by snowback, Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 07:27:02 PM EDT
Lisa Schiffren posted the following on The Corner NRO website earlier today:
Letting the Homeless Vote [Lisa Schiffren]
Try as I might, I cannot really understand how even a minimum standard of voting security can be maintained when, as an Ohio judge did yesterday, you decide to let the homeless vote. If there is no address -- how do you check whether someone has voted before or whether they are using a real name? I get that the judge is attempting to enable fraud on behalf of his campaign -- but how does this pass even a minimum test of reasonableness?
Remember how Obama won all of those caucuses, starting with Iowa, where Hillary had been running ahead in polls? According to a bunch of eyewitness, including former candidate Joseph Biden, many Iowa caucuses were won on the strength of voters bused in from Illinois. I hold it against Hillary that she didn't protest at the time. Now, of course, there is no protection to be had. These Chicago Obama supporters can vote in their own district, then get on busses to Ohio where they are now free to cite a given park bench or doorway as their residence, and vote again. I guess that's easier than bringing out the dead, which was the traditional Chicago practice. Although I'm sure they'll be voting too.
I normally don't respond to these things, but I couldn't let this one pass. They don't allow comments over there, so I sent her an email, and I am posting it here (the way Spy Magazine used to print Letters to the Editor of The New Yorker because The New Yorker didn't):
Ms Schiffren -
Partisan politicking aside, the right to vote is fundamental. No principle is more basic to our democracy than the principle of the consent of the governed. I assume thoughtful Americans on all sides of the political debate can agree about that. Of course it is important to preserve the integrity of the voting system, and to fight against fraud in all its forms. But the sanctity of the vote is why we worry about those things. Your post about the homeless struck me as intemperate and profoundly undemocratic. Homeless people should perhaps be required to present some additional identification if they cannot present a permanent address. But to suggest that homeless people -- provided they are not felons or otherwise ineligible - should be stripped of the right to vote simply because it is harder to keep track of them is to my mind indefensible.
Nobody is required to own or rent a house or an apartment in order to vote. A destitute citizen has as much at stake in the outcome elections as you or I - and probably a lot more. And by the way, that homeless voter is much more likely than the average citizen to be a veteran; in 1999, veterans represented 9 percent of the general population, but nearly 23 percent of the homeless population and 33 percent of the adult male homeless population. These are the people whom you are suggesting ought to be disenfranchised - those who have given more than anyone else to protect the right to vote.
The federal courts have generally felt the same way. There is quite a bit of case law on the subject if you are interested:
Very truly yours,