Apparently Black Voters Are Disproportionately Unable To Meet Reasonable Mail Ballot Security Measures. Now What?

From the New York Times:

More than 18,000 voters in Texas’ most populous counties had their mail-in ballots rejected in the state’s primary election this month… a surge in thrown-out votes that disproportionately affected Black people in the state’s largest county and revealed the impact of new voting regulations passed by Republicans last year. In Harris County, which includes Houston and is the state’s most populous county, areas with large Black populations were 44 percent more likely to have ballots rejected than heavily white areas…The analysis also found that Black residents made up the largest racial group in six of the nine ZIP codes with the most ballot rejections in the county.

The Times concludes that the ballot rejections and the racial disparity in those rejections provide “the clearest evidence yet that the major voting law passed last year by the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature has prevented significant numbers of people from voting.” Is that a fair analysis? Doesn’t it matter why the disparity occurred?

In the Times piece, that question, which I would rank as indispensable to answering the basic ethics question “What’s going on here?” to begin the quest for a solution, is never asked, answered, or even speculated upon. “We have concrete evidence of the impact that it is having on primarily people of color,” Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston,who is black, said in an interview. “People’s right to vote is being taken away. It’s almost like the 21st-century version of the poll tax, so to speak, when they were asked, ‘How many bubbles are in this bar of soap?’”

That’s some analogy you got there, Mayor. First of all, you are alluding to voter literacy tests, not poll taxes. With poll taxes, there was discrimination on the basis of the ability to pay. “How many bubbles are in this bar of soap?” is obviously an impossible question designed to illegally exclude voters. What is the similarly impossible requirement that black voters found so difficult to comply with in the Texas primaries? We are told,“The vast majority of ballots were rejected because of rules set last year that required voters to provide their driver’s license number or partial Social Security number. Many either did not fill out the section on their ballot that asked for the identification number or had a different ID on file with election officials, and their ballot was rejected.”

Does that strike you as an unreasonable condition for allowing someone to register a vote without appearing in person at a polling place? It isn’t, you know. The logic here, as in  cases of the majority of “disparate impact” arguments, is an obvious diversion designed to avoid thinking about and certainly from constructively dealing with a problem very different from “voter suppression.”

Texas, quite properly, grants voters a limited window of time to address problems with their ballots, but more than 18,000 were never fixed. Voters could take their rejected ballots, if they received them in time, to a polling place to vote in person; it they couldn’t be bothered, that too is being called “voter suppression.” The Times, predictably, is happy to jump on the “racism” and voter suppression bandwagons, as absurd as they are. There is no way for the ballots of a particular party or race to trigger rejection, but still the Times writes that the sharp rise in ballot rejections suggests that the state’s overhauled electoral process has “confused thousands of voters and threatened to disenfranchise thousands more…most of them black.”

Wow, that requirement of writing in your driver’s license number or partial Social Security number to ensure that you are the citizen you claim to be is a real puzzler—almost like having to know how many bubbles there are in a bar of soap!

There may be valid and ethical reasons to change laws, qualifications and policies that seem to be disproportionately disadvantageous to a particular group or race. Maybe if I think about it for a week or so, I’ll come up with a couple. Not writing down personal ID numbers, though, and not standardized tests,  where no research has uncovered any reason for the racial disparity in scores.

Never mind, though: the consensus is that this anomaly makes the tests racist per se, so the tests are increasingly being phased out. So are the academic standards for elite schools at all levels. Bar exams are under attack: blacks don’t pass at the same rates as whites, so obviously it’s the tests’ fault. There are too many examples of this phenomenon to list, and now we have the  related theory that if a disproportionate number of black citizens can’t figure out how to vote by mail when the requirements should be a breeze for a relatively competent 12-year-old, sinister voter suppression must be afoot.

This is such a lazy, facile and destructive response, as well as one inherently insulting to blacks. Discussing the standardized test issue in the same Times edition that provided the soap bubble analogy, John MacWhorter writes,

I find myself thinking about …how we’ve allowed ourselves to all but give up on the idea that many Black and Latino students, as well as Pacific Islander and Native American students, can compete….I think of this kind of thing in reference to altering standards of evaluation so that Black and Latino students are represented proportionally in various institutions. These days, one is to think of this sort of thing as equity…. throughout society, we must force at least the superficial justice of equity in sheer percentages.

But too often, the message being communicated to Black and Latino people is that our presence is what matters, not our performance….

According to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, around 1,800 colleges and universities will not require high school graduates “applying to start classes in fall 2022 to submit ACT/SAT results,” with a list that includes not only U.N.C. and Harvard but also other prestigious public and private institutions, including the University of California, the University of Texas, Yale University and Princeton University. …This impulse is based on an assumption that because Black, Latino, Pacific Islander, American Indian and Alaska Native kids, on average, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, don’t perform as well on these tests as their white and Asian peers, the tests must be, in some way, racially biased. But what, really, does that mean? Is it that the tests ask racially biased questions? Which ones? Is it that it is somehow unfair to give a Black or Latino student a test of abstract cognitive skill and that Black and Latino students should be tested differently? This would seem dangerously close to saying that they aren’t as intelligent as others. If that isn’t the intention, then is the inference that there is something cultural, broadly speaking, that hinders their ability to perform well on these tests? If so, what?

Good question, and so is “Why do so many black voters have trouble with the simple requirement of writing down an ID number on a mail-in ballot?” It seems indisputable that solving that mystery and rectifying the problem makes far more sense than making the voting process so loose that it has no integrity and engenders public distrust.

 

 

19 thoughts on “Apparently Black Voters Are Disproportionately Unable To Meet Reasonable Mail Ballot Security Measures. Now What?

  1. All of this assumes those were legitimate ballots in the first place. The lack of personal ID numbers could indicate that the people filling them out could not supply the numbers because the ballots were not legitimate in the first place.

    Mail-in ballots are not the only place personal ID numbers are required. Tax forms, employment forms, and rental car forms also require these numbers. Are these forms equally problematic for black people? If so, then that might make it a valid point. Otherwise, this is just a load of malarkey.

    • That was kind-of my immediate take too: The Times inherently assumes without evidence that all of these votes actually ARE valid and shouldn’t have been rejected. Where’s the investigation showing the names and photos of a dozen such people who’s vote wasn’t counted, along with interviews with a handful of those. I mean, the data is all right there to track them down and talk to them.

      The BEST version of the truth….

      –Dwayne

  2. An assumption the “voter suppression” activists make: black people all vote for Democrat candidates. Isn’t that demeaning and racist? “All our voters are barely competent human beings.” It’s the same assumption about felons: they all vote Democrat.

  3. The vast majority of ballots were rejected because of rules set last year that required voters to provide their driver’s license number or partial Social Security number. Many either did not fill out the section on their ballot that asked for the identification number or had a different ID on file with election officials, and their ballot was rejected.”

    Is anyone asking blacks and Latinos why there not filling out this information?

  4. Re: “What’s going on here?” Are these “mail in ballots” simply filled in and harvested ballots that fell into the hands of “community organizers?” Were they mailed to nursing homes? Public housing projects? And simply processed en masse by paid Democrat party operatives?

  5. If a person is too lazy or dumb to find a polling place, but also too dumb to put their correct ID info into a mail-in ballot, then they probably cannot accurately fill out a ballot for their preferred candidate either, since that requires at least the same amount of skill. Ergo, they shouldn’t vote, and usually don’t. Democrats are trying to pull votes from the subset that doesn’t know anything about politics, basic life navigation skills or really much of anything. Eventually they are going to push for voting-by-online-survey. They’ve dumbed down the populous for years in anticipation of this moment.

  6. Disproportionate impact as proof of bad policy only seems to work in favor of one or two subsets of society. Based on the premise that simply by virtue that a negative effect on one group indicates unfairness never seems to accrue to the largest demographic segment. This is similar to the waiter who only errors in favor of himself.

    What if sufficient number of black voters wound up not voting in an election because they put off voting until it was too late, would that too be an unfair rule that disproportionately affected blacks?

    As long as a policy is applied in a manner that results in the same outcome for each violator of the rule, then the voting rule should stand, and any disproportionate impact should be addressed by teaching people the correct way to ensure they are not disenfranchised in the future. This is especially true if the voter was given an opportunity to correct the ballot and failed to do so.

    Because of the high reliance of disproportionate impact as a means to prove one’s case it stands to reason that some unscrupulous activists could inject thousands of faulty ballots into races that are a lock for a given candidate knowing they will be rejected and then claim the rules are racially biased in order to attack the rule.

    Disproportionate impact studies are a joke and easily manipulated.

    • Your second to last paragraph is an excellent observation.

      In Harris County, the county judge appointed a young, inexperienced, unprepared individual to head the 2021 primaries. The invalidated votes are just one more example of the county judge’s incompetence. The county elections commission lost our mishandled tens if thousands of other votes, especially important in tight elections. Bozos all of them.

      jvb

  7. If we can fly to the moon and do the moon walk, rocket self-propelled toys to Mars and take landscape pics, there is no excuse for not having the absolute finest voting system ever imagined and the fact we still do not indicates a lack of desire and motivation to do so. I wonder why?

  8. This is an obvious issue that we as sensible people should be assertively pressing for answers on. Are Democrats actually saying that voters of color have trouble following simple written instructions? Why do they think that might be the case, and do they think that any approaches other than lowering standards might be helpful?

    Regarding voter ID laws, there are many things other than voting that a person cannot do without a state-issued ID. To empower people, we should be making it as convenient as possible for people to obtain appropriate identification cards. Yes, there are security requirements, but we can invest effort into helping people meet those requirements.

    People trying to lower standards for voting security will reveal their true agenda by pushing back against the constructive measures we suggest, unless they go along with them, in which case the cause of constructiveness wins anyway.

    • Few things are as easy to get as a driver’s license. Most states also offer official ID cards for those who cannot drive. On the other hand, many who we are told cannot handle writing a number on ballot are quite capable of getting through the red tape of hublic housing, section 8,and general assistance.

      Disparate results is the go-to vehicle because it works, and has for many, many years.

      • We are talking about the DMV, right? The place that’s a standard punchline for long wait times? The place that’s only open when most people are working? I wouldn’t necessarily call the easiest thing.

        As you point out, though, there are definitely holes in the story. For instance, if a person is on unemployment there’s no reason they can’t make it to the DMV, or if they have a job in the first place I’d expect them to have used some form of ID to get the job.

        We just have to call people on these discrepancies. “Alright, who all doesn’t have an ID, and what does it take to set them up with one?” That’s a quick way to get deception to unravel.

    • Activities where requiring photo ID are NOT racist:
      Driving, purchasing a car, getting a car registration, buying insurance, renting a car/boat/Jet Ski/etc., boarding an airplane, buying train tickets, obtaining a passport, picking up mail from FedEx/UPS/Post Office, etc., renting tools/furniture/equipment, visiting Doctor’s office/Hospital, donating blood, getting a prescription, applying for a job, applying to school, applying for a professional license, getting married, check out a library book, transacting with a bank, applying for store credit, establishing utilities, cashing a check, getting a credit card, applying for apt. rentals, cashing in a winning lottery ticket, applying for food stamps, applying for welfare, applying for unemployment, applying for section 8 housing, buying a firearm, adopting a pet, applying for a hunting/fishing license, joining a gym, using pawn shops, entering night clubs, etc.
      ———————————————————————————–

      Activities where requiring photo ID ARE racist:
      Voting

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