Vote-fraud prevention, Mexico City style

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From the Wall Street Journal:

[Mexico City] was voting to fill six seats, including that of the president and the mayor. Voters presented identification cards and were handed six large ballots, one for each open office. The names of candidates were also color-coded to assist the illiterate. Voting booths were small, waist-high writing tables enclosed by hanging plastic sheets printed with the reassuring words, "The vote is free and secret." Voters emerged from the booths, folded the ballots and slid each one into the box corresponding to the contested seat. To complete the process, thumbs were marked with indelible ink and ID cards were returned. Observers from each party monitored the flow.

In Oklahoma, parties are not allowed to have observers at polling places, ID cards are not required, and no effort is made to mark voters to prevent them from voting at multiple locations. These simple steps would be inexpensive and unobtrusive and would not present an obstacle to any voter. While they wouldn't eliminate the potential for intentional voter fraud and unintentional voter irregularities -- aspects of the registration process would still need to be addressed -- they would make a positive difference.


Matt said:

Positive difference? Really? When was the last voter fraud controversy in Oklahoma that was anything more than grandstanding? Mexico, a relatively poor country, spent millions upon millions for its secure voter ID cards because electoral fraud has been an important part of that country's history. Not so in Oklahoma.

The major impetus behind voter ID cards seems to be making sure that "they," some nebulous group of undesirables, do not get to vote. In Mexico, it's voting multiple times; in the US, it's non-citizens. Except this time, in Mexico, it also seems to have been expatriates: to get the new ID card, Mexicans living abroad had to physically return to their hometowns and get it, leading to about 15,000 requests for absentee ballots, even though 87% of the 10,000,000 Mexican citizens living in the US told Pew Research that they wanted to vote by absentee ballot if they could.

Mexico's own elections page reveals the other problem, even if ID cards are free:

  • There are 71,351,585 citizens registered to vote with a valid voting ID-card.
  • 94.5% of all Mexican citizens who are eligible to vote are registered.
  • 91.9% have a voter ID-card.

If 71,351,858 registered voters are 94.5% of all those eligible, then the 2.6% who no longer or never had an ID card amounts to nearly two million registered, eligible voters who would not be allowed to cast ballots because they lost their voter ID card and didn't or couldn't get it replaced.

And this for an election that was officially decided by 244,000 votes.

All this huff about requiring voter ID cards out of fear that "they" might be voting (or voting multiple times) boils down to a simple matter of philosophy: either you view voting as a right guaranteed to all, or as a privilege granted to those who are approved and can keep their papers in order. In the United States, we've repeatedly affirmed the belief that voting is a right granted to all citizens, and our history has shown that attempts to "verify" or "confirm" voters have regularly been used as obstacles to disenfranchise voters whom the powers-that-be don't want voting - like, in this case, Mexican expatriates who might have cast 700,000 or more votes for the candidate who lost by 244,000 votes.

Ballots aren't even secret in Oklahoma when challenged - every voter signs his or her name in a register and gets a numbered ballot. If a political party - which has every right to challenge an election - challenges a voter and wins, then that voter's ballot gets pulled. The closest thing I know of to a voter scandal in Oklahoma were early allegations that 2004 vote counting was rigged against John Kerry - but that later turned out to be that the Tulsa World (your favorite) had published not the 2004 Presidential numbers, but the 2002 cockfighting initiative numbers instead.

However, Oklahoma does have a history of "literacy tests" and "poll taxes" designed to keep poor or black people (or both) away from the polls, as if illiterate people can't discuss the issues - similar to the current drive to make sure complex initiatives are only printed in English, as if citizens speaking other languages can't discuss the issues in their own language and correctly vote "yes" or "no" if they want.

With Mexico's own agency admitting that two million registered and eligible voters would not be allowed to vote because they lost a little card, and absolutely no evidence that there's any kind of massive double-voting or fraudulent voting in Oklahoma (or the United States), it mystifies me why anyone would want to spend the millions of dollars necessary to ensure that every eligible, registered voter had an up-to-date photo ID.

Unless it was a deliberate attempt to make sure that the people least likely to keep track of such a card due to chaotic lives wouldn't get to vote, or an excuse to intimidate a group of voters (like, say, Latinos) by starting a whisper campaign that they could be arrested for applying for the ID card if anything for them or their families was not in perfect order (like the fliers in Ohio in 2004 in black communities saying that anyone owing child support or having parking tickets would be arrested at the polls - untrue, but perhaps effective).

Nah, that couldn't be it.

susan said:

On the subject of elections, don't forget former
State Senator Gene Stipe?
It just doesn't seem right he should have his name inside the state of oklahoma capitol dome. Tbe World reporter a while back he still had not paid all of his money to have his name in the dome area.
On top of former State Senator Gene Stipe pleading guilty to perjury and obstructing a Federal Election, guess what else he has been up to in the last couple of years. Gene Stipe started a radio station at Eastern State College
in Wilburton, OK with about $300,000.00 of State
money. The FCC is reviewing the deal. Why should this man that knows better and was convicted in the State of Oklahoma that was a former State Senator abuse ethics laws and get away with it? I guess the FCC will see if he
should benefit financially from this deal. Does
anyone know if Stipe ever paid in full the money
that was due to have his name in the state capitol dome area? Does not seem right that someone convicted of what he was convicted for should even have his name up printed considering
he broke the law and purposedly tried to get away with it.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 5, 2006 6:41 PM.

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