Tuesday, November 06, 2012

my brush with election intimidation!

As you might guess if you read this blog, I love to vote.

This morning I looked up what time the polls open in NYC and skedaddled across the street bright and early to cast my ballot.

There's construction at the school where I've voted for years so it was a new entrance. But, they had signs up and I found my way through the twists and turns to the gym. There was a table staffed by a serious looking lady with a voting roster.

I told her my name.

"ID please," she said.

Well, no. You do NOT need ID to vote in the great State of New York.  You never have and you don't today.

I mentioned this.  I was rebuffed. And rebuffed again by the uniformed member of New York's finest sitting next to her.

I have ID of course. And I did show it. But I asked if they had the statute there in writing cause I knew I wasn't going to be the last to question this. No they did not.

I had a lovely conversation with the NYPD officer.  He's one of the things I love about this city: he's from somewhere other than the US, came here, became a citizen and he votes.

I mentioned that this was election intimidation and he was probably going to hear more about it in the day to come.  And bless his heart, he checked with the election supervisor and sure enough, I was right.

I'm not sure why the first woman at the door thought she should ask for ID. Maybe it's cause we're so used to doing it these days.

But, you do NOT need ID to vote unless your name is not in the poll book or someone challenges you there at the poll site.  If that happens, you have the election supervisor come to you and you vote in a different way. BUT you get to vote.

Don't let anyone make you think you can't vote today if you want to.  And I hope you do want to.


ProfeJMarie (Janet Rundquist) said...

This is one of the Amendment issues on the MN ballot this year (that and adding an Amendment that defines marriage as one man-one woman). MN currently does not require ID, either.

I'm more nervous about these amendments passing in our state than I am about the presidential election.

Good for you for pressing the issue and re-educating the polling reps.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

We show ID's in CT, have for years. I don't get where this is an issue. Anyone could show up, use my name, my address and vote so I don't mind proving who I am...probably because the picture on my license is so lovely.
Why is showing an ID intimidation?
Not making a big deal, just asking.

Eric Steinberg said...

We're in Ohio and voted (and have a lawn sign)...hopefully our swing state will swing the right away.

steeleweed said...

@WW: In case you haven't been paying attention, there were - last I checked - 87 cases of voter fraud nationwide last year, hardly enough to impact an election to dogcatcher. The Rightwing has used this non-problem as justification for instituting changes to voting laws and procedures. These changes are really designed to make voting more difficult for those more likely to vote Democratic - students, elderly, minorities, effectively disenfranchising them.

Brenda Buchanan said...

Thanks for posting this, Janet, and for speaking up at the polls (and persisting!) to make sure the poll clerk and the police officer both were set straight about the applicable law.

There are plenty of folks who are eligible to vote who don't carry photo ID. They tend to be young (perhaps students who haven't bothered to get a driver's license) or old (my 91 year old mother, for example).

The notion of requiring ID to vote may sound sensible and inoffensive on the surface, but numerous studies have shown there is no need for it. People almost never stroll into the polls and give someone else's name. But requiring people to show ID intimidates some and slows the voting process for all, both of which supress the vote.

Standback said...

@Wry Writer: The issue is that not everybody has photo ID handily accessible. For example, the poor and the elderly might well not have a current driver's license. See e.g. this snippet on voter suppression from Wikipedia. Here's a more thorough discussion I've found.

(I'm not a practicing American, so I don't know precisely what forms of ID are commonly used there. But you can assume that any form of ID that a person can get through six months without, is a form of ID that a substantial number of eligible voters will not have.)

Jane Lebak said...

I never really understood why in NH we didn't show ID at the poll. Moreover, they would just open the registration book in front of you and say, "What's your name?"

I could have voted twenty times a day if I'd felt like it. "Yeah I'm....uh...Jane Doe." Then they'd ask for an address to verify, and of course the address was right there next to the name, so if you could read upside-down, you'd just say "1234 567th Avenue, apartment 98," and they'd hand you your ballot.

Brenda, if there were a statewide rule to carry ID in order to vote, people who don't ordinarily carry ID would still know in advance to bring some form of ID to the polls because this legislation wouldn't have been passed in secret. It would doubtless be mentioned whenever people registered to vote, when they were reminded to vote, on the radio, in the newspaper, etc.

I agree it's intimidation if there's no such regulation and some polling person has taken it on herself to start asking, but the regulation in and of itself wouldn't constitute voter intimidation.

Anonymous said...

I voted - bright and early. No confusion like that at our polling place, but I had my ID - just in case.

Natalie Zaman said...

I voted on Sunday via paper ballot at our County Clerk's office (they had three extra days for voting b/c of Sandy and power outages). They didn't ask us for ID--although they did check signatures when I signed in. But it's the same in NJ--you do not have to present an ID or a sample ballot or anything to vote!

Matthew MacNish said...

Amen, Ms. Reid.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I have always believed that someone who accuses others of impropriety is usually the one acting improper. (They see others as they see themselves).

Having said that… if the ones trying to pass laws requiring photo ID’s to vote, state it is necessary because they believe in widespread voter fraud, they may be the one’s committing it, via, voter intimidation? I think that’s what is being said. Correct me if I'm wrong.

This country has become such a strange accusatory place and our do nothing legislature so un-serving of its constituents. I was at the polls when they opened at 6am. I feel good that I participated but like a lot of people I’m scared. As an independent I’m hoping that the teabagers go back in their boxes and take their coat-hangers with them.
I hope whoever wins realizes that punching the time clock starts once the election is decided. Considering the new-normal who knows when that will be.

JennaQuentin said...

I voted from the other side of the Atlantic with an absentee ballot...usually, I vote in the neighbors' garage. They know who I am there, so no ID need. Just gotta say I'm the kid from the house down the street all grow'd up ;)

Unknown said...

I bet that woman wanted to retract her request after she saw the great white on your photo ID.

Way to stand up for yourself and the rest of us who forgot our wallets at home!

Chris said...

Janet, I'd ask you to take a minute to call 866-OUR-VOTE and report your experience. The election protection folks are not only responding to problems, but trying to keep counts of issues at the polls, and voter ID is likely to be one of the biggest obstacles this year. Even though the folks at your polls eventually worked it out, please call and let them know about what you encountered!

Kristin Laughtin said...

Seconding what Chris said.

As for everyone else, whether you agree with the ID policy or not, the point is that in many places, ID is still not required, and poll workers shouldn't ask for one.

Thanks for standing up to them, Janet. Hope you set them straight and they won't just go back to asking for IDs after.

Anonymous said...

To vote for the person or person who will lead your country is a huge privilege. Women have fought for it, died for it. And how many throw their opportunity to vote away? It's wonderful to see your enthusiasm.

Tara Parker said...

I went to vote this morning and offered my ID immediately. The polling official told me, much to my astonishment, that it was not required.

The list of voters, along with their addresses was sitting less than 6 inches from me - wide open.

I could have said I was anyone. When I gave her my name, SHE repeated my address back to ME.

I can't imagine why - when voting is such a sacred privilege - every American would not be required to prove who they are in order to exercise that privilege.

(I've always presented my ID when voting in the past and was never told it was not required, just FYI. Honestly didn't realize it isn't.)

Unknown said...

They actually scan our DL in Texas to pull us up in their system.

Elissa M said...

I just voted. They don't ask for ID here, but I did have to sign next to my name in the book.

I definitely can see both sides of the ID argument. Because I grew up in the military and am a military spouse, I'm used to providing ID for everything. I don't mind proving I am who I say I am.


Unless it's required by law, no one should be asked to provide ID to vote. Poll workers should know the laws applicable to their districts and not operate on what they think is the law.

Robin Ruinsky said...

Voting is not a privilege. It is a RIGHT. And there is no evidence of any kind of widespread voter fraud where someone tries to vote as someone else.
The push for voter ID is designed to keep people from voting. Many people don't have the ID and to get it will cost them time and money they can't afford.
It's called a poll tax.

Tara Parker said...

@Robin Ruinsky - With kind regards, I disagree.

How would someone without a photo ID get prescriptions, write checks, fly on planes, travel on trains, get a library card, or buy cigarettes and/or alcohol?

None of these things fall under this poll tax you speak of.

I can't imagine anyone in this country today not having a valid photo ID.

Robin Ruinsky said...

Plenty of people don't have a photo id. I get prescription and never have shown an id.
If you tell an elderly woman she has to get a birth certificate with a raised seal as was the case in PA. That costs money. Or you put someone in the position to have to lose a day of work chasing down an id, it's a poll tax.
You should begin imagining past your own narrow experience.
Many inner city people don't drive, have no driver's license.
And in addition Veterans id's weren't accepted, but gun licenses were.
Bottom line is there is NO evidence of any significant in person voter fraud in the US.
However, the Republican Party did hire people who registered voters and threw away registrations from Democrats. That is documented and an arrest was made a month ago in Florida.

Janet Reid said...

Tara, what Robin said is true here for large cities. I don't drive, I don't buy cigs, and if anyone asked for my ID to prove I'm over 21 I'd ask to have their eyes examined. I haven't written a check requiring ID for years.

There are lots of folks on the margins of society. I live near a lot of them.

Lisa Shafer said...

In Utah you must show ID to vote early. I believe this is wise, as you are allowed to vote early anywhere in your own county, and by finding your address, the volunteers and get you the info for the correct district -- even if you're not currently in that district when you vote.

Tara Parker said...

Thanks, Janet. I do understand that large cities might work a little differently.

Found this article this morning:


Voter fraud does exist. I guess I'm one of the few that thinks even one time is too many.

Appreciate the discussion - take care.

Michael Seese said...

This post speaks to a broader trend in America of simply complying with authority, without question. I can't tell you how many times while, in the process of registering for some service, I was asked for my Social Security number. I always say "no."

Admittedly, it's tapered off in recent years. But the last time I renewed my driver's license, the woman at the BMV asked for my SSN, to put ON the license. When I refused, she actually said, "Well, if a police officer stops you, you're going to have to produce your Social Security card."

I replied, "Unless he's cutting me a Social Security check, no I won't."

MAGolla said...

In OK, you used to be able to vote w/o an ID. Last year, they passed an ordinance that you have to show proof of a government-issued ID or voter's card.

The reason--a few year's ago quite a number of dead people showed up on various petitions going around the city. . . and no, it wasn't a zombie apocolypse, just unscrupulous polititians.