We should not conflate the lack of controls in our election law relative to insuring that only those who are eligible to vote are registered to vote while not disenfranchising any of them with the Green Light Law. This lack of controls existed long before the Green Light Law, in fact they existed back when New York allowed anyone, including undocumented/illegal immigrants to get driverís licenses before 2001. Yes, giving driverís licenses to undocumented/illegal immigrants was done in New York before, it is not new.
Just because someone does not qualify for a REAL ID document does not mean they are not a citizen. I personally know U.S. Citizens that cannot meet the requirements to obtain one. While they were born in the U.S. they were not born in a hospital and their birth certificates were not registered within a year of their birth and they lack the secondary evidence required to obtain a REAL ID document. Yes, the REAL ID act does contemplate that not all citizens can meet its requirements and therefore permits non-REAL ID licenses to be issued.
According to WGRZ in a piece they recently did "A spokesperson for the state Board of Elections says the voter registration process is an honor system, and that they have no way to verify someone's citizenship." Also, according to this same piece: "Erie County Elections Commissioner Ralph Mohr told 2 On Your Side by phone, it really comes down to someone filing a complaint about possible voter fraud for the board of elections to investigate." ( Kearns raises possible voter fraud issue. )
Recently the Erie County Board of Elections has implemented a procedure to address the applications it receives through the DMV and the Motor Voter Law. "Board of Elections will delay the processing of new voter applications. That will give the County Clerk's Office time to review the Election Board's application list and flag any that may have been illegally submitted. If the County Clerk's Office flags a name, the county Board of Elections will send a letter to the applicant requesting additional proof of citizenship before adding his or her name to the voter registry." ( Elections board OKs delay in 'motor-voter' registrations due to Green Light Law ). However, this process does not address the other avenues in which it receives voter registrations, like by mail. Also, this is one County in the State.
The technology to implement the needed controls to ensure the integrity of our electoral process is readily available and we need to update our election laws to implement these needed controls.
For example, for those voters that produce a REAL ID document that can be scanned like they do when we buy alcohol or cigarettes the inspectors can scan them in order to cast their vote at the polls. We must then implement an alternative for those that do not have a REAL ID document that they can produce like a standard ID with a certified copy of their birth certificate or some other combination of documents that will put the onus on the election inspectors to insure that the people they are admitting to vote are eligible to vote.
For those who are ineligible to vote because they are a convicted felon we can have Department of Corrections and Community Supervision produce an electronic list to the Board of Elections who can then add them to the Challenge List transmitted to each polling place where they must prove that their eligibility has been restored.
It is long past the time we need to have this conversation on how to secure our polls to admit only those eligible to vote while not disenfranchising any eligible voter.
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