Monday, June 25, 2007

A Case For Voter ID?

Indiana Democrats maintain that the state's Voter ID law is unconstitutionally burdensome for some voters and seeks to remedy a problem which doesn't exist. I stumbled onto this contested Chicago aldermanic race today which I think supports having a voter ID law. The 49th Ward of Chicago doesn't at first blush seem to be a likely place for voter fraud. It's a northside, lakefront ward in the Rogers Park neighborhood. Joe Moore, the current Ward 49 Alderman, defeated challenger Don Gordon in an April runoff election by 247 votes. Gordon filed a lawsuit seeking a recount. His complaint identifies hundreds of illegally cast votes in more than 20 precincts. Specifically, Gordon's suit claims:

  • Votes were cast by persons not registered in the precinct;
  • Votes were cast by persons registered to vote but who had become disqualified to vote;
  • Votes were cast by one person in the name of another person;
  • Votes were cast by persons who voted more than once in the election;
  • Votes were cast by persons who failed to sign an application for a ballot; and
  • Votes were cast by persons who unlawfully assisted the voter in casting a vote.

A review of the list of methods allegedly used to cast votes illegally tells me that a Voter ID law could have prevented at least some of the alleged voter fraud. If this happened in Ward 49, I think it's a safe bet that it's happening in many other wards in the City of Chicago. Alderman Moore and the Cook Co. Election Board attempted unsuccessfully to get Gordon's election challenge thrown out, but Cook Co. Circuit Court Judge Marsha Hayes turned down his request this week, allowing discovery in the case to move forward. According to a website supporting Gordon's challenge, this will be the first time in Chicago history a recount has been conducted in a Chicago aldermanic race based on voter fraud. In a June 9 letter to the editor published in the Chicago Sun-Times, Gordon explained the election contest:

The April 17th run-off election gave our incumbent an apparent 251-vote victory out of 8,000 votes cast. Facts, however, do not support the result. Three other residents – Eileen Foxman, Eva McCann, and Blane Roberts – joined as plaintiffs, citing the egregious voting irregularities they witnessed. Numerous calls and emails from voters reported illegal voting, electioneering by the incumbent and improper actions by polling place judges. Those irregularities may likely change the outcome of the election.

As might be expected, the defendants moved to dismiss the charges so they will not have to defend the results. However, election irregularities have been dismissed for too long and damage our democracy. On June 22nd the judge will hear oral arguments and rule on the motions to dismiss. If denied, as we believe it should be, all Chicagoans will benefit by allowing a full investigation of the election results that includes every aspect of the election.

This will be an interesting case to follow. If the lawsuit lives up to its allegations, it could lead to more election reforms, including the need for a Voter ID law. It is worth noting that the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the constitutionality of Indiana's Voter ID law, is based in Chicago and has appellate jurisdiction over federal cases in Illinois. This case is in Cook County's circuit court. A federal district court judge turned down the defendants' request to remove the case to federal court. Stay tuned.


garyj said...

People who want the voter ID law abolished have a reason for that!
Read the above story again and you'll see why.
If they can make it to the polls, they can make it to get an ID.
Can you say "VOTER FRAUD", Wilson?

Wilson46201 said...

A walk to the polls is easy - obtaining a birth-certificate for a baby born 70 years ago in a sharecroppers shack up in the hills by a midwife is considerably more difficult...

indyernie said...

"obtaining a birth-certificate for a baby born 70 years ago in a sharecroppers shack up in the hills by a midwife is considerably more difficult..."

True. If that's really the case a call to the Sec. of State office will resolve the problem.
I'm sure a remedy is available.

Vote ID along with privacy in the polling place would make a great difference in Center Township.

Anonymous said...

Give me a break, Gary. These are mere allegations in a lawsuit. As we now know, voter ID laws like Indiana's had their genesis in what turned out to be bogus and unfounded allegations that voter fraud was pervasive or that it even existed at all. As a rationalist, I would think you would not want to see a fundamental right abridged based on mere allegations and would demand empirical proof before sacrificing First Amendment rights. God knows, we invaded Iraq based on mere allegations. Haven't we learned our lesson?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Marion County to me.

Wilson46201 said...

Too bad none of the seemingly endless string of Republican County Prosecutors in Marion County have indicted anybody for voter fraud in Indianapolis. It's a comforting fable for GOP leaders to feed their sheeple to explain away losses but those fables would never stand up in court, even if prosecuted by Goldsmith, Newman or Brizzi.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Your party, Wilson, called off a recount of Frank Short's close primary race for council several years back because it didn't want all the voter fraud Short's campaign workers uncovered disclosed. A partial canvas of the precincts in his district uncovered more than a hundred votes cast from vacant and unoccupied residences.

Wilson46201 said...

If such was true, why did not the Republican County Prosecutor indict anybody? You keep repeating stories floating around but somehow very partisan prosecutors never seem to have any interest in those fables and rumors. It seems you assume people are guilty until they can prove themselves innocent.

Gary R. Welsh said...

I suspect Republican prosecutors figure they will be called racists if the persons involved in the vote fraud are African-American. Folks like you play the race card every time an effort is made to crack down on vote fraud anywhere in this country, claiming it's an effort to disenfranchise black voters.

Anonymous said...

If you can't get it together enough to have a real ID, then you probably should not be voting.

I'm sure if a 70 year old born in a shack by a midwife really WANTED to vote, a way could be found to prove who they are and where they live.

Wilson are you saying that this 70 year old born in a shack by a midwife has absolutely no proof whatsoever of who they are? How have they lived all these years without proof of who they are?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. I'm on the fence on this one as I see both sides of this debate.

However, when I see our republican governor making lame decisions to move BMV branches from the inner cities to the outskirts of town and off the city bus routes at the taxpayers expense I have to say hmmm. Disenfranchise voters perhaps?

Anonymous said...

This case has nothing to do with voter fraud and everything to do with being a sore loser. When you read the complaint, the loser wants to throw out the results from every jurisdiction where the opponent won.

Anonymous said...

"If such was true, why did not the Republican County Prosecutor indict anybody?"

Hundreds of murder victims have been found dead in this country. However, no one has ever been charged for their murder. Using your logic, if a prosecutor never filed charges against a person, the crime never happened.

Anonymous said...

Here is some news for the 70 year old. No birth certificate needed. Here is info directly from the IN BMV website

"How do I get a driver license or ID card if I don't have a birth certificate?"

Individuals who are 65 years or older, and attest that they have never been issued a Birth Certificate because their birth was never recorded with any State Office of Vital Statistics, may present other forms of identification as a primary document, along with the secondary document, for an Indiana driver license or identification card.

Individuals who are 65 years or older may present, as primary documents:

Medicaid/Medicare Card
Social Security Benefits Statement
Property Deed
Property Tax Statement
Bank Statements
US Veteran's Access Photo ID Card
Marriage/Divorce Decree
Pension Statement

Wilson46201 said...

Melyssa: the Indiana voterID law requires a government-issued photoID card with expiration date in order to vote. Such strict ID is not necessarily required by many citizens in daily life. It's just another sign of creeping big-brotherism in America...

Knightridge Overlook said...

This case was thrown out, dismissed in full by the judge. The plaintiffs kept claiming they had evidence, but never revealed any of it, either within the context of the lawsuit, or to the public.