Wednesday, July 11, 2007


A woman in Seattle, Washington, has been trying to get her legislators' attention for years. She believes we need to require picture identification to vote, and that it is entirely too easy to be registered without citizenship, or with felony convicions or whatever other barriers that might exist to preclude legal voting.(The old practice in the 40s and 50s of ballot stuffing with the permanent residents of area cemeteries comes to mind.) She has written letters for years. All she got back was form letters, "Thank you for your concern we are always interested in our constituents" blather.

Jane Baylow was extremely frustrated. In the state of Washington, one need not go to a voting booth. If you have a voter's certificate, they will mail you the ballot. You mail it back. And to get the card, you can use your driver's license, social security card (stolen or not) or a recent utility bill.
"This is ridiculous!" she exclaimed. "Even a dog could----hm."

So she added her dog's name to her utility bill, sent in the bill with a filled out request for voter registration, and in due course, received a voter's registration card for the dog. Also in due course, two ballots were mailed to her address. She properly filled hers out, wrote "VOID" on the dog's, added his pawprint and mailed both back in.


Another election came along. She again wrote VOID on the dog's ballot, added his pawprint, and mailed it back in.


The third time she went through this routine, she got action. A police knock on the door. Several people were standing there. She was arrested, taken to jail, put in an orange jumpsuit and hauled before the judge to plead and arrange bail. She may go to prison, with a $10,000 fine. Nobody cares that she proved how easy it is to file a false voter certification request. No thought of reforming the system or closing the loopholes in the system are in the works.

Nor has her dog's name yet come off the voter rolls. The problem is, she was told by outraged officials, is that it is much easier to enter a name than to remove one. (Hmm. those dead voters may very well be a part of the voting system after all.)

They consider her a scofflaw. I guess, technically, she is. If she had REALLY let her dog vote, though, I would be more convinced. She definitely brought attention to a problem. Too bad no one is going to do anything about it.

Democrats keep saying voter id disinfranchises the poor, and I keep scratching my head. Almost everyone, poor or not, has some kind of photo id, either a driver's license, food service card or personal id. As a matter of fact, many of the poor have voluminous, immaculate records saying who they are and what has happened if they have to deal with any federal agency. The few who want to vote and don't have id could be accomodated without undue strain on the system, I think.

Voter identity is intricately tied in with immigration issues. Neither party wants to deal with it, and I think both parties are secretly hoping a bunch of illegal immigrants with stolen identities are going to vote for them in the next election.

So here's to Jane, a white-haired 67-year-old grandmother who simply wanted her government to fix a problem many of us agree should be fixed. I hope she doesn't go to jail. The law usually comes down hardest on the ones who take personal responsibility. They are easier targets.

No comments: