By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 7/12/2020
Posted: 9/13/2006
Topics/Keywords: #Arizona #CivilRights #Constitution #Diebold #Elections Page Views: 3282
In which I wrestle with Arizona's need for even more proof that I am not a Mexican.
Voter Fraud Is A Myth

Yesterday, Arizona held its election primary. Arizona holds just one for both Democrats and Republicans; when we show up, we tell the person at the desk which we are and they hand us the appropriate ballot.

But first, I had to be identified. Arizona recently passed a controversial "voter identification" bill, which means a voter registration card isn't enough. So much for the American Constitution's declaration that a "universal ID card" will not be required. "May I see your papers, Herr Citizen?"

Not that a driver's license is that different from a universal ID card. But mine didn't do the trick. See, we moved to Mesa in April from Peoria, on the other side of the "valley" that is Greater Phoenix, and I haven't had a chance to update the address on it yet. So my license says "Peoria" but my voter's registration card says "Mesa". And I was voting around the corner from my home address, the one on my voter registration card. And on the precinct's rolls, as well.

Fortunately, I just happened to have an uncashed royalty check in my wallet, computer printed and with my name and address on it, which they accepted—with my license (which has my photo on it) and my voter ID.

Now, think about this. At home, I have blank checks and a computer. I could easily have created a fake check, seemingly to me from my publisher. Of course, they really wanted me to bring in a bill from the power company or another utility with my name and address. But I could fake that just as easily. As could anyone with the least bit of computer savvy and a printer. Which is, like, everyone.

Well, not quite everyone. It excludes people too poor to own a computer. (And who tend to vote Democrat, I'm told.)

And what about my husband, Michael? He hasn't changed the address on his license yet, either. We'll have to make sure one of the utilities is in his name, and one in mine, if he wants to vote in November. I wonder if I can convince him to take on the electric bill? It's the most expensive, and I wouldn't miss it.

But we don't live alone. We also have my daughter, my son, a grandson, and my ex-wife. I'm not sure we have enough utilities to go around. I may have to make fake utility bills for everyone, just so we can exercise our legal right to vote.

Why not simply correct the licenses? Well fine…for us…except one member of the family, I won't say who, happens to owe on a traffic ticket and the state Motor Vehicle Division won't correct his address until he's paid the fine, even though it's from out of state. Now, I'm not saying he shouldn't pay the fine. But since when did that become a criterion of voting eligibility?

And what about my late Mom, who was 93 and didn't drive? Yes, she could have gotten a non-driver's ID (and did), but she's not supposed to have to. It says so in the Constitution.

Anyway, so there I am, in the polling place, with five staffers there—and I'm the only person there to vote. At 4:30 in the afternoon. We get the identification thing worked out, and I am handed a Democratic ballot. Well, I could see why there were so few voters there: Except for one race, in my precinct there was only one position with more than one person vying for it. Governor: Janet Napolitano; no other choices (which I'm okay with). Senator: Jim Pederson (ditto). What was really embarrassing was the number of positions no one was trying for. As always, I paused for a moment, thinking I should just write in my name for one of them. If anyone else wrote my name, too, I might make it onto the ballot in the general election in November! And with the expected anti-Republican sentiment sweeping the nation, I might even be elected!

On the other hand, I don't really want to be stuck with the job of dogcatcher, or sanitation department chairman, or whatever. My own, present job isn't so bad. So I leave those entries blank.

The ballot is printed on a stiff piece of paper—almost cardboard—that gets fed into a digital reader, a sort of scanner that only reads the marks I've put on it. The first thing that hits me is: Why isn't this on standard-sized paper? Even if you wanted to make it cardboard, 8½ x 11" or 14" would have been much cheaper, from both a printing point of view and a scanning point of view. I shudder to imagine what the heavy-duty reader must have cost, when as a programmer I know an off-the-shelf scanner, with appropriate software, would have been perfectly adequate.

But I am more concerned with the fact that the reader does not give me a paper receipt. How do I know it's counted my votes correctly? Who tested it? Did anyone take it home the night before, as happened in California a few months ago?

Worse, it looks like the device is supposed to print a paper receipt. There is a strip of cash register-type receipt paper coming out of it, and a new line appears after it's read my ballot. But what the line says is, "Counting invalid."

"What about a receipt?" I ask one of the attendants.

"You don't get one," he says. "Have a nice afternoon." And he holds the exit door open for me.

"But, wait," I protest. "The readout paper says the count is invalid."

"Don't worry about it," he says. The door is still open, a shaft of brilliant sunlight shining on us.

"But I do worry about it," I say. "Especially after the 2004 elections."

"Take this," the man says, handing me a sticker.

I look at it. It says, I VOTED. "That's it?" I ask. "No receipt? No assurance my vote counted?"

"It's an 'attaboy'," he explains. "Your vote counted. Don't worry about it. It's all under control. Now, please. My arm's getting tired."

"From holding the door open?" I say, as I pass through it. "That's nothing. Wait till you have to salute the Fuhrer."

An empty ballot couldn't have looked more vacant than his face. He truly had no idea what I was talking about.

Which is, of course, what scares me.