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[flagged] Is America a democracy? If so, why does it deny millions the vote? (theguardian.com)
32 points by aramanto 5 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 54 comments

It seems like Canada (for Federal elections at least) and most European countries have voter ID laws [0]. Notably, the UK does not; they scrapped government issued ID cards altogether in 2011([1]). I'm not sure why requiring ID to vote is so controversial in the US.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_Identification_laws

[1] https://www.gov.uk/identitycards

It's a vote suppression tactic when the IDs aren't trivially easy to obtain. A county in Wisconsin only issued them from a DMV that was only open on the fifth Wednesday of every month[1].

>That DMV service center is inside the Sauk City Community Center. And, sure enough, as Oliver’s piece stated, it’s open only on the fifth Wednesday of every month, from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m.

> The DMV doesn’t list the actual dates, so we looked them up. The four fifth Wednesdays in 2016 are in, as Oliver noted, March, June, August and November.

[1] https://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2016/feb/19/...

"A county in Wisconsin only issued them from a DMV that was only open on the fifth Wednesday of every month[1]"

That's a flat lie, as the article itself makes clear. That particular DMV desk (not office) is just the nearest to that one small town (not county), and residents there can go to any other DMV in the state as well.

Meanwhile, you need an ID anyway to have a bank account, enter a Federal building or state courthouse (even if summoned to jury duty), etc.

Partisans are so desperate to push this narrative, truth goes by the wayside.

An id by mail should suffice, after all you have to live at that address to get the mail.

If you're homeless you should be able to give a thumbprint to validate your identity.

I mean we could technically just have a DB of thumbprints, that are ONLY tied to the fact that you are a citizen of x town. No name, address, etc.. So there's no way the db could be used against you by the NSA or FBI etc... But no matter what you can get a ballot even if you forget your id at home.

Or make it so same-day registration and id registration at voting places is a thing and make early voting standard so you have from October 1st through the 2nd Tuesday of November to vote. You can register at ANY voting booth, if you do not have ID your ID will be setup there as well for FREE.

Opening a bank account and entering the courthouse are not constitutionally protected rights.

The US abolished poll taxes in 1964. Since then, any action that places a financial burden on a potential voter is likely unconstitutional.

At the end of the day, the latest batch of ID requirements are a solution in search of a problem. Voter fraud at the polling station is rare in the US - existing protections work well enough that any contrary example is usually national news.

So let's change the rules to make them more easily attainable, instead of throwing out the idea of something that we desperately need in this country.

Can you explain why the current system, under which voter fraud is astonishingly rare, is something we desperately need to change?

Astonishingly rare doesn't seem to be the case[1] There are examples all over the place, ignoring them doesn't make them any less real..

[1] https://duckduckgo.com/?q=voter+fraud&t=ffab&ia=news&iar=new...

A random web search is cool, but how about a scholarly article on the topic? http://www.projectvote.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/03/Politi...

> Most voter fraud allegations turn out to be something other than fraud. A review of news stories over a recent two year period found that reports of voter fraud were most often limited to local races and individual acts and fell into three categories: unsubstantiated or false claims by the loser of a close race, mischief and administrative or voter error.

Tellingly, the first hit in your search is for an article where the loser of a close race is making unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud.

I'm not sure exactly what you're trying to say here - with your link (https://duckduckgo.com/?q=voter+fraud&t=ffab&ia=news&iar=new...) you seem to be implying that it will prove that there are examples "all over the place."

However, here are the first ten articles when I load that page:

0: Loser of KY governor's race "raises concerns" that there is voter fraud but has not yet submitted concrete proof to anyone (https://www.foxnews.com/politics/kentucky-gov-matt-bevin-rai...)

1: A politician's wife is convicted of actual voting fraud; involving absentee ballots (which notably, voter ID laws don't really address, re: the topic a few replies up): https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/new-mexico/articles/...

2: Another article about item 1: https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/jury-finds...

3: A legal case relating to publicity of voter information, because the plaintiff wants to investigate for voter fraud: https://www.minnpost.com/state-government/2019/11/does-the-m...

4: An article about voter roll irregularities in Florida; the most interesting bits being some incorrect registrations (which do not necessarily indicate "fraud" as we'd commonly call it, though it may be illegal), and a few hundred cases of people who do seem to have cast multiple or irregular ballots (some from an unmentioned time period, and some from recent elections): https://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/fl-ne-palm-vot...

5: A CalTech team analyses a different set of voter data and finds no fraud: https://www.cnet.com/news/new-algorithms-go-fraud-hunting-in...

6: An article in which the convicted politician's wife in article (1) complains that it is a witch hunt: https://www.abqjournal.com/1388391/laura-seeds-alleges-voter...

7: A letter to the editor alleging that according to the Heritage Fund, there is no widespread voter fraud problem: https://www.thegazette.com/subject/opinion/letters-to-the-ed...

8: An article about the convicted politician's wife in (1), this from before the case was decided: https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/jurors-wei...

9: An article about students in North Carolina who will be unable to use their student IDs to vote: https://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2019/11/07/as...

Your link to a news search doesn't support your assertion that there are examples all over the place.

One side says we don't need change. One side says we do. If you can't convince the other side that voter fraud is rare, then a step that prevents it while at the same time not discriminating between voters seems like it might be mutually agreeable.

The side that says we do has repeatedly been found to be making that case in bad faith, with the underlying goal of reducing voter turnout. Do you think it's that important to humor a group whose ultimate goal is mass disenfranchisement?

It's not "rare". Only prosecution is rare, and conviction rates are high.

It's so blatant in CA that almost 20% of counties have more registered voters than people even eligible to vote at all.


Judicial Watch is most undoubtedly fake news: https://www.mediamatters.org/judicial-watch

"Judicial Watch was founded in 1994 by the anti-Clinton conspiracy theorist and prolific litigator Larry Klayman and during the 2016 election, it regularly pushed misinformation about Hillary Clinton. The organization and its president, Tom Fitton, have become shills of President Trump since he took office, and Fitton regularly appears on Fox to defend Trump."

Maybe try using a reputable source next time.

Yes, but let's make sure IDs are easily attainable and that every eligible voter already has one, and then let's make them required to vote. Doing the last step without the prerequisites isn't going to increase democracy, it will only suppress already marginalized groups of voters.

Sure, but those rules should be changed first. When people move to change the voting requirements without taking the steps to make sure everyone has reasonable access to ID, it sure looks like they're hoping for a specific partisan outcome and I have no problem with people assuming bad faith.

They don't need it. You need your voter registration card or some other way to identify yourself (like a piece of mail with your name on it) to vote in your precinct and they take your name off the list once you vote.

Voter ID laws are intended solely to make it harder to vote by requiring a specific ID (driver's license or state issued ID) to vote. They won't accept your passport, a lease, a library card, or any other vetted and validated way of verifying who you are.

This is intended to suppress participation by people who are unlikely to have a current license or state issued ID which is disproportionately people who don't own cars (poor, young, and/or urban) or people who have to move a lot. If your ID isn't your current address or at least within the precinct, once again, you're barred from voting. It's meant to privilege property owners (less likely to have their address change frequently) at their expense of people with less stable residential situations and it undermines the premise behind universal franchise.

France has a similar setup to what you described; however, in towns and cities with >1000 voters, they do require a state-issued identification document specifically because using mail/other forms of id and a large list of names doesn't scale well.

See here: https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F1361

In the US elections are hyper-local, so you can generally only vote in a specific precinct based on where you live. If the list of names is getting really large, that's a sign that you don't have enough precincts/locations for the neighborhood.

That, incidentally, is another voter suppression strategy to make the lines so long that people are forced to choose between being late for work/appointments or getting to vote. And this has a fun additive effect with other voter suppression strategies. If the lines are long because the precincts are too few and under-staffed, you can make the lines EVEN LONGER by making the poll workers review IDs, explain to each person what is and isn't a valid ID, have to explain the provisional ballot process because they don't pass some arbitrary rule, and so on and so forth.

what they need is IF a voter id is required make it so it's super easy to get one and ALL voting precincts have to issue them at time of voting. Also make mandatory early voting where you can vote at a large number of public places from Oct 1st through 2nd tuesday in November which is also a national holiday w/ holiday pay and mandatory time off if requested.

This would make lines a less-issue because you can vote anytime you want.

Or you can vote on Sundays, like most countries.

  You need your voter registration card 
Where? This is never the case in CA.

  or some other way to identify yourself
Meaning... you need ID?

It is required for almost every other conceivable activity that an adult might want to do. However when applied to voting it suddenly becomes some sort of suppression tactic.. Mind boggling

One of those activities (voting) is constitutionally protected.

Only for those legally eligible to vote... which is the whole point.

Except there's never been any indication of widespread voter fraud. Like I said, ID laws a solution in search of a problem.

> However when applied to voting it suddenly becomes some sort of suppression tactic.. Mind boggling

Mind boggling until you read about the ongoing history of voter suppression in the US.

> I'm not sure why requiring ID to vote is so controversial in the US.

Because there is no evidence of a problem that it would solve and because it has consistently been deliberately engineered as a system of disenfranchisement of eligible voters and the people pushing it (even recently) keep getting caught openly touting its benefits in that direction when they think only their political allies are listening, as well as being the same people pushing other techniques designed to disenfranchise the same people they try to use voter ID to disenfranchise. Its kind of a "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, can't get fooled again" situation, to borrow the wise words of former President George W. Bush.

Most people (as far as I know) don't have a direct issue with voter ID laws inherently. The issue comes down to the fact that most implementations have been surgically targeted to affect certain racial groups [0], combined with the fact that widespread voter fraud has not been demonstrated to be a problem.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_ID_laws_in_the_United_St... A North Carolina law was overturned as "its provisions deliberately target African-Americans with almost surgical precision … in an effort to depress black turnout at the polls."

Your wikipedia link for Canada says one option is:

> Take an oath and have an elector who knows the voter vouch for them (both of whom must make a sworn statement). This person must have authorized identification and their name must appear on the list of electors in the same polling division as the voter. This person can only vouch for one person and the person who is vouched for cannot vouch for another elector.

IOW, voter ID is not required in Canada.

Canada's voter identification laws changed for 2015, then reverted for 2019. This was due to change in governments.


Realistically, in the short term the law is going to be "whatever the government wants it to be until the Supreme Court sets a precedent".

Yes, in the last Canadian election you didn't need ID to vote, you just needed someone with an ID to vouch for you.

Australia does not require voter id, has compulsory voting, paper ballots, postal voting, weekend voting, very low levels of voter fraud.. and right wing parties still win elections.

The republicans shouldn't be so worried.

You left out early voting, where you can vote for several weeks before the actual election date. <grin>

It's not that voter ID is controversial, it's that the Republicans make it really difficult to get ID in their states.

Canada makes it easy to get ID, we don't de-fund our government offices to make it difficult to get registered. You can renew your driver's license online now, so we invest in programs to make it easier to get and keep your ID.

If that's the case, then folks should be focused on making it easier to get state ID and widen the class of IDs that can be used (state ID/voter ID card/passport/driver's license).

From this page though, it seems like people actually do think voter ID itself is controversial: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_ID_laws_in_the_United_St...

There was even a Supreme Court case in the US about whether it was constitutional for a state to implement one: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-court-election/u-s-to...

Ok there’s Voter ID, as in a special card that you must get in order to vote, and voter ID, which is just a collection of various forms of identification that the government respects for the purposes of voting.

I was referring to the latter - you’re allowed to show up to vote in Canada with your passport, for example.

> If that's the case, then folks should be focused on making it easier to get state ID and widen the class of IDs that can be used (state ID/voter ID card/passport/driver's license).

Yes, exactly. And that should be done before we require those IDs in order to vote.

It’s controversial because one party favors strong voter ID laws which means in the American system the other party must oppose it. A more concrete answer is that the party that favors less restrictions on voting, believes that everyone under the governed regardless of disposition, nationality, age, etc. should have the right to vote. The other party believes that the law says you must be 18 and a citizen to vote in federal elections, and that’s how it should be, and if the law says that then there must be someway to verify that.

That other party has a long history or preventing "the wrong people" from voting by any means available: murder, intimidation, "literacy tests," gerrymandering districts, and making requirements that are very difficult for the "wrong people" to obtain. The level of hysteria over election fraud is wildly disproportional to the number of documented cases of said fraud.

We really ought to bring back literacy tests. They should just be applied to all voters.. Even better, you can't vote unless you can pass a US Citizenship Exam. Then we could open the voting up to all citizens regardless of age, too. Win, win, win.

How easy is it to detect cases of fraud when no one is required to supply identification?

A Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, "Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, "A republic, if you can keep it."

In the context of the classics (which Franklin would have been steeped in), a Republic is a form of government where citizens vote for qualified representatives to represent their interests and a Democracy is when you pick citizens by drawing lots to decide on who holds positions.

So the "we're a republic, not a democracy" line from people who want to argue for not letting people vote makes absolutely no sense.

What classical government had the right to vote for a representative? Rome? No. Only the elites could vote. Athens? Same story.

The old distinction between a republic and a democracy was elected representatives passing laws versus the citizens voting directly on laws themselves.

The U.S. is of course, a hybrid and has some republican elements and some democratic elements, but in the classical sense, at the Federal level, it is more of a republic than a democracy.

>What classical government had the right to vote for a representative? Rome? No. Only the elites could vote. Athens? Same story.

Citizens voted. The question is who gets to be a citizen, but once you are acknowledged as a member of the citizenry then you were entitled to have a say in the governance.

>The old distinction between a republic and a democracy was elected representatives passing laws versus the citizens voting directly on laws themselves.

This is straight up wrong. Read any of the classics from Aristotle's Constitution of Athens to Plato's Republic. Republicanism is representation of the popular will by a gentry or elite and democracy is literally rule by the people through drawing of lots.

It's just so transparent when people make these tenuous arguments to justify disenfranchizing people who will be impacted by laws from having a say in those laws. This is the last refuge of people who want to enable tyranny and oppression.

quite the contrary. I would argue that clarity on this issue is missing in most civics lessons based on nonsensical grumbling I hear from people in most demonstrations recently. I don't have data to support my argument, but I get the sense that a lot of people expect they should have direct voting capabilities on issues and are frustrated that they don't.

No, it's a republic.

Is it a fruit? No, it's a banana.

Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable? Is probably a more accurate metaphor

Constitutional Republic, so no, we are not a democracy, and furthermore the men who founded this nation and established the government thereof rather despised democracy as tyranny of the ignorant masses.

> Constitutional Republic, so no, we are not a democracy

"Constitutional Republic" and democracy are orthogonal rather than mutually exclusive descriptions. All "Constitutional Republic" means is that it isn't a monarchy and that it has some fundamental governing law. Being a (direct or indirect/representative) democracy is perfectly compatible with that. The foundational concept of government by consent of the governed and of government--as it would be elegantly described somewhat later--"of the people, by the people, and for the people" embraced by the founders is exactly that of representative democracy. The actual specific form written into the Constitution both clearly intends something very much like representative democracy while not quite being one.

> and furthermore the men who founded this nation and established the government thereof rather despised democracy as tyranny of the ignorant masses.

They despised both direct and unconstrained democracy, but while the pragmatic compromise of the Constitution clearly fell short of this, many of them certainly embraced in principle limited government by consent of the masses expressed through a combination of equal suffrage in approval of a basic law and equal suffrage in electing representatives to the government under that law, or, in the language of modern political science, Constitutionally-limited representative democracy.

Why has this post been flagged?

This is an important issue, if it’s contentious then who is contending it? Am I missing something?

From the article: "Rather than being ranked with other major western democracies, the US falls lower down the list alongside countries like Kosovo and Romania."


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