So much for protecting the integrity of the vote by requiring picture IDs. (Are you listening Elizabeth Hasselbeck?) How ironic that I was almost unable to vote this morning because of voter ID fraud when just minutes before I had heard Hasselbeck squawk on ABC's "The View", "You have to show your ID to drink... you should have to show your ID to vote!"
Georgia is one of only a few states to require picture IDs with signatures to prove you are elligible to vote. This rule also applies to early voting. Absentee paper ballots that are mailed-in are accompanied by an affadavit which also requires a signature.
Here's what happened to me. This morning when I checked in at the precinct where I have voted in primary and general elections for the last seven years I was told that I could not vote because I had already cast an absentee ballot. I was not expecting any challenge so I must have had an odd expression on my face. The poll worker (whom I see each time) asked, "Did you vote early or by absentee? We have you listed as 'AB'." She showed me the "AB" designation on the line containing my voter registration information.
I replied to her that no, indeed I had not yet voted, and in fact the last time I voted absentee was 2002. I remember it clearly because that was the last time Roy Barnes was running for Governor. I was working in Los Angeles and was not going to make it home in time to vote, and I wanted to be certain I got to cast a ballot for him. I feel just as strongly about his candidacy this year, especially since his opponent is the nefarious Nathan Deal.
I was directed to the polling manager, the wonderful Mrs. Franklin, who, like the other ladies in the hall are permanent fixtures at our precinct. She very kindly gave me a provisional ballot, but she did not have an affadavit for me to sign in order for that ballot to be counted; they were not among her supplies. Now that was quite a concern because if anyone else encountered a problem and did not have the resources to travel down to the Fulton County registrar's office to work things out, then their votes would not count.
In an election where runoffs are anticipated for several top tier offices, this is a big concern.
When I arrived at the Fulton County office I was told that someone voted under my name at 1:29pm on September 23 at the North Annex in Sandy Springs. I live in the center of downtown. Sandy Springs is outside the top end of the Perimeter, and while that is only about 15 miles away, for diehard Intowners like me, it might as well be Lower Tennessee. Furthermore, in an odd twist of fate, I happen to know precisely where I was at 1:29 pm on September 23: Atlanta Airport Security checking in for a flight to Paris. Hard to forget that.
There are several troubling takeaways from this experience. First, conservatives have been brow-beating us for years that liberals are allowing illegal aliens (read Mexicans) and convicts (read Blacks) and other malfeasants (read welfare trash) to vote fraudulently, and the only way to prevent that is to force everyone to show up with a signed, state-issued picture ID to prove their citizenship. All of this in the name of protecting the integrity of the vote. Epic fail in my case, not to mention that people who vote in Sandy Springs are overwhelmingly Republican voters... I would be very, very interested to see how closely the fraudulent ballot matched my provisional ballot.
Secondly, another white, non-convict typical middle class professional woman who is a friend recently had to surrender her driver's license to the State Patrol when she got one of those big bad traffic tickets that require you to do so. She called in a panic today, "What do I do? Are they going to let me vote?" I suggested that she take her passport, a bank statement and a power bill to prove her ID and her home address. But what about the millions of people who don't have passports as backup photo IDs? What about people who don't have bank accounts or who are roommates with folks and don't have utility bills in their own names -- or in the age of electronic billing, don't have paper bills at all?
Finally, if this was just a clerical error and not an issue of outright fraud, then the person who cast a vote credited to me was just disenfranchized. As I said, since that person lives in GOP territory, it's likely that I just cancelled their vote.
Voting is a sacred, inalienable right. I feel very alienated. I'm not the only one.