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Old 04-24-2016, 07:43 AM
Schnitte Schnitte is offline
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Can you explain all the fuzz about voter registration in the US to a European?

Some European countries operate a system of a permanent mandatory register of all citizens, which is also used for administering elections. I understand America does not have such a system in place, meaning there's a need for a dedicated voter registration process.

My understanding of voter registration is - but maybe I'm wrong about what it actually entails - is as follows. People who wish to vote are required, with details governed by state law, to submit a registration form, together with documentation that proves their eligibility to vote (such as a birth certificate). You mail that to some agency by some defined deadline ahead of the election, and that's it.

If that is what voter registration means, then I don't understand the controvery this creates. Surely they can't just let anybody vote who shows up at a polling station on election day, so some pre-screening of that sort is necessary and reasonable. I don't see how such a process would be biased in favour of certain parties or candidates, since I would imagine everybody, rich or poor, to have documentation of that sort. Sure, it reduces spontaneous voting by people who made up their mind that they want to vote only after the registration deadline. But that's about it, and I don't see how this would hit a a particular party's or candidate's supporters disporportinatley more strongly than others. So where does this controversy come from?
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  #2  
Old 04-24-2016, 09:13 AM
RivkahChaya RivkahChaya is online now
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The controversy is over requiring IDs to vote, and "motor-voter" registration.

"Motor-voter" means that whenever you register a car or get a license, you are offered the opportunity to register to vote. The wealthier you are, the more likely you are to have a car and a driver's license, so the more likely you are to have this opportunity to register. It therefore discriminates against poor people.

Having to show an ID to vote is supposed to prevent fraud, but there is no evidence of fraud, not large-scale, or eve small-scale, so it's a solution to a non-existent problem. It also discriminates against poor people, since acceptable IDs are state issued pictures IDs, meaning driver's licenses, or state IDs that are not licenses, but are obtained from the same place you get a license (people who can't drive for physical or medical reasons, or choose not to drive, get them); picture IDs from state universities; and US passports as well.

Poor people are less likely to be able to obtain any of these IDs. They are less likely to own cars and need licenses, to have difficulty getting to the department of motor vehicles to get a state ID, to go to college and have a university ID, or to be able to afford a passport.

The theory goes that poor people disproportionately vote Democrat, so Republicans pass these ID laws to eliminate Democratic voters.

I personally question a lot of this. In my state, poor people tend to be Christian, and therefore Republican, because many of them are single-issue voters on abortion. Also, in big cities, like NYC and LA, where you do get populations of poor people who are Democrats, they have little trouble getting state IDs, because public transportation is good in these places.

However, the fact that this is a solution without a problem is kind of a big deal to me. I hate extraneous legislation.

One issue that is dead in the water, though is the idea that these laws disenfranchise homeless people. Homeless people already have special problems. You need an address to register to vote, because you need to be in a district for representatives, state senators, sheriff, etc. So the idea that these laws discriminate against the homeless is a non-starter.
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Old 04-24-2016, 11:11 AM
Anglachel Anglachel is offline
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I'd like to offer some corrections.

"Motor Voter" is a nickname given to the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) that was passed into law in the mid 90's. It is not in any way controversial as RivkahChaya described it. It requires States to give voters the option to register to vote at the time they renew their license to drive. It does not give any preferential treatment to drivers. In fact, it also requires states to allow registration by mail and at numerous other government agencies including public assistance. Prior to this law, many states required voters to register at only a limited number of special locations or with "Registrars". NVRA was a big step forward, not backward by any measure.

As to the issue of homeless people, they are not required to have an address to vote. They do need to provide a location where they "live" to be assigned to districts. However, in a least the state that I am most familiar with, they are allowed to register with their mailing address set at "General Delivery". I know from experience that many homeless people are able to get a voter ID even if they can't get any other type of ID.
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Old 04-24-2016, 11:38 AM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is online now
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Originally Posted by Schnitte View Post

If that is what voter registration means, then I don't understand the controvery this creates.
In America we politicize everything, voter registration and voter turnout is no different.

There are 2 major parties in the US, the democrats and the republicans. As a general rule of thumb, the democrats do better when voter turnout is higher. The republicans do better when turnout is lower. I'm not trying to turn this into a political thread, but you can't understand why this is happening here unless you understand that. Trying to understand why this is an issue w/o discussing the politics behind it is like trying to understand biology w/o discussing evolution. People may not like it, but you can't have an honest and informed discussion without it.

As a result, republicans on the state and federal level have passed many laws making it harder to vote:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_...d_States#Types
  • Eliminating or restricting absentee voting
  • Eliminating or restricting early voting
  • Making voter registration more onerous
  • Fighting same day or automatic registration
  • Requiring IDs for voters
  • Closing polling places so people have trouble getting to the polls to vote (and when they get there the lines are incredibly long)
  • Constantly purging voter rolls so people have to reregister
  • Allowing IDs that conservatives have (like gun registrations) to count as ID, but not allowing ID that democrats have (like college IDs)

Basically they are trying to create fewer voters, and trying to make it harder for the remaining voters to vote because some people who lean democratic are more likely to just give up the harder it is to vote (while republicans will still show up to vote no matter how hard you make it to vote).

It would be an easy fix, if the politicians in the US wanted an easy fix. But they do not, so it is an issue.

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/201...oter-id-study/

Last edited by Wesley Clark; 04-24-2016 at 11:42 AM.
  #5  
Old 04-24-2016, 11:38 AM
Morgenstern Morgenstern is offline
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American's don't ever reregister unless they move from the area they were previously in. That way, they are assured that they will be voting on issues related to the area they live in. They may also be required to reregister if they fail to vote in a major election.

If a person lives at the same address, never misses voting in major elections, then they remain registered. At least this is the way it is where I live.
  #6  
Old 04-24-2016, 11:49 AM
bob++ bob++ is offline
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Registering as a voter is voluntary in the UK. There was a TV campaign last week to persuade more people to register - no register = no vote.

People don't register for all kinds of reasons: Some because they don't want the government to know who they are, some because they are transitory and can't be bothered and some because they are illegal. Students are often registered at their homes and don't bother with postal votes. Elections get low turnouts anyway so MPs get voted in by a small minority of those eligible.

Because there is a legal limit on expenditure, elections in the UK do not get the same kind of wall to wall coverage that they do in the USA. Politicians do their best but the electorate is pretty apathetic in the main.

The Labour (left wing) party elected a radical leader. They are expected to take a drubbing in the forthcoming (May 5th) election of local councillors - even though he does not really have anything to do with them. I guess its like voting for a State governor with the opposite politics to the POTUS (or abstaining) because you don't like him. Unlike the USA, the labour party can ditch their unpopular leader in the hope that things will improve by the time a General election comes around.
  #7  
Old 04-24-2016, 12:15 PM
jasg jasg is offline
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Originally Posted by Schnitte View Post
<snip>since I would imagine everybody, rich or poor, to have documentation of that sort.
Sadly, this is not true for many citizens of the US - and getting that documentation can be amazingly difficult.
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Old 04-24-2016, 12:43 PM
John Mace John Mace is online now
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Originally Posted by Morgenstern View Post
American's don't ever reregister unless they move from the area they were previously in.
Really? You didn't have to register when you turned 18, or when you first decided to vote? I did.

Last edited by John Mace; 04-24-2016 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 04-24-2016, 01:35 PM
Pantastic Pantastic is offline
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Originally Posted by Schnitte View Post
since I would imagine everybody, rich or poor, to have documentation of that sort.
Why do you imagine that, exactly? It's very obviously not true, and if everyone did have the documentation at hand there wouldn't be a controversey in the first place.
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Old 04-24-2016, 01:36 PM
doreen doreen is online now
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Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
Really? You didn't have to register when you turned 18, or when you first decided to vote? I did.
Morgenstern said we don't re-register unless we move or miss voting in a major election (although I think it's two general elections). IOW , we don't need to register before each election or every 10 years. My 75 year old mother has only registered once, because she has lived at the same address for over 60 years - I am sure there are countries were that wouldn't be possible.
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Old 04-24-2016, 01:58 PM
septimus septimus is offline
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Most countries have some sort of national ID, but the U.S. does not. Many people do not have "valid" ID.

To give some idea of how politicized the voter ID requirement is, in Texas a concealed-gun carry permit is acceptable for voter ID! But a government-issued student ID card with photo is not. (Gun owners tend to vote Republican; students Democratic.)

The voter ID laws are just one deliberate obstacle. In the 2004 election, precincts in Republican-voting precincts had adequate voting machines and voting was quick. In many Democratic-leaning precincts there were too few machines and queue delays of up to six hours to vote! (Without that, it's possible John Kerry would have defeated GWB.)
  #12  
Old 04-24-2016, 02:05 PM
Chessic Sense Chessic Sense is offline
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Perhaps the OP is referring to more recent controversies of registering to vote in primaries, not generals. In that case, OP, the issue is not Republican vs. Democrat, it's "Establishment" vs. "Insurgent."
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Old 04-24-2016, 02:11 PM
Morgenstern Morgenstern is offline
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Really? You didn't have to register when you turned 18, or when you first decided to vote? I did.
I didn't have to reregister when I turned 18.
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Old 04-24-2016, 02:16 PM
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To give some idea of how politicized the voter ID requirement is, in Texas a concealed-gun carry permit is acceptable for voter ID! But a government-issued student ID card with photo is not. (Gun owners tend to vote Republican; students Democratic.)
To be fair, the concealed carry permit ID and proof-of-identity requirements far exceed those of voter registration, requiring much the same sorts of identification and being fingerprinted, etc...

Student IDs don't necessarily have those same requirements. Presumably you had to show some of that stuff to register at the school, but I doubt that there's any legislation *mandating* state schools to require the same sort of proof-of-identity that is required for voter registration.

In other words, concealed carry licenses have been proven to be equivalent in terms of identity documentation, while student IDs aren't required to be equivalent, and therefore would have to either be blanket disqualified, or taken up on a case-by-case basis. I.e. UT's might be ok, but Wharton County Junior College's ID might not.

That's a good, non-political explanation for the two.
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Old 04-24-2016, 02:44 PM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is online now
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To give some idea of how politicized the voter ID requirement is, in Texas a concealed-gun carry permit is acceptable for voter ID! But a government-issued student ID card with photo is not.
Students' residency is based upon where they lived when they were accepted to the school, and they're expected to vote (often by absentee ballot) in their home state.
  #16  
Old 04-24-2016, 02:55 PM
OldGuy OldGuy is offline
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Students' residency is based upon where they lived when they were accepted to the school, and they're expected to vote (often by absentee ballot) in their home state.
This is not true. While a student can register at their home address, they can if they prefer register to vote at their college address. It's possible registering at your school address is part of or helpful in establishing residency for paying lower in-state tuition.
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Old 04-24-2016, 03:09 PM
TBG TBG is offline
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Originally Posted by doreen View Post
Morgenstern said we don't re-register unless we move or miss voting in a major election (although I think it's two general elections). IOW , we don't need to register before each election or every 10 years. My 75 year old mother has only registered once, because she has lived at the same address for over 60 years - I am sure there are countries were that wouldn't be possible.
My sister didn't have to reregister to vote in the primary here a few months ago, which surprised me because the last (only) time she voted was in the 2004 presidential election.
  #18  
Old 04-24-2016, 04:39 PM
Rick Kitchen Rick Kitchen is offline
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Originally Posted by Chessic Sense View Post
Perhaps the OP is referring to more recent controversies of registering to vote in primaries, not generals. In that case, OP, the issue is not Republican vs. Democrat, it's "Establishment" vs. "Insurgent."
That's not true, at all. Every state has its own PARTY primary rules, put in place by the parties themselves, not by the states. Each party can decide who besides the voters who are registered as for that party can vote in their primary. In California, for instance, if you are registered as an independent (Decline to State, in California), you may vote in the Democratic primary, but you can't vote in the Republican primary.

There are also rules about how far in advance you have to be registered to vote, in order to qualify to vote in the primary. In New York, for example, you had to have been registered to vote as a particular party something like six months prior to the election. If you were registered previously as other than the party whose primary you wanted to vote in, you had to be changed to that party six months prior. If you had never registered to vote, or had moved to New York from another jurisdiction, then you could register sooner than that. The time limit is a state rule, not a party rule.
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Old 04-24-2016, 04:42 PM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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Another issue that's currently in the news is party membership, for the primaries. As with everything in the US, every state is different in the details, but in general, each voter can only vote in at most one primary election. In some states (called "open primary" states), you just show up at your polling place on voting day and tell them which party's ballot you want. In other states, you can only vote in a party's primary if you're officially a member of that party (closed primaries). Those state, in turn, have a variety of requirements for being officially a member of a party: In some of them, you can join a party on voting day (for much the same effect as an open primary). In others, you have to register for a party some time in advance (very far in advance, in the case of New York).
  #20  
Old 04-24-2016, 06:03 PM
friedo friedo is online now
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There are also rules about how far in advance you have to be registered to vote, in order to qualify to vote in the primary. In New York, for example, you had to have been registered to vote as a particular party something like six months prior to the election. If you were registered previously as other than the party whose primary you wanted to vote in, you had to be changed to that party six months prior.
If by "six months" you mean three weeks, then yeah. The registration deadline for the primary was March 25th, for the election on April 19.

Different states also have widely-varying rules for how much latitude the parties have in running their own primaries, and who may or may not be permitted to participate in the same.

Last edited by friedo; 04-24-2016 at 06:03 PM.
  #21  
Old 04-24-2016, 06:09 PM
RivkahChaya RivkahChaya is online now
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I'd like to offer some corrections.

"Motor Voter" is a nickname given to the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) that was passed into law in the mid 90's. It is not in any way controversial as RivkahChaya described it.
It shouldn't be, but it is, if you've ever heard people go on about it.

Also, FWIW, voter rolls used to be where most jurisdictions got their jury pools from, so many people avoided registering to vote so they wouldn't get called for jury duty. Recently, counties have changed to using vehicle registration in addition to voter registration so people wouldn't avoid voting, and also to widen the jury pool.
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Old 04-24-2016, 06:12 PM
doreen doreen is online now
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If by "six months" you mean three weeks, then yeah. The registration deadline for the primary was March 25th, for the election on April 19.
But if you were already registered to vote, the deadline to enroll in a party or change parties was October 9. Someone who never registered could register as a Republican or Democrat up until March 25- but someone who was registered as a Republican and switched to Democrat after October 9 wasn't eligible to vote in the primary.
  #23  
Old 04-24-2016, 06:15 PM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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Or, more relevantly, people who registered as independents, but who then decided this year that they wanted to vote in the primary. There were a lot of those this year, on both sides of the aisle.
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Old 04-24-2016, 06:33 PM
JRDelirious JRDelirious is offline
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Sadly, this is not true for many citizens of the US - and getting that documentation can be amazingly difficult.
Yes, it has been touched upon at length on the thread on voter-ID/suppression.
Schnitte, as mentioned a bit earlier in the thread, the US does not have one universal ID document that is proof of your identity, citizenship and lawful residency and follows you through life. Heck, whoever proposes creating that openly will be shouted out of the room in either party.
To complicate things further, some of the ID-establishing documents such as birth certificates, depending on your home state, are managed at not even the state but the county level. Add to that the sprawl and displacement of the US and it means you have a lot of people for whom gathering together the paperwork is a greater hassle.
  #25  
Old 04-24-2016, 07:04 PM
Tzigone Tzigone is online now
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To complicate things further, some of the ID-establishing documents such as birth certificates, depending on your home state, are managed at not even the state but the county level.
Interesting story - one day I was walking to lunch in county 1 (state capital city). A person asked me how to get to city A. Because they came here for their birth certificate, but found out it was kept at the county seat, not the capital city of the state. Then they said they were born in county 2. City A, that they asked about was actually the county seat of County 3. I know that because though I work in City 1, I live in the county they were asking about and shop in the city they were asking about.

So the person (who'd moved out of the state as a child) came to the state capital for birth certificate, but then found out he had to go to the county seat of his birth county, but was actually asking about the county seat for another county by city-name.

Edit: And the county courthouse did not have an original or a copy of my father's birth certificate. Turned out his mom had the original. He discovered this at 48.

Last edited by Tzigone; 04-24-2016 at 07:08 PM.
  #26  
Old 04-24-2016, 07:32 PM
Isilder Isilder is offline
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An issue that seems likely to come up in this election is the validity of delegates in the Electoral College .

From ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electo...ited_States%29


You normally think of votes as being points, and the person with the most points wins...

But President works with delegates. Each state is awarded a number of delegates based on population . The vote in that state decides how many delegates each party gets to send ... You'd think that it would be fair if a party got 1/3rd of the vote that party would get only 1/3rd of the delegates, but that only happens in Maine and Nebraska. In the rest, its winner takes all. 49% counts gets 0 %, 50% counts as 100%.

BUT these delegates are real people, and they don't merely show their face in Washington, they actually fill out a voting form ! .

So these Electoral College delegates can change their vote, and they can be disqualified.



Worse, some states make it law that the delegate "vows to support the candidate who they were nominated by"..

The issue could well be that a number of delegates may have a conscience and vote against the candidate who sent them.

The laws don't it clear as to how timing affects this. its the state that is disqualifying the delegate, but the voting is occurring in federal jurisdiction. How do the feds know if the delegate is disqualified by their state ? Does the timing of the disqualification matter to the feds, or is it the timing of the feds KNOWING of the disqualification ? The states imply that the delegate must be treated as a "point" and not a person who votes... But the feds let them vote. The state is saying if they vote against their party, the party they vowed to support to become a candidate for being a delegate to the Electoral College, then they should be disqualified. However, the Fed's treat the vote as happening FIRST and then the state can consider state law as they will based on what happened in the Electoral College Vote.. basically how the delegate votes cannot change the validity of their vote, as the vote must be made first... timing you see.. It has to be that way or there would be race conditions, logical conundrums...

But in this election, it may be that some states make real efforts to disqualify delegates to the electoral college BEFORE the vote... it may be that some electoral college candidates actually want to get THEMSELVES disqualified, which can mean showing their passport instead of their birth certificate, or vica versa , the old switheroo, to claim that they are actually to be disqualified as they shouldn't even be registered votes...

You'd think that they'd just make it a preferential points system... but the status quo remains, and the issue is that people like the idea that a small number of delegates may sabotage the delegates preferred party because they don't want that person as President...
  #27  
Old 04-24-2016, 07:41 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is online now
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It is very hard to discuss this in GQ. But let me just mention a few things about establishing ID. In general, they want a birth certificate. Different states have different requirements for issuing a BC. When I needed one to prove my age for retirement, I simply wrote to the PA registrar of vital statistics with a check for something like $6 and after an exchange (owing to the fact that the name I use is not the same as that on the BC) it was sent by return mail. Great. But I hear tell that if you are in some states, you actually have to go to some central registry and apply for it. Now if you can take a day off work and own a car you can drive to it, fine. But poor people cannot take a day off work and also have no way to get there since there is little or no public transportation in rural areas.

The first time I voted, in suburban Philadelphia, I just went to some office and registered. It was assumed I was a citizen or I wouldn't have asked to register. When I voted, I gave my name and they sent me to a voting booth and I pulled the levers on the machine. When I moved to NY, much the same. And in IL. Then I moved to Canada and have voted absentee in IL ever since (federal offices only).

When I moved to Canada, I got a driver's licence. After a couple years, medicare came and I got a medicare card. Eventually, both got pictures. I register to vote when I file tax returns and I use my medicare car as voter ID. In the US there is simply no standard ID and therein lies the problem.

Incidentally, while the documentation required for a student ID might be much less that that required for a gun permit, it is not significantly less than what you need for a driver's license.

When the Republican-dominated PA legislature passed a voter ID law, a Republican official exulted that now the Dems didn't have a chance to win the state. Somehow the law was suspended and the Dems did win in 2012.

And to mention something lightly touched on above, the question of enough voting booths in poor (mostly black) precincts is another contentious issue. A friend of mine who lived in Ohio in 2000 said that a few weeks before the election in the year, the Republican governor ordered the removal of several hundred voting machines from poor Cleveland areas where they were desperately needed to rural areas of the state where they were not. As a result, in some Cleveland precincts people lined for hours and many left discouraged, which might have changed the outcome of the election. I read that in the recent AZ primary, there was at least one precinct that had no polling station at all, so residents were disfranchised.
  #28  
Old 04-24-2016, 07:42 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Originally Posted by Schnitte View Post
since I would imagine everybody, rich or poor, to have documentation of that sort.
Others have touched on this, but perhaps not very clearly. This is the point. You are wrong. Many, many people don't have this documentation, especially if they are poor, and it can be very difficult and expensive to obtain, especially if they are poor.

Your next question should be why this is the case.
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Old 04-24-2016, 07:50 PM
Alley Dweller Alley Dweller is offline
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BUT these delegates are real people, and they don't merely show their face in Washington, they actually fill out a voting form ! .
Just to clarify, except for the electors from DC, the electors do not perform any duties in Washington DC and do not have any official reason to go there. (They are free to travel to DC as tourists, just like anyone else.)

The electoral college never meets as a whole. Each state (and DC) has a meeting of its electors in the state and the state then sends certificates to DC showing how they voted.
  #30  
Old 04-24-2016, 08:39 PM
Lord Feldon Lord Feldon is online now
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Originally Posted by Schnitte View Post
Surely they can't just let anybody vote who shows up at a polling station on election day, so some pre-screening of that sort is necessary and reasonable.
Except some states do exactly that. You can show up at a polling place and register to vote on the spot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by elfkin477 View Post
Students' residency is based upon where they lived when they were accepted to the school, and they're expected to vote (often by absentee ballot) in their home state.
No. Students have a legal right to vote where they reside for the purpose of attending college. (I was in college in 2008, and you couldn't take three steps without an Obama volunteer asking you if you were registered to vote at your university address.)
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Old 04-24-2016, 10:11 PM
Rick Kitchen Rick Kitchen is offline
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If by "six months" you mean three weeks, then yeah. The registration deadline for the primary was March 25th, for the election on April 19.

Different states also have widely-varying rules for how much latitude the parties have in running their own primaries, and who may or may not be permitted to participate in the same.
Three weeks was if you had never been registered before. Six months was if you were changing party affiliation.
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Old 04-24-2016, 10:27 PM
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Primaries are completely different from the actual election.
Last time I moved it took two clicks on a computer to register to vote- by mail. Thus getting rid of that pesky requirement of having to figure out which polling place to go to, figuring out how to get there on a Tuesday, and remembering to bring ID.
  #33  
Old 04-24-2016, 10:41 PM
smiling bandit smiling bandit is offline
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Originally Posted by OldGuy View Post
This is not true. While a student can register at their home address, they can if they prefer register to vote at their college address. It's possible registering at your school address is part of or helpful in establishing residency for paying lower in-state tuition.
I want to clarify this, because while you are right, so is the person you are responding to. As far as I can tell:

Student ID's aren't acceptable for voting because it in no way establishes you are a legal resident of a particular state; you can in almost all circumstances go to school in one state, even far from home, without establishing residency. In addition, student ID's frequently don't include an address, and many state colleges are close enough to a border than students and can do communicate over the state line. Hence, while it may establish you are who you say you are, a student doesn't usually suffice to show that you live in a particular state or district.

If I made any errors here, feel free to correct me, but that's all I can figure on this one.

Last edited by smiling bandit; 04-24-2016 at 10:41 PM.
  #34  
Old 04-25-2016, 12:05 AM
Iggy Iggy is offline
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Another point not fully touched on...

Elections in the United States are not run by a federal elections office. Elections are run at the state and/or local level.

Similarly registration requirements are not fully set at the federal level, though there are Constitutional protections that cover a few things (citizens over age 18 are eligible to vote in federal elections, no poll tax, etc...).

One point of contention with the Motor Voter registrations is that some states want to enforce stricter registration requirements than those stated on the Motor Voter registration form.

Finally, changing laws that result in disfavoring one group is not phenomenon unique to the Republican party. In the first two years of the Obama Administration the Democratic led Congress passed amendments to the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, a law meant to ease voting for American residing abroad, largely military servicemen stationed overseas. Prior to the amendment an overseas voter could make one request for ballots to be mailed for all elections for the next 4 years. The amendment eliminated that so now overseas voters must request ballots individually for each election. No notice was sent to overseas voters that their previous request for a ballot would not be honored.
  #35  
Old 04-25-2016, 12:22 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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In Canada, the income tax people ask if you want your name added to an on-going voter registry; but for some reason some provinces still use door-to-door enumeration at the beginning of every provincial election. The Canadian politicians (Conservative) have had the same paranoia about how the lower class vote early and often for their opponents; indeed changed the rules to try and eliminate that. It used to be that you could just swear yourself in, or have someone swear you in, at the polling station. Having done poll scrutineering (for the Progressive Conservatives) in a lower-class polling area, I can assure you there is no such "horde of fake voters" from what I saw. It's a myth Conservatives and US Republicans tell themselves to explain their polling shortcomings.

(Fun Fact - when they lost the independence referendum by a squeaker, Quebec politicians cried fraud. "Look, for example one of the voters in Montreal was even called 'Omar Sharif' - how fake is that??" Turns out Omar Sharif, son of Omar Sharif the famous actor, is a Canadian citizen living in Montreal.)

For the USA...

I remeber an episode of "All In The Family" (1972?) where Archie goes to vote to cancel Meathead's vote, only to find he isn't registered and can't vote. It used to be that you had to be registered months before the November elections, so by the time the election was news to the general public around August (ah, those old and naiive times!) it was too late to register. I assume a lot of the different rules were designed to reinforce or aleviate that problem, depending who was in power.

Note another tactic; sometimes felons can't vote. In some states, like Florida, never, even after their sentence was over. Virginia's governor just issued an edict delcaring felons could vote, despite a law saying they could not. When you consider that something like 1 in 4 black men has a prison record, or 1 in 10 young men is in prison, you can see why one side would want felons to vote, one side would want to bar them?

In the last federal election there was a controversy over the group ACORN submitting voter registrations for "Mickey Mouse" and other fraudulent names. Apart from the bad idea of paying people by th person registered, the rules are clear. You cannot as an independent group collect voter regiastration forms and not turn them in to the government for processing, even if they are "obviously" fraudulent. First, it's not the group's right to determine fraud. Second, if you don't turn in EVERY form, your group could collect forms and be selective about who is passed on and actually registered. People voting for the other party would go to the poll and find out too late they were never registered even though they thought they were.

the whole "delegate to convention" thing and primaries are something very different. People (party members in some, anyone who wants, in others) vote in primaries. In some cases, as mentioned, delegate votes for that state at the convention are awarded proportionately. In some states, winner takes all. The thought was that an apparent winner would be obvious and by bandwagon effect would collect the last states' delegates and be guaranteed a majority. This time, however, it will be close.

the electoral college was a clever design by the founding fathers. In a spread on states along the coast, weeks of horse travel from one end to the othr, the system was designed so that the big states or some regions could not win by sheer population vote and make the smaller states and less populous areas irrelevant. So a candidate had to win that state to get the electoral votes. (Not by 50% - that only happens because there are only 2 candiates nowadays).

The electors (not necessarily together, at the same time) cast their 2 ballots for 2 candidates and the candidate with 50% of the electoral college votes was president, the one with the next most votes was vice-president.

So unless someone was immesely popular all through the country (think George Washington) nobody would win. If nobody won 50% or it was a tie, the house of representatives picked from the top 3 electoral-vote-getters. This happened once. Someone forgot to vote to vote one less for the party's VP, so the tie meant congress, with a majority of the third guy's members, picked The president - the picked Jefferson after heated debate. Rules were then changed, electors vote for a prez and VP.

The other flaw was that by the time Washington retired, country-wide political parties had formed and so people at one end of the country would happily vote for for someone they knew nothing about, because the local party brass assured them he stood for what they wanted.

Last edited by md2000; 04-25-2016 at 12:23 AM.
  #36  
Old 04-25-2016, 12:46 AM
Lord Feldon Lord Feldon is online now
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
Virginia's governor just issued an edict delcaring felons could vote, despite a law saying they could not.
It's not despite the law. The law in Virginia is that the governor can restore any felon's right to vote. Previous governors only did this sparingly, after an application was submitted, but the current governor decided to just restore the rights of everyone whose sentence was complete, in the same way that Jimmy Carter pardoned all of the people who elected not to participate in the draft and not just the ones who applied for a pardon.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 04-25-2016 at 12:48 AM.
  #37  
Old 04-25-2016, 02:37 AM
PatrickLondon PatrickLondon is offline
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Originally Posted by bob++ View Post
Registering as a voter is voluntary in the UK.
Until recently, the registers were kept by having one form per household to fill in every autumn, and I understood that there was a legal obligation on the person filling in for the household to register everyone eligible to vote (not that I ever heard of anyone being prosecuted for not doing so). Then it switched to every individual having to register themselves (there had been some concern about the possibility of people adding fake or multiple identities to their households), which more or less makes registration voluntary.

But there is a legal obligation on the local authority to maintain an up-to-date and accurate register, bolstered by requirements to canvass all households to check (and the fact that their supplementary funding from the government to cover local services is linked to the numbers of people registered).

We've had battles in the past over registering expatriates living overseas, a Tory government allowing them to stay registered for 20 years outside the country, and the Labour government replacing them cutting this to ?5 years; but otherwise I don't think there's much manoeuvring for party advantage in the registration system, since it's all supervised by the independent Electoral Commission and carried out by professional local civil servants. You don't have to provide ID when you vote, though you are sent a reminder card to tell you where and when you can vote, and this gives the polling station clerks your registration number and the rest of it; "personation" has been known to occur, but it's difficult to organise it effectively in sufficient numbers to have much significant effect on results.
  #38  
Old 04-25-2016, 02:53 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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Originally Posted by smiling bandit View Post
Student ID's aren't acceptable for voting because it in no way establishes you are a legal resident of a particular state; you can in almost all circumstances go to school in one state, even far from home, without establishing residency.
My American Student ID didn't even establish that I was a legal resident of the US, or a citizen thereof; I was the first, temporarily, but not the second. It did contain my SSN, which looked exactly like anybody else's SSN... I think that's how it got stolen (someone opened a savings account with that SSN for a company which did not exist).

Last edited by Nava; 04-25-2016 at 02:54 AM.
  #39  
Old 04-25-2016, 05:21 AM
bob++ bob++ is offline
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[QUOTE=PatrickLondon;19282482 You don't have to provide ID when you vote, though you are sent a reminder card to tell you where and when you can vote, and this gives the polling station clerks your registration number and the rest of it; "personation" has been known to occur, but it's difficult to organise it effectively in sufficient numbers to have much significant effect on results.[/QUOTE]

I usually lose or forget my polling card when I go to vote. Telling the clerk my name and address for then to tick me off their list is sufficient.

The main controversy, which does result in challenges, is postal voting.
Quote:
Postal voting enables fraud to be carried out on an "industrial scale", a top judge has said.
Richard Mawrey QC, who tries cases of electoral fraud, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the current system makes election rigging "a possibility" and, in some areas, "a probability".
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-26525910
What seems to happen is that whole extended families (mainly Asians) give their voting papers to a 'patriarch' for him to complete. Whether this has a significant effect outside their local area remains to be seen.
  #40  
Old 04-25-2016, 07:43 AM
Martini Enfield Martini Enfield is offline
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Voting is compulstory in Australia, so you have to register to vote - it's also pretty easy, just fill in a form (there's an online option) with your driver's licence or passport number (nearly everyone has one of them) - or, you can get someone who's already on the electoral roll to verify "Yeah, that's them!" as an alternative.

When you show up at the polling booth, there's a big List O'Voters (recently on a computer, but marginally less recently in actual book form, and still used in many places). You tell the polling official your name, they cross you off the list, you vote, then head outside to enjoy some Democracy Sausage Sizzle and head home.

Count me among those surprised at the brouhaha voter registration causes in the US, and the idea that significant numbers of people don't have driver's licences or other government-issued ID.

Last edited by Martini Enfield; 04-25-2016 at 07:45 AM.
  #41  
Old 04-25-2016, 07:51 AM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is online now
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Can you explain all the fuzz about voter registration in the US to a European?

Quote:
Originally Posted by smiling bandit View Post
Student ID's aren't acceptable for voting because it in no way establishes you are a legal resident of a particular state; you can in almost all circumstances go to school in one state, even far from home, without establishing residency. In addition, student ID's frequently don't include an address, and many state colleges are close enough to a border than students and can do communicate over the state line. Hence, while it may establish you are who you say you are, a student doesn't usually suffice to show that you live in a particular state or district.

Except: that also applies to US passports and US military ID. Neither of them shows that you live in the state. They don't have place of residence on them. And, military ID isn't even proof of citizenship: a non-American can be in the US military. However, those two pieces of ID are accepted in Texas, where the poster who raised the student ID issue is posting from.

So why are those two pieces of ID acceptable, but not student ID?

One speculation is that people who have passports tend to be higher income and therefore more likely to vote for a particular party. And that people in the military are more likely to vote for that same particular party.

And that university students are more likely to vote for a different particular party.

Further than that is beyond GQ so I'll stop.

Last edited by Northern Piper; 04-25-2016 at 07:53 AM.
  #42  
Old 04-25-2016, 07:59 AM
aldiboronti aldiboronti is offline
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Englishman here and I share the confusion of the OP. Certainly some of the replies have been helpful but surely polling can't be a matter of 'Come one, come all', 'Vote early, vote often'? In other words wouldn't there have to be some control over the business? What's to prevent multiple voting, voting by foreign nationals, etc. I saw the reply saying that the problem was negligible but how would they even know how big the problem was without some form of control?

Still confused.

Last edited by aldiboronti; 04-25-2016 at 08:00 AM.
  #43  
Old 04-25-2016, 08:07 AM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is online now
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Can you explain all the fuzz about voter registration in the US to a European?

The issue, as mentioned in this and several other threads, is that the choice of ID which can be used to show identity, may be skewed to favour a particular party.

Proving identity to vote is in theory neutral in effect.

As soon as the list of valid ID is narrowed in a way that favours middle class and higher income voters, and makes it more difficult for lower income voters to qualify, then it looks much less benign.

Last edited by Northern Piper; 04-25-2016 at 08:07 AM.
  #44  
Old 04-25-2016, 08:30 AM
leahcim leahcim is offline
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Originally Posted by Northern Piper View Post
As soon as the list of valid ID is narrowed in a way that favours middle class and higher income voters, and makes it more difficult for lower income voters to qualify, then it looks much less benign.
It should be noted, to the extent of GQ, that there is a long history in certain states of enacting "common sense" laws in regard to voting (e.g. literacy tests) which on their face were neutral in their effect, but which had the effect of restricting the poor and black vote. The zaniest of such shenanigans were only put to bed by the Voting Rights act of 1965.

In that context, it is legitimate to wonder whether the new voter ID laws are done out of legitimate security concern, or a desire to return to the "bad old days".
  #45  
Old 04-25-2016, 08:48 AM
Saint Cad Saint Cad is offline
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As a counterpoint to Wesley Clark, the Democrats try to make it very easy to vote. In the US, you need to be a citizen to vote. The National Voter Registration Act makes it illegal for states to actually require a person to prove they are a citizen in order to register. Theoretically, all 11+million illegal immigrants plus all legal aliens could go to a registrar's office tomorrow and pinkie-promise that they are citizens and be registered to vote. One issue with voter ID that is almost never raised is that since in many states you can only get a state ID if you are a legal resident then requiring ID will at least keep illegal immigrants from voting.

And that I think is the big difference between the Republicans and Democrats on this issue. Republicans want to limit voting to US citizens and if a few citizens can't vote then oh well they should get the right documentation. The Democrats believe every citizen should vote* and want a system that makes it so easy that people will vote that are not legally entitled too.



*Except in my experience, some of the Dems on this board are hypocritical about it. I was once denied my right to vote because someone have signed in as me and voted earlier in the day. This could have been avoided with voter ID laws but everytime I bring it up in those threads, it gets dismissed as an abberation or unimportant. So the right of a citizen to vote is important unless you are me? You are a Republican? What is the standard?
  #46  
Old 04-25-2016, 09:25 AM
scr4 scr4 is online now
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Originally Posted by aldiboronti View Post
Englishman here and I share the confusion of the OP. Certainly some of the replies have been helpful but surely polling can't be a matter of 'Come one, come all', 'Vote early, vote often'? In other words wouldn't there have to be some control over the business? ...
Nobody is saying the existing system (without ID requirement) is perfect and problem-free. The recent voter-ID laws are controversial because they are seen as part of a widespread effort to suppress voter turnout. Other measures include reducing the number of polling places, eliminating polling places at certain types of neighborhoods, eliminating early voting, making it harder to vote by mail, shortening polling hours, etc. Some politicians have seemingly admitted/claimed that these laws are designed to sway the election. This article is a few years old but still relevant.
  #47  
Old 04-25-2016, 09:42 AM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is online now
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Originally Posted by Saint Cad View Post
...

The National Voter Registration Act makes it illegal for states to actually require a person to prove they are a citizen in order to register. Theoretically, all 11+million illegal immigrants plus all legal aliens could go to a registrar's office tomorrow and pinkie-promise that they are citizens and be registered to vote.
...
Of course, "pinkie-promise" in this context means an affirmation, under penalty of perjury, a criminal offence.

Justice Scalia wrote the SCOTUS decision striking down Arizona's attempt to require a blanket additional proof of citizenship for all, finding that that state law was pre-empted by the National Voter Registration Act: Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council Of Arizona, Inc.

However, he also indicated that there were ways for Arizona to implement citizenship requirements for registration. For instance, the State can rely on information already in its own possession, as indicated in the syllabus to the decision:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Syllabus
Nonetheless, while the NVRA forbids States to demand that an applicant submit additional information beyond that required by the Federal Form, it does not preclude States from “deny[ing] registration based on information in their possession establishing the applicant’s ineligibility.”
As well, he agreed that Arizona had the power to ensure that its voter registration requirements were met, and a federal law could not prevent that. Rather, the state and the Federal Elections Commission should work together to achieve that goal, rather than allowing Arizona to unilaterally add an additional requirement to that set out by the federal law. In case of a disagreement, Arizona would have to prove the need for the additional requirement:

Quote:
Originally Posted by syllabus
It would raise serious constitutional doubts if a federal statute precluded a State from obtaining the information nec-essary to enforce its voter qualifications. The NVRA can be read to avoid such a conflict, however. Section 1973gg–7(b)(1) permits the EAC to include on the Federal Form information “necessary to enable the appropriate State election official to assess the eligibility of the applicant.” That validly conferred discretionary executive authority is properly exercised (as the Government has proposed) to require the inclusion of Arizona’s concrete-evidence requirement if such evidence is necessary to enable Arizona to enforce its citizenship qualification.

The NVRA permits a State to request the EAC to include state- specific instructions on the Federal Form, see 42 U. S. C. §1973gg– 7(a)(2), and a State may challenge the EAC’s rejection of that request (or failure to act on it) in a suit under the Administrative Procedure Act. That alternative means of enforcing its constitutional power to determine voting qualifications remains open to Arizona here. Should the EAC reject or decline to act on a renewed request, Arizona would have the opportunity to establish in a reviewing court that a mere oath will not suffice to effectuate its citizenship requirement and that the EAC is therefore under a nondiscretionary duty to include Arizona’s concrete-evidence requirement on the Federal Form.
  #48  
Old 04-25-2016, 09:48 AM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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Quote:
Quoth aldiboronti:

Englishman here and I share the confusion of the OP. Certainly some of the replies have been helpful but surely polling can't be a matter of 'Come one, come all', 'Vote early, vote often'? In other words wouldn't there have to be some control over the business? What's to prevent multiple voting, voting by foreign nationals, etc. I saw the reply saying that the problem was negligible but how would they even know how big the problem was without some form of control?
There is some control over the business. As always, the details vary from state to state, but it usually goes something like this:
First, you register to vote, and provide whatever documentation your state requires for that. You might at this point be asked to declare a party, but that at most determines what primary you can vote in, and maybe gets you on that party's mailing list: You're still free to vote for whomever you want. You also always have the option of declaring no party.

When you register, you're assigned a polling place geographically. These are often schools, but can be just about anywhere. Here, my polling place is in city hall, but when I was in Montana, it changed from being the local office of the fish and wildlife commission to being the university's football stadium. I've also heard of church halls and social clubs being used.

On election day, you show up to your polling place, and introduce yourself to the nice folks at the table. They look up your name in a big book of everyone registered to vote at that place, and you sign next to your name. They take some sort of measure to verify you're who you say you are: This can be anything from showing photo ID, to comparing signatures, to showing a utility bill that was addressed to you at your registered address, to them recognizing you personally as a neighbor.

They hand you a ballot, and you go over to a little both to privately fill it out (or maybe there's a machine of some sort in the booth, which you use). If it's a paper ballot, then you put it in privacy sleeve so passers-by can't see which way you voted. You might have to tear off a perforated tab at the bottom with a serial number on it, so they can keep track of which ballots have been issued. You then carry it over to a scanning machine and feed it in.

Then you walk back past the table with the friendly people, they hand you a sticker that says "I voted" that you can stick on your shirt if you want, and you go on your way.

Note that there is always a registry so that the same person can't vote in the same name twice, and there's always some means of verifying identity. To vote twice, you'd have to impersonate someone else, and vote as them. And to vote as someone else, you'd need to be able to spoof whatever your state requires as proof of identity.
  #49  
Old 04-25-2016, 09:55 AM
bump bump is offline
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Originally Posted by RivkahChaya View Post
It shouldn't be, but it is, if you've ever heard people go on about it.

Also, FWIW, voter rolls used to be where most jurisdictions got their jury pools from, so many people avoided registering to vote so they wouldn't get called for jury duty. Recently, counties have changed to using vehicle registration in addition to voter registration so people wouldn't avoid voting, and also to widen the jury pool.
I think there's a lot of ignorance about the motor voter concept; most of the opposition I've heard from people grumbling about it is based on some kind of erroneous notion that it means that you're automatically registered to vote when you get a drivers' license.

Which isn't true; it merely gives them the opportunity to register at the same time as getting or renewing a drivers' license.

I guess there's some validity to the idea that if someone can't be arsed to go out of their way enough to register to vote, are they someone who we really want to vote in the first place? Kind of like the "Starship Troopers" concept writ extremely small, in low-contrast ink.
  #50  
Old 04-25-2016, 09:55 AM
Saint Cad Saint Cad is offline
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Originally Posted by Northern Piper View Post
So a person is willing to do all that it takes to be in the country illegally but THAT will stop them from an illegal act. OK ya got me
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