Friday, December 09, 2016


Politifact Rates as “False” Claim 300,000 Voters Turned Away in Wisconsin for Lacking ID

I don't have time right now to do a full column on this issue. I am on the road somewhere in Kansas trying to get to Indiana by tomorrow night's bert kreischer show. But this situation has been bugging me for a few days.

No one is claiming 300,000 Wisconsin voters literally went to the polling places and were physically turned away. The claim, for anyone at all familiar with the facts, is that Wisconsin's ID rules worked as intended, to place an obstacle between voters and the voting booths, for a large number of Wisconsinites.

The 300,000 number is somewhat overstated. There are, no doubt, a few voters who do not have driver's licenses, but do have passports. Some of the excluded have taken advantage of new rules imposed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court so that they could now get IDs without fees.
At least dozens have taken advantage of new Wisconsin rules for getting a temporary voter ID as a result of the Frank v Walker rulings,and the administrative response.

Nonetheless, voter ID in Wisconsin is still an obstacle for many. We do not have an exact count. While some of the 300,000 may now have ID, 300,000 could have been an undercount of the problem to begin with.

The number of Wisconsin residents who did go, tried to vote, but had their provisional ballots not counted, is only a few hundred. I will have to look up whether it was 599 or some other number; I blogged about it at the time. But this does not count the non-zero numbers of people who went to vote, had no ID or chose not show ID, and were turned away. That Wisconsin keeps no count of these incidents is a problem, is a threat to the integrity of the election process. 
  A much larger number is those people who would have wanted to vote, but wisely chose to stay home, knowing it would be futile to try to vote if they did not have ID or would not show ID.
There are many practical or principled reasons to not show ID, which for some people outweigh the importance of voting.
A still larger number is people in Wisconsin who didn't vote and wouldn't have voted anyway. But one thing the Trump election has shown is that we can't always predict who will and won't vote.
Trumps' margin of victory was the unlikely voters, many of them rural whites who hadn't voted in years.
Voter ID infringes on the rights of millions of people, in multiple ways. Most of them don't care, many won't even notice. Others grumble but put up with it.  Critics of voter ID as correct to say that voter ID posed an obstacle for many.  

So the claim that 300,000 people were turned away is approximately true, but only if correctly understood as a figurative claim, rather than hyper-technically interpreted as a literal claim.
In the same way, President-to-be Trump made a number of claims on the campaign trail that are best understood as figurative rather than literal.

I am a person who has been literally turned away from the polls for declining to show ID. This happened to me twice in the early voting line at Indianapolis City Hall at the general election in 2016, and twice at my local precinct at the 2016 primary. http://www.youtube.com/arbivark. Most of the people in Indiana who go to try to vote without ID get turned away, and no record is kept, and election officials go to great lengths to pretend this doesn't happen. My guess is that this also happens in Wisconsin.   

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