Guest blogged by John Gideon of Voters Unite dot Org
Soon after the release of the much awaited Baker-Carter Report, and after the immediate, loud, and overwhelmingly negative response from voting activists, bloggers, some MSM, and even some members of the Baker-Carter Commission, the reactionaries on the far right have finally let their opinion be known.
In a clear attempt to bolster sagging public opinion on some of the Baker-Carter Report's 87 points, Phyllis Schlafly has joined the fray with a new column called Thanks, Jimmy Carter.
Ms. Schlafly lauds the commission for including a verifiable paper trail as a solution. Actually, Ms. Schlafly is wrong. The commission report suggested that a voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) should be provided. A VVPAT is a voter verified paper ballot combined with a random, robust audit using those ballots. This is a far-cry from Ms. Schlafly's 'verifiable paper trail'.
But it seems the whole reason for Ms. Schlafly's diatribe is really to bolster the conservative agenda item that would require a voter ID before anyone can vote. On the way to her goal, Ms. Schlafly took the opportunity to sling mud at Tom Daschle, who was a dissenting voice on the panel with regards to the voter ID issue. Ms. Schlafly, of course, didn't mention that Mr. Daschle was joined in his dissent by fellow commissioners Raul Yzaguirre and Spencer Overton.
Ms. Schlafly says:
They are responding to the widespread public realization that we do not have a system of "one man, one vote." Voting in the United States can be more accurately described as "one man, many votes" or as "dead or illegal man, one vote."
She fails to quote directly from the report where it says:
There is no evidence of extensive fraud in U.S. elections or of multiple voting…
In fact, some commissioners have called this "issue" a solution in search of a problem.
In a fit of obfuscation, Ms. Schlafly says that 24 states require voters to prove their identity at the polls and 12 other states are considering it. She forgets to mention that voter registration cards, driver's licenses, utility bills, and library cards are all acceptable identification in most of those 24 states.
In what seems to be a page from the "conservative reactionary handbook", Ms. Schlafly proceeds to scare the reader with stories of far-right politicians who only lost because hundreds of illegal aliens somehow voted against them. She forgets that Bob Dornan was a loud-mouthed bully that no one liked, especially his constituents.
Ms. Schlafly seems to forget that the GOP is supposed to be small-government and balance the budget. Voter ID is another big government proposal that will take someone to oversee it (a position for a Bush cronie) and may cost over $4 billion. The state of Georgia wants to charge $30 per voter ID card. There are over 142 million registered voters in the United States.
Ms. Schlafly has also decided to ignore the fact that not everyone has a photo ID and not everyone can get a photo ID. Not everyone drives or has a drivers license; certainly not the poor, disabled, or elderly. Not everyone even knows where to go to get a birth certificate to prove they are an American citizen. I guess Ms. Schlafly would like to just forget about the people in the Gulf States?
So let's be honest about all of this. Our elections are not controlled by illegal aliens whose only wish is to defeat conservative candidates. The present identification requirements are just fine, thank you. Give the states a chance to institute the Help America Vote Act state-wide registration data bases and clean those lists of felons and dead voters and those who have moved away. Let's give Carter and Baker a pat on the back and tell them both, "Nice try, guys, but we can take it from here". After all, it is our democracy and our voting system. It certainly does not belong to Ms. Schlafly or her ilk and it does not belong to either Jimmy Carter or James Baker.