For voter ID, do not go ask Alicia
posted at 4:07 pm on April 25, 2012 by Libby Sternberg
By now, we’re all pretty familiar with the undercover journalism of James O’Keefe. His latest videos feature various phony voters requesting ballots in various towns/cities…and getting them, his point being how easy it is to commit voter fraud without Voter ID laws in place.
Expanding on this demonstration, he’s started sending voters into polling places to request ballots in the names of well-known people, usually ones who oppose Voter ID laws. Recently, one of these incidents involved the ballot of Alicia Menendez, a contributor at NBC Latino.
Here’s how it went down: one of O’Keefe’s workers went into a DC polling place and requested a ballot as Ms. Menendez…but was asked for ID because Ms. Menendez had already cast a ballot. So the poseur left, ostensibly to get her ID, and never returned. O’Keefe’s point was made, nonetheless: requesting ID from the voter was a good idea in this case, n’est ce pas?
Menendez, as you can imagine, was not amused. She wrote a column about the piece and also appeared briefly on an MSNBC show late morning where she made a variation on this point:
…there are already systems in place to assure that this type of thing (voter fraud) can’t happen. If two Alicia Menendez’s (sic) showed up at the poll, the second to arrive would have been given a provisional ballot, and only the real vote would have counted.
In the MSNBC interview, she phrased this slightly differently, saying that her real vote would have canceled out the phony vote. (Not really. If both votes were counted, the phony one would cancel the real one.)
But what if the scenario had been: the phony voter cast her ballot first, and Menendez was the “second to arrive?” Then, presumably, the real Menendez is given the provisional ballot while her identity is verified. Once it is, how would the poll workers know how to delete the phony vote to ensure “only the real vote would have counted?” Is Menendez saying that poll workers can go back through all the votes cast and remove a vote they deem “unreal”?
If so, I’d say that’s more a threat to democracy than Voter ID laws.
Libby Sternberg is a novelist.