The election season here in Minnesota is over which can only means one thing, recount time. Recounts aren’t that exciting and everybody who lives here knows the drill so I won’t bother covering it. What I do want to write about is voter fraud.
There are a lot of screams in this state about apparently voter fraud. You can look around and find stories of vans loaded with people driving from polling place to polling place to vote. Groups of people are demanding that Minnesota implement a system of voter ID Unlike many states Minnesota doesn’t require you to present photo identification in order to vote. When I arrive at my polling place I’m asked my name and address, if I know both I sign a sheet and get my ticket which allows me to get my ballot.
Likewise when you register in this state if you don’t have a utility bill from the last month or a government issued ID you can have somebody vouch for you. Hearing this you can get where the vans loaded with people going from polling place to polling place come from. The idea is simple; you send a van of people to a voting place, have each person register at that voting place, and have a plant in that precinct that will vouch for each individual.
Two things need to be preserved when voting; ensure each person only gets to vote once and ensure each voter’s anonymity. The reason for the first one is obvious while the reason for the second one may not be so obvious. Anonymity must be preserved to prevent the use of force to coerce people into voting for a particular candidate. I like examples so I’ll use one here. Let’s say Jim is employed by Canadian Pacific as a train conductor. Train conductors are union employees and the union wants you to elect a Democrat. Now let’s say Jim is a Republican and doesn’t want to vote for a Democrat. It’s likely the union will use the threat of force to coerce Jim into voting for the Democrat. So long as anonymity is preserved Jim is able to vote for whomever he chooses without worry. The second anonymity is no longer preserved he has to fear for his safety if he wants to vote for his candidate.
Anonymity can only be preserved by eliminating as many data points as possible. For our example let’s say through some strange twist in faith everybody in Jim’s district voted Republican. Without having to present photo ID Jim can still claim he never went to the polls and somebody must have committed voter fraud. By having to present photo ID Jim can not really deny he was at the polling place because his identify was most certainly confirmed.
This is a convoluted example granted but it makes the point that anonymity is important for the voting process. The question becomes how can we preserved both anonymity and prevent voter fraud? As usual the simplest and cheapest answer lies in impoverished countries. Election ink is used in may countries such as India to ensure each person only votes once. The concept is very simple and only involves having to stain each voters’ finger with a stain that penetrates the skin and lasts for at least 24 hours. Doing this you effectively eliminate the threat of people voting multiple times.
Of course at first glance this doesn’t stop a person from voting in another district. When you look deeper into the problem you find out it does. Most people willing to commit election fraud are also politically inclined enough that they want to effect the outcome of their own district. In other words that person is most likely going to vote in their district and not a neighboring one. Sure it’s not fool proof but it most certainly is close enough for government work.
I have no crazy belief that such a system would be implemented here in Minnesota because we’re Americans damn it and we will use the most expensive system for doing something! Alas it’s a pretty good solution that would effectively eliminate some of the larger problems we have in Minnesota with our election process.