Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Alabama Secretary of State Errs in Poll Watcher Guide: Photo Voter ID Law Disenfranchises Elderly Voters in June Primaries

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, June 3, 2014

{Tuesday, 10 June 2014: Update/Annotation/Correction noted in response #2. Ed.}

Today (June 3, 2014) in Alabama was primary election day. It is a day the party faithful – Democrats and Republicans – went to the polls to cast ballots for the candidates of their choice.

In Alabama, citizens cannot vote for candidates of their choice in both parties. They must choose either/or. Only in the November General Election can they “split the ticket” and vote for Democrats and Republicans.

In my way of thinking, that is a shame… and a crime, because it disenfranchises those whom would vote by requiring them to identify – against their will – as a member of a political party.

As I write, the polls have closed (they’re open from 0700 – 1900… or if you prefer, 7AM – 7PM), and already, there have been reports throughout the state that irregularities have occurred. Some voters – specifically, the elderly – have been denied the right to vote.

Voter fraud? 92-year-old great-grandmother’s expired driver’s license unacceptable for voter ID

http://blog.al.com/breaking/2014/06/voter_fraud.htm

AL Ballot Security Manual

Photograph of the “Alabama Ballot Security Manual: A Practical guide for Poll Watchers, Alabama Primary Election, June 3, 2014

93-year-old black man disenfranchised by Alabama voter ID law

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/voter-id-law-disenfranchises-93-year-old-black-man

As well, there are inconsistencies in official information produced by the Secretary of State specifically for the purpose of Poll Watching & Voter Identification.

In a document entitled “Alabama Photo Voter ID Guide” available on the Alabama Secretary of State’s website – http://www.alabamavoterid.com/downloads/AlabamaPhotoVoterIDGuide.pdf – it states in a letter from the Secretary of State Jim Bennett (a Republican), that “Beginning with the 2014 primary election, the State Legislature has mandated that a voter present photo ID prior to voting.”

As well, on page 6 in that document it further states that: “Beginning with the June 3, 2014 primary election, Act 2011-673 requires an Alabama voter to have a specific type of photo identification at the polls in order to vote. If a voter does not have one of the approved forms of photo ID as stated in the law, then he or she may receive a free Alabama photo voter ID card from various locations.”

That information is contradicted, however, in a separate document also prepared by the Alabama Secretary of State’s office (as seen herein) which is entitled “Alabama Ballot Security Manual: A practical guide for Poll Watchers, Alabama Primary Election, June 3, 2014

On page 19 (as seen herein below), it asserts to cite Code of Alabama 17-9-30 which, up to this year (2014) has allowed voters to produce various forms of non-photographic identification. However, it cites the OLD LAW, instead of the NEW LAW.

Why and how the Secretary of State could screw up in such grand fashion is unimaginable.

Further, I find points of potential error in the law, which states that “Valid” forms of photographic identification are required. Any government-issued photographic identification is valid. Whether or not it is expired is another matter altogether.

The word “valid” itself means that something is convincing. It has NO OTHER MEANING.

For a thing to be “valid,” it is said to have legal efficacy or force; especially as executed with the proper legal authority and formalities. When applied to reasoning, “valid” indicates that something has the power to convince. For example, a valid argument contains no errors of logic, and a valid conclusion follows logically from the argument in its favor. The word “valid” can also refer to things that are legally binding or acceptable, such as “a valid passport is essential when you travel abroad.”

The word “expired,” however, as it applies to documents, offers, authorizations, or agreements, etc., means that it ceases to be legally enforceable, typically after a fixed period of time. Examples of such would be “the old contract had expired,” or refer to a period of time which has come to an end, as in “the three-year period has expired.” The term validity applies, in a similar sense to medications, which have “expiration” dates, which signify that the potency of the medicine cannot be assured after a date certain. That is to say, the quality begins to diminish, or to deteriorate – or more accurately, the power of the effect it produces is diminished.

Imagine this major point of frustration: A driver license – or other, government-issued form of photographic identification – has lapsed, and the one to whom it was issued has not renewed it. The fact exists that a governmental entity issued the photographic identification. It is valid. There is NO QUESTION about it’s validity. However, it has expired. That is to say, the purpose for which it was issued has effectively been terminated by non-renewal. It is – ahem – not “valid” or LEGAL for THAT PURPOSE. However, within reason, it STILL CORRECTLY IDENTIFIES the bearer… as can be evidently seen. I dare say that any holder of a government-issued photographic identification which has lapsed within three, six, nine months – perhaps even a year – will still look relatively the same. Even “face lifts” don’t radically alter one’s appearance.

Again, VALIDITY HAS NOT CHANGED, for it was issued by a governmental agency. It is only the term of the purpose for which it was originally designated, and issued, that has expired. And in the case of Driver Licenses, the State of Alabama issues Driver Licenses valid for a period of four years, and then grants a 60-day grace period for renewal AFTER the license has lapsed.

Regarding the type of photographic identity accepted for Voter Identification, perhaps the Code of Alabama should change it’s wording to “current, or non-expired,” and specifically mention instances & time frames in which ANY governmental entity-granted photographic ID may be used.

The Code of Alabama, 1975 (as amended), Section 17-9-30 (Title 17 – Elections; Article 2 – Voter Identification) states:

Section 17-9-30

(Operative in the first statewide primary for 2014) Identification of electors; Alabama photo voter identification card.

(a) Each elector shall provide valid photo identification to an appropriate election official prior to voting. A voter required to show valid photo identification when voting in person shall present to the appropriate election official one of the following forms of valid photo identification:

(1) A valid Alabama driver’s license or nondriver identification card which was properly issued by the appropriate state or county department or agency.

(2) A valid Alabama photo voter identification card issued under subsection (f) or other valid identification card issued by a branch, department, agency, or entity of the State of Alabama, any other state, or the United States authorized by law to issue personal identification, provided that such identification card contains a photograph of the elector.

AL SOS Poll watcher ID help

The Alabama Secretary of State’s office produced this “Practical guide for Poll Watchers” for the 2014 statewide Primaries (held June 3, 2014), which mistakenly cites the OLD law, which allows numerous types of non-photographic voter identification, instead of the NEW law which MANDATES ALL VOTERS produce “valid” photographic identification. “Alabama Ballot Security Manual: A Practical guide for Poll Watchers, Alabama Primary Election, June 3, 2014

(3) A valid United States passport.

(4) A valid employee identification card containing the photograph of the elector and issued by any branch, department, agency, or entity of the United States government, this state, or any county, municipality, board, authority, or other entity of this state.

(5) A valid student or employee identification card issued by a public or private college, university, or postgraduate technical or professional school located within the state, provided that such identification card contains a photograph of the elector.

(6) A valid United States military identification card, provided that such identification card contains a photograph of the elector.

(7) A valid tribal identification card containing a photograph of the elector.

(b) Voters voting an absentee ballot shall submit with the ballot a copy of one of the forms of identification listed in subsection (a).

(c) Notwithstanding subsection (b), a voter who is entitled to vote by absentee ballot pursuant to the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (subchapter I-G of Chapter 20 of Title 42 U.S.C.); Section 3(b)(2)(B)(ii) of the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act (subchapter I-F of Chapter 20 of Title 42 U.S.C.); or any other federal law, shall not be required to produce identification prior to voting.

(d) An individual required to present valid photo identification in accordance with this section who is unable to meet the identification requirements of this section shall be permitted to vote by a provisional ballot, as provided for by law.

(e) In addition, an individual who does not have valid photo identification in his or her possession at the polls shall be permitted to vote if the individual is positively identified by two election officials as a voter on the poll list who is eligible to vote and the election officials sign a sworn affidavit so stating.

(f) The Secretary of State shall issue, upon application, an Alabama photo voter identification card to registered Alabama electors which shall under state law be valid only for the purposes of voter identification under subsection (a) and available only to registered electors of this state. No fee shall be charged or collected for the application for or issuance of an Alabama photo voter identification card.

(g) No person shall be eligible for an Alabama photo voter identification card if such person has a valid unexpired driver’s license, nondriver identification card, or any other photo identification described in subsection (a).

(h) The Alabama photo voter identification card shall be captioned ALABAMA PHOTO VOTER IDENTIFICATION CARD and shall contain a prominent statement that under Alabama law the card is valid only as identification for voting purposes. The Alabama photo voter identification card shall be laminated, shall contain a digital color photograph of the applicant, shall have the signature of the Secretary of State, and shall include the following information:

(1) Full legal name.

(2) Address as reflected in the person’s voter registration record.

(3) Date of birth.

(4) Eye color.

(5) Gender.

(6) Height.

(7) Weight.

(8) Date identification card was issued.

(9) Other information as required by rule of the Secretary of State.

(i) The application for an Alabama photo voter identification card shall elicit the information required under subdivisions (1) to (7), inclusive, of subsection (h). The application shall be signed and sworn to by the applicant, and any falsification or fraud in the making of the application shall constitute a Class C felony.

(j) The Secretary of State shall require presentation and verification of the following information before issuing an Alabama photo voter identification card to a person:

(1) A photo identity document, except that a non-photo identity document is acceptable if the document includes both the person’s full legal name and date of birth.

(2) Documentation showing the person’s date of birth.

(3) Documentation showing the person is registered to vote in this state.

(4) Documentation showing the person’s name and address as reflected in the voter registration record.

(k) An Alabama photo voter identification card shall remain valid so long as the person resides at that same address and remains qualified to vote. It shall be the duty of a person who moves his or her residence within the State of Alabama to surrender his or her card to the Secretary of State, and such person may after such surrender apply for and receive a new card if the person is otherwise eligible under this section. It shall be the duty of a person who moves his or her residence outside the State of Alabama or who ceases to be qualified to vote to surrender his or her card to the Secretary of State.

(l) The Secretary of State is authorized to contract with a private provider for the production of the Alabama photo voter identification card pursuant to any applicable state bid laws.

(m) The expenses for the production of the Alabama photo voter identification card shall be paid from funds appropriated in the state General Fund for Registration of Voters.

(n) The Secretary of State is directed to inform the public regarding the requirements of subsection (a) through whatever means deemed necessary by the Secretary of State.

(o) The Secretary of State is granted rule making authority for the implementation of this section under the Alabama Administrative Procedure Act.

(Act 2003-381, p. 1080, §§1-4; Act 2006-281, p. 496, §1; §17-11A-1; amended and renumbered by Act 2006-570, p. 1331, §46; Act 2010-687, p. 1660, §3; Act 2011-673, p. 1795, §1.)
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8 Responses to “Alabama Secretary of State Errs in Poll Watcher Guide: Photo Voter ID Law Disenfranchises Elderly Voters in June Primaries”

  1. RedEye said

    How and why indeed.

  2. To Whom It May Concern,

    The Alabama Secretary of State’s Office does NOT produce any document titled “Alabama Ballot Security Manual: A practical guide for Poll Watchers, Alabama Primary Election, June 3, 2014.” The only documents we produce are the 2014 Alabama Voter Guide and the Alabama Photo Voter ID Guide. Please update your article.

    Sincerely,

    Adam Thompson
    Deputy Chief of Staff
    Office of Secretary of State Jim Bennett

    • Warm Southern Breeze said

      Hi Adam, and thanks for reading & writing! Most of all, however, thank you for the correction!
      It is appreciated, and so noted.

      • RedEye said

        If the Alabama SOS didn’t produce this guide who did?

      • Warm Southern Breeze said

        Hi Red Eye, and thanks for your question!
        You ask a very good question, for which I have no answer.
        I can, however, hypothesize.
        My thoughts are that a well-meaning group may have produced such a document. However, well-meaning as they may have been, they were clearly not up to date on the goings-on in the Alabama State Legislature.
        Thanks for reading, and for your response!

  3. […] Alabama Secretary of State Errs in Poll Watcher Guide: Photo Voter ID Law Disenfranchises Elderly Vo… […]

  4. “Ballot security” is a Republican term.

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