Arizona Rep. Mark Finchem on Voting Laws and Voter IDs: “Can Ya’ Just Show Me the Evidence?”

Guest post by Arizona Rep.  Mark Finchem

Did you know that you must present a photo identification to get your COVID vaccine shots, buy cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, cold medicines, fly on airplanes, drive cars, open bank accounts, lease apartments, get mortgages, get hotel rooms, buy a can of compressed air (dusting your computer keyboard) at Walmart, rent tools at Home Depot, rent carpet cleaning machines, cash cheques, or enter a committee meeting at the Democrat National Convention?

You absolutely must have one to get a PPP loan, an EBT card, to get a job, fly on a commercial airplane, visit your federal or state legislators’ offices. You must have a photo ID to enter a federal courthouse, indeed entry into almost every government building requires one.

Many common forms require applicants to copy information from their ID onto the form (e.g., one’s Driver’s License number).

Thoughtfully, sixteen states—including California, New Mexico, Illinois, and New York— and the District of Columbia offer photo IDs to undocumented residents. Some provide them at no cost.

Activists claim that requiring a positive ID to vote is racist, implying that there are millions of unserved and underserved Americans that would be prevented from voting if IDs were required; that these millions cannot access common services or do business with retailers because they do not have a photo ID. Alternatively, they claim many people are incapable of copying information from their ID onto critical forms, such as an absentee ballot.

A friend related a recent experience: he returned to his Home Depot a planter that he had purchased a month ago. Due to a price change, he was given a $7.50 refund to his credit card and a $1.50 in-store credit, but he had to show a photo ID to get the in-store credit. When he went to purchase another product with the in-store credit he had to show his ID again. What, pray-tell, would have happened had he not had a photo ID? Home Depot seems to assume shoppers have photo IDs.

Opt-in Voter ID is important, no government should ever force everyone to obtain an ID. [WHAT??]

Some professional politicians and several major corporations would have us believe that getting a state-issued photo ID is onerous, and is somehow an infringement on voter rights. If true, we must address the “inequity” and see to it that everyone that wants an ID gets one. We must implement a plan to provide government-issued Positive ID (PID) cards to every individual who does not have one. This will help every one of the unserved and underserved in our communities whose activities are restricted because they do not have a PID. The cards will not only help the unserved and underserved with banking, and business transactions but will also help them with exercising their personal franchise to vote. As well, it will prevent someone else from canceling out their vote with a false attempt—i.e., using their name to vote before the real voter actually goes to the polls.

Voting is an important right and responsibility in our republic: everyone that can vote legally and wishes to do so, should vote without pressure and interference, and their vote should be counted once. Votes should be counted, tabulated, and reported in a timely manner. It really is that simple and should be no more difficult than buying a book or a movie from Amazon (where I must validate my ID and method of payment) or buying Sudafed at CVS (again, a valid ID is required), or to receive the COVID-19 vaccine (yup, once again a positive ID required). Are marginalized people being denied books, movies, Sudafed, and the COVID vaccine? Lets fix that. Get them a reliable, FREE Positive ID.

Laws, regulations, and processes should balance voting access with election integrity. Any proposed change in access should address integrity associated with the change: for no-excuse absentee voting, how will the government election apparatus ensure that the voter is who they claim to be, alive, eligible, and votes only once for the correct slate of candidates/proposals.

On the matter of “voter suppression,” those that claim it exists should provide proof, just as they demanded for allegations of fraud in 2020. Who? When? How? How about some proof before we change the laws. Shouldn’t we be as concerned about prospective integrity as prospective suppression? Public policy formation is a deliberative process, and ought to based on facts, not unproven allegations and straw man arguments.

Ballot harvesting is problematic, voter drives have happened for years; you’d be a fool to hold one in an area likely to attract people likely to vote for your opponent. On the other hand, it creates an opportunity for abuse and fraud. What regulations and processes can minimize abuse and fraud? Should one be allowed to help a targeted group of people to request absentee/mail-in ballots, and facilitate the return of those completed (compliant) ballots? Perhaps.

Those that use the elderly and infirmed to perpetrate election fraud through harvesting should be subject to elder abuse laws because those elderly voters are being defrauded of their voting franchise. According to John Lott (Newsweek, April 5, 2021) “Twenty-eight envelopes from one nursing home in the Missoula, MT audit, “allegedly had the same signature. Many dozens of envelopes had identical signatures, but the audit wasn’t allowed to determine the precise number of them. Nor did election officials allow pictures of these identical signatures despite multiple requests.”

Apparently, some people think there are millions of people in the US that aren’t able to do any of these things.

  • Early (in-person) voting? I have no particular problem with early voting, although some posit that everyone voting on the same day—election day—creates a stronger sense of community. Christmas, Ramadan, Quansah, Easter, Memorial Day,… all happen for all on the same days creating the sense of community.

Early voting eliminates late-breaking news from the voter’s decision, and increases the risk of voting in multiple locations (e.g., Georgia, and Arizona a week later). It also raises the question of counting: when shall early votes be counted/tabulated? Doing it on election day can delay reporting; doing it before election day and keeping the tabulation secret and secure would seem to be a challenge.

  • Mail-in voting? This one is fraught with problems: Should one have a reason/excuse for a mail-in ballot (NY requires a reason)? How can the voter/vote be authenticated? Again, each voter gets one vote, counted once.
  • To protect the chain of custody for one’s ballot, should unsupervised drop-boxes be permitted? Shall anti-electioneering laws apply to drop-boxes (e.g., no campaign activity within a certain number of feet of the box)?
  • How shall returned ballots be secured? How shall fraudulent ballots be detected?
  • How/when shall valid ballots be collected and tabulated?
  • What deadlines make sense, given USPS and local government capabilities?
  • When must mail-in reporting be complete?
  • What shall be done with applications/ballots that do not comport with deadlines/regulations?
  • Shouldn’t voters have a remedy period to cure their defective ballots?

Empirically, it’s clear that states do not have the systems and processes to support high-integrity, high volume mail-in voting. This also seems true for the states that have been using mail-in voting for years. It’s also clear that processes and systems—solutions—that are appropriate for New York are likely different from those that are appropriate for Arizona. And the systems and processes should be designed, tested and implemented (and litigated) well before the election—a deadline for suits challenging election laws makes sense, as well as court decisions and consent decrees that alter the application of laws. A state law that gives plaintiffs standing to sue before the election—they aren’t actually injured until the election—might help.

  • Purging voter rolls? If a state cannot keep track of live, eligible voters… how does it claim voting integrity? That would seem to be job one.
  • We can argue about and design an effective and fair process, but a process there must be.

A classical conservative would ask, “How can we improve access? What might be the unintended consequences of proposed changes in access?” and “How can we improve integrity? What might be the unintended consequences of proposed changes?” S/he will then propose incremental changes—incremental to avoid massive unintended consequences. Then watch for the intended and unintended consequences.

Both classical conservatives and liberals alike would demand that each eligible voter has an opportunity to vote without pressure from any group.

A classical radical (non-pejoratively speaking) would ask “What’s wrong with access?”; “Let’s change it.” and “What’s wrong with integrity?” and “Let’s change it.” With no thought to unintended consequences. Human nature being what it is—we hide our mistakes—unintended negative consequences are seldom discussed by government, and less seldom addressed.

To the current Georgia voting law kerfuffle, the facts depart widely from the reporting—early voting is being expended, drop-box voting is being formalized (it was not legal in Georgia), water and refreshments can be served to people waiting to vote but without electioneering. Georgia’s new law is less restrictive than New York’s or Delaware’s current laws. Biden’s comments are nonsensical and without basis. Moving the MLB all-star game and draft hurts Atlanta economically, a racially mixed area, and its businesses. It means a lot less to everyone else in Georgia. Should we also boycott this week’s Masters Golf Tournament? Should “woke” Georgia executives renounce their memberships at Augusta National? Leave the state? Hardly not, this is not a solution to any problem.

On the integrity question, you’ll find a recent audit on the election in Missoula Count (MT) interesting. Montana Ballot Audit Shows the Risks of Mail-in Vote Fraud | Opinion (msn.com).

Who is making money off of “voter suppression narrative?

That would make for a helluva hearing.

Finally, it would seem that those proposing nearly unfettered access to the ballot box assume (1) their opponents will not cheat, or (2) they can always cheat more effectively than their opponents. Birmingham (AL) 1960 would have loved the idea of unrestricted mail-in ballots, as would have George Wallace (1968). The Mississippi voter drive of the 1960s would have been a waste of effort and life. Ironically, the easiest way for me to fight your improved access is with degraded integrity: You sign-up five previously disenfranchised voters—only three of whom actually vote; I submit four fraudulent ballots.

Mark Finchem is running for Arizona Secretary of State.  You can support his campaign here.

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