When I was 17, there was a presidential election. It was 1996. I couldn’t vote. Some of my classmates were already 18 and voted in that election. I was a little bit jealous. So, when I turned 21, I made sure to register to vote for the next election. I anticipated a big ordeal at the local courthouse. Instead, I went in, told them I wanted to register to vote, and they asked me my name and address. Then, they gave me a little card or something (I don’t fully remember) and I was good to go. Did you notice anything missing from that story? THEY DID NOT ASK ME FOR ANY IDENTIFICATION. I didn’t have to prove either my name or my address. I was also not asked for any identification when I got my marriage license, but that’s probably a story for another time. The point here is that I probably could have come back the very next day with a different hat on or something, and registered all over again under another name and address. It was a little bit disturbing to me, but I was just glad to be able to vote.
So, anyway, the libertarian in me is a little bit torn over voter identification laws. I generally don’t approve of new laws. They usually do not accomplish what they set out to and end up having negative side effects. Take this woman for example. She has to stand in line at the DMV to get a picture identification. But, the line was too long…and she is too old to stand that long so…too bad. I’ve always wondered why more state government offices don’t do the “take a number” thing instead of the standing in line thing. I’ve lived in several states and had to get new identification a number of times. Some state government offices make a single file line approach (like at a bank), and some have you take a number and sit down and wait for your number to be called. The second approach is much more accommodating for anyone with a disability or ailment. If we are going to adopt laws that require people to come in to get identification to vote, we should make the registration places as accommodating as possible for anyone who might enter.
While we’re on the topic of voting laws, I might as well address the real issue here. Any voter identification law is supposedly intended to bolster the integrity of the election by making sure that nobody is able to vote more than once or to vote in someone’s place. In most locations, there are a lot of pains taken to ensure this (unlike when I first registered to vote). But, all of that is thrown out the window when we trust a machine with the voting process. If anyone is concerned at all about the electronic voting machines, you should be. It is fairly easy for someone to hack one of these things. If you don’t believe me, you should watch any number of videos available on youtube about how easy it would be to cheat on one of these machines. And while the common citizen has to jump through hoops to register to vote, we have almost no accountability in place concerning what happens to the votes after we cast them.
A good start on this topic is a documentary called Hacking Democracy. I watched it several years ago when I checked it out from my local library. It is available on Netflix, but only on the DVD plan. I think you can watch the whole thing on youtube, though.