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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Keeping 'Em Honest

Last month Jonah posted suggested a link between Republicans' concern with voter fraud and supposed GOP voter suppression efforts. This concern, Jonah alleged, "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."

Skipping over the misunderstanding of the word "disenfranchise," I asked Jonah (rhetorically, as it turned out) what measures Jonah would support in order to prevent voter fraud.

Well, it turns out that an independent, bipartisan commission headed by Jimmy Carter and James Baker weighed in last week and recommended various measures, including -- you guessed it -- photo IDs for all voters.

Whether or not one agrees with the measure is a fair question. But the impetus for photo IDs doesn't stem from sinister motives. The sooner some people understand that, the sooner we can come to a solution that addresses all legitimate concerns.

And heck, maybe this commission report will be a first step in rehabilitating Jimmy Carter from his current position as Worst. Ex-President. Ever.

4 Comments:

Anonymous lerxst said...

You might want to read Jimmy Carter and James Baker's op ed:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/23/opinion/23carter.html

Since we presented our work to the president and Congress, some have overlooked almost all of the report to focus on a single proposal - a requirement that voters have driver's licenses or government-issued photo ID's. Worse, they have unfairly described our recommendation.

Here's the problem we were addressing: 24 states already require that voters prove their identity at the polls - some states request driver's licenses, others accept utility bills, affidavits or other documents - and 12 others are considering it. This includes Georgia, which just started demanding that voters have a state-issued photo ID, even though obtaining one can be too costly or difficult for poor Georgians. We consider Georgia's law discriminatory.

Our concern was that the differing requirements from state-to-state could be a source of discrimination, and so we recommended a standard for the entire country, the Real ID card, the standardized driver's licenses mandated by federal law last May. With that law, a driver's license can double as a voting card. All but three of our 21 commission members accepted the proposal, in part because the choice was no longer whether to have voter ID's, but rather what kind of ID's voters should have.


Looks to me like even James Baker didn't like Georgia's law...sounds like Jonah WAS reasonable in impugning the motives of that law.

It also sounds like Carter and Baker concluded that whether they like it OR NOT this was their best bet to improve the system.

9/27/2005 3:52 PM  
Anonymous Bu$h Ate My Baby said...

In fairness to Jonah, I should have amplified the following point I made: "Whether or not one agrees with the measure is a fair question." The post was not about whether the Georgia law was prudent. It was more about the idea, which seems to have widespread currency among certain quarters, that the reasons Republicans care about this issue is voter suppression.

Your last point encapsulates my point nicely: "It also sounds like Carter and Baker concluded that whether they like it OR NOT this was their best bet to improve the system." There needs to be recognition that the system needs to be improved, rather than impugning the motives of those who seek improvements; that done, we can then discuss the best way to achieve those improvements while addressing a variety of legitimate concerns.

9/27/2005 4:48 PM  
Blogger Jonah B. Gelbach said...

lerxst and peter...please see the post i just put up (it's the first one after peter's)

9/27/2005 5:25 PM  
Anonymous lerxst said...

Your last point encapsulates my point nicely: "It also sounds like Carter and Baker concluded that whether they like it OR NOT this was their best bet to improve the system." There needs to be recognition that the system needs to be improved, rather than impugning the motives of those who seek improvements; that done, we can then discuss the best way to achieve those improvements while addressing a variety of legitimate concerns.

I'm sorry, I would not equate Jimmy Carter's motives with the Georgia's legislature. My point doesn't support your point at all unless you believe their motives are pure to begin with, which I don't.

Also, I don't get this issue of "impugning motives"...SO WHAT!

Either their motives are for improving the system in which case they should be able to take some criticism for doing what they THINK is the right thing or their motives are not pure, and dare I say to disenfranchise voters --in which case they SHOULD be called on it.

Finally, there is a LONG history of trying to disenfranchise voters that continues to this day see the recent Harpers issue that dissects the myriad of techniques used by the GOP in Ohio in 2004.

http://www.harpers.org/ExcerptNoneDare.html

9/27/2005 6:15 PM  

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