Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Arizona Voter Registration

Responding to yesterdays post about being badgered at the library Harold posted a link to Maricopa County Elections Department
Registration and Voting Information

Fascinating information that just *has* to be wrong! Following the New Voter Registration Information[^] link we discover that, as anticipated, one must be a citizen of the US in order to vote or to register to vote. Exactly as I'd expect.

The document goes on to define what constitutes satisfactory evidence of United States Citizenship. One must have one of the following (their emphasis). I'm not going to copy the entire list, just the one that leaps out as manifestly incorrect.

An Arizona driver’s license number (or copy of the license) or non-operating identification license number (or copy of the identification license), issued after 10/01/1996.

Guess what? I've got an Arizona driver's license, issued after 10/01/1996.

So I showed the page to my wife and she expressed similar incredulity. 'Oh' she said, grasping at a possible solution 'does the license show citizenship?'.

A reasonable question given that the second item on the list reads

A driver’s license or non-operating identification license from another state that identifies United States Citizenship..

But nope, the Arizona license doesn't. Just to be sure we compared licenses and the only things that differ are the things one would expect to differ between two different people; photo, height, age etc. There's nothing on Sonya's license to identify her as a US Citizen and nothing on mine to identify me as not being one.

Just to be sure I downloaded the voter registration form and there's the out. A requirement that one declares that one is indeed a US Citizen.

I suppose that if someone goes to the trouble of obtaining a valid Arizona drivers license they're unlikely to falsely declare US Citizenship merely in order to register to vote but it does seem as though there are some holes in the identification system. Does someone from the Maricopa County Recorder go back through DMV to get the Social Security number and then verify that with the Social Security Administration to be sure that person is a citizen?

Actually, this ties in with something else that I've wondered about for a while. I've been to Mexico a couple of times with my wife and when we return all she shows is her drivers license. The border people ask something along the lines of 'are you US citizens?' As a legal immigrant I'm not about to start lying to immigration people; that way deportation lies. So on both occasions I showed my passport and greencard. Fortunately that was before the great greencard debacle of 2005[^] and I was waved through after half a minute. Nowadays I wouldn't try crossing the US/Mexico border heading north for all the tea in China until I have a US passport and even then I'll be nervous about the outcome for the first half dozen times!

So why, I wonder, do federal employees enforcing federal law accept state identification? I reckon if I was prepared to keep my mouth shut and just present my license they'd let me cross no questions asked.

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