Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Right To Vote

I enlisted in the United States Navy in 1977. When I enlisted I took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. Those who know me know that I hold the United States Constitution with total respect for all. It is basis by which are rights are defined. The most important are found in the Bill of Rights. They are freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom to assembly, freedom of speech and the right to redress grievances of the government.

In the United States of America we take for granted that all citizens age 18 and over have the right to vote. We have fought many warss outside the United States so that others are free to vote for those they want to represent them. In the United States Women fought for the right to vote. Blacks fought for the right to vote. In fact multiple Amendments to the Constitution of the United States were ratified dealing with the guaranteed right to vote that some states tried to block. What happens if a statute is passed that takes this right away?

In the state of Indiana the requirement to register is simple. Fill out Indiana Voter Registration Application (VRG-7). Sounds simple enough. Box 13 Voter Identification Number is also straightforward. This box asks for your 10-digit Indiana issued driver's license number. If you do not posses an Indiana driver's license, then provide the last four digits of your social security number her. Next to this are three boxes to be checked.

  • Driver's license
  • Social Security Number
  • None
If you have none of these, the election division will assign a voter identification number to you. In very basic and simple terms, all that the law requires to register and vote in the state of Indiana is to be age 18, United States Citizen and meet Indiana residency requirements. But wait, Indiana has reverted back to the good ol' days when the good ol' boy's were in control of elections. In the good ol' boy days there were ways to make it difficult to vote. There was the poll tax, literacy test and more. But now Indiana has passed a Photo ID law and on the surface you would think this was good. Make sure the person who is voting is who they say they are.

The Supreme Court recently upheld Indiana's Voter ID law. Ken Falk of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union was contacted about two known person's who's right to vote would be violated under this law, yet Mr. Falk did not think their particular case had merit. He instead took a case where there were no actual known injured parties. In my opinion Ken Falk of the ICLU thru the case. In fact there are probably thousands like them in the State of Indiana.

The Supreme Court ruled that Indiana was providing free State ID's to those who needed it to vote, but were not able to afford the ID. But this is a lie. They do provide State ID's free to some, but not all even if they can afford the $5 fee. The State of Indiana is requiring a social security account number from all Indiana residents in order be issued a state ID. Yet there is no federal law requiring any United States Citizen apply for a SSN. The US Passport Office does not require the person have a SSN to be issued a US Passport. The Selective Service System does not require a person have a SSN to register for the draft. In fact the IRS lost a case this year over the requirement of a SSN from those who do not have a SSN. The Judge in that case clearly stated "we take for granted that a social security account number is required, when in fact it is voluntary." The Veteran's administration does not require a person have a SSN to receive benefits.

The fact is there is only one federal statute that requires a person have a SSN and that is the Social Security Act. If you want to apply for SS benefits, then you need a SSN, otherwise there is no other federal agency authorized to require you have a SSN. SSA Publication 5-10023 states applying for a SSN is voluntary. The Privacy Act of 1974 states no one may be denied rights, benefits or privileges for not having a SSN unless required by federal statute.

Indiana’s statute IC 9-24-9-2 requires a person present a social security account number to obtain a driver’s license or State ID. The social security account number is a federal identification number issued by the Social Security Administration. My question to the state four years ago was how does the state of Indiana have authority to require a person have a SSN when no Federal agency does?

Whom does this law affect? All Amish who do not have a SSN. There are an estimated 2 million individuals in the United States who are US Citizens and do not have SSN's because of religious reasons.

What is truly absurd is that the State of Indiana has done this according to the Marion County Court purely to reduce identity theft. The State of Indiana states they have a governmental interest in reducing ID theft, good for them. The problem is that the state in the same breath states they are not actually taking the ID's away from those who's SSN do not match the SSA's data base so that they will be able to vote. If the purpose was to reduce ID theft, then they should take the ID's away. If not there is no reason to require a SSN.

But the issue gets even muddier yet. They are denying driver licenses to those who do not have a SSN, yet posses US Passports. What is better proof of identity, a SSN with no photo or a US Passport with photo? Further, the SSLOV matching program only matches first, middle and last name, date of birth, gender and SSN. If this produces a match with that presented by an applicant then a driver's license is in reach. The problem is any person's identity that has not been presented to the State of Indian for a driver's license or State ID could easily produce a good match, yet be presented by an ID thief. So where is the reduction in identity theft?

Then there are the past decades of state BMV's across the country selling their records to data marketers to the highest bidder. The states that sold their BMV information were given up to 50% discounts when they used these data marketers to verify applicants for driver's licenses. In my opinion the Federal and State agencies created the identity theft problem we have today.

If Indiana was truly interested in reducing identity theft then they should simply outlaw the use of the SSN by all non-government entities in Indiana. Other states have recently done this.

I suggest everyone pull out their Social Security Card and read the back of it. It says misuse of a SSN is punishable by fine and or imprisonment. Maybe it is time we actually began to enforce this provision.


At 7:33 AM, Blogger Bernie's Dad said...

Am I missing something, or do you advocate that foreign nationals can vote as well? Like if all British tourists in US decide to come to FW and write in their Queen's name in our ballots? Are we going to become a part of British empire against our will? This is not a rhetorical questions. This is the trend observable in California, just replace British with Mexican.

At 10:02 PM, Blogger William Larsen said...

I am sorry, I must not have made myself clear. No, I do not advocate that foreign nationals can vote. My point was that the State of Indiana made a decision to reduce identity theft. They passed a state statute that requires those applying for a drivers license or state ID card to produce a social security account number. This number is a federal ID issued by the Social Security Administration. There is no federal statute that requires a person ever apply for a SSN. The privacy act of 1974 prohibits any government agency from denying rights, benefits or privileges for not having a SSN.

To vote in the United States, you must be a US citizen, be age 18 or older and meet the residency requirements of the state. In Indiana it is 30 days prior to the election. The Indiana Voter ID law requires a state ID with photo. To obtain this state ID in order to vote, the BMV requires a SSN otherwise they will not issue the person a State ID. This is no different than the poll taxes of years gone by. The State of Indiana is now imposing a more stricter requirement to vote in Indiana than authorized by federal law.

At 10:56 PM, Blogger Bernie's Dad said...

But they do not ask for the proof of citizenship at the voting place or registration, just for the Driving license. Many 9/11 terrorists had several valid driving licenses even no SSN. We do not want them to vote, don't we?

At 10:11 PM, Blogger William Larsen said...

Driver’s license or state ID does not identify you as a United States Citizen. A SSN does mean you are a US Citizen either. The SSN can be obtained and used by non-Citizens. The 911 terrorists used real SSN’s belonging to others to obtain driver’s licenses. In fact the IRS issues TIN’s to individuals, but does not verify the validity of the documents or the individual. This led the IRS to send a notice to all 50 State BMV’s stating they should not rely on the TIN for identification.

There is no way the SSN can identify a person. If someone began using your SSN how would you go about proving that you are who you say they are and they are not you? The SSN has no photo, fingerprint, or any other method of truly identifying you.

The SSN is obtained using a Birth Certificate. Therefore, the SSN and Birth Certificate are one in the same. When you present a SSN and Birth Certificate as identification, what precisely do they prove? Any other document obtained using the Birth Certificate is just another variation of itself. By relying on the SSN, are we not verifying the authenticity each time and relying on just one check that was done by a human being? On average a human being makes a mistake 5% of the time. With two people doing the same task, there is a good chance of catching the first’s mistake, but it is far from foolproof.

When my children and I registered, they asked to see a birth certificate. Since we were born in the US, we are all US Citizens. Neither my son nor daughter presented a SSN, Drivers License or State ID to register.


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