Attorney General rejects bid to require government ID for voting in Massachusetts

NOTE: This is a corrected version of this post.

The state Attorney General's office said today a proposed referendum on requiring government-issued IDs to vote in Massachusetts is unconstitutional because it "infringes on freedom of elections."

Currently, Massachusetts voters facing a residency challenge can present a current utility bill or paycheck stub. The proposal by Mansfield Selectman Olivier Kozlowski would have required people showing up to vote to show a driver's license, passport or government-issued ID card.

Last month, the Attleboro Sun-Chronicle talked to Kozlowski:

Kozlowski said he was not aware of any specific voter fraud problems in Massachusetts, but worries that the system now is vulnerable.

"Every election you hear stories," said Kozlowski, a Republican.

The AG's office said other proposed measures - which will require backers to collect at least 69,000 signatures by December would be constitutional, including measures to require charitable organizations to comply with certain do-not-call restrictions, let supermarkets sell wine, allow the "humanitarian" use of marijuana and repeal the current requirement that Massachusetts resident buy health insurance.



Free tagging: 


I hear stories too

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About fucking Republican assholes trying to conduct voter suppression, through outright lying about non-existent voter fraud.

Hooray for the AG for standing up for the right to vote in the face of un-democratic and un-American douchebags like Kozlowski.

It would be interesting to do

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It would be interesting to do some research about Kozlowski's national and local party affiliations and communications. Did he really come up with this voter id law all by himself based on unconfirmed rumors? Was he contacted directly by the national GOP (or affiliate) or was this a directive by the state GOP at the behest of the national GOP?

Lets take a peek at his donations to see if he has received some large contributions recently from anonymous sources.

Not only that

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Who pays for licenses then? Requiring payment to get an ID becomes tantamount to poll tax, which is illegal.

So then ID's a free, and the exact same drivers licenses go up in price. Either that, or taxpayers are to foot the bill. Very fiscally responsible, eh?

It's nothing but a ruse. They want to limit voting, and undermine democracy since it'll benefit them. Screw changing minds, when you can change the electorate.

Boston's infamous voter fraud history

Chicken: When James Michael Curley was a political figure in Boston, there were famous cases of voter fraud, where his supporters brought people to the polls over and over in the same election, and gave them names to use that were obtained from headstones in cemeteries. And there were similar allegations against Acorn in a more recent election. When there is a system in place that makes fraud easy, then it's more likely to happen. I've been surprised for many years that we have so few safeguards against this kind of voter fraud.

The allegations against Acorn

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The allegations against Acorn turned out to be complete bullshit.

Typical "conservative" noise machine lies.

Show me something real.

Check your facts

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Several dozen Acorn administrators have plead guilty and been found guilty of voter fraud in Colorado, Nevada, Missouri, ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

Incorrect, check your own facts

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ACORN employees plead guilty to voter registration fraud. They paid about 13,000 canvassers to go out into the community and register people for the upcoming elections. A few canvassers across the country turned in completed registration forms for people who don't exist because they were being paid per completed form. None of this was an attempt to defraud the vote and no evidence has ever shown that votes were illegally filed, but simply a common scheme to get paid while goldbricking (there is also no evidence of coordination between offices).

In fact, ACORN itself was not allowed to vet for false information on the registration forms that were turned in because that's the job of the election board that was taking in the forms! The only mistake the organization made was in how it chose to pay its employees. In the meantime, they provided vastly more REAL registrations.

Really???? last i checked you

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Really???? last i checked you need an ID to:

Get a job
Collect welfare
rent an appartment
buy a car
have a bank account
cash a check
buy a house

SO this is not supression, because if YOU live in the district, you have to PROVE you live in the district...

IN ORDER to have obtained residency IN the didtrict, YOU would have needed to HAVE PHOTO ID.

Its about the dems not wanting to get rid of all the extra votes they get from voter fraud!


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This is why we need negative voting scores on comments.

AND not to mention, You can

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AND not to mention, You can claim hardship and the DMV will issue you a license free of charge.

So this is not a TAX to vote.

It is a means to prevent voting fraud.

Some form of ID?

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I have NEVER been asked for any form of ID whatsoever, no matter which town I've lived in here in MA.

The specific section of the state constitution

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Article 48, section 2:

No proposition inconsistent with any one of the following rights of the individual, as at present declared in the declaration of rights, shall be the subject of an initiative or referendum petition: The right to receive compensation for private property appropriated to public use; the right of access to and protection in courts of justice; the right of trial by jury; protection from unreasonable search, unreasonable bail and the law martial; freedom of the press; freedom of speech; freedom of elections; and the right of peaceable assembly.

If ID is inconsistent w/ free elections, why have registration?

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When voters must, by law, register well in advance of any election, how can it be "inconsistent with free elections" to verify on election day that they are indeed the person registered? Under that misguided theory, wouldn't registration itself be inconsistent with free elections?

Attorney General Coakley's press release conveniently claims that her "office" ruled on the matter. If she truly believes in the ruling she should state that she, Attorney General Martha Coakley, has ruled on it. On the eve of sentencing of the third Democrat Speaker in a row on felony convictions, the ruling by Coakley's "office" smacks of another major Mass. Democrat encouraging fraud, or at least turning a blind eye, to it. Both ID requirements for routine transactions and identity theft are ways of life in today's society. The A.G., who has her own identity theft unit, appears silly on this.

PS - Stay classy, Chicken. President Obama has called for civility between the parties. Apparently your copy of the memo blew off your perch porch.

Your opinion doesn't matter here

Voting rights are not subject to referendum in MA. Period. Read the MA constitution section that Adam linked to, above. It really can't be any more clear.

Furthermore, the US Constitution prohibits a Poll Tax. Again - go read it and see for yourself. Here's the full text of the 24th Amendment:

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

A fee for an ID that you must obtain for the sole purpose of being able to vote is effectively a poll tax. That doesn't mean that you can't require government ID - it just means that you cannot require people to pay to obtain that ID if that ID is required soley for the purposes of voting.

This is well settled law, and the limitations on loopholes have been worked out a century ago. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean that it is not valid and established precident.

One would think that a retired cop would have more of a basic appreciation and fundamental respect for the laws of this country and this commonwealth.

Re: Voter ID. SwirlyGrrl, riddle me this, oh wise one!

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With your instant reflex to disagree with me, you seem to have missed the possibility that I might be agreeing with you on this. Because, if requiring ID at the polls is a "tax", isn't requiring ID to register to go to the polls also a tax? From the website of the Springfield, MA City Clerk and many other city/town clerk websites,

When you register, you must include your driver's license number or the last four digits of your social security number on the application. If the information cannot be verified or you do not provide this information, you must provide identification at your polling location when you go to vote. Sufficient identification includes a copy of current and valid photo identification, current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document showing your name and address.

Since a driver's license costs money and issuance of a social security number requires documents that cost money, why isn't the voter registration requirement a poll tax?

Social Security Cards Are Not For ID Purposes

It says so right on the card that comes with them. They are also not obtained for the SOLE purpose of voting.

You can get one if you provide the appropriate documents, which do cost money but, again, are not for the SOLE PURPOSE of voting. These documents are for access to PRIVILEGES, they are not required to exercise RIGHTS. SS cards are also not for ID purposes in statute, but many states have slimed this for a long time. In any case, they are not for the sole purpose of being able to vote.

A driver's license certifies that you can drive a car - it is a credential needed to exercise a PRIVILEGE. Some states, like the one I was born in, don't even accept it as an official ID for anything BUT driving.

Those documents aren't required SOLEY in order to register to vote, so any costs incurred do not infringe on your rights. You get rights as a citizen - you are not required to PAY the state to exercise them, either as a special tax or as a "fee" for a special required piece of identification. A driver's license is required to drive - not a right. A liquor ID is obtained to purchase alcohol - again, not a right.

A voter ID card that the state charges you for effectively means "you can't use documents that you have for other purposes and have to pay for a special ID in order to vote". Paying the state in order to be able to vote is a poll tax. Poll taxes are illegal.

Much of this was settled law as of WWII. Why don't you go research the history of the case law? Oh, I forgot. Google is way too hard and your reading comprehension is impaired. Otherwise, you would have noticed that MA striking down the referendum didn't have anything to do with a poll tax anyway - it had to do with the MA constitution forbidding people getting to vote on certain rights.


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Citizen is the key word in this.

Citizens are the people who

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Citizens are the people who vote, yes. Care to offer up any more painfully obvious observations?

Why should I care about any memo?

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Republicans are trying to destroy this country from the inside. They want to enrich themselves and force a Christian theocracy on the rest of us.

I don't give a shit about being "civil" with motherfuckers like that.

Fuck em.

I fail to see just how . . .

. . . the Republicans are going to make Massachusetts a Christian Theocracy. That is only slightly less incredible a fear than the reed boat invasion fleet from Islam landing on Cape Cod and making us live under the yoke of the dreaded Sharia Law.

I don't think the Democrats deserve anyone's loyalty or thanks for fighting something that isn't even a real issue or concern.

Other than fake non issues like the threat of a Christian Theocracy- there isn't a dime's worth of difference between the R's and D's. Same policies- marketed using different rhetoric. Same loop tape they have been on for going on 40 or 50 years now.

Yes and No

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I'm not a huge fan of the D's but at least their public figures are not parading around telling us that we should be following God's laws, that women should remain in the home, and that science is evil.

Not to mention the regular folks of "Red country":

P.S. Massachusetts has Blue laws :P


I hope the scary GOP don't get elected and do something like claim the power to murder American citizens by secret Presidential decree. Oh yeah wait. . . . That power has already been claimed by the very different Obama presidency.

All of the above enumerated

All of the above enumerated rights are subject to limits. You can be searched, you can be required to pay bail, freedoms of the press and speech are not absolute, and peaceable assembly is regulated.

Needless to say, the right to vote is circumscribed as well. I cannot vote in a community I don't live in, and I can't vote twice in a single election. If I'm a declared Democrat, I can't vote in a Republican primary. If you're not a citizen, or not of voting age, you're out of luck.

If you can be required to show proof of your age to buy a pack of cigarettes, it doesn't seem like to great a burden to prove that you are a legally registered voter. I doubt it would have an effect on the vast majority of elections, but that's no reason to prevent it from going into effect.

Disingenuous quibbles

Let's be plain about this. It's a poll tax, which have long been prohibited. We charge $25 for the least expensive MA-issued IDs. Most people can do that, but many can't. Requiring it disenfranchises the poor and others.

Set aside 1) the lack of evidence of any problem and 2) the likely or possible motives of those pushing this style of legislation here and elsewhere. Instead to the points here, the existing law (Chapter 54 §76B) has all this covered. It lets poll workers or anyone standing around when the voter name is repeated to challenge the identification. The workers can ask for ID. That ID can be either current, valid photo ID or "current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter."

The existing mechanisms allow for showing ID in any questionable case. Doing the government-issued photo ID looks to all the world like an unnecessary and punitive gambit, as well as a form of poll tax.

Good luck to the conspiracy types who think they can find voter fraud. Let them act as poll watchers and spend 13 hours at a location to uncover exactly nothing.

"Every election you hear

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"Every election you hear stories," said Kozlowski, a Republican.

The stories are generated by the national COP. Despite the best efforts of Karl Rove, they have never established any actual csses of voter fraud.

Indeed, if one recalls the scandal of Bush Attorney General firing GOP Federal District Attorneys for after investigation of voter fraud, reporting back that there was no evidence to move forward with a prosecution.

However, the stories of voter fraud carry great currency on talk radio, serving to perpetuate the myth that the American public is more conservative than the actual election results reflect.

This is a classic example of a case that if you repeat a lie often enough, bit looks like the truth. When behavior like this occurred in other countries, ti was correctly identified as pro panda.

pro panda?

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I'm completely anti-panda. Those fuzzy fuckers can go to hell.

poll tax for polecats

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I'm glad this initiative was shot down. It is a poll tax, which is unconstitutional. And yes, GOPers keep repeating lies about voter fraud until it becomes accepted as fact.

BUT....let's be honest, the issue is not that people will not have the $25 to pay for an ID so they can vote. The issue is that the majority of people in this country are too lazy, disinterested or feel completely disconnected from our political system and therefore do not vote. Having to pay for an ID would be one more barrier to getting people out to vote so we're trying to prevent it from happening. There are many low income people who managed to find the money for a number of items that they want and I suspect that there are many reasonable items that would come before an ID expressly for the purposes of voting. We as a nation do not value our franchise. I'm sure many people here do value it and take it seriously, but as a nation, we don't.

So putting up even a little barrier like an identification requirement at roughly $25 would result in droves of people not voting like they did in the last Presidential election. Not exactly Jim Crow, but the same result.

One way it wouldn't be a poll tax

Just make the ID card free for the asking.

Of course that simply means that the taxpayers would have to foot the bill for turning the Registry of Motor Vehicles into the Registry of Massachusetts Voters - all for a "problem" that has been repeatedly shown not to exist.

Quite frankly, the evidence that voting machines were manipulated by friends of the GOP in places like Ohio (where the Diebold CEO was promising to deliver the state for the GOP ...) for fradulent voting is far stronger.

'scuse me while I slip on...

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Additionally, once we're all getting national identification cards (it'll make it easier to vote and we can better control id theft and "illegals") we will have to make sure the proper safeguards, like biometric data, are in there. You know, fingerprints, retina scan, facial id data hey, what the hell, why not your DNA?

You can accuse me of trying to live in a Phillip K Dick world, but if a DHS official were to honestly answer the question, they would say that they want this for every man, woman and child in the U.S. (themselves excepted, of course).

What we should be doing

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is making voting easier to do.

Why not vote by mail? You have weeks to do so. It's certified. You literally can't vote again, and non registered voters can not get ballots?

If this was really about voter fraud, there's much better ways to change the way we vote, while increasing ease and access.

This isn't about that, it's about disenfranchising those you don't agree with and hoping making things harder lets apathy take over.

I love the claim of poll tax.

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I love the claim of poll tax. Like this is the issue. This is a completely fabricated outrage. You go to the poll to vote, you have to be on the roll, you have to prove you are old enough and that you are a citizen. Many states already provide a voter registration card when you register to vote. It is a peice of paper that says you regsitered. It provides your name, precinct and ward as well as current affiliation. If you need to re-register because you changed your maiden name, address or affiliation, you get a new one.

Once at the poll, the poll attendant askes you to prove who you are, most people provide their license or state ID, if they have neither they use their voter registration card. If they have nothing that proves who they are, they cannot vote and should not be able to vote plain and simple. If voting is important to the citizen, it should be important enough for the citizen to prove who you are so no one votes in their place. Not a big deal. Not a poll tax.

It costs taxpayers more to file registrations than to print registration cards. And with all the taxes we pay, its the least of our worries.

You are simply ignorant of reality

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Once at the poll, the poll attendant askes you to prove who you are, most people provide their license or state ID, if they have neither they use their voter registration card.

No, they don't. I have not once been asked by a poll attendant to prove who I am. I tell them my name and my street address, which is how the voter rolls are organized in my area, and that is it.