Above is the response from Secretary of State Mark Martin to a complaint from ACLU counsel Holly Dickson about an erroneous instruction built into the voter registration system maintained by the secretary of state’s office. The letter doesn’t address the specific programming issue and expresses disagreement without citing a specific.
I have renewed my own series of specific questions about the issue, one in particular. Will the office change the programming instruction that places a MUST SHOW ID notation on the names of ALL voters who move their registration from one county to another. This ID requirement is not required by law. It amounts to an additional obstacle to voting. The MUST SHOW ID (and there are various acceptable forms, not just a photo ID) requirement is supposed to apply mainly to first-time voters and those who registered by mail without supplying an ID at the time.
To date, the general defense is that this programming instruction predated Mark Martin’s election. Perhaps so. But it has now been questioned and questioned in a year in which a landmark Supreme Court ruling, with Martin as a defendant, said a photo ID law requirement amounted to an additional obstacle not mentiioned in the Constitution. The Constitution says the only ID required is name, date of birth and address — and, in certain special instances, something more.
On that specific rule, which Dickson wrote about in her letter, the response is only that the office wants “specific instances” of voters made to cast a provisional ballot. That’s not yet known and given the lack of tight races, it might not ever be known. Pulaski and Garland County election commissions, to name two, became aware of this issue and took steps to insure that a provisional ballot wrongly required of a transferred voter would not disqualify the vote.
But this is really simple. The secretary of state’s office is enforcing a rule that requires ID of people who are not required to produce one. It should be a simple matter to say, yes, we’ll change the procedure. Or, if not, to explain why.
Mark “Not the race car driver” Martin has been famously inaccessible in his first term and sometimes hard to deal with when he does appear. This week, I’ve had election officials describe his stomping out of meetings in the face of questions. His 61 percent re-election vote isn’t likely to make him more accessible or accountable. If he rides his popularity to the governor’s office someday, I hope I’m alive to see a press conference.
UPDATE: A comment from Holly Dickson on Martin’s response to her:
It is not surprising they haven’t heard complaints from voters since the Secretary isn’t the entity with authority and responsibility to receive and act upon citizen complaints. They have not owned their error of improper marking of voters, nor have they taken actions to ensure this error don’t cost someone their vote. They need to take such action immediately.