For Del. Dave Albo, Ideology Trumps Common Sense

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    Recently I had a series of email conversations with Del. Dave Albo (42nd District) over the bill he introduced in the 2012 General Assembly session (HB 895), which required proof of U.S. citizenship, residence, and photo ID to register. The bill was referred back to committee, and essentially is dead. The US Department of Justice has recently objected to similar laws, such as the one passed in Texas, saying it would have unfair impact on Hispanics. Let’s hope this helps to convince Virginia legislators to keep such an ill-planned, unnecessary law out of our state, but I wouldn’t count on it.

    In the meanwhile, I thought it would be instructive to share the emails between myself and Del. Albo. I told Del. Albo I would do so. The email thread appears exactly as originally written, misspellings and all.

    Me:

    Dear Mr. Albo,

    The bill you have introduced, HB 895, which requires proof of U.S. citizenship, residence, and photo ID to register, is the new Jim Crow. What problem is this bill trying to solve? Who are you striving to keep away from the voting booth? I intend to be very vocal via social media about the nature of this bill, which I strongly disagree with. I’m a Virginia resident since 1964.

    Albo’s response:

    There are two million dead people on the voter rolls and three million who are registered in teo different places accoring to a national study that was in the papers last month. So there is a problem. Whats your silution if you dont like mine?

    Please pardon any typo’s or the brevity of this message. My thumbs are too big for this i-phone.

    Me:

    Dear Mr. Albo,

    The numbers you cite are from a recent Pew study and are nationwide, not in Virginia; so you are overstating the problem if you are referring to Virginia’s voter rolls.

    Local registrars regularly receive reports from the state health department with the names of Virginians who have recently died. These names are checked against the voter rolls and then removed. I know this occurs because I recently checked on my father’s record who died last year. The process of taking him off the voter rolls occurred almost immediately.

    How are Voter ID laws going to somehow clean up inaccurate records? They won’t.

    Election authorities need to convert to electronic records rather than relying on paper forms, and data-matching computers should be employed to take advantage of other available government databases.

    I see Virginia legislators spending a great deal of time on voter suppression bills and laws making it more difficult for women to access healthcare. One really wonders if this is in Virginia’s public interest.

    Albo’s response:

    I specifically said it was a national study

    Secondly, what is so wrong with requiring a person to show they are whom they claim before registering?

    I can tell you from personal experience that the voter lists are horrible. I see people on the list that i know moved ovwr a decade ago

    We are using database comparisons, but it is not going as quckly as we hoped

    Bottom line is that under present law anyone can register and make up a name and address because no one is checking

    Me:

    Mr. Aldo,

    Your bill requires three pieces of identification. This makes it much harder for people, especially seniors, minorities and students to vote. Why are you making it harder for people to vote? Shouldn’t we be encouraging people to vote rather than erecting barriers that prevent them from doing so?

    If you had solid data that proved high numbers of voter fraud that warranted a new law, I believe you’d be publicizing it. But your statement, “I can tell you from personal experience the voter lists are horrible. I see people…” does not persuade me.

    And, you did not answer my question about how your bill, requiring 3 pieces of ID, is somehow going to fix the data on the voter rolls. Your bill does not solve the alleged wrong, all it does is disenfranchise voters.

    Albo’s response:

    If it passed, and it still needs work, it would solve the problem b/c there would be no fraudulent voter registration.

    The reason there is no data is b/c there is no way to tell if people are lying b/c no one is checking.  If you did not check ID’s at a bar, you would not know if there were underaged people drinking.  Likewise, since no one is checking to see if there are fraudulent voter registrations, there is no info that it is happening – even though, it is totally plausible for anyone to walk in and register.

    The reason we could not pass the bill this year is two fold.  1.  It was too costly.  2.  We need to make sure that US citizens are NOT effected.  For example, some people do not have birth certificates b/c they were born at home.  

    So we did not pass the bill b/c it needs more work.

    Me:

    Mr. Aldo,

    You are undermining your own position. You are searching for a solution to a problem that does not exist. Voter fraud is a bogus issue.

    The real problem is there are FAR many more people who are not registered to vote.

    There was no budget passed by the Virginia General Assembly in the regular session. This makes the third time in twelve years, half the time since 2000 that the General Assembly has failed in the most important function of state government. Instead, the General Assembly has focused on abortion, contraception, attacks on public school teachers, and voter suppression laws. This is not an impressive performance.

    Albo’s response:

    Voter fraud is not a bigus issue. Its real. And its not my fault or the republicans fault there is no budget   The senate democrats are the ones who refuse to vote

    For a budget because they cant get the seats they want on committees.

    You are obviously a partisan

    Democrat i

    Thought we were having an intelectual discussion on voter registration, which

    Is an interesting

    Topic because you have to balance

    Protecting against voter fraud with

    Making sure you do not stop legitimate cutizens from voting.  But you started on your sarcastic “not an impressive performance”. Obviously, you choose not to ficus on the good things we did, like saving the retirement system

    From bankruptcy, putting child molesters in prison for life, opening up 1700 new slots for in state students at UVA, JMU, Va Tech and WM, …

    Me:

    Mr. Albo,

    I wish this had been an intellectual conversation, but hardly, as you have brought no facts to the discussion–only ideology. You are somehow convinced people are getting away with fraudulent voting even though you have not a shred of evidence. I can only surmise you have other reasons for keeping people away from voting. And I stand by my statement that the performance of the General Assembly has not been impressive. That’s not sarcasm, that is the disappointment of a citizen of Virginia.

    Albo’s response:

    As I said, you would not know if anyone is drinking underage at a bar if you never checked ID’s.  Thus, there is no way to know if people are fraudulently registering to vote b/c no one is checking.  We do know that 3,000,000 in the US are registered in more than one place.  While most all are not doing it purposefully, there are still at least 3,000,000 improper registrations.  

    We just disagree. Don’t know why you are getting so mad.  Every issue is not black and white.  The solutions are always somewhere in the middle.  As I said, I did agree with you that the solutions must not harm any citizens that do not have a way to get an ID

    Me:

    Mr. Albo,

    Is this what passes as an argument in your mind? The “carding” example? Do you realize this doesn’t even pass the laugh test? You have no evidence people are cheating. You have no data. You make the statement that “at least 3,000,000 improper registrations” have taken place. Prove it.

    I’m becoming concerned because it’s becoming increasingly evident that you are sponsoring bills passed not on logic or data but because of your own personal ideology. That’s not a simple disagreement, Mr. Albo. You have taken templated ALEC legislature and pushed it through because of your own personal agenda, not because there is a valid problem you are attempting to fix. There is a process in place for correcting the data records. If it is not happening quickly enough, as you have stated, then fix THAT problem. Put forth legislature that will update and modernize our data systems.

    I am concerned enough about your fuzzy thinking that I intend to share your emails with a larger audience. I think people need to know that you have sponsored legislature passed on zero data and logic.

    Albo’s response:

    You are not even willing to listen. I agreed with you that VA needs to find a way to solve this problem without affecting legal citizens.  Your response after i agreed with you was an angry email that i did not agree with you 100%

    You just want to continue a system

    That allows people who dont live in the area where they are registering and people who are not even legally in the US to vote.  

    So sorry we will just have to agree to disagree

    Me:

    Mr. Albo,

    I don’t think any of my emails have been angry. Perhaps you are not used to receiving any pushback. The issue is that you cannot offer any documentation that large numbers of voters are attempting to defraud the election process. The reason you don’t produce any documentation is that none exists. That’s why your bill was turned down. Apparently others were similarly not impressed.

    You should be focused on modernizing our data systems to smooth out registration glitches. That would be a bit more difficult than simply picking up ALEC-model legislation, but would in fact be of benefit to Virginia citizens. You should check The Brennan Center for  Justice at the New York University of Law. They have done a great deal of work in this area.

    END OF EMAIL THREAD

    • Clearly, Albo has no self awareness, no interest in seriously engaging, no ability to look critically at his own (utterly flawed) assumptions. The answer, clearly, is that we need a strong Democratic opponent for him in 2013, and we need to defeat him, once and for all.