Governor Buddy Roemer is an independent presidential candidate effectively running on a single issue: ending the corrupting influence of money on American politics. Because I believe campaign finance is perhaps the one issue that must be resolved before anything else gets resolved, I am paying attention to Governor Roemer. If you care at all about this issue, so should you. If you do not care about this issue, take a few minutes here and here and, if you have some more time, read this book.
Alas, I don’t agree with the former Republican Governor on much other than his hallmark issue (I am far to his left), so I will not vote for him. But because he may be the only viable national voice on the money in politics issue, I will do what I can to get people to pay attention to him.
Voter ID Laws
In an effort to learn more about Governor Roemer’s other positions, I participated in a Twitter town hall meeting that he held a little over a week ago. One of my questions made the cut, here is the exchange:
@ricsezen: Do you support voter ID laws such as the Texas law currently under judicial review? #AskBuddy
@BuddyRoemer: #AskBuddy @ricsezen Haven’t read the law in Texas but I don’t see what’s wrong with showing an id when you go vote. (1/2)
@BuddyRoemer: #AskBuddy @ricsezen It’s the most-important thing we do as citizens. I don’t believe in discriminating voters though. (2/2)
@ricsezen: @BuddyRoemer Do you then believe that voter fraud is a bigger problem than low voter participation? #AskBuddy
@BuddyRoemer: #AskBuddy @ricsezen No. We need more participation
@ricsezen: @BuddyRoemer If a voter ID law were shown to stifle participation, you wld be agst it even if it may prevent some kinds of fraud? #AskBuddy
Governor Roemer’s equivocation makes it difficult to determine his position on the issue. He is indeed a politician! Nevertheless, he does at least seem to acknowledge what I think is the primary concern over these laws, namely that there is a tension between competing democracy-promoting values: the prevention of voter fraud and the encouragement of voter participation. If we embrace one of these values without paying attention to the other, we risk doing more harm than good. Accordingly, the issue demands empirical analysis. That is, we need to determine whether or not there is in fact a voter fraud problem that warrants legislation and we also need to know how such legislation may actually affect voter participation.
Here is a useful link describing the various voting laws around the country, including those introduced but not yet in effect.
I strongly oppose the Texas voter ID law as well as other similar laws around the country. There is at least presumptive evidence that these laws would significantly stifle voter participation. The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU has done some compelling work on this, particularly in addressing the “problem” of voter fraud. I have not found a similarly compelling report supporting the opposing position. Most of what I’ve seen focuses primarily on anecdotal evidence of voter fraud. A bi-partisan commission has made a good faith effort to bridge the gap between the positions by issuing a report that is worth reviewing, but, I believe, ultimately falls short.
In the end, I believe that the voter ID laws popping up around the country at best solve a minor or non-existent problem and at worst intentionally disenfranchise likely Democratic voters. But don’t take my word for it, look at the data and make your own decision.