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Deceased Check-Cashing and Voting


In New York, James O'Hare wanted to cash the Social Security check of his roommate, Virgilio Cintron. He had a small problem, though, as Mr. Cintron had died sometime within the preceding 24 hours. Undeterred, Mr. O'Hare and his buddy David Dalaia proceeded to the Pay-O-Matic check-cashing joint with Mr. Cintron in tow, seated in an office chair. Off-duty detective Travis Rapp, eating lunch at a nearby restaurant, thought this looked a tad suspicious and called in the uniforms, report Bruce Lambert and Christine Hauser in the NYT.

In related news, the Supreme Court heard oral argument today in the Indiana voter ID cases, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, No. 07-21, and Indiana Democratic Party v. Rokita, No. 07-25, transcript here. These cases concern an Indiana law that voters show a photo ID at the polling place. This requirement has a disparate impact on deceased voters. Unlike Mr. O'Hare, persons voting on behalf of the deceased rarely bring the dear departed to the polls with them. Even if they did, after a week or two persons of decomp. do not look much like the pictures on their IDs. Norman Bates would have had a hard time with his mother and her driver's license.

The Indiana Democratic Party doesn't like this law. They evidently believe they would carry the deceased vote by a wide margin. That is certainly true in neighboring Chicago, although I don't know about Indiana.

The argument does not stress the disparate impact on the departed, of course. The claim is that an ID requirement prevents poor people from voting. I find this claim difficult to swallow. My wife works for a county mental health department, and nearly all of her clients are poor. They all have IDs, as they need them for the various government benefits they get. The Indiana law provides that the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles will issue an ID for free to any voter who needs one.

So what does this have to do with crime? Well, for starters, voting fraud is a crime. Second, voting fraud is largely a product of political machines. Such machines get people elected for reasons other than their representation of the people's views on the issues. The people's view of crime is typically that they want the government to do something about it. Fraudulent, machine-driven voting means we get legislators and executives who are less responsive to the people's demands to fight crime, and who may even be criminals themselves, and that is a bad thing. We hope Indiana prevails in this case.

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