, see e.g. Knight v. Florida, 528 U.S. 990 (Breyer, J., dissenting from denial of cert), the answer to the question (can paper ballots violate constitutional right) would be "not yet." In due course, maybe it will. What is facetious today is constitutional law tomorrow. What else can you say in answer to any Constitutional question if you're going to reject originalism generally and Scalia's approach particularly?

k said...

Original Mike - of course they had no embarrassment over admitting their mistakes on national teevee. They had a higher purpose: Bringing down a Republican candidate. At any cost. Even at the cost of your own pride.

Original Mike said...

I think that's right, k.

The attempt should have been met with scorn, but instead it was abetted by the media. And that's how we reach a point at which the ACLU can bring this case with a straight face.

Hoosier Daddy said...

One thing that amazed me in the 2000 election Florida mess were the people who felt no embarrassment over not being able to properly fill out a ballot.

I'm not sure why you were so amazed. Heck, all you have to do is look at some of the ridiculous lawsuits that get filed and and you realize that personal shame is not a high priority with people.

There was a time when things like bankruptcy, having an baby out of wedlock, divorce or dropping out of school were frowned on in society. Now, those are no big deal and in some cases are badges of honor.

We have evolved to the state where nothing is your fault, society rather than the individual has complete liability for your mistakes and there is no shortage of attorneys to make sure you're handsomely compensated for screwing up.

The only thing that surprises me is the ACLU doesn't demand instructions on toilet paper reminding users to wipe front to back.

Original Mike said...

Yes, Hoosier, I think Florida was part and parcel to the trend you cite. And it is distressing.

Middle Class Guy said...

Does this mean that I have a constitutional right to make a mistake and not accept the consequences of said mistake?

rastajenk said...

I am a precinct captain in Ohio, and I'd like to clarify some points not made int the linked article.

I began working elections in 2002 as a direct result of the Florida mess in 2000. We had punch-card butterfly ballots then, and I think they worked pretty well. But a couple years later we switched to optical scanning of paper ballots at the precinct level. I was skeptical at first, thinking it was just a knee-jerk reaction, but I'm sold on it now.

The system used in our county places scanners at each precinct; the voter marks his paper ballot and slips it into the scanner himself. If it is marked properly, the voter sees the ballot counter increase by one...he knows his ballot has been counted, right there on the spot.

If he doesn't mark it correctly...if he marks three school board members when he should have voted only two...or if he leaves blank an issue where he had no opinion...or if he doesn't vote at all for an uncontested position...any of these kinds of situations, the scanner would beep and produce a message saying where the error occurred, and give the voter a chance to repair the error, or accept it as is.

It's a very simple safeguard to address the whole undervote/overvote issue that Florida 2000 introduced to the world. If a person needs a new ballot, there are very simple procedures for giving him one and voiding the original.

What the ACLU is doing is promoting the system used in our county over the system proposed in Cuyahoga, wherein all the paper ballots are collected and sent to a central counting location. Any number of shenanigans can occur there that cannot occur in our situation. For once in my life, I am in the ACLU's corner on this one.

Ohio Sec of State Brunner issued a report last month recommending all counting be done in central locations. Brunner is a Dem; connect the dots.

Anothe feature of our precinct-counted system is that at the end of the day, I produce and post at that location a report of our activity: how many votes each candidate or issue received in our precinct. I can compare that report to official reports on the county's website and verify that they are the same; each precinct official can do the same for his precinct. At no point can the numbers suddenly change or not add up correctly using this system. Accountability starts at the bottom, not at some closed-door top level. This is what the ACLU is against. Forget the invectives about stupid voters; support them on this as I have.

cokaygne said...

What they want is for people to keep voting until they get the correct result.

former law student said...

Despite their other flaws, the old voting machines had mechanical lockout systems to prevent choosing more than one candidate.

People misbubble all the time; you don't have to be stupid. I remember a pre-law freaking out about skipping a line while he transferred his LSAT answers to the scantron. Luckily for him, for a fee the LSAC people would score it by hand, shifting the subsequent answers down by one. True that Duke was the best school he got into, though.

Simon said...

rastajenk, could you clarify something I'm not clear on from your comment? You say that if the ballot "is marked properly, the voter sees the ballot counter increase by one ... [and s/]he knows [their] ballot has been counted, right there on the spot." But I take it they only see the aggregate tally of filed ballots increase, not the total for a given candidate, right? So that deals with some of the Florida problems, but it doesn't address the butterfly ballot issue where, shall we put it as Bierce did, members of that large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling manage to vote for the wrong candidate? That is, "marked properly" extends only to the technical sense that the voter has voted for somebody, not that they've voted for who they intended?

Hoosier Daddy said...

Accountability starts at the bottom, not at some closed-door top level. This is what the ACLU is against.

Well I would argue that accountability starts with the voter to pay attention to who and how they vote. I mean, voting isn't rocket science.

Forget the invectives about stupid voters; support them on this as I have.

Well in one respect I would argue further that if you're too stupid to accurately follow simple directions (vote for 1 or 2 or 3 of the following candiates) you really should have no business picking political candidates.

That said, Simon makes an excellent point in that the scanner shows a vote was cast, but not necessarily for who they intended which is what Bush v Gore was all about 8 years ago.

This goes back to my central point is that there is seems to be zero expectation for anyone to be accountable for their own actions and demands on a 3rd party to ensure we don't screw things up.

k said...

Simon: You are correct. The ballot tally is just that - a record that your BALLOT got accounted for. It is not telling you that each of your votes is what you intended. Unfortunately, the voter still has to be responsible for doing that. Ha! I said "unfortunately." Slip of tongue, or intended? You be the judge.

rastajenk said...

You are both correct: the scanner shows that the ballot has been counted, but does not give a running tally of each and every race and issue. I would think there'd be some serious privacy issues there, although it would go a long way towards dispelling the notion that an election was stolen because the final tallies didn't match the media's exit polling!

Hoosier, I agree that there are some voters out there that probably shouldn't, but what are you gonna do? Impose IQ tests? You should work an election sometime. There are some oldtimers out there that have been voting for sixty years or more through all kinds of systems, and they still consider it their highest civic duty. But they are easily confused. It does no good to slam them collectively with career know-nothings.

In November we had a single local issue on the back of the ballot. One of my main functions that day was to remind each and every one it was there, and there were still many who didn't vote it. There are many situations that can result in under/overvotes, and they are not all the result of stupid people failing to follow simple rules.

PatCA said...

It could be just an attempt to get attorney's fees. Who is paying, by the way, the state?

Elliott A said...

These type of lawsuits are what turns much of the populace into cynics with respect to government and the ACLU into a pariah.

Simon said...

rastajenk said...
"[T]he scanner shows that the ballot has been counted, but does not give a running tally of each and every race and issue. I would think there'd be some serious privacy issues there...!"

That does raise an interesting question, doesn't it? You could eliminate ballot fraud entirely by eliminating the secret ballot, although obviously that'd open the election to all manner of shenanigans (intimidation by unions and the like). Still: if a state wanted to doff their cap to Brandeis and take the plunge, abandoning the secret ballot, could a state do so consistent with the federal constitution? (Assume neither preemption nor state constitutional hurdles.) The text says nothing about it, which leaves the original meaning and longstanding traditions. In England, the secret ballot didn't come along until the Ballot Act 1872, so it certainly wasn't a practice the colonists could have brought with them from the mother country, but come to realize, I have no idea how voting was conducted in the colonies. Wikipedia says only that most states moved to secret ballot roughly at the same time Britain did. Was the secret ballot a sufficiently concrete practice so as to be a presupposition of the Constitution and thereby trump state experimentation?

Original Mike said...

Rastajenk: Your argument is that local tallying makes it hard for election officials to commit fraud. That is an argument I can support (though I'm no expert on methods to steal an election, so I can't really judge it critically). From the article, however, that's not the ACLU's argument.

Regarding not voting every issue/candidate on the ballot; I virtually never vote all races. If I don't know anything about a particular race, I don't vote. I find it offensive when voting activists use the fact that some voters didn't vote all races as evidence of irregularities. It's my right not to vote for coroner if I don't want to.

The article, I believe, also describes touchscreen, not optical scanners. Otical scanners are much preferred. In my opinion, any method that does not include a paper ballot record is completely unacceptable when it comes to fraud protection.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Hoosier, I agree that there are some voters out there that probably shouldn't, but what are you gonna do? Impose IQ tests?

Nothing of the sort. It was simply an observation.

You should work an election sometime. There are some oldtimers out there that have been voting for sixty years or more through all kinds of systems, and they still consider it their highest civic duty. But they are easily confused. It does no good to slam them collectively with career know-nothings.

Well I'll go ahead and stick my member in the grinder with this comment. For those old timers who have been voting for 60 years through so many systems one would think that they'd be pros at this point. Honestly, absent senility or mental incompetence, I am getting a bit tired of the 'woe be the old folks' who get confused at the drop of a hat. The AARP crowd are vehemently protective of ensuring the 'independence' of the elderly and then cry foul and use advanced age as a mulligan everytime they screw the pooch. There was a time when age bestowed the virtures of wisdom and experience.

As they said during the recount, they can keep track of 20 bingo cards but screwed up a ballot a
3rd grader could figure out.

Richard Dolan said...

I'm with Ann on this one - I can't imagine how the constitutional argument is even framed. Whether an optical scan system is better at preventing fraud or in helping voters avoid common mistakes is a fine argument to a legislature, but has no force at the constitutional level. Perhaps this is the ACLU's idea of lobbying for legislative reform.

save_the_rustbelt said...

I've used the Ohio scan ballot for many years and it appears to be very, very reliable, as opposed to Diebolds touchscreen.

Our county spent a fortune on touchscreen (a pet GOP project) and left the machines on the first floor of an office in a flood plain.

Oops.

Back to scan sheets.

Too many jims said...

Brunner is a Dem; connect the dots.

Well if her Republican predecessor got to rig the rules for the benefit of his party why shouldn't she follow suit.

former law student said...

I think original mike is right, the arguments would be based on equal protection of the stupid. From Bush v. Gore:

Having once granted the right to vote on equal terms, the State may not, by later arbitrary and disparate treatment, value one person's vote over that of another. See, e.g., Harper v. Virginia Bd. of Elections, 383 U.S. 663, 665 (1966) (“[O]nce the franchise is granted to the electorate, lines may not be drawn which are inconsistent with the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment”). It must be remembered that “the right of suffrage can be denied by a debasement or dilution of the weight of a citizen’s vote just as effectively as by wholly prohibiting the free exercise of the franchise.” Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 555 (1964).

The less keen-eyed; the inexperienced dot-bubbler (most people have been free from taking standardized tests for years, even decades); the nervous: all would be deprived of a chance to correct their errors, thus negating their votes just as effectively as if they had been physically kept from voting.

jen said...

I agree that having the scanner right there is preferable, but if you allow a constitutional argument that it's insufficient to mark a paper ballot without that scanner right there - then you've got to also allow a constitutional argument that the scanner must be *working.* And in my nice little corner of Ohio, the scanner has been working first thing in the morning, when I vote, exactly 1 of the 3 times I've voted since they switched.

It's usually a matter of the people who know how to run it haven't gotten there yet, or someone has to come from Columbus to fix something. By the time neighbors go later in the day, it's working again.

But I'm not stressed enough over the fact that I personally haven't seen the ballot count tick over to wait - I just leave it in the designated box for someone else to scan later, and get on with my day.

Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

Virtually every form of balloting can be interpreted by someone as a violation of someone's civil rights.

Bruce Hayden said...

With this talk of seasoned citizens, I am reminded of the voter id case from, I believe, Iowa, or maybe Indiana, that will be heard by the Supreme Ct. It turns out that one of the original plaintiffs was refused the right to vote because she presented her Florida drivers license. Legally, she was probably a Florida citizen, and was registered to vote there. But she had been voting at the same place for maybe 50 years, and went there to vote, likely out of habit, see old friends, etc., and was denied.

Bruce Hayden said...

I am not the least bit surprised at this. One of my major concerns during the Florida recounts was that all the handling of the ballots may have shook loose some chads, or maybe even caused some to appear dimpled. In my view, there were just too many openings to cheat, and, thus, no surprise that many assume that there was cheating in the recounts.

paul a'barge said...

Simple. The ACLU knows full well that electronic voting mechanisms are the open door to voter fraud. Who gains from voter fraud? Democrats, hands down. Who does the dirty work for Democrats? The ACLU.

Tibore said...

I have a real basic and dumb question: Does anyone know why that county went from touchscreen back to paper? I know that question has the potential to derail this thread, but I'm curious as to why the change back to old technology was made.

Wurly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hoosier Daddy said...

With this talk of seasoned citizens, I am reminded of the voter id case from, I believe, Iowa, or maybe Indiana, that will be heard by the Supreme Ct. It turns out that one of the original plaintiffs was refused the right to vote because she presented her Florida drivers license.

I hadn't heard that one. The main opposition here is that somehow requiring an ID supposedly restricts or causes an undue burden on poor and elderly people. Never mind the state would provide you the $10 ID for free if you couldn't scrape $10 for it.

former law student said...

requiring an ID supposedly restricts or causes an undue burden on poor and elderly people. Never mind the state would provide you the $10 ID for free if you couldn't scrape $10 for it.

Really? No undue burden? Will the state send someone to Grandma's house to take her picture and give her her ID?

former law student said...

Wurly -- assuming there is some value to letting voters make sure they voted for the candidates of their choice, let's go back to paper ballots with a box next to each candidate's name. That way mistakes are practically impossible, and you don't need a costly, time-consuming scanner to check your vote. Recounts will be easier to handle, too.

Original Mike said...

Really? No undue burden? Will the state send someone to Grandma's house to take her picture and give her her ID?

It was my understanding that the Georgia law allowed for just that. Someone correct me, please, if I'm wrong.

Simon said...

former law student said...
"Really? No undue burden? Will the state send someone to Grandma's house to take her picture and give her her ID?"

I'm willing to bet that the Democratic Party will, in return for a small favor. And besides, how long do those IDs last? Four years? Six years? Grandma can't make it to the DMV once every six years? I've yet to see a persuasive argument that any particular voter ID law imposes anything but an incidental burden or that securing the integrity of the ballot isn't a compelling state objective.

Original Mike said...

How does Grandma get to the polls in the first place?

Blake said...

Really? No undue burden? Will the state send someone to Grandma's house to take her picture and give her her ID?

As Original Mike touches on, they could show up to drive her to the polls.

Or, these days, to help her fill out her absentee ballot.

Blake said...

It seems like there are many separate issues here, however.

First is the Constitutional one. Dunno. I don't see the details being mentioned in that particular Document.

Second is the shamelessness of the 2000 vote. That was pure politics and politics knows no shame.

Third, however, is the engineering aspect. And good engineering suggests that you: a) make it easy for voters to vote for whom they wish; b) make it easy for them to know when they've made a mistake; c) make it easy for them to correct said mistake.

Electronics make it possible to do 2&3 more easily, and so should be employed.

None of this is as big a deal as people make it out to be. (See politics.) There is a margin for error, absorbed by the electoral system (in Presidential elections, anyway), which keeps problems with counts from one precinct from spilling over into another.

It's not good politics, but the fact is we'll never get the one person=one vote: There will always be errors and cheats. A good system is one that minimizes this.

Simon said...

Blake said...
"As Original Mike touches on, they could show up to drive her to the polls. Or, these days, to help her fill out her absentee ballot."

That's one of the problems I have in the Indiana voting ID cases - are the plaintiffs really arguing that absentee votes are constitutionally-mandated? Because that's where the logic of their position seems to flow. If it's burdensome for people to show up to obtain an ID (which, once you've eliminated cost is all that's left), then it's no less burdensome for them to show up to vote, so if the state has to accommodate the former, I would think they'd have to accommodate the latter.

You'd think it was a preposterous suggestion that the Constitution requires states to provide postal votes, but why? That's what I'm driving at in my 8:33 AM comment: if the Constitution is an organic document that changes and grows with the needs of society, it's by no means preposterous to say that something that was obviously not unconstitutional twenty years ago might be unconstitutional today. That's more or less what the petitioners are arguing in Baze; it's what the Crawford petitioners are arguing; it's what the ACLU is arguing in the instant case. Ann's question becomes meaningless unless the Constitution has a fixed meaning. (And that shouldn't be taken as a criticism of her question, by the way.)

Synova said...

"I've used the Ohio scan ballot for many years and it appears to be very, very reliable, as opposed to Diebolds touchscreen."

How do you know?

New Mexico changed away from a touch screen to the paper ballot with a scanner at the polling place last time and when the machine eats your ballot the number goes up by one.

How do you know what happened inside that box?

Be honest. You don't have a clue what happened inside that box, if you filled out the ballot correctly, if it was programmed correctly and reading the dots for the right things, or anything.

And then when our region (for congressperson) went into recounts they couldn't find all the ballots!

The fact is that a computer counts your vote if it's a paper ballot put through a counter or if it's a touch screen. Either way you've got to take it on faith.

Synova said...

"Really? No undue burden? Will the state send someone to Grandma's house to take her picture and give her her ID?"

I realize that taking your own grandmother to get an ID is an undue burden on YOU but maybe you should grow the heck up, huh?

Undue burden?

Why do you suppose they don't just say "burden"? Huh? Why bother with that totally unnecessary word "undue". You'd think, maybe, just maybe, the law doesn't require "no burden whatsoever" because otherwise it would say "no burden whatsoever."

You think?

Getting an ID card is a MINIMAL burden. It's an ORDINARY requirement for most of life.

Like actually going to the polls or actually filling out an absentee ballot and actually mailing it.

Those things ALL constitute a burden. They require someone to *do* something.

Maybe you could explain how to make voting utterly burden free, but luckily the law does not require voting to be entirely free of effort.

Captain Ned said...

@tibore:

With paper ballots the voter's own original action is preserved and can be hand-counted when a recount becomes necessary. Touch-screen voting requires all involved to believe that the machine is always right. I will never accept that bargain.

SGT Ted said...

The AARP crowd are vehemently protective of ensuring the 'independence' of the elderly and then cry foul and use advanced age as a mulligan everytime they screw the pooch. There was a time when age bestowed the virtures of wisdom and experience.

I thought the same thing. Here were these little old ladies, who can run 8 bingo cards simultaneously down at the Aplm Beach Senior Center, now claiming the butterfly ballot was "too confusing". What a crock.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Really? No undue burden? Will the state send someone to Grandma's house to take her picture and give her her ID?

Actually the Dem party in the Marion country area is quite adept at picking Grandma up to haul her butt to the polls.

Or maybe Grandma has no burden getting to the polls and its just a handy excuse. I mean, I wonder how they cash that SSN check, get groceries or other basic necessities. I guess is someone is doing that for them it shouldn't be much of an undue burden to take a quick drive downtown.

Oh and they only had a frigging year to get one.

former law student said...

How does Grandma get to the polls in the first place?

Walks down to the tavern on the corner. She has to stop and pause for breath, but it's an outing for her. She knows most of the poll workers -- so why would she have to show them a photo ID? It's just harassment.

Moreover, has anybody been to their DMV lately? Here the wait rivals inner-city emergency rooms. I would not put Grandma through it without a damn good reason. And I don't know about the rest of you, but I went years without having to show my drivers license to anyone, unless I rented a car. Now I have to show it when I fly of course.

Elliott A said...

Everyone talks about the degree of burden involved in getting an ID. Without the ID, my unburdened vote might be cancelled by a citizen pretender illegal voting. To anyone who cares about the validity of their vote and the right held therein, few burdens to prove identity are undue. I would think the municipality, state and federal government have a constitutional responsibility to prevent ineligible individuals from voting, regardless of the reason. Requiring ID is a simple way to fulfill that obligation for all involved.

Simon said...

former law student said...
"[H]as anybody been to their DMV lately?"

The last time I had to visit one, I came home and wrote a blog post declaring that it should be privatized immediately on the model of the domain name registry system. Alas, Daniels has not seen the light on this.

Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

Yes, I was at my local DMV office a couple of weeks ago. Without an appointment, too. I waited about 10 minutes, quickly conducted my business with an efficient and friendly staffer and was out the door 5 minutes later. Seriously! That's a big change since my last visit 10 years ago, when a surly employee handed me the Spanish version of the form I requested. When I said, "Excuse me, this is in Spanish," She replied, "So?" and I said, "I don't read Spanish" and she said "That's your problem." That led me to say, "I want to see your supervisor, please, and I want to see your badge number as well."

Anyway, the DMV here is a totally different experience than it was 10 years ago, whether in the office or on the phone.

Synova said...

Our DMV is good but there are several (and DMV private contractors, too) to chose from so if one office gets a bad rep you can go to a different one. The result is friendly service and no lines.

10ish years ago in California (Richmond) it was so bad it was pathetic. Multi-hour waits and then bad information about what you needed to have and to do. I considered it an example of what can be expected from a monopoly government service. Ie. NO service whatsoever.

Blake said...

Moreover, has anybody been to their DMV lately? Here the wait rivals inner-city emergency rooms.

This sort of begs the question of whether you're the sort of voter who believes the gov't should be running emergency rooms.

(In fairness, the local DMV has always been good and with the new appointment system, it's even better.)

As for showing ID, I find it comes in streaks. I use plastic pretty much everywhere and haven't been asked for ID in over a month. But then they'll, I dunno, "crack down" or something, and I'll have to show it no matter how trivial the purchase.

SGT Ted said...

So, in FLS' world, having to prove your citizenship by showing an ID card in order to vote is harrassment. Is it harrassment when your trying to buy a drink and they ask you? How about when your trying to cash a check?

That arguement is so dumb and shallow. It really is.

Original Mike said...

Nice story about Grandma, FLS. If she truely is known at the local tavern (what's up with that, anyway?) I don't think she'd have a problem voting sans ID.

former law student said...

If she truely is known at the local tavern (what's up with that, anyway?) I don't think she'd have a problem voting sans ID.

My point exactly: if people know who you are, there's no need to show ID. The pollworkers in my precinct live in my precinct -- we all have a nodding acquaintance at least. My name is in the binder: thus I'm eligible to vote. They know I'm me and that should be sufficient.

Trooper: They don't ask Grandma to show ID when she wants to buy a drink because she's clearly over 21. And they cash her checks without ID because they already know who she is.

Original Mike said...

Yes, FLS, but you disingenuously use that fact that some poll workers know some of the voters to claim that the need for ID doesn't exist.

Not persuasive in the slightest.

former law student said...

Original Mike: My ingenuousness or lack thereof is not a consideration here. You are proposing restrictions on the freedom of the citizenry. Government has to justify these restrictions with more than a handwave. First, ask what is the compelling government interest to be served? In other words, what is the purpose of requiring voters to show photo id, and how important is it? Second, is the solution narrowly tailored to fulfilling that goal? Here, is requiring all voters to obtain and produce a photo ID before voting the least restrictive alternative to fulfilling that objective?

Originalists, like me and Scalia, realize that the Framers never contemplated that photo ID would be required of voters, photography being a century in the future. Yet somehow they knew who was eligible to vote.