I-Team 10 Investigation: No ID required
Posted at: 10/09/2012 10:48 AM
| Updated at: 10/09/2012 6:56 PM
By: Brett Davidsen | WHEC.com
The scenario goes like this. A man goes to the polls and casts a ballot, posing as another registered voter. It is certainly an act of fraud. Fear of scenarios like that has led to a nationwide push for voter identification laws which seem to have widespread support.
Ken Losey, voter, said, "They should have an ID because anybody can just walk in and vote and say they're anybody."
Mike Clayborne, voter, said, "Personally, I think so. I think it would definitely keep fraud down."
Elizabeth Van Son, voter, said, "I think it's important that people who are poor or people who don't have a license or able to get one, I think they should be able to vote."
Tom Cicero, voter, said, "You got that card with the picture on it for the people that are working can make sure it's you -- I think it's a great thing."
In a recent Washington Post poll, 74% said they believe photo identification should be required to vote. More than 30 states currently have some type of voter ID requirement. New York has none, but at least three bills are currently being studied.
New York State Senator Michael Nozzolio is on the senate elections committee, and supports the legislation.
Republican State Senator Michael Nozzolio said, “We need to know that people who are going to the polls have the authority and assurances to do so.”
Paula Hansen, Metro Justice, said, "Instead of creating obstacles we should be encouraging people to go to the polls and vote."
Paula Hansen of Metro Justice of Rochester says a voter ID law would create a burden for those without IDs and effectively block a large segment of the population from exercising a constitutional right.
Hansen said, "The people that would be affected by these types of laws are people of color, the elderly, people that make under $35,000 and they're people who are women."
Supporters of the law point out that you need ID to drive, board a plane, to buy cigarettes or get food stamps, so why not to vote? But is it a solution in search of a problem? I-Team 10 went to the Monroe County Board of Elections for answers and spoke to Commissioner Peter Quinn.
Brett Davidsen said, “Is there any evidence to suggest that there is fraud or the potential for fraud in Monroe County?
Peter Quinn said, "I would say no. But I would say a lot of it is due to the fact of the New York State election laws."
Quinn says they now update the county's voter rolls on a weekly basis.
Quinn said, "Here in Monroe County we actually use, not only Monroe County vital statistics, health department records, we likewise run our database through New York State."
While voters don't have to show a photo ID, elections inspectors do require them to provide a signature which is then compared against a scanned copy from their signed voter registration.
But elections officials say it's rare that anyone gets turned away for a suspect signature.
Nozzolio said, "They're not handwriting experts, the election inspectors."
So what about the stories of busloads of illegal voters showing up at precincts or ineligible felons casting ballots?
A 2007 study by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice found that often the allegations are unsubstantiated and determined,"by any measure, voter fraud is extraordinarily rare."
However, in a major case close to home, six people in troy, New York, were implicated in a voter fraud investigation, including a democratic county elections commissioner and a former city councilman. But that case involved absentee ballots and a voter ID law likely wouldn't have caught the alleged fraud.
Hansen said, "And it looks like a simply partisan ploy to suppress likely democratic voters and that's sad. It's un-American, and it's just plain wrong."
While proof of widespread fraud may or may not exist, numbers by the Pew Center on the states shows the opportunity is there. It found 1.8 million dead people remain on voter rolls and about 2.8 million are registered in more than one state.
Nozzolio said, “The fact is that we should not allow any type of manipulation to occur in the voting process. It's too important a process. Too many people have died in defense of that process."
The voter ID bills are being held in various committees. Despite public support, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of support among the assembly majority or the governor, so passage of a voter ID law in New York is far from being imminent.