The election’s been over for just over a week, and we’re already getting the claims that “if only there’d been VoterID laws, the result might have been different”. The latest is the Co-Chair of the Wisconsin Romney campaign, Alberta Darling, who claims things might have been different, if one judge hadn’t struck it down (and the supreme court hadn’t ignored the appeal)
It’s become a contentious issue, and one that is accord with the methods to disenfranchise voters in the US, often going hand in hand with election machines (and their uncertainty), the restricting of monitoring ,and curtailment of voting hours.
|Copyright Mother Jones|
Thus it’s become the new cry in the US, especially this past week, to cry about ‘voter fraud’ and ‘stuffed ballot boxes’. In Wisconsin, state Sen. Alberta Darling (R) said the results might have been different (and since there was a 200,000 vote margin, that’s some serious fraud).
Meanwhile, down in Florida, Tea Party darling, Alan West is fighting on a recount to keep his congressional seat. Since it first emerged he might lose, a week ago, he’s been relentless about claims that there are vote-rigging activities on-going to ensure he loses. In the past week there’s been no less than two emails sent out by the Breitbart blog soliciting donations for his ‘fight’ (and being somewhat ‘free’ with the truth as they do so, not that those they’re targeting are that good at facts and figures).
VOTER ID they all scream. ‘We need voter ID!’ There’s just one problem. Having an ID is not mandatory in the US. It’s not mandatory in the UK either, or many other countries for that matter. If you live in one of those countries where ID is mandatory, this probably isn’t for you. If you live in a voluntary ID nation, though, read on, because there’s an easy solution to weed out in-person voter fraud, and doesn’t require IDs. Intrigued? Read on
First, a simple test, do you WANT to show ID? If you do, fine, go ahead and do so, if you have no problems doing so, then knock yourself out. I have no problems with people voluntarily doing so. My problem is with people being denied the ability to vote because they don’t have ID.
|Copyright Mother Jones|
My thoughts worked on the problem backwards. People that don’t have ID can’t vote, because they can’t prove their identity. The reasoning is that without being able to biometrically prove yourself, you could be posing as someone to cast their vote. So, if the problem is people voting multiple times (In-person, voterID fraud, or IPVF), then the easy solution is to attack the problem. If people “voting multiple times” is a problem, then you need to identify the people voting multiple times.
So, the solution would be to use a photo system. It’s actually rather similar to the mug-shot system used by police forces. If you don’t have ‘photo ID’, then what identification you DO have is collected, and noted, and a voter ID number (at very least, the Social security number, or similar) is issued. You then have a digital photo taken with the voter ID number in shot.
Now you have a positive visual identification of the person wishing to cast a vote. What happens now is an ideal situation, but potentially possible. The state election system could run facial recognition against these VoterID photos, to look for similar faces. Any that look the same to the computer, are brought up for the poll worker to compare. If they pass, then they’re issued a ballot. Simple.
The real benefit comes in following years. Then there may be previous year’s photos to compare as well. Makes it easier to be sure the same person is voting each time.
While it’s in some ways an impractical solution (the US has problems with a simple touchscreen voting machine working properly, let alone photo databases and facial recognition), as well as a slow one (although doing the photo first, and giving it processing time while info is collected might help) it is a way to ensure people can vote, even without ID.
I don’t necessarily condone this system, mind you. IPVF is typically a very small problem when it comes to electoral irregularities. Instead, I present this system as a method to deal with the alleged problem in a way that deals with the claims, working from the starting point of ‘everyone should be able to vote’. I realise there are problems of identity privacy, where there is now a photo with an ID number (essentially a mug-shot) in government hands. However, my criteria was allowing people who do not have photoID (either because they’re unable, or unwilling to get one) to vote while reducing IPVF. One thing that could be done, is that the information provided in this manner, is considered legally privileged material, with a VERY high bar for judicial disclosure.
Of course, this is only one issue that’s been brought up about election irregularities. Others include weird voting machine, and of course, ballot box stuffing. But there are ways to deal with that, which I’ll share another time. And with all this going on, aren't you glad that Iowa and Texas threatened international observers, because there are clearly NO problems with the 2 party system we have right now... Right?