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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The GOP and Voter Fraud

Republicans love to say they oppose easier access to voter registration and voting because they are worried about voter fraud.

That is their excuse for the new Georgia law requiring photo identification -- despite the absence of any evidence that there was substantial voter fraud in the past. Not shockingly, the poor, the elderly and blacks will be the voters most likely to be disenfranchised by this law.

Of course, it was also the excuse for the voter suppression efforts the GOP ran in Ohio during the 2004 presidential campaign.

I always wondered what justification the Republicans had for these sorts of laws, aside from racism, classism and just plain cheating, anyway.

Now I know.

They really are worried about voter fraud, and -- finally -- they really know of a real example.

Karl Rove.

That's right: according to a post from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington,
Mr. Rove and his wife, Darby, registered to vote in Kerr County in 2003 after they sold their Austin, Texas home. County property records show that Mr. Rove and his wife have owned two tiny rental cottages in Kerr County since 1997, the largest of which is only 814 feet and is valued by the county at $25,000. In contrast, the Roves Washington, D.C. home is valued at over $1.1 million. Local residents have stated that they have never seen Rove in the area....

Texas law stipulates that one of the requirements to be considered a “qualified voter” is that the person be a resident of Texas and the county in which application for voter registration is made. The application for registration must be executed and submitted to an election officer and must include a statement that the voter satisfies the applicable residence requirements and the voter's residence address. Texas law provides that making a false statement on a voter registration form is a Class B misdemeanor.
No wonder they are so worried.


Anonymous Bu$h Ate My Baby said...

Believe it or not, the concept of "residency" is not cut and dry. I remeber spending some time in one of my first year law school classes going through the concept. It ends up being based on state law, and as a general matter has an effect on divorce law, estate law, venue for federal jurisdictional requirements, etc.

My recollection is that Texas is one of the laxer in terms of being able to claim residency. Other states have requirements that one spend a certain number of days in the year in the state in order to qualify as a resident. Texas, on the other hand, allows establishment of residency on the basis of intent to return.

This is backed up by some quick research. Residence is defined in Section 1.015 of the Texas Election Code as the voter’s permanent home to which he or she intends to return after any temporary absence. "This definition also implies that you lived at the location at one time and intend to return, so generally, you cannot list a location where you have never been physically present."

It is common for politicians and those in the political realm to maintain a residence in their state of origin. My recollection, for example, is that President Bush maintained an address at a Houston hotel (presumably continuously renting the same room) either during his presidency or immediately afterward.

Your main beef would seem to be that Rove's permanent home in Texas pales in comparison to his home in DC. But again, I think the main thrust of what Texas requires is an intent to return. And for a longtime Texas resident who is doing a stint in DC while serving his country, Texas is probably satisfied that he is meeting the requirement without having to maintain a home in Texas as nice as his home in DC. Fact of the matter is, though, politicians of all political stripes do this all the time. In certain states, they may indeed not meet the necessary requirements, but Texas has a reputation of being one of the loosest on this issue.

As for your general swipe at Republicans, a question for the professor: Do you think that it is reasonable to limit participation in U.S. and federal elections to U.S. citizens who meet the requisite constititional and federal requirements, such as age and lack of felony conviction (to give an example of each)?

I do not think this is a rhetorical question, for I believe for some people the answer is no. They believe that illegal aliens, for instance, should have the right to vote in their community's elections, because they are a part of that community. So I am interested to hear your answer.

If your answer is yes, then my next question is, what do you think would be reasonable means to ensure that only those who are eligible to vote in an election are able to vote in an election? Are there any means to do so which would be acceptable, or is any hypothetical means going to disenfranchise eligible voters and thus an unacceptable curtailment?

9/07/2005 5:18 PM  

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