"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

One in a million

When we started voting in elections back in the mid-70s in Idaho, the procedure was that we’d walk into the polling place, announce our names, receive a ballot, vote, and drop the ballot into a box, at which point one of the poll workers would announce that we – by name – had voted. It was a simple process, and there wasn’t a lot of special security attached to it, but it seemed to work. Hardly ever did you see a report of anyone casting a ballot who shouldn’t have done.

In that, that’s close to how it’s still done, and it still works. In some places in recent years you’re required to show some form of identification, but that’s usually not too difficult a task – most of us have some sort of identifying paperwork.

The new Federal Election Integrity Act, on the other hand, is another in the long line of federal measures in recent years which is closer to the opposite of what its name portends, because elections of integrity are in no way being addressed and are actually being attacked. The more serious threats to election integrity involve such concerns as hackable voting machines and efforts to suppress voting; this bill does nothing to help in that area. On the other hand, this bill does its bit to suppress voting, by imposing ever more intensive document requirements (“are your papers in order?”) to cast a vote. The effect is going to be a discouraging of people to vote.

It will have special impact on mail-voting places like Oregon, where voters will have to send copies of documents like birth certificates through the mail to cast a vote.

On the Blue Oregon comment section about this, an official at the secretary of state’s office notes, “This ID requirement would throw up roadblocks to all sorts of people voting: the elderly, young people, and persons with disabilities, to name a few. We’ve made gains getting people engaged in voting through vote by mail. It would be a shame to backslide.” This is in effect another end run at a poll tax, a device to try to limit in specific ways the people who vote – as underhanded and politically obscene a maneuver as any tried in the Jim Crow Deep South.

(On top of which: do the feds really expect over-burdened elections officials to double-check the validity of all those documents? They must be out of their minds …)

Is there a rationale for this? The theory – the political theory, that is, there being little other – behind the document mania is millions of illegal aliens live in the country, and some of them might try to vote.

That seems ridiculous on its face. While you could understand the interest an illegal alien might have in trying to obtain some other governmental services, such as medical or education, why would they bother to draw the unneeded attention to themselves to vote in someone else’s country? Why run the risk?

Apparently none or almost none actually do. From the official at the secretary of state’s office: “The stats we’ve seen in the Sec of State’s office on ineligible voters voting are: since 1991, of 10 million votes cast, 10 complaints were filed – two of which ended up in prosecution. You have a higher likelihood of being struck by lightning than of being an ineligible voter voting in Oregon.”

One in a million, at most.

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