Republicans don’t like people voting

There’s honestly little else to conclude from their latest legislation on the matter.  This is just banana republic stuff.  Absolutely shameful in a democracy.  As Chris Fitzsimon puts it in a great post,

It’s startling that in 2013, a major political party can have as part of its agenda making it more difficult to vote.

Seriously.  Just think about that fact.  Especially disturbing to me– all the educated Republicans who know better and just shrug.   Anyway, I was very excited to get my Op-Ed in the N&O today.  Here’s my favorite parts.  (But damn it, I wrote it, you really should read the whole thing):

What has early voting with same-day voter registration done for North Carolina? A lot, according to data from Michael McDonald’s voter turnout project (http://elections.gmu.edu/voter_turnout.htm). Only 31 percent of North Carolina’s eligible voters participated in the 2006 midterm election and 58 percent in the 2004 presidential election (placing us 38th out of the 50 states).

In 2007, though, North Carolina began allowing voters to register to vote at the same time they participated in early voting, i.e., one-stop voting, thereby eliminating an extra step and barrier to participation. The results? In 2008 almost 66 percent of eligible voters participated in the election and in the 2010 midterm 39 percent participated. Turnout remained high in 2012 with 65 percent participation (pushing us up to 11th out of 50 states).

These are huge increases that represent literally hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians being brought into the political process. So, why on earth would anybody want to change this?  …

This week the Republicans in the state Senate have revealed a proposal to dramatically shorten the early voting period and eliminate the ability to register when early voting. If this legislation passes, it will mark a huge step backward for citizen participation in our state.

What has early voting with same-day voter registration done for North Carolina? A lot, according to data from Michael McDonald’s voter turnout project (http://elections.gmu.edu/voter_turnout.htm). Only 31 percent of North Carolina’s eligible voters participated in the 2006 midterm election and 58 percent in the 2004 presidential election (placing us 38th out of the 50 states).

In 2007, though, North Carolina began allowing voters to register to vote at the same time they participated in early voting, i.e., one-stop voting, thereby eliminating an extra step and barrier to participation. The results? In 2008 almost 66 percent of eligible voters participated in the election and in the 2010 midterm 39 percent participated. Turnout remained high in 2012 with 65 percent participation (pushing us up to 11th out of 50 states).

These are huge increases that represent literally hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians being brought into the political process. So, why on earth would anybody want to change this?

I gotta say, one of my favorite things to do is to be able to bring forward solid Political Science research and apply it to contemporary policy debates.  What we do really does matter.  Even if Republicans choose to ignore (or defund) it.  And again, anybody who cares about democracy should be offended.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

21 Responses to Republicans don’t like people voting

  1. pino says:

    It’s startling that in 2013, a major political party can have as part of its agenda making it more difficult to vote.

    So, with regards to voter ID and voting in general. I get, and want, that it be as easy as possible to vote. The most obvious method to accomplish that would be to allow any person to walk to any precinct and cast a ballot without questions.

    No requirement to provide ID or proof of residency. In fact, you wouldn’t have to give name or address.

    But we don’t do that. We do make it harder to vote. We do have basic requirements to vote.

    So, I guess, the question is: If we were starting over, how would we make a system to vote? How do we justify even requiring folks to register?

  2. Doxy says:

    Great column, Steve.

    Pino–we don’t have to “start over.” We could just leave things as they are–except that Republicans are hell-bent on disenfranchising anyone who isn’t white and conservative.

    Or as my beloved grandmother would have said: “If it ain’t broke, don’t ‘fix’ it.”

    • pino says:

      we don’t have to “start over.” We could just leave things as they are

      So why require anyone to register at all? Why not just let them claim they are residents and are here to vote? After all, with such low levels of fraud, what do we have to fear?

  3. Doxy says:

    Except that I don’t trust the Republicans not to go around and vote in every district they can get to. The only major cases of voter fraud in the last few years have been committed by Republicans. Seems to me it’s all about projection….

    • pino says:

      Except that I don’t trust the Republicans not to go around and vote in every district they can get to. The only major cases of voter fraud in the last few years have been committed by Republicans. Seems to me it’s all about projection….

      There is no significant cases of voter fraud. That’s the democrat’s mantra, yes?

      There. Is. No. Fraud.

      So why require registration at all? In fact, why restrict voting in any way? Minors and felons included?

      • Doxy says:

        I’d rather do it that way than the way the autocrats/theocrats in this state are trying to do it.

        You make it All or Nothing? I choose Nothing. But I’d really love to see you justify what they are doing. On both a cost-benefit basis and a democratic one.

      • pino says:

        But I’d really love to see you justify what they are doing. On both a cost-benefit basis and a democratic one.

        Cost – benefit basis? Obtaining an ID in North Carolina is very easy and very cheap; inconsequentially cheap. There can be no argument on cost.

        If you pass a law that says you must be 18 to vote, then you Ought verify that. If you can only vote once, then you should verify that too. Vote only in your district? Verify.

        You have to show ID to adopt a pet from the county for Chrissakes!

      • Steve Greene says:

        Look, I have NO IDEA what it is like to be poor and not have an ID. And quite, obviously, either do you. For you to categorically state that it is basically cost-less to get an ID shows that you have no idea. The very fact that so many do not have such ID, despite obviously advantages– on its face suggest that there are costs involved.

        What is ultimately so frustrating is that otherwise intelligent people such as yourself KNOW that, at its heart, this bill is about making it harder for Democrats to vote, but you sit here and pretend its all about voter fraud and integrity, etc., etc.

      • Doxy says:

        You need to do your homework on the cost issue. It is going to cost millions–I’ve seen estimates of up to $25 million–to implement. Unless, of course, the Republicans trim cost by cutting voting times and limit the number of voting machines, and….

        Oh, wait….that’s EXACTLY what they are going to do!

        Voter ID is a solution in search of a problem that exists only in the fever dreams of conservative Republicans. Our current system has worked quite well, given that there have only been TWO CASES of confirmed voter fraud in NC in the last 10 years.

        Just admit it, Pino–you want to disenfranchise people. Specifically, you want to disenfranchise poor people, black people, women, and students who might vote for Democrats. Because–absent any proof of ANY significant voter fraud (which you cannot produce, because it doesn’t exist)–there is no other reason to do this.

        You applaud my honesty? I’d love to get the same from you…..

  4. pino says:

    For you to categorically state that it is basically cost-less to get an ID shows that you have no idea.

    I DO have an idea. It’s 14 bucks. I’ve checked. $14 today is as next to cost-less as it gets. Seriously.

    If someone is so poor that they are unable to afford ID, certainly they are receiving state aid in some form or other, yes? How are they cashing that check? Or using that credit card? There is no reasonable explanation for not having an ID.

    What is ultimately so frustrating is that otherwise intelligent people such as yourself KNOW that, at its heart, this bill is about making it harder for Democrats to vote, but you sit here and pretend its all about voter fraud and integrity, etc., etc.

    Okay okay, look at it this way. In the same way you feel frustrated that someone with intellectual capacity can’t admit that it’s about restricting democrats from voting, how can you, with equal levels of intellect, ignore that people who would commit voter fraud preventable by voter ID, would vote democrat?

    Have you seen recent data on party support among illegal aliens?

    • Doxy says:

      Pino–there were months when I had a grand total of $20 for the last week of the month to EAT. There wouldn’t have been $14 dollars for an ID unless I was going to starve.

      You don’t even address the time it takes to get an “acceptable” ID, or the transportation one must have to get one. You clearly know jack about being poor.

  5. pino says:

    You need to do your homework on the cost issue. It is going to cost millions–I’ve seen estimates of up to $25 million–to implement.

    It’s 14 dollars.

    Voter ID is a solution in search of a problem that exists only in the fever dreams of conservative Republicans.

    Oh, wait a second…..I agree with you. The priority that the republicans are putting on this is disproportionate. There is little data that suggests voter fraud is a problem – if ANY data even exits. However, it is EQUALLY true that obtaining an ID is not a restrictive requirement. There is no unreasonable barrier to entry to obtaining an ID.

    So, you think that it’s unreasonable that republicans require an ID. I think it’s unreasonable that democrats think it’s hard to get one.

    And frankly, when one party is in control, they vote legislation that they prioritize. And that is neither surprising or controversial.

    My advice? Move on, there is nothing to see here.

  6. Gabriel says:

    Nor does everyone have the ability to get ID or get it easily, no matter the cost. It is often especially hard on the elderly who may never have had a birth certificate and may not be able to afford $14. Or had their certificate lost when the small town they were born in had a flood, or fire, or just simply lost the paperwork. Or shorter voting periods and times for those people working two jobs and can’t get time off from either, no matter what the election laws may say because the government no longer enforces any labor laws.

    $14 may represent 14 meals for some people. Especially the elderly or the young, both of which may be working minimum wage jobs. That might represent a half days work after deductions.

    Nothing to see here? Certainly not any empathy or compassion. Or the simple concern that politicians are fixing the system for one side.

    But keep knocking down those straw men. They sure do go down easy. I guess it’s easier then actually addressing the issues.

    • pino says:

      Nor does everyone have the ability to get ID or get it easily, no matter the cost.

      It’s a one time effort. And let’s not forget, in order to vote, you need to have registered. And in order to do THAT you need documentation; granted – a utility bill suffices, but the process needs to be followed in any event.

      So, not only is the effort required to obtain ID a very low threshold, but it becomes lower when compared with the Delta of having to register.

      It is often especially hard on the elderly who may never have had a birth certificate and may not be able to afford $14

      You don’t need a birth certificate. That is but one of 12 documents that meet the eligibility requirements.

      $14 is a negligible amount to obtain ID. There is no argument that can be made that the cost is a significant barrier to entry.

      Or shorter voting periods and times for those people working two jobs and can’t get time off from either,

      A titch off topic, but here I agree with you.

      I don’t know why we have early voting, then a period of no voting, then a regulated time of normal voting. It would seem that we should just open voting from the beginning of early voting all the way through the traditional election day. And this first Tuesday thing? Why that? Why not a weekend when more people can go?

      Anyway, I agree with you.

      $14 may represent 14 meals for some people. Especially the elderly or the young, both of which may be working minimum wage jobs. That might represent a half days work after deductions.

      You would have a very difficult time demonstrating that there is anyone eating 14 meals on 14 bucks. While the elderly and the young are typical the ones who work minimum wage jobs, unless they are working less than 40 hours a week*, $14 after deductions would be hard to demonstrate as well.

      But keep knocking down those straw men. They sure do go down easy. I guess it’s easier then actually addressing the issues.

      I’m not sure you know what “straw man” means. But in this case, cost and accessibility are directly germane to the point. That IS what we are talking about.

      * I will stipulate that Obamacare is abolishing the 40 hour week for the very folks who need it the most.

  7. rgt7670 says:

    Democracy NC has a nice break down of statewide percentages of registered voters without photo ID, and county-by-county data.

    Click to access EarlyVoteSDRID.pdf

    During the Senate committee meeting in which they discussed the bill Tuesday afternoon, Senator Josh Stein cited data from the State Board of Elections to challenge the bill’s sponsors what justification they had for the bill; Senator Rucho, with Senator Apodaca backing him up, repeatedly used ambiguous terms like “we feel” and “we believe” to explain their reasoning in the bill. Such non-specific justification is a failure of public policy.

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