The lead story in Sunday’s New York Times recapped Republican efforts to make it harder for people to vote:

Less than 18 months before the next presidential election, Republican-controlled statehouses around the country are rewriting voting laws to require photo identification at the polls, reduce the number of days of early voting or tighten registration rules.

Republican legislators say the new rules, which have advanced in 13 states in the past two months, offer a practical way to weed out fraudulent votes and preserve the integrity of the ballot box. Democrats say the changes have little to do with fraud prevention and more to do with placing obstacles in the way of possible Democratic voters, including young people and minorities. . . .

. . . “If you have to show a picture ID to buy Sudafed, if you have to show a picture ID to get on an airplane, you should show a picture ID when you vote,” Gov. Nikki Haley said this month when she signed the bill into law in South Carolina, using a common refrain among Republicans. . . .

And so . . .


Mike Lynott: “In my large family, about 25% of us were refused driver’s license renewal (in Maryland and Pennsylvania) because of various paperwork mismatches: Social Security name doesn’t match current driver’s license name, name slightly misspelled on marriage license, etc. These are all college-educated, well-spoken, and motivated adults. Each had to return to their DMV office at least twice. How hard can it be? As hard as the state wants it to be.

JK: “I no longer drive, but I have need of the state-issued photo I.D. When I last went to change my address, I found that the photo ID card was no longer free for seniors, but costs the same as a driver’s license renewal – $25. Adding to the difficulty was the fact that they would not accept the expired photo ID card and my voter’s registration as identification to issue a new card. I had to make a second trip to produce my birth certificate and another form of identification which proved I lived at the address in question, like a utility or phone bill. (Be prepared for circuitous logic – I had to produce proof of an account which I opened using an I.D. card which the state of Florida will not accept as identification. The local staff do not create the regulations, so they can only roll their eyes as they explain them, in order to indicate sympathy for the plight of the consumer.) With one thing and another, there are actually lots of opportunities for someone in his late 60’s to no longer have a document which was issued almost 70 years ago. Folks who lose everything in storms (hurricanes, tornadoes, floods) have a lot to go through in order to be able to vote again.”

Steve Strunk: “Here in Indiana, where we have the voter ID law the other states are rushing to copy, you can get a voter ID from the DMV at no charge. I believe they did this specifically to get around the 24th and 14th Amendments. Of course you still have to go down there and wait in line and provide the necessary documentation which can be difficult to obtain. The Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s law and it is considered to be the most onerous in the country. When it first took effect I know there were students from Notre Dame who were prohibited from voting because their student ID’s did not contain expiration dates and out of state driver’s licenses were not accepted. So here you had legal voters who actually had 2 pieces of ID with photos and yet they were unable to vote. Now, you do have the option of casting a provisional ballot and providing the necessary ID (within 10 days I think) but the students were going home (this was the primary in May 2008) and did not want to return just to validate their vote. The funny thing is that Indiana may be facing an actual case of voter fraud. Our current Secretary of State (Republican Charlie White) has been indicted on a charge of voter fraud because he used his ex-wife’s address as his own so that he could serve on the Fishers Town council even though he no longer lived in Fishers.”

☞ The bottom line is that Republicans want to make it hard to vote, Democrats want to make it easy. They can’t come right out and say their goal is to suppress the Democratic vote, so they say it’s to prevent fraud. To strengthen this case, the Bush Justice Department made it such a high priority to find examples of voter fraud that several U.S. Attorneys were fired for failing to find any. It seems that it’s hard enough to get most people to vote legally, let alone risk a felony conviction (or deportation) for voting illegally.

Think about it: as passionate as you might be about a certain election, how much risk – and extra effort – would you take to add one more lousy vote (by forging the signature of a recently deceased relative, say)? You may have been fleetingly tempted to fudge a little on your taxes or even to cheat on a test in school – though I’m certain you resisted those temptations – but have you ever considered forging a signature to commit voter fraud?

Where the temptation is easier to imagine is not with individual voters, who might be able to change the vote count by one, but with election officials who, by transposing a number or losing a truckload of ballots, might be able to change the vote count by thousands. Almost none of them succumb to temptation either; but at least there one can imagine that the temptation could be real.


Pete Kirby: “With the expiration day quickly approaching, can you discuss the options (no pun intended) for those that still hold warrants in Boise?”

☞ You can instruct your broker to exercise the warrants, and pay $7.50 in cash (plus one warrant) for each share (worth $8.44 last night) or you can just sell the warrants (for about 94 cents). I’d take my 40-fold gain and do the latter. Pete’s really question is: what will happen in the next 18 days remaining to their expiration. I sure don’t know. Will the stock close at or below $7.50, rendering the warrants worthless? That would be good for the stock because the “dilution” overhang will disappear. Will the stock remain above $7.50, so that people exercise? That would arguably be good for the company, because it would get a cash infusion of $7.50 for each exercised warrant. So maybe investors see this as an $12 stock a few weeks from now and are willing to pay $9.50 for it (so the warrants rise to $2). Or maybe investors will see a tremendous overhang of selling by June 18 warrant exercisers who will be looking to take their profits (and recoup their $7.50 in cash) on June 19. In which case maybe the stock sells off to $7.50 or $7.75 and the warrants drop back to zero or not much more.


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