(March 25, 2015) RALEIGH — Monday’s US Supreme Court decision to NOT review Wisconsin’s voter ID law is a healthy sign that the issue is settled and that the federal courts reviewing both NC’s and Texas’ voter ID laws will not ignore the precedence set by that decision.
That’s the good news, but the devil is still in the details. While the Wisconsin statute has many similarities to NC’s, it’s not a carbon copy; so we expect the lawfare experts to find a small molehill of a difference and blow it into a mountain-sized lawsuit.
One of the most glaring differences between both state’s election reforms involves the handling of college ID cards.
Wisconsin now allows them, but only if the ID card “contains the date of issuance and signature of the individual to whom it is issued and that contains an expiration date indicating that the card expires no later than 2 years after the date of issuance if the individual establishes that he or she is enrolled as a student at the university or college on the date that the card is presented.” (Section 1. 5.02 (6m)
North Carolina wisely opted not to allow the use of such cards, even with those additional details. When NC election law was being created, VIP openly opposed the use of any ID card NOT created by the Division of Motor Vehicles, with exceptions for military ID cards and passports (both with proof of local residency). Our reasons for our absolutist position involved issues of standardization, production control and fraud detection. . .but we’ll save that discussion for later.
Another major example of the differences between the two states’ voter ID laws involves a gaping fraud-friendly loophole in NC law: Absentee voting.
We’ve never understood why, but our state lawmakers decided to pass on requiring proof of identity from people voting by absentee ballot. VIP had suggested a requirement that a photocopy of the voter’s ID card be included in the application, but it was a bridge too far. No doubt, such a provision would have triggered, yet another reason for the usual suspects to sue the Legislature, but we still think it is a reasonable stipulation.
Apparently, Wisconsin’s lawmakers and the SCOTUS both agreed, since their law included just such a requirement! In light of Monday’s affirmation of that provision, we hope it will trigger lawmakers all across the nation to raise their states’ election integrity standards to this new minimum level of security.
Absentee voting has always been a mixed blessing for the political parties, so they’ve tended to leave it alone.
In NC, Republicans included absentee ballot solicitation (which is legal) in their past campaigns’ Get Out The Vote efforts and had a slight advantage in that area. This statistic prompted Democratic and “progressive” critics to accuse the GOP of leaving that exception in the law as a means of facilitating Republican vote fraud.
Our election integrity concerns are less partisan.
In fact, Florida has experienced so many absentee ballot problems that the police union (PBA) from Miami-Dade offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to arrests and convictions for vote fraud.
After the election, the Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle impaneled the 21-member grand jury to investigate matters relating to two ballot brokers who were caught with “at least a dozen” absentee ballots. Hauling completed absentee ballots is highly restricted under Florida (and North Carolina) election laws because that method was widely believed to be the way vote buyers were getting paid by campaign political consultants (which is also illegal under NC law).
“Of the three methods of voting, the one that has always been the most vulnerable, the one where we know fraud has occurred historically … is in the absentee-ballot process,” Fernández Rundle told The Miami Herald, “[because it] happens in the shadows. It happens in the dark. It’s the least monitored.” (The other two methods involve voting in-person, either at “one-stop” centers or on Election Day at the precincts.)
While we disagree with allowing student ID cards (as Wisconsin does), we agree that requiring proof of a voter’s identity (even if it’s just a photocopy of a driver license) is better than current NC law. Since such proof was affirmed by the Wisconsin-SCOTUS ruling, North Carolina lawmakers should waste no time raising our standards to that new minimum.
The bottom line is that nothing will ever stop all vote fraud from happening, but laws can (and should) be enacted to make fraud either more difficult to commit or more easy to detect. The SCOTUS supported Wisconsin’s modest laws and we have every reason to believe they will support North Carolina’s too.
Spearheading that effort was Sgt. Steadman Stahl, the Executive Vice President for the Miami-Dade PBA.