Recent Posts

Scott Honour’s running mate unclear on some voter fraud

by Eric Ferguson on June 2, 2014 · 2 comments

If a Democrat did this, Republicans would be all over it screaming “voter fraud”. On her campaign’s Facebook page, State Sen. Karin Housley, just chosen as Scott Honour’s running mate, posted a photo of a ballot with her name marked:
 
Housley Facebook post of ballot photo
 

In the comments, she was informed it’s illegal to take photos of ballots. Her response to that comment and another calling it a “curious law” was, “I was thinking the same thing. My ballot. My vote. My freedom of speech. I think it was written before pint size camera phones. You can take a picture of you voting though, if you get the okay from the election judge.”
 
Housley comment on ballot photo
 

I don’t know the law about someone taking a photo of you voting if you get permission. I do know the reason it’s illegal to photograph your ballot is for the same reason it’s illegal to sign your ballot or leave identifying marks. It’s so that a corrupt election official can’t check that you voted as expected if you were bribed or threatened to vote a certain way. Yes, officials used to do this. Jimmy Carter talked about seeing county officials in rural Georgia who would check welfare recipients’ ballots before allowing them in the ballot box to check they voted as told, as a condition of keeping their benefits. That sort of thing is why we have secret ballots, and the secrecy works only if your ballot can’t be identified. If your ballot can be identified, like a photo you took of your ballot being sent to whoever is checking on you, they now have a means to enforce their instructions on your vote.
 
If someone wants to argue that this law violates free speech, go ahead, but for the moment, it’s illegal. The people who sent photos of their ballot broke the law, even though I’ll accept that they were just showing their enthusiasm. I certainly don’t think Housely intended to commit or encourage fraud. I do think she should have asked for the why of the law before suggesting it’s just a dumb law. The key thing though: I do think Republicans would be making a huge campaign issue out of this if a Democrat did it, claiming it proves their claims Democrats win by fraud are now proven.
 
Note that this fits the habit Republicans have when it comes to election law. When they encounter something with elections they don’t immediately understand, they don’t bother asking for the reasoning before making groundless claims. There are dead people voting!!! They died after casting their own ballot and before the registration rolls were audited. They’re registered in multiple precincts!!! They were registered voters who moved and re-registered at their new address, like the law requires, so they’re on the registration rolls in multiple precincts until the rolls are caught up. Outgoing Secretary of State Mark Ritchie tried to change the law to have registrations follow voters as they move, but the Republicans in the legislature blocked it. Remember how angry Republicans became in 2008 — still are actually — that Norm Coleman’s election night lead shrank a few hundred votes when the tallies were checked during the first canvass. There are always election night math errors made by exhausted election judges, so they go back and check their math, find the mistakes, and the totals change. The change in 2008 was remarkably tiny at a few hundred votes out of two million. Nonetheless, Republicans claim fraud. Still. I mean just last weekend, at the MNGOP convention, losing 2010 SOS candidate and freshly endorsed 2014 SOS candidate Dan Severson claimed Minnesota has corrupt elections, never mind that every bit of the recount was on camera watched by a whole bunch of people, and nothing untoward happened. We have maybe the cleanest elections in the country, but the tin foil hats are still firmly attached.
 
As for Housley herself, she supported photo ID in her 2012 campaign with specious arguments.
 
Housley comparing spray paint to voting
 
Since she didn’t bother to ask and no one in her thread told her, you need proof of age for spray paint, not photo ID, so an underage person with a valid photo ID still can’t buy it. It’s restricted because kids sometimes use spray paint for graffiti and to get a high by sniffing the fumes. It’s not like spray paint was picked at random for an age check. Ballots, interestingly, aren’t useful either for graffit or find getting high off the fumes. Well, maybe when the ink is really fresh.
 
So, based on nothing, Housley was willing to take the right to vote away from people who can’t get a photo ID (cue Republicans asking why anyone can’t get an ID while refusing to listen to the answers), creating all sorts of complications with running an election. Then what should happen since she seemed OK with breaking the law by taking photographs of ballots, despite being a candidate who ought to know better?

Previous post:

Next post: