Greater Greater Washington

Politics


Voting in DC is not a waste

A former Washington City Paper reporter intern says he never registered to vote in DC while living here, because his vote doesn't count. This is an all-too-common attitude among many residents. But your vote does count in DC, in a great many important ways.


Photo by Kheel Center, Cornell University on Flickr.

Matt Bevilacqua, who now writes for Next American City in Philadelphia, wrote today that it took him 2 whole afternoons and $65.47 to register to vote in Pennsylvania, thanks to the state's new voter ID law.

Impeding voters from reaching the polls is a travesty of democracy, regardless of which side it favors. So is DC's lack of federal voting representation, a case District officials are pressing at the DNC this week. Still, Congress is not the only game in town that affects people's lives. Nobly squeezing in a mention of DC's second-class status, Bevilacqua also makes a surprising revelation:

I never bothered to register to vote [in DC], since the District doesn't have voting representation at the federal level. ... So for the interim I sent absentee ballots back home, even though they couldn't have meant much in true-blue New York. At least I could help keep my Congresswoman in office.

Wait. What about local elections? Is it more important to cast a vote for a Congresswoman far away than to vote for a mayor, councilmembers, and others? Even when the Congressional vote "couldn't have meant much"? Even for a reporter intern at a local paper which mostly covers local issues?

An online bio says Bevilacqua grew up on Long Island. The only Congresswoman on Long Island is Carolyn McCarthy, and in fairness to Bevilacqua, some people thought she was vulnerable in 2010 even after winning over 60% of the vote in the 3 prior elections. She ended up still getting 54% of the vote and winning by 12,345 votes.

I don't want to pick on Bevilacqua. His chain of thought is very common in DC. A campaign worker circulating nominating petitions in my neighborhood not long ago said that very few people they'd spoken to were registered. Instead, they said things like, "I'm registered where my vote counts," the canvasser told me.

DC residents' votes count here. The margin of victory in last year's special election for DC Council was 1,732 votesabout 1/7 the margin in McCarthy's closest race in a decade. In the April primary, the margin for the same at-large seat was 1,746 votes, under 3% of the total. Even blowout ward races are decided by a few thousand votes.

The council votes on how much funding Metro gets, whether to build streetcars, where there are bike lanes, how often trash gets picked up, policies on affordable housing, whether to regulate Uber, or tax yoga. Thousands of people flooded Council offices with emails to complain about a price floor for Uber (and then it turned out Uber was twisting the facts a bit), or to oppose including services like yoga in the sales tax. How many of them are registered in a "true blue" (or "reliably red"?) district, in an electorally safe state, and believe their vote matters more there than here?

I've lived in 4 different states since reaching voting age, and never had the chance to vote in a competitive race for the House or Senate. I have a lot more influence over my life by voting in DC than in any of those past homes.

If you live in the District, you should vote here. It's the right thing to do. It gives you a stronger voice in local affairs. Plus, the more voters we have, the stronger the case for voting rights, which all Americans deserve. That includes Pennsylvania residents who don't have the time or money to get burdensome voter IDs, and all of the people of the District of Columbia.

Update: If you live in DC but aren't registered, you can register here.

Also, WCP editor Mike Madden notes that Bevilacqua was an intern, and a GW undergrad, while living in DC. I've corrected the reference to him as a "reporter." It's more reasonable for undergrads not to register, though they still should; ANC elections can have a lot of influence on student life, in particular. Plus, many people remain unregistered long after college.

David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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If I get to vote 1,732 times then I will.

by Michael Hamilton on Sep 5, 2012 12:35 pm • linkreport

The cost estimates are ludicrous - how does a person get around without any form of ID at this point? He must not fly, because he'd need an ID of this sort, or a passport, anyway. And note that he includes the cost of an ID, when he says he gets it for free as its his first ID (i.e., not a replacement for a lost ID)? By his logic, it cost me a lot to vote, but nothing to drive, even though I use my driver's license 99.9% of the time for driving, and only once a year for voting.

by ah on Sep 5, 2012 12:46 pm • linkreport

It's funny how many Americans 'support the troops' because they believe democracy is great, but are too lazy to vote themselves.

I can't vote here (which also means I bear no responsibility, wohoo!), but I did vote on Monday in my parliamentary elections (to be held next Tuesday). By mail, and the embassy should get my vote today or tomorrow. Sure, it's a hassle. But I see voting as an important civic duty in the maintenance of my country. They've given me a free education and a passport that allowed me to go wherever I wanted.

Voting every few years is not that much trouble. We should be happy we can, however infinitesimally small the effect of individual votes seem. Votes matter, even in heavily lopsided elections. Even by voting against a heavily favored candidate (a democrat in DC, or a republican in Idaho), you can build support for a run in a subsequent election.

by Jasper on Sep 5, 2012 12:51 pm • linkreport

@ ah: how does a person get around without any form of ID at this point? He must not fly, because he'd need an ID of this sort, or a passport, anyway.

Poor people do not fly. They can barely afford riding the bus.

I use my driver's license 99.9% of the time for driving, and only once a year for voting.

I use my ID most for buying liquor and second for flying. I have never been asked to show my license by a cop, despite having been stopped (but not ticketed).

by Jasper on Sep 5, 2012 12:54 pm • linkreport

how about a link to how to register/update your DC registration? that would be useful for those swayed by your argument, no?

by dano on Sep 5, 2012 12:56 pm • linkreport

Well, let's be clear that anyone registered as a Republican in this town is screwed. And there's a fair argument for people from competitive home states to remain registered there. Is a person who moved from Ohio to DC really supposed to switch registrations and vote for council members when his or her vote could impact a presidential election?

by MJ on Sep 5, 2012 12:56 pm • linkreport

Thanks for this article, David. As a young Georgetown alum now living in Virginia, I get so frustrated at my friends who remained in DC but continue to vote absentee in their home states despite being full-fledged, post-college DC citizens. It's a huge problem with 20-somethings, and from my experience, far too few of my DC friends even know anything about the form of, or state of, local politics here. I wish there was an effective way of communicating to these people how important it is to vote in, and become engaged in, the community you actually live and work in. I may vote in VA now (and have since come to know Arlington local politics quite well), but I love following DC politics and wish I could throw in my vote for Mayor too.

by Allie on Sep 5, 2012 1:02 pm • linkreport

What about the voter fraud that this leads to? If you no longer live in the state, isn't keeping your voter registration there against the law? Likewise for District residents who keep their license and cars registered in Maryland or Virginia "to save money on insurance". If there are laws about this, the reporter just admited in print that he fraudentely voted in a federal election in a district in which he no longer lived. Voting matters, and it matters even more the closer you get to your actual home. It starts with your ANC and goes up from there. Just because we District residents have had our congress person and senator withheld from us doesn't mean that we shouldn't care about the rest of the elected officials in our daily lives.

by John on Sep 5, 2012 1:12 pm • linkreport

If you live in the District, you should vote here

Unless you are a Democrat from a swing state. Then you should vote there.

by David C on Sep 5, 2012 1:19 pm • linkreport

Wait. What about local elections? Is it more important to cast a vote for a Congresswoman far away than to vote for a mayor, councilmembers, and others?

Clearly, many people think so - particularly when asking them to vote in local elections means giving up the right to vote in Congressional elections.

Also, forget Congress - what about the presidency? Nate Silver's 538 blog projects a 100% chance that Obama wins DC - not surprising. As MJ notes, an absentee voter registered in Ohio has a lot more influence over the Presidential election than one in DC (and to be fair, over a voter in, say, Wyoming).

David asks if people think influencing the Presidency is more important than influencing the DC Council, but he can't be surprised when people choose picking the White House. Since DC has three electoral votes, that calculus isn't about voting rights, either.

How many of them are registered in a "true blue" (or "reliably red"?) district, in an electorally safe state, and believe their vote matters more there than here?

Well, true blue states like CA and NY at least have more bang for their buck in the electoral college.

I don't think this post helps make that case to those voting absentee, however.

Plus, the more voters we have, the stronger the case for voting rights, which all Americans deserve.

I think the causality of that is completely wrong. DC didn't get voting rights when a) its population was much larger in total, and b) represented a much larger share of the total population of the US. I don't see how getting more people registered here will help the cause - but getting voting rights certainly would help convince people to register here.

If you want to make the case that people should be more involved in local politics, how about making local politics and elections more accessible? Same-day registration, open primaries, things along those lines...

by Alex B. on Sep 5, 2012 1:25 pm • linkreport

The cost estimates are ludicrous - how does a person get around without any form of ID at this point? He must not fly, because he'd need an ID of this sort

No, the costs seem pretty dead on and well-documented. As for having an ID, perhaps he has a NY State ID or a student ID or some other non-Pennsylvania ID.

And note that he includes the cost of an ID

He let's you know what it would have cost if he didn't qualify for a free one, but then he doesn't include that cost in his total.

I use my driver's license 99.9% of the time for driving, and only once a year for voting.

I never use my ID to vote because I live in a state (or federal district) that actually values democracy and respects that people have a right to vote.

by David C on Sep 5, 2012 1:28 pm • linkreport

@Alex B.

DC does have same-day registration. The open primaries is something I'm not in favor of, but only because I'd rather have just non-partisan elections.

by Adam L on Sep 5, 2012 1:32 pm • linkreport

"If you live in the District, you should vote here
Unless you are a Democrat from a swing state. Then you should vote there."

I live in Virginia. I pledge not to move to the District between now and November 6.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Sep 5, 2012 1:35 pm • linkreport

Alex B hits on a lot of things I would have said.

Also, most people just aren't interested in voting. It is a lot of work to be a good voter. It takes hours of research. And odds are that not once in your life will your vote actually make a difference in the outcome. It's easier to be at least somewhat informed about the Presidential election, and maybe Governor/Senator, but after that, you're going to have to get in there and do some reading and searching. Or you're going to need to just vote the party line or what your preacher tells you to do or something. So it makes sense that people really value having a voice in the Presidential election above their local ANC.

I agree that people should vote, and they should be informed when they do so - because it makes them better citizens for the rest of the year. But I get that for most people the payoff will likely not be worth the time they put in, and so it's just not appealing.

by David C on Sep 5, 2012 1:35 pm • linkreport

Poor people do have ID cards - even if they don't drive, they need ID cards to get food stamps and Medicaid.
The Bevilacqua article is ridiculous. In order to come up with a scary-sounding number, and downplay the fact that the ID is actually free, he has to count time away from work as a "cost." To someone without a job, or someone who works evening shifts, or Saturday off, or has a flexible schedule, it isn't. And he counts the cost of express-mailing his birth certificate, which he freely decided to store with his parents, out-of-state. All he has established is that the ID law is an excessive burden to whiny writers like himself.
How does Bevilacqua feel about the fact that poor people have to take the bus, and take time off work, to get to the polling place on election day? Should the state be required to send election workers to peoples' homes, so they can vote without getting off the couch?

by Oliver on Sep 5, 2012 1:35 pm • linkreport

The attitude of the reporter is illustrative of one I have seen among many people in their 20s who move to DC without intending to make it their permanent home (myself included, back in the day - I've always been a MD girl). I didn't register to vote in DC until right before the primary between Gray and Fenty, because (a) I could forese myself continuing to live in DC, if not in the same apartment, and (b) Fenty gave me something worth voting for. Just a thought.

by grumpy on Sep 5, 2012 1:35 pm • linkreport

A small quibble: Long Island is currently represented by five members of Congress: Tim Bishop, Steve Israel, Peter King, Carolyn McCarthy, and Gary Ackerman. The race in New York's first congressional district, which covers eastern Suffolk County, was extremely tight in 2010. Congressman Tim Bishop had a 253 vote lead when challenger Randy Altschuler conceded the election on December 8, 2010. It was the last House race to be decided.

by Former LI'er on Sep 5, 2012 1:41 pm • linkreport

@Adam L

DC does have same-day registration. The open primaries is something I'm not in favor of, but only because I'd rather have just non-partisan elections.

Technically, yes, DC does have same-day registration. Effectively we do not, however, thanks to closed primaries and the difficulties and time requirements to change party status.

Non-partisan elections would work, too - I didn't mean for my 'things along those lines' to be exhaustive by any means.

by Alex B. on Sep 5, 2012 1:43 pm • linkreport

Should check my reading comprehension. But that Bishop/Altschuler race was exciting!

by Former LI'er on Sep 5, 2012 1:44 pm • linkreport


I've done a lot of work with the DNC and various state committees on election protection in the last 10 years.

And honestly, the business about poor people/blacks/hispanics (insert your constituency here) not having IDs and voting is BS.

Turnout across the country for non-contested local election may be in the 5-10% range.

There are a lot of reasons why people don't vote. Low information voters, in particular, are overwhelmed. The lack of ID is several degrees down the list. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but lets focus on the reality for a second. There are some interesting federal issue re: pre-clearance and voter right but that is somewhat a side issue.

(Both parties are complicit in this. The RNC uses the fear of "voter fraud" as a way to motivate the base. The DNC is constantly saying the RNC is stealing elections. Blah blah blah. Incompetence is always before evil. Voting across the country is almost always just boring.)

Also, as a counterpoint, until recently it was a "tradition" that reporters -- and political reporters -- didn't vote. Stupid professional norms. While that is changing, I do think you have a case of voter fraud here.

by charlie on Sep 5, 2012 1:47 pm • linkreport

The real stupidity outlined in his article is that SEPTA still uses tokens!

@ah
The cost estimates are ludicrous - how does a person get around without any form of ID at this point? He must not fly, because he'd need an ID of this sort, or a passport, anyway. And note that he includes the cost of an ID, when he says he gets it for free as its his first ID (i.e., not a replacement for a lost ID)? By his logic, it cost me a lot to vote, but nothing to drive, even though I use my driver's license 99.9% of the time for driving, and only once a year for voting.

The elderly and other people who do not drive may not have ID. Poor people don't fly places. Not to mention the fact that in most of these places your voter ID has to have your current address on it, which means more hassle and cost for people who move a lot - like those who rent.

Even in DC we have stupid ID rules - just to get my license converted from out-of-state to DC I had to bring:
- current driver license (proof that I can drive)
- my passport (proof of identity/DOB)
- my social security card (proof of SSN)
- a copy of my lease (proof that I live in DC)

What's stupid is that these are all separate, that is my current license does not count for both who I am AND that I can drive, and my passport does not also show that I am a citizen. And the last one, my lease, is actually one of the harder ones to get for some people. You can bring a utility bill, or a telephone bill (but NOT a cell phone bill) with your name on it, or a copy of your lease with your name on it, or a signed form from the home OWNER stating that you live there. What do you do if you don't pay utilities and you sublet? The entire process just convinced me that there are probably thousands of people in DC driving around without a license.

Though really complaining over the process of the voter ID is really beside the point, since the kind of voter fraud that ID prevents doesn't even occur at any meaningful level. The kind of fraud that does exist is the kind that people don't think twice about - being registered and absentee voting someplace you don't even live, like zillions of people who live in DC do!

by MLD on Sep 5, 2012 1:50 pm • linkreport

The real travesty is that we have to register at all. I'm a citizen, so if I show up at the polls on election day and can prove that I am who I say I am, I should have the right to vote. No one should be forcing me to fill out paperwork every couple of years just to confirm that I want to keep my Constitutional rights.

by Tom Veil on Sep 5, 2012 2:09 pm • linkreport

I hope everyone that's stating that "if it's competitive in your homestate, stay registered there," unless you're a temporary resident in DC, you're committing voter fraud.

by Jdailey on Sep 5, 2012 2:13 pm • linkreport

While Queens and Brooklyn residents woul never describe themselves as living on Long Island, they technically are, and counting all the reps that have some part of LI in ther districts, it's actually 17. But David was saying that there is only one CongressWOMAN on LI. Again, technically there are three women who represent parts of Queens and Brooklyn, but like I said, nobody from those boroughs would describe themselves as being "from Long Island" so David's statement is accurate.

/Quiblewiththequible

by TM on Sep 5, 2012 2:18 pm • linkreport

For what it's worth, Matt Bevilacqua was an intern at City Paper, not a full-time staff reporter. He was an undergrad at GW when he was here -- it's not uncommon for college students to continue to vote in their hometowns, instead of where their schools are located (I voted in Montgomery County, Md., when I was in college in Philadelphia in the 1990s). His work for us was very good, but I think you're overplaying his City Paper ties to mock the attitude in his post (even though you say you don't want to pick on him).

Also for what it's worth, Bevilacqua has also been a GGW contributor: http://greatergreaterwashington.org/mbev/

by Mike Madden on Sep 5, 2012 2:21 pm • linkreport

A Republican vote in DC is a wasted vote.

Sad but true.

by Dane on Sep 5, 2012 2:24 pm • linkreport

@MLD; the proof of identify/proof of prescence document game isn't part of voter regitration. It is a bush-era SecureID requirement. I'd fully agree that it a bad idea, and I worked for about 2 years in Virginia to push back on that back in the day.

But again to show this is all fireworks, one would think a democratic president/DOJ/congress could have easily pushed back on that. They didn't.

by charlie on Sep 5, 2012 2:28 pm • linkreport

A Republican vote in DC is a wasted vote

Tell that to sitting Board of Education member Patrick Mara, but yes, there is more DC can do to make its elections open to all. Things that have been discussed here. And doing those things will give us better standing to ask for voting rights, even though we won't get them.

by David C on Sep 5, 2012 2:28 pm • linkreport

dano: Good idea. I've added a link to how to register.

Mike: OK, good point. I've corrected this to say intern. I certainly wasn't trying to pick on WCP.

by David Alpert on Sep 5, 2012 2:30 pm • linkreport

one would think a democratic president/DOJ/congress could have easily pushed back on that. They didn't

Uh...yeah they did. They sued like crazy and they've used their voting rights act power. If there is any hesitancy at all - and I haven't seen any - it would come from the desire to wait for the courts to be more friendly (i.e. more Democratic appointments).

by David C on Sep 5, 2012 2:31 pm • linkreport

@MLD-I agree its totally stupid that to get a DC drivers license/ID you can't substitute a passport for a ss card. One must present an original ss card in order to obtain a passport. Its utterly stupid. US Immigration accepts a US passport as proof of your citizenship but the DC DMV doesn't.

by Tina on Sep 5, 2012 2:45 pm • linkreport

@davidC; no, they pushed back on the voting provision, not on the core issue of making it easier to get ID.

And they only won (agressive?) because of pre-clearance and the burden of proofs. Not suprising, in PA, a judge found the voter ID laws stood.

So again, to contrast: Voting Rights acts vs. Secure ID.

@Tina; US passports don't have SSNs.

by charlie on Sep 5, 2012 2:52 pm • linkreport

I couldn't even venture a guess at the number of self obsessed hipsters who love to lecture everyone on the right and proper way to conduct ones city and lives, who then "claim" residency in (insert state here with lower income taxes and more relevent federal representation here).

If you aren't actually a DC taxpaying resident and you still drive daddy's old car he gave you in college that is liscensed in another state, then no one cares what you have to think or say. Why don't you try not breaking multiple federal and district laws in the conduct of your life before you give me another lecture on the how magical the world will be once DC installs another bike lane.

by voter on Sep 5, 2012 3:09 pm • linkreport

@Jdailey, I, for one, was joking. [But you still should. I mean it's just a little voter fraud right?]

by David C on Sep 5, 2012 3:11 pm • linkreport

charlie, I think you skipped over too many words there for me to follow you.

by David C on Sep 5, 2012 3:16 pm • linkreport

David,

Thanks for picking up my post and for your comments. I didn't have the chance to get into this, because I didn't want my personal background to overshadow the post's main thrust, but there were some pretty complicated reasons why I chose to remain a registered NY voter while living in D.C.

The majority of my family still lives in NY; there was the gubernatorial race between Cuomo and Paladino (gay marriage and a whole lot more was on the line); McCarthy, as I mentioned in passing; most of all, I still feel personal ties to where I grew up, and though it's been years since I've spent more than a few weeks at a time on Long Island, I continue to feel invested in the local politics there. It didn't feel "far off" at all.

FWIW I did pay attention to local politics while in D.C. (thank WCP for that) and occasionally even wrote about it, but I knew I'd move on soon enough and didn't feel enough of a connection to sacrifice my vote in NY. So it wasn't apathy that kept me from registering. On the other hand, PA's swing state status and a governor named Corbett were enough to convince me to switch this year.

Thanks again for reading. The only thing worse than being talked about, etc.

Matt

by Matt Bevilacqua on Sep 5, 2012 3:18 pm • linkreport

@ Tom Veil:The real travesty is that we have to register at all. I'm a citizen, so if I show up at the polls on election day and can prove that I am who I say I am, I should have the right to vote

That does not stop you from walking to the next poll station and vote again, and again, and again. You need some form of voter registration to make sure that each person only votes once.

I agree that voter registration process is silly. In most western countries, the government knows where you live due to your interactions with the government, be it paying taxes, applying for a driver's license, a subsidy, marriage license, birth certificate, car registration etc. Some NW European countries require that everybody is registered with the government. And to make people comply, they won't deal with you if you are not registered.

If states would register all persons in their state paying taxes and holding driver's licenses, the process would be a lot easier.

It is odd that you can register as a organ donor on a driver's license application, but that voter registration is so much more difficult.

by Jasper on Sep 5, 2012 3:20 pm • linkreport

@voter
I couldn't even venture a guess at the number of self obsessed hipsters who love to lecture everyone on the right and proper way to conduct ones city and lives, who then "claim" residency in (insert state here with lower income taxes and more relevent federal representation here).

It's likely that those people still pay taxes in DC. It's much more difficult to avoid paying taxes where you live than it is to be registered to vote elsewhere.

Again, voting absentee elsewhere does not equal "residency" elsewhere or not paying taxes in DC.

by MLD on Sep 5, 2012 3:22 pm • linkreport

@charlie US passports don't have SSNs.
...Nor does my drivers license.

My SS# is not needed to issue a DL/ID. The rational for asking for the ss card is to prove citizenship/residency. I can do that with my passport.

by Tina on Sep 5, 2012 3:40 pm • linkreport

I always tell my friends to move to Virginia where their vote actually counts a lot more!

by ada smorna on Sep 5, 2012 3:47 pm • linkreport

@charlie -I just looked at the DC DMV website. Since I got my DL the absurd rules have changed. They now say "proof of SSN" and list several types of documents that are acceptable including original ss card.

Several years ago when I was getting a DC DL, and maybe when @MLD was getting one, they required an original ss card with the rationale that it was to prove citizenship.

Why does the the DMV need one's SSN? They're aren't paying payroll SS taxes for you.

http://dmv.dc.gov/info/proofofSSN.shtm

by Tina on Sep 5, 2012 3:51 pm • linkreport

It seems that all the comments demonstrate a belief in voting, but not in math.

Your vote doesn't matter in any state, regardless of whether it is a swing state or New York.

by Michael Hamilton on Sep 5, 2012 3:52 pm • linkreport

@Tina; no. You actually do need a SSN to get a drivers license. Not sure about ID. You don't need one for a passport because, for instance, it is common for babies to have passports.

by charlie on Sep 5, 2012 3:53 pm • linkreport

@ Tina:The rational for asking for the ss card is to prove citizenship/residency.

Nonsense. Everybody with a visa allowing work, or study can get an SSN. F, J and H (study, exchange and work) visas are non-immigrant visas, specifically not granting residency to holders. As far as I know, only green cards prove residency. But green card holders can not vote.

by Jasper on Sep 5, 2012 3:53 pm • linkreport

@Tina; yes, that is the "SecureID" that I keep talking about.

Basically, Bush-era DOJ forced all the states to adopt a set of standards on proof of presence/proof of residency.

the practical result is the pain in the ass to get a new license (or ID).

As I said before, the Obama Administration could change these rules if if really though getting ID was barriers to voting. They have decided it isn't worth it, and instead waste their time in the Voting Rights Act.

by charlie on Sep 5, 2012 4:01 pm • linkreport

and let me walk back the comments on voter fraud a bit. Given the fact pattern, I would doubt anybody would charge. The only way it comes up if you are registered (and vote) in two places at once.

You can get hit with fraud charges in some states because you are required to attest you are not registered in another state.

Despite what the RNC says, voter fraud is an incredibly rare crime. It is even harder to prosecute.

False voter registration is (fairly) common, but of course it is bit hard to actually vote as Donald Duck.

by charlie on Sep 5, 2012 4:09 pm • linkreport

yes, DC DMV requires "proof of SSN". When I went the only acceptable form of documentation for that was "an original SS Card"/ or immigrant equivalent i.e. greencard.Furthermore I was told the reason was to prove my identity, not to prove I had a SSN, and that my US passport, for which I needed to show an original SS Card, could not be substituted. I am certain of this. I have a very clear memory of an unpleasant afternoon stranded in Kafkaland.

NOW the DMV accepts several documents as "proof of SSN" in addition to "original SS card". This is a change since I was there including in communication ("proof of SSN" not just "need card to prove idenity"). A change for the better.

Babies use the ID info of their parents on US passports.

So yes, its a PINTA to get a govt ID in order to vote, even with the improvements in the DC DMV required docs since I was last there.

by Tina on Sep 5, 2012 4:15 pm • linkreport

Matt Bevilacqua wrote: "FWIW I did pay attention to local politics while in D.C. ... and occasionally even wrote about it, but I knew I'd move on soon enough and didn't feel enough of a connection to sacrifice my vote in NY. So it wasn't apathy that kept me from registering."

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.] You can't pick and choose where you vote based on how interested in the loval elections you are. Sure you paid attention to DC politics, but I pay attention to Seattle politics, a city in which I lived for a few years in the early 1990s, but I don't vote in Seattle. I intensely dislike Rahm Emanuel but that doesn't entitle me to choose to vote against him in Chicago. You vote where you live; you participate where you live. It wasn't a question of "sacrificing" your vote in New York; you sacrificed your vote in DC, and [deleted].

by DC Resident Voter on Sep 5, 2012 4:37 pm • linkreport

You can't pick and choose where you vote based on how interested in the loval elections you are. Sure you paid attention to DC politics, but I pay attention to Seattle politics, a city in which I lived for a few years in the early 1990s, but I don't vote in Seattle. I intensely dislike Rahm Emanuel but that doesn't entitle me to choose to vote against him in Chicago. You vote where you live; you participate where you live. It wasn't a question of "sacrificing" your vote in New York; you sacrificed your vote in DC, and [deleted].

The concept of student reciprocity, along with maintenance of home state registration for congressional staffers, members of the military, etc. is well-established. We have made voting into something more along the lines of "where are you vested" than "where are you presently located." You can disagree with that standard, but it's not somehow out of the ordinary or at odds with standard practice, in Mr. Bevilacqua's case.

by Dizzy on Sep 5, 2012 4:46 pm • linkreport

You vote where you live; you participate where you live.

Sure, but where you live isn't easy to answer.

We went through this with the Census in 2010. Where you are counted for Census purposes is not the same as an official residence, nor is it the same as your domicile, nor is it your location for tax purposes, nor is it your place where you are registered to vote.

All of these might be different locations.

As noted in the comments above, Matt Bevilacqua was an intern at the City Paper while living in DC as an undergrad at GW.

Plenty of college kids might live in DC and they would be counted as DC residents for the purposes of the Census. However, they might not be DC residents in that they get DC drivers licenses, or change their voter registration to DC instead of their home state. Given their status (likely) as dependents, this does not constitute voter fraud, either.

Did you go to college in another city/state? Did you change your voter registration each time you moved?

by Alex B. on Sep 5, 2012 4:49 pm • linkreport

@ Tina:"an original SS Card"/ or immigrant equivalent i.e. greencard.

The two are very different documents. Your SSN is basically your tax payer ID number that differentiate you from all the other Tina's in the US. A green card gives the bearer the right to live and work in the US. However, green card holders also need an SSN to work, because without an SSN you can not defer your taxes.

I honestly do not understand why the US government is so difficult about an easy to copy piece of paper.

by Jasper on Sep 5, 2012 9:32 pm • linkreport

It always amazes me that people think federal elections are more important than local elections. When all is said and done local elections impact my day-to-day life a lot more than federal elections. I can't really say that I see much difference in my day-to-day life under the Obama Administration versus the Bush Administration or the Clinton Administration. However, the change from Marion Barry and the weak councils he lorded over to our current crop of leaders, even with their ethical challenges, is HUGE. I cannot exaggerate the difference in DC government services in 1995 versus 2012. Ditto for the safety of my neighborhood, the quality of its public realm, the quality and diversity of its retail offerings, etc.

by rg on Sep 6, 2012 10:31 am • linkreport

When I was living in Cameroon, I vote in Austin, TX (or at least I tried to). There is nothing wrong with that.

by David C on Sep 6, 2012 12:00 pm • linkreport

It always amazes me that people think federal elections are more important than local elections.

I agree to some agree, but there are some stark differences. Like DC can get bad, but it can't start a war with Uzbekistan and draft citizens to fight in it or launch nuclear missiles, etc... So the stakes are a bit higher at the federal level.

by David C on Sep 6, 2012 12:10 pm • linkreport

As I said before, the Obama Administration could change these rules if if really though getting ID was barriers to voting.

Ok now I understand. Yes, they could change the rules, but can they really set a maximum. In other words, they can allow states to make it easier, but can they force them to? And can they do it without Congress?

I agree that these SecureID rules don't make us any safer, so I think they're a little stupid, but I'm not sure the Obama administration can do as much as you say they can.

by David C on Sep 6, 2012 1:50 pm • linkreport

I would prefer to vote in either of the two states I have been eligible to vote in before (both "purple" swing states) than here if given the choice. The last time I was eligible to vote in an election for the US Senate, I proudly cast one of the many votes that threw the dangerous Rick Santorum out of office in Pennsylvania and put Bob Casey in his place.

That vote mattered. None of my votes in DC have, or ever will.

Here's the reason why: in many swing states and swing districts, a couple of votes could make the difference between someone who is looking out for my rights and my interests getting or keeping a seat, or that seat going to someone who will spend their career trying to take away my rights. In the District, that *will never happen*. The population of the District is overwhelmingly supportive of women's rights, gay rights, civil liberties, etc. I don't need to worry about my local rights. On a local level, our City Council (and for that matter, any ANC) will NEVER vote to close abortion clinics, take away the rights of gays to marry or work where they choose, or restrict the ability of minorities to vote. It just doesn't happen. I can't imagine a candidate even being willing to admit they were on the fence about those issues in my Ward or ANC, because they would be attacked by an angry mob.

In other states, though, that requires a great deal of courage. It requires a great deal of hope. And it requires a great deal of voter turnout and support.

So, for me, I have to realize, I care a LOT more about bigger issues than Uber, Metro funding, or taxing yoga. In fact, I don't really care at all about taxing yoga. Tax it all you want. Or don't. Doesn't affect me at all. Federal recognition of my marriage, though? Yeah, that affects me. To the tune of a couple grand every year in taxes I have to pay and just knowing my relationship is the same, and entitles me to the same rights, in every state.

Does Metro have the money to stay open an extra hour or not? I don't really care. I can take a cab if it's closed. Do abortion clinics stay open? I do care about that. I think everyone should have the right to decide that for themselves, and deciding what's in your own body matters more to me than deciding what's in a Metro tunnel at 2:00am.

Do I care if the building proposed for the lot next door is three floors our five? Well, yeah, a little. But I can still protest that through HPRB, the Zoning Commission, or even just as a really loud resident at an ANC meeting, regardless of if I voted in the last ANC election or not. Do I care if people all have equal access to get to the polls nationwide? Yep. More than I care about that building next door.

So, while being involved in local issues is important, protecting our interests nationally (especially for the LGBT community, which is facing a federal marriage amendment to the US Constitution with no representative to even lobby to vote against it) matters more.

Local issues are details, and national issues are big picture. Does it really matter if the bride has a beautiful french tip manicure if she's got a big oil slick stain on the front of her wedding dress?

by ShawCitizen on Sep 6, 2012 1:53 pm • linkreport

@davidC. My bad. RealID, not secureID (RSA).

And yes, it is rulemaking, not in the law.

by charlie on Sep 6, 2012 1:57 pm • linkreport

Charlie, I knew what you meant.

My cursory reading on the subject shows the following:

1. Obama opposes RealID and appointed another opponent of it to head DHS
2. They delayed the rules for this going into effect until Jan 2013
3. They have supported laws to weaken the requirement.
4. It's not clear to me that the requirements can weakened without a change in the law, which is why they want to change it. CNN writes "The Real ID Act requires states to include security features on driver's licenses and to verify the identity of the card holder."

So I'm not sure that the Obama administration can actually remove these requirements. And even if they did, I'm not sure that would mean states would have to make IDs easier to get (especially since the rules haven't even gone into effect yet). Nor am I sure that the RealID rules are the reason it is a PITA to get an ID. It was no cakewalk in the 90's either. So this all feels like a red herring.

The real problem is that some states have decided to require people to have ID to vote, even though there is basically no benefit and there is a provable cost in getting the ID and likely a reduction in total voting (which as a PA state legislator pointed out is a feature, not a bug).

Making the ID slightly easier to get is not going to solve this problem.

by David C on Sep 6, 2012 3:22 pm • linkreport

@davidC; You're right. It was a cursory reading.

by charlie on Sep 6, 2012 3:38 pm • linkreport

Thanks, that really clears things up.

by David C on Sep 6, 2012 3:40 pm • linkreport

Wow, I am amazed that so many of the GGW elite vote in other cities/states. Interested in where you live, but not enough to become a full DC resident? Disgusting.

by YouVoteElsehwere? on Sep 6, 2012 6:07 pm • linkreport

Completely agree with this ^^^ guy. Just leave. Now.

by 20011 on Sep 6, 2012 9:51 pm • linkreport

YouVoteElsewhere, who are these people who are voting elsewhere? I don't see anyone saying that.

by David C on Sep 6, 2012 11:03 pm • linkreport

Agree with David C, I don't see people saying they are voting elsewhere.

by MLD on Sep 7, 2012 9:06 am • linkreport

@Tina - re: Passports + SSN's
While one's SSN may not be printed on their U.S. passport it is linked to it. My understanding is that this is done in part for taxation.

E.g.: If you were to visit Scotland and bought a couple of sweaters you would have to declare them to U.S.Customs upon your return. If you were a resident of Calif. you would be expected to report the purchase as part of your state tax return and possibly pay some sort of tax on them. If you didn't then there's a good chance the Calif. revenooers [sic] (Franchise Tax Board) would send you a bill with penalties added. There are probably similar setups in other states.

by Ted K. on Sep 9, 2012 7:08 pm • linkreport

I currently live in Iowa, and, as a swing state, we do have some pretty competitive races coming up in November. Someone told me that if I live in DC proper, I can still vote in Iowa elections as long as I don't also register to vote in DC (something about the no federal representation thing). Is that true?

by Rachel on Mar 11, 2014 1:18 pm • linkreport

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