Voter ID Opponents Display Ignorance of Provisional Ballots

In order to support their meme of racist voter suppression, the opponents of voter ID laws are forced to distort the reality of voting into a Kafkaesque fictional scenario where the rights of voters are being trampled by groups like True The Vote. 

A prime example of that came Friday from MSNBC host Touré, who delivered a fact-free rant on voter suppression, voter ID, and racism.

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Rather than falling for the race baiter’s bait and getting into a pointless back and forth about whether voter ID laws are racist or not, let’s take a factual and objective look at the actual law about voting and ID. One of the keys to understanding this issue is learning about a concept that the vote suppression screamers don’t want you to know about: the provisional ballot. This is simple research that anyone with Internet access can do, so don’t just take my word for it. 

The Touré segment starts by showing President Obama in Chicago yesterday being asked for ID while he was casting his ballot in the 2012 presidential election. Touré was aghast and said:

Illinois is one of 24 states where anyone can challenge anyone’s right to vote for any reason and once challenged you need to produce two forms of ID to vote.

This is a lie. It’s dramatic, but it’s a bald-faced lie about the way the system works..

Here’s the truth: in Illinois, if someone challenges your vote and then that challenge is voted on and accepted by a majority of election judges at the polling place, then you may cast a provisional ballot, which gives you two full days after the election to produce two forms of ID, neither of which needs to be a photo ID and only one of which needs to show your name and address.

Not quite as alarmist, is it? Let’s explain what that all means.

Voting is a right, not a privilege. For this reason, great pains are taken in states with voter ID laws to make sure that everyone can cast a ballot -- even if they don’t have ID with them. That’s right; even in states like Illinois that have some requirements for voter ID, you can actually cast a ballot without an ID. One of the safeguards of our democracy is what is called a “provisional ballot.”

A provisional ballot is simply a ballot that’s cast that needs to be ruled on later. Any MSNBC producer could have spent 20 seconds Googling and learned that the Chicago election board website’s makes all of this very plain:

Please note that even if you don't have ID, you may cast a "provisional" ballot.

If a provisional ballot is cast in the correct precinct, voters have two days after the election to deliver documentation and/or ID to show that their registrations were valid in that precinct so that their provisional ballots may be counted. That proof must be delivered to or presented at the Chicago Election Board offices at 69 W. Washington St., Chicago, on the Sixth Floor.

In fact, had President Obama voted on Election Day, he would not have been required to show any ID at all. The only reason he was asked to show ID is it he was doing Early Voting, and the Chicago Election Board website states:

During Early Voting, voters must provide a current and valid government-issued PHOTO ID, such as a current Illinois driver's license, current state identification card issued by the Illinois Secretary of State or a current passport. This is an Early Voting requirement under Illinois law.

Touré claims that anyone can challenge your vote for any reason at all, but he’s ignoring another safeguard; there are election judges at polling places who make the determination on these challenges. What if the judges ruled against you? Guess what; you can still cast a vote. This is another example of where provisional ballots are used. Again, this is all on the Chicago Election Board website. It says you may be required to show an ID if:

A majority of the judges of election at a polling place challenge the voter, based on a mismatch of the signature or other discrepancy in the voter registration, or if the voter does not appear on the voter rolls. Again, voters who registered very recently should ask the judges of election to check the "supplemental" poll list. [emphasis added]

Touré appears to have intentionally gotten the facts wrong. A majority of judges of election at a polling place is not “anyone.“ A signature discrepancy or not appearing on the voter rolls is not “for any reason at all.” And the requirements for the two pieces of ID?

Again, from the website:

A voter needs two forms of ID, at least one of which must show the address of the registration. These may include:

-- A valid and current state ID issued by the Illinois Secretary of State

-- A copy of a current and valid photo ID

-- A current utility bill with name and address

-- A current bank statement with name and address

-- A recent government check with name and address

-- A recent paycheck with name and address

-- A recent government document that shows the name and address

-- A current college ID card 

This is hardly a restrictive list. You’ll note that photo ID is not a requirement to have your provisional ballot approved. Photo ID is only required to be shown when you register to vote and if you were early voting, as President Obama did.

So the next time some liberal start squawking at you about voter suppression, calmly ask them about a few questions about the provisional balloting process and see how much they know about the way the world actually works. 


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