October 26, 2008

UPDATE: Racine poll worker asked for ID, even though state law says she shouldn't have

UPDATE: Some readers were asking good questions about how, exactly, a ballot can be challenged. Here's what the Racine City Clerk's office said:

1. Poll workers are not allowed to ask for ID.
2. If you go to the polls, pretend to be someone else and know their address, they have to give you a ballot.
3. But, if a voter is suspicious, they can challenge the ballot. At that point, the voter needs to prove their identity.
4. If you go to vote, and someone has already voted under your name, the poll workers call in the state to investigate.
5. If fraud is discovered, the case is sent to the District Attorney's office for possible charges.

One point to remember: You need some sort of identification to register to vote. People who register before the election needed a driver's license number or state ID number. If they don't have either, they could use the last four digits of their Social Security number.

On the day of the polls, you can register with a utility bill or other piece of official mail to prove your address.

In summary, it is possible for someone to vote as someone else without presenting an ID. But doing so puts the person at risk for criminal charges, and even if someone did it 50 times on election days (a huge number considering the long lines, time driving between polls, risk of getting caught, etc.), it would barely sway an election where millions of ballots are cast.

Also, registering to vote requires you to prove your address and puts you at risk for criminal charges.

It would take a massive conspiracy - thousands of people voting multiple times - to sway a presidential election in Wisconsin. Try as some may, there is simply no evidence of that occurring in recent elections.

Original post:

I voted Saturday at City Hall. When I stepped up to receive my ballot, the poll worker asked to see my driver's license. I handed it over, but also told her she couldn't ask for ID to give people a ballot. She mumbled it was about "being safe."

Afterward, I asked my wife (we went together) if she was asked for ID. She wasn't.

That's how the system is supposed to work. Once you're registered, you do not have to provide identification at the polls. Asking a registered voter for ID creates an additional obstacle to voting that the state specifically eliminated to increase voter turnout.

A lot of people worry this will lead to fraud. But in reality, there are low levels of voter fraud in Wisconsin. Aside from a handful of felons who vote, there are no cases of outright voter fraud in the state.

Some people will claim there are cases of voter registration fraud, which is true. But this amounts to someone sending in a falsified request for a ballot, not an actual vote being cast in an election.

As for the ID, I didn't make a scene with the city employee on Saturday. But this should be corrected. Poll workers should not be asking registered voters for identification.

If you don't like it, start by voting Nov. 4 in favor of candidates who want to require a photo ID at the polls.


  1. Now I've heard everything! Some things matter a lot and this doesn't matter al all. IT DOESN"T MATTER! Who cares if they ask for an ID or not. I would think you would be grateful they care. Get a life and worry about things that matter.

  2. It does matter A LOT whether poll workers know the law and are at all informed about one of the most talked about issues regarding voting in the state. This worker is either trying to make a point or is in serious need of training. If I was a conspiracy theorist, I would say this is an effort by the GOP to upend voting by placing workers at the polls to ask these questions.

  3. ...and incidents like this make me wonder if I should be.

  4. What do you think the poll worker is going to do? Tell ?someone? that she knows you voted and she has proof. She evidently does not know for a fact that your wife voted. I wonder what they can do with that information. Report you to some powers that be? I think if I were you I'd be scared. Just maybe she was a newbie and thought she should ID you. Why are you making such a big deal out of it? THAT worrys me.

  5. I wonder if you also get offended when you are asked for your ID when you cash a check, use a credit card or buy your beer? I am sure you believe that this is another GOP conspiracy to steal an election by making it difficult for people to vote. But wait, hasnt the city gone out of its way to ensure that the obama supporters vote early by opening up polling places in inner city community centers and moving a polling station next to HALO. Its keith fair all over again.

  6. Anon--maybe we should be asking you for ID? In any event, voters don't have to present ID. That should be good enough for you. And the poll worker.

  7. anon 1pm:

    The problem is that if an ID is being asked for, then it implies that if one does not have an ID, that person cannot cast their ballot.

    That is not the law, nor is it right.

    It does matter.

  8. It's outrageous. That poll worker violated the law, knowingly or not.

  9. Hypothetically speaking, under the current system, I could go to City Hall, claim to be Dustin Block and vote-even though I am not. That sounds like a great syatem to me-I could vote at numerous polling places as many different people and no one would know any different. But hey, I can't cash a check or buy beer at most stores without an ID.

  10. Actually, you couldn't pose as me.

    1. I've already voted, and that would show up on their list.

    2. You'd need to know my birth date and address. Of course, this easily found, but is it worth it for a single vote that could lead to a felony charge?

  11. Is it worth a felony? How would they catch you?

    "Hi, my name is Dustin Block and I'd like to vote."

    "Umm. Mr. Block, our records show that you already voted."

    "But that wasn't me. Someone must have come in and posed as me."

    Now, what is the poll worker supposed to do in this situation? Can't ask for an ID to prove whether I'm Dustin Block or not. They better not have me on video camera or take my picture---that would be mighty intimidating, especially since as far as they know, I am actually Dustin.

    I guess they'd just have to let me either cast a second ballot under Dustin or let me leave. Either way, I'm home free. Next time I'll try casting my vote under my neighbor's name.

  12. What happens in the inner city, especially transient areas like apartment buildings, is people get names and addresses of those who have previously registered to vote but moved away. All they do is walk into the polling place and say, "My name is blah blah blah and live at blah blah blah". No ID is needed, and the person that has moved away will never know that someone voted in their name, especially if they've moved to another state. Looking at the voter lists to see who has or has not voted during an election is legal, and beleive me, they do look at that.

    Anyone who thinks voter fraud is not happening is fooling themselves, the problem is in cases like the one I mentioned, it's usually not found out.

  13. You're right, someone could do exactly what you're suggesting. But if they get challenged, they're going to jail or prison. Is a single vote worth that price? The answer is no.

  14. Eric--the answer is you would be given a provisional ballot and there would be an investigation. And the reason we almost never hear of this happening ist because it very rarely happens.

    Anon-9:31--Who are you? Gutless racists usually prefer anonmonity, but my guess is you're just making a charge you know is unsupported by the facts. I've been voting in the "inner city" since I was 18 and what you're suggesting simply doesn't happen in numbers that justify your anxiety--and certainly not enough to turn this into a racial thing. In fact, the only significant incident of voter fraud recently involved a suburbanite who double voted.

  15. Actually Michael, I've seen it happen. And we didn't stand by and let it happen either, I was with a group of volunteers doing "poll patrol" during a local election. The fact you don't know this sort of thing happens regularly in the inner city shows how little you know about election fraud. We were able to stop this particular van of people, but how many others got away with it? The people paid to do the GOTV do the legwork on obtaining names and addresses.

    Seriously, I'm not making this crap up, I wish I weren't. I'm not sure where my statement became "racist" - I didn't mention the color of the people involved. Not all people living in the inner city are black which you well know if you do indeed live in the inner city. However, in the situation I described, yes they were black. Not a racist statement but simply stating what occured.

    The numbers and frequency this happens I have no way of knowing as there really is no way of proving how often it happens, but one false vote is one too many in my opinion. I would agree doing something like that is not worth a felony, but for some, apparently it is worth it. The chances of getting caught are slim to none, unless you happened to be right in front of the real person who's identity you were stealing. Not likely to happen.

  16. Anon-Why on earth should anyone take your unverified, anonymous charges seriously? Particularly when you concede you have "no way of proving" how often it happens? Please.

  17. I wasn't alone Mathias, in fact one person who witnessed this is an elected official in the city. Obviously you don't want to see or hear about any actual voter fraud. You are immediately jumping to the conclusion that what Ive said must be made-up because you're not liking what you're hearing. Not sure what I'd have to gain by posting this on a blog, and I'd rather not post my name because I am a Democrat and do not wish to get into any fights with my own party. Just thought I'd add my own real experiences concerning voter fraud.

    No matter what party a person belongs to, nobody should be accepting of voter fraud, no matter how many votes it may be. A few votes either way have won elections in this city, so every vote has value.

  18. Years ago I could have voted twice. I was still registered at my old address and I registered at my new address. Being the honest person I am I only voted once. But it did occur to me that it COULD be done. I , of course, did not think they compare names. Good thing I am honest. I do value the voting system highly.

  19. Urban Pioneer10/27/2008 2:58 PM

    Dustin you're Left Bias is gleaming here. Most States DO require an ID and the Democrats in Wisconsin have vehemently tried to block ID as a safeguard, (see Doyles 3 vetos). If it's not a big deal why wouldn't they encourage ID?? Because the Wisc Democrats benefit from Registration and voter fraud. Since u have left leaning tilt you would support voter fraud I must assume?
    Wisconsin was the closest state Bush lost in 2000 and 2004 (look it up if u don't believe me). One by a little over 1000 votes.
    Could there have been busloads of fake voters?? Yeah I'm sure of it.
    In fact I did work the polls in 2004 as a registrar, And Dustin I recommend, you stake yourself out at Jerstad. Pay close attention to both precincts, which vote at that place. I watched numerous "busloads" of voters show up in the evening. Just happened to have the names of the voters that hadn't shown up throughout the day. This happens in Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans and yes right here in Racine. The ACORN, ACLU and other groups patrol the lists looking for members. The info is phoned in to the drivers and the groups go from polling place to place, casting vote, under assumed names.
    I'm sure u will have no problem finding dozens of last minute lawsuits ordered to keep the polls open later, with busloads of people arriving at 15 minutes to poll closing. (Philadelphia, St. Louis, and New Orleans are notorious). A judge orders the polls remain open and hundreds of "late/ Fake" voters cast hundreds or thousands of votes. The Democrat party minders know how many votes are needed based on turn out numbers..( I suggest u check the Mary Landrieu Run-off ballot of 2000 or 2002. Suddenly the gush of voters that showed up on Sat afternoon and Donna Brazille actually bragged about it on MSNBC and Fox..I'm not sure if video is still available. But I watched it and was amazed at how she was nearly laughing about it.
    BTW "walking around Money" is used to pay all those Fake voters..Goes back to 1960 Chicago, or earlier.
    The scenario laid out earlier is happening all over the country right now.
    I'm not for blocking any legitimate voter, but I deplore the idea that my vote is invalidated because of deceit.
    Keith Fair beat Jeff Coe by 4 votes, and at least a dozen of them were people hanging out in a Park overnight. Theft Happens. I doesn't take Millions. I takes a few hundred or thousand in the right places.
    John Fund has written dozens of articles about this national problem and Wisconsin vote fraud shows up all the time.

  20. God forbid we should actually make sure that people are legally entitled to vote and are who they say they are.

    Why, if we did that, then Democrats wouldn't win.

  21. This is beyond stupid.
    If a second person comes in to vote using the same name, they do vote. With a regular ballot.
    The real person does prove residency, and can provide an ID- which in most cases, has the correct address on it.
    The previous fake voter, did have a voter number assigned. There is a process to remove a ballot, and have it invalidated.

    So the real voters gets to vote and it counts.

    There is an election manual at each location.
    If you are sooooo terrified about it, have the rule read to you before you vote.

  22. How very stupid does this sound?

    "I watched numerous "busloads" of voters show up in the evening. Just happened to have the names of the voters that hadn't shown up throughout the day."

    So these people had not voted yet and then they did? Disgraceful!

  23. Urban Pioneer10/28/2008 2:59 PM

    Hey Anon, I am hoping this year there will survilience of this behavior. I know even if the Mayor's son and the child of US Congress folks are caught red (or rather Blue)- handed sabatoging the Vote. U wouldn't believe it. If I am wrong about the Busloads, what would be the harm in asking for ID?? Then I would agree I'm wrong, Assuming that the election results didn't change of course, dramatically, which I'm sure they will but this procedure happens in lots of demographic areas where people move in and out alot, and don't always get their registration updated.
    In fact If u go to you previous address to vote in the morning and then show up the same day at your current address and re-register at the new address, Not mention any address u can prove U lived at during the past 4 years, u could concievably vote in every location, and the voter Rolls won't be updated until the election is over. Thus all of your ballots will be counted.
    If u don't record your prior address on the new registration form the Clerk has no way to clear the old names and registration off the rolls.