A thought experiment about eligibility to vote

I am strenuously opposed to voter photo ID laws, but I live in Texas, so I am stuck with it for the time being. I suspect it will be overruled by SCOTUS as a poll tax, but even that will not make the issue go away.

Having said all that, I propose the following thought experiment:

Suppose that everyone over the age of eighteen years can vote. The only eligibility requirement is residency. There are no other qualifications – and I mean NONE. Any adult can vote one time and in only one jurisdiction. One’s residence is established by being physically present in a place with intent to stay. Documentation can include a lease, utility bill, mortgage statement, property tax statement, or other appropriate documents. I don’t even have a problem with some sort of affidavit that says “I live here.” and specifies where “here” is. Anyone who lives in a place can vote there, regardless of immigration status, citizenship, property ownership, registration, possession of a photo ID, or anything else.

For purposes of this experiment, assume that there exists some magical way to ensure that a voter only casts one ballot and does not vote in one jurisdiction. The logistical practicalities of this proposal are not the issue. Assume it can be done as described.

[li]What would be the effect on democracy in this case?[/li][li]Would this proposal favor one party or another?[/li][li]How might special/moneyed interests exploit such a situation?[/li][li]Is this idea better or worse than the current registration and voting system? Why?[/li][li]What would have to be changed to make this a workable system?[/li][li]What other effects might there be?[/li][/ul]

When you say “anything else” does that include having been bribed to vote a certain way? or can we assume that other than eligibility requirements and verification all other election laws remain in place. Can we also assume that otherwise the process for voting is the same, including long waits in inner city precincts, gerrymandered districts etc.?

In the latter case, the main change you seem to be making relative to the status quo will be allowing non citizen resident to vote. If this system was plopped on to us with the current political landscape, Democrats would wipe the table with Republicans at least in the short term. Republicans would probably triple their efforts to seal the borders and deport as many people as possible. Over time the Republicans will bend to electoral reality and realize that ideologically they actually have a fair amount in common with Mexican immigrants once they get past the racial aspects and so they would adapt their policies to court them Long story short there would be a new political balance that took immigrants into account as a significant voting bloc, and life would go on.

The only danger I would see is if political pressures result in a totally open door immigration policy which I think would be untenable for us in this day and age.

Disenfranchising the military doesn’t strike me as a great idea, not to mention overseas workers and other long-term travelers who can’t be physically present on election day.

Did you know that the Supreme Court considered voter photo ID laws in 2007 and upheld them as NOT being a poll tax?

I’m curious why you believe they’d reach a different result now.

Yeah… So Drum God, why do you think an illegal immigrant who hasn’t been caught and deported yet should have more of a right to vote in our elections than a person in the military serving our country overseas on election day?

I’m pretty liberal in my positions on voter id’s and immigration. But even I think it’s reasonable to restrict voting to citizens.

eta: And, as others have said, there needs to be a system of absentee voting.

Please forgive my oversight regarding absentee voting. I did not mean that a person had to be physically present in the jurisdiction at the time of voting, though that is a reasonable interpretation of what I actually said. Certainly people in the military and other people away from home (such as college students) should have the opportunity to vote in their home districts.

However, nothing I said implied that voters should be tampered with, such as through bribery, threats, or other forms of coercion. I also did not say that undocumented immigrants have a greater right to vote than anyone else. I am suggesting that all the people living there should have a say in elections.

I am unconvinced that political pressure would lead to an open-door policy regarding immigration. In fact, I can see just the opposite. Supposing undocumented immigrants vote as a bloc (which I think is unlikely), they might take the attitude of “I had to trek across the desert, elude the Border Patrol, bribe coyotes, etc. to get here. So should anyone else. If we open the border to everyone, then all the Mexicans will pour into the US and take all our jobs.”

I believe that SCOTUS will rule that photo ID as practiced in Texas is a poll tax. I believe that because it is, in fact, a poll tax. The so-called “free” election ID certificate is not actually free. I’m not talking about opportunity costs (time off of work, time to go down there and get it, etc.). I mean there is an actual direct charge for the ID. The card itself is free. The birth certificate to get the ID costs $6. That, my friends, is a poll tax.

I agree with Little Nemo that it is reasonable to restrict voting to citizens. But, what if we didn’t? Besides, citizenship isn’t the only thing I tossed out. I also said that we wouldn’t need photo ID or jump through other hoops.

What about homeless people? Let’s say I live in my car, parking it wherever I can.

A homeless person has the same legal rights as somebody who owns a house has. And I think that should include voting. I’ll grant it would be trickier to establish a process for registering homeless citizens but it’s doable.

They would however like to be able to arrange to have their family come and join them without having to trek through the desert. And they would also prefer not having to watch over their shoulder for INS everywhere they go once they’re here.

I’m not saying it would happen. Any way you cut it, illegal immigrants are still going to be a minority of voters, but there would be more pressure in that direction, and the more open the borders were the more powerful the voting bloc would get.

What you would probably see at least at first is states like Arizona, making it clear that they will have police on hand at voting precincts to deport any illegal immigrant after they have voted. That would probably cut down on their turnout numbers.

FYI: you are not the first person to suggest that even non-citizen residents have a stake in the running of the place in which they live. In fact there are a number of jurisdictions scattered around the country that allow non-citizen residents to vote, and they don’t appear to have devolved into anarchy.

They wouldn’t, now. But, if Scalia, Alito, Thomas or Roberts, any of them, were to be called to the Big Bench in the Sky at any time while a Dem is POTUS, I strongly suspect Ginsburg’s opinion would carry the day.

Check Alaskan history. I think this may be close to what was happening in Alaska about 1994. I think some ballots may have been put aside for some checking after the fact for some reason.

You’re not OK with a $6 charge for a birth certificate but it is OK to require a lease, utility bill, property tax statement, etc… ?

I don’t hear liberals up in arms about requiring the voter to pay postage in the all mail voting system in Colorado.

Even an affidavit costs someone something - paper, ink, and notary fee (that would be a US$50 fee here).

So… $6 is too much - a poll tax. But 70 cents is not a poll tax? OK. Sure… :rolleyes:

Nope, not okay with a $6 fee. It isn’t a fee for a useful birth certificate. It is a fee for a birth certificate that can only be used for the EIC. It is actually the same as a normal county-issued birth certificate, but it is marked on its face as being not valid for any purpose other than an EIC. So, it’s a birth certificate that isn’t a birth certificate. It is a minimum fee required in order to get an EIC. (Ordinary birth certificates are also acceptable, but more expensive. All of this assumes that the voter was born in Texas. If he/she was born in some other state or country, then the cost could be much more.) I have no idea why you paired this $6 fee with leases, utility bills, etc.

SCOTUS has been clear that “opportunity costs” are not a poll tax. For example, time off of work, fuel for the car, etc. to get to the polls don’t count as a poll tax. In that light, I would say that a 70 cent opportunity cost is rather puny. (By the way, how did you get 70 cents? First class postage in the United States is 49 cents.) Did you see the last line of your linked article? Counties have designated drop-off locations, so the voter doesn’t have to pay for postage. If the drop-off location happens to be along a trip the voter was going to make already, then the opportunity cost is virtually zero.

The birth certificate in Indiana also costs: $12. And the Supreme Court still upheld Indiana’s law.

It costs money to rent something to get the lease. It costs money to set up a utility account. A property tax statement only goes out to a property owner, and limiting voting to the landed gentry went out of style decades ago…

It seems you are saying it is ok to require someone to pay money to a landlord or utility company in order to get the required documents to vote but it is not ok to require the person to pay $6 for a birth certificate. Is that because the fee goes to the government?

70 cents is the first class postage for a two ounce envelope. My ballot was multiple pages and ran two ounces. But I had to pay more than 70 cents in higher international postage to be able to vote. And while I can drop off my ballot request at the US consulate, I cannot do so with the completed ballot. If I want to vote, I have to pay. Cash. Minimally so.