Marquette Warrior: Shocking: No Voter Identification in Norway

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Shocking: No Voter Identification in Norway

Via the Badger Blogger:

An article in Aftenposten about what foreign observers thought about a recent Norwegian election:
Election observers shocked

The international election observers from Central Asia and the Caucasus were stunned by Norwegian voting conditions, and were not sure how impressed they should be by the signs of widespread public trust.

The observers checking municipal voting stations noted that it was possible in several places to vote without an election card or identification, often, but not always, because a person was acquainted by controllers.

The conclusion was that mutual trust was essential for Norway’s elections to proceed the way they do and that cheating would be laughably easy, NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting) reports.
Where were the observers from?
The observers present are from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tadzhikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Moldova and Georgia. They are following voting in Hobøl, Spydeberg, Ski, Drammen, Eidsvoll, Bergen and Oslo.
This gives a little international perspective to the staunch resistence among Democrats in the U.S. to any kind of voter identification requirement.

For example, Ryan Alexander of the 1832 blog has had a long-running campaign against voter ID requirements. His latest post claims that such a requirement is equivalent to a “poll tax,” or fee that people have to pay to vote.
In 1966, the Supreme Court held that the poll tax was unconstitutional. Nearly 40 years later, Georgia is still charging people to vote, this time with a new voter ID law that requires many people without driver’s licenses - a group that is disproportionately poor, black and elderly - to pay $20 or more for a state ID card.
If it really is a “poll tax” it really would disproportionally disenfranchise poor people.

The problem with this argument is that even poor people have to have a driver’s license or similar identification to do such simple things as get a check cashed. Everybody needs one of those things.

In the second place, if Democrats believe that a charge for an ID card is such a problem, they should fight in state legislatures to make them free. As it is now, they appear to be fighting to protect crooked elections.

Of course, it is often not the cash that keeps poor people from having any identification card, but rather the logistical barriers. It is a burden to figure out where to go, when to go, and how to get to the place where they can give you one. And handicapped people may have trouble even if they know all these things.

But all of these problems could be addressed by an aggressive outreach program to see that poor people or those with limited mobility get the cards.

These programs don’t have to be governmental. “Get out the vote” (GOTV) campaigns raise and spend millions of dollars in each presidential election. They have both the motive and the resources to help people get the necessary identification.

The Republicans have maneuvered the Democrats into appearing to defend corrupt elections. The latter have rigidly opposed any ID requirement.

What are people supposed to believe about their motives?

It would be both good politics and good policy to have voter identification. Democrats should concentrate on seeing that everybody gets one.


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