Crawford and ID Creep

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8 Responses

  1. I’m not a privacy guy, so I wonder what privacy scholars say about the quid pro quo of ID’s. I would strongly oppose people being stopped on the street and asked for ID (which they sometimes are) and the logical and scary next step of badges, but the cases you mention – voting and entering secure areas.

    I won’t talk about security, but with respect to voting, I would expect that access to scarce and rationed resources would almost always logically lead to identification requirements to avoid fraud and/or over-rationing. It’s why banks ask for ID before you can withdraw money.

    There are few resources more rationed than voting – one person one vote. It seems like a natural consequence and a logical quid pro quo that in order to obtain the rationed resource one must show proof of identity to ensure that the resource has not already been claimed by another.

  2. First paragraph above should say:

    “but the cases you mention – voting and entering secure areas seem different.”

  3. Michael says:

    Perhaps the concern that voter ID laws will lead to a de facto ID state are a little overblown——it’s not as if you can currently vote in any state by providing zero identification. At the very least you are required to provide a signature (a form of ID) to receive your ballot. For folks who registered via motor vehicle registration, they likely already provided multiple forms of ID to have that process completed. Voter ID laws simply establish greater parity between the requirements at the time of voting with the requirements for registering to vote.

    That said, I still think you should not need to bring anything with you to vote other than your signature and knowledge of your name, address, and perhaps other key facts (e.g., SSN, PIN, or answers to “security” questions). Why not just use fingerprints? Oh, wait. I forgot——we can’t access a database if we insist of not using electronic voting machines.

  4. Thanks, good comments.

    I am not necessarily saying the outcome of Crawford should be different, even once privacy is weighed. What concerns me here is that it isn’t even weighed in the first place. Similarly, I don’t mean to say that any particular step toward more demands for ID — including this step related to voting — represents a tipping point of unacceptable pervasiveness of ID. But again, when we don’t examine each step, we may suddenly discover that we have arrived at that tipping point without thinking enough about the issue.

  5. Maybe you could be a bit more explicit about the privacy concerns: if I represent myself as MC for a function that requires I be MC, what expectation of privacy is damaged by having to prove I am MC. What am I disclosing that isn’t already disclosed?

  6. Miriam Cherry says:

    Yay! Welcome back! :)

  7. Sean M. says:

    I agree with Maryland Conservative. The crux of voting is that I can only vote as me. There is no right to vote anonymously in that people can’t know you came to vote, only the right to not have your ballot matched with your name.

    So what privacy concern?

  8. MC & Sean:

    After Crawford, voting becomes one more activity in which you cannot participate without government-issued identification. Now it is already pretty hard to function in the modern world without such ID, but this is one more step toward impossibility. Also, I think probably it is the first time a fundamental right has been made contingent on having and producing such ID (depending, I suppose, on how seriously you take a “fundamental” right to travel, where of course there are passports and airport ID requirements).

    Now, for the reasons you give and others (maybe including Michael Risch’s comments too), imposing that condition may be correct or at least defensible. That’s why I tried to make clear I am not commenting on whether the outcome of Crawford is correct. Again, I am noting a narrower — but I think still remarkable — point: the complete absence of any discussion of this tradeoff. Maybe we still would end up in the same place, but we would do so with more understanding that it is another (perhaps small but still real) step toward pervasive ID requirements.

    MC, since I think of you as a bit of a libertarian I thought you might be with me on this one!