Republicans Overreact to GAB Ruling on Electronic Registration Documents

Republicans criticize GAB yet again. Is this a genuine gripe or bloated bloviating, especially considering our paperless society.

Yesterday, the Government Accountability Board adopted an interpretation of law permitting people registering to vote to present electronic versions of utility bills and bank statement as proof of residency.

Republicans have, predictably, started blasting the GAB. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quotes Representative Robin Vos as saying, "Once again the GAB is showing that they do not share the public's concern that voter integrity is maintained throughout the process."  Jay Weber this morning was blasting it as unnecessary and catering to the "lazy asses."  Charlie Sykes teased the topic before his show in a manner that suggested he would be critical (although he has not mentioned it yet as I'm writing this).

This reaction is an overreaction.  While I'm certainly no fan of the GAB*, and support photo identification for voting**, this new ruling creates virtually no increased opportunity for fraud. Consider the following:

  • The ruling does not permit any new types of documents — only electronic versions of the exact same documents that were permissible previously.
  • Can electronic documents be photoshopped or otherwise altered fraudulently? Sure. But that's nothing new. When only a paper document was accepted, it took a potential fraudster probably a whopping 10 additional seconds to print out their electronically-altered document.
  • Many people (myself included) no longer get physical bills or statements in the mail.  We've gone paperless, for many reasons: resource conservation; faster notification; easier filing and storage for future use, etc.

This is a reasonable interpretation of the law (which uses the term "document," without specifying paper or electronic) that recognizes changes in technology.  Let's stay focused on real problems with the voting process.


* See the GAB's admission it would count "Mickey Mouse" and "Adolf Hitler" during the recall petition process, the GAB's decision to split up the Republican and Democratic recalls last summer, and the GAB's choice to chastise election observer whistleblowers instead of the election officials who actually were violating the law, among others.

** My nonprofit public interest law firm, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, will be joining the voter ID fight on behalf of a diverse group of citizens who support the law.

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Greg August 29, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Should the title read "One Republican & two entertainers overreact"? Or better yet, one entertainer and maybe one other. Great scoop Tom.
Tom Kamenick August 29, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Republican Rep. Stone has also slammed the GAB. http://www.thewheelerreport.com/releases/August12/0828/0828stone.pdf
Tom Kamenick August 30, 2012 at 01:52 PM
A more reasoned critique - this on the legal authority of the GAB to adopt this change. http://wisconsinreporter.com/legal-questions-remain-over-gabs-approval-of-electronic-proof-of-residency The article also agrees with my point that a forged electronic document could be printed out easily to meet any paper document requirement.
Greg August 30, 2012 at 04:58 PM
I guess I am still missing the Overreact part.
Jason Patzfahl August 30, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Representative Jeff Stone (ALEC Party) wrote: “Once again the Government Accountability Board (GAB) has come to a nonsensical position. They also don’t grasp how simple it is for an individual with a basic understanding of clip art to fabricate a paperless document. This decision is a creative interpretation at best, and I strongly believe it violates the letter and spirit of the law with regard to voter registration in the state of Wisconsin. If you were pulled over, would most law enforcement agencies accept a picture of your driver’s license as well as registration and proof of insurance as long as it was on your smart phone? Most likely not.” Too bad driving a car is NOT a constitutional right, but voting is. And we all know it is not really about catching "fraud" but rather it is about making sure certain dark-skinned people and college kids don't vote.


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