Lobbyist pork in the voting bill?

I noticed Tom Sullivan's post on BlueNC about the Voter Information Verification Act and decided to do a bit of digging.

In the post, he quotes a Greensboro News and Record piece that says a voter id card would wind up costing $20-$32.

It would actually cost more than that.

According to the NC DOT website, you'll need two documents to document your name, date and place of birth. These include a driver's license (which you probably won't have if you need an id card), school documents, a US military ID, court documents or several other items.

The most common is a certified birth certificate.

If you're a native of NC and haven't moved from area you're born, you can probably go by the county courthouse and get the document there, paying the appropriate fees.

However, if getting to the courthouse is inconvenient, then you can use a commercial service - http://www.vitalchek.com/.

The way it works is that you can pay a fee to get a certified copy of your birth certificate sent to a government agency - about 300 Federal and state government agencies, in fact.

The cost? $39.00 plus $12.70. Plus shipping.

It might not seem like much, but you get a few hundred thousand new orders and it can add up for your quarterly bottom line.

The company is owned by LexusNexis, which is part of Reed Elsiver, a firm that publishes academic journals. Oh, and up until April 2012, they were a member of ALEC, but resigned because of pressure from academics that were concerned about the company's funding of climate change denial propaganda.

So ... has LexisNexis been doing some lobbying around the NC and other statehouses to pick up a few bucks with voter ID laws?

Could it be someone else?

Another player in online certified birth certificates is www.usbirthcertificate.com - it's listed at the Better Business Bureau with a D- rating and several consumer complaints. It's owned by a "Jason Stevens" in Houston, Texas and has been in business since 1997. Stevens also operates online visa and passport processing services.

I didn't find any political contributions at the FEC from Stevens - he might be a donor to one of the "dark money" groups out there.

There's also several scam sites out there. One is Express Vitals - a BBB complaint page on that company notes that the site takes your info and impersonates you at the LexisNexis site to get the certificate there, charging you a fee on top of what LexisNexis charges. I couldn't even find the name of who actually owns that site.

Progressives and liberals "on the ground" should pay attention to what Republican organizers are telling constituents that need to get a certified certificate for a voter id - if they mention some specific online services, that might give us some clues on what company or scam artists are lobbying for these laws and looking to make a few bucks.

Comments

Teddy, I renewed my own

Teddy,
I renewed my own license this past spring. Looking over the DMV site I noticed that a new teen driver absolutely had to produce a birth certificate to get a license. Wondering what would happen if the birth certificate had been lost, I called New Hanover county to ask about getting a copy of mine. They were very helpful; just fill out and mail in the form I would find on their website, mail it to them with $10, and oh! they would need a copy of my driver's license.....
Catch-22.

To obtain a learners' permit

To obtain a learners' permit you need four documents, a certificate of completion (of the driver education course), a certificate of eligibility (passing at least 70% of classes), a social security card (the original, not a copy), and a birth certificate. There are some exceptions but those are the basic requirements.

I'm a moderate Democrat.

Replacement social security cards

The list of required ids to get a birth certificate can be difficult to obtain. Many older voters probably don't have their original social security card. Some younger ones might have misplaced it or not kept up with it if they didn't bother to get a driver's license.

They're available from the Social Security Administration. To get one, you need valid proof of US citizenship - a birth certificate or passport. If you don't have one of those, then take take other forms of identification, such as a driver's license.

Oh, and there's scammer websites that sell replacement social security cards at $35 a pop, but more likely are just identity theft rings.

Quite a little Kafkaesque nightmare, don't you think?

I can't wait for the lawsuits coming out of this piece of legislation. It's not unlike Louisiana's Voter Literacy test from the Jim Crow era.

Well, isn't that circular

Let the lawsuits issue forth...

The other glitch with obtaining a replacement Social Security card is the time involved. I learned this when I needed an original card to get my son into Chapel Hill's public school preschool program 11 years ago. We had misplaced the original SS card.

Getting a new SS card requires HOURS of waiting in the Social Security office. At least in the Durham SS office, that was the case. Luckily I have a job I can easily take an afternoon off from. Not true for many people.

Realty-tv style internet video on voter id?

A liberal or progressive group would do well to start work right now on a "reality tv"-style Internet video that takes two or three typical NC voters - some old, some young - and follows them through the process of getting the required documents to fulfill NC's voter id law, showing a tally of the money they're spending on the documents, time lost from work or transportation, and how long it takes them to do it, as well as the issues they run into going through the process. And carefully documenting that information so it can be added as evidence to any lawsuit.

We can talk about all the abstract issues around the law, but the way to get people really riled up about what the NC legislature has done is to attach faces and stories to it.

Other Tea Bagger controlled states are watching NC's voter id law closely. We need to let them know that taking away the right to vote is something none of us will take lying down.

That's a great idea!

I know a few NC directors...anyone got funding ideas?

On another note, here's a positive development.

Reed Elsevier Lobbying?

According to the NC Secretary of State website, George Teague lobbies on behalf of Reed Elsevier. Of course, our state does not require lobbyists to disclose the issues so we don't know for certain that Reed was pushing this voter ID bill...

Perhaps an enterprising reporter....

Perhaps an enterprising reporter could simply ask the lobbyist about the company's support or non-support for the bill.

Reed Elsevier used to be a member of ALEC, where these types of laws are being pushed - since they resigned from ALEC under pressure from academics, they could still be lobbying for it.

It would be curious to see if Reed Elsivier has lobbyists in other states and what those states are. If they're lobbying in states where voter id keeps coming up, then I'd have to ask some tough questions about what they're up to.

Just what kinds of things would a company like LexisNexis/Reed Elsivier be lobbying for? Their main business is providing databases to libraries, Law Schools, and public record services like their birth certificate business.

It can't be funds for education and libraries - the expensive journals and databases they offer are about the last thing that a university or library would cut.

Reed Elsevier/LexisNexis is

Reed Elsevier/LexisNexis is active at the state level. They show up on lobbying disclosure reports for PA and TX, but like NC, the reports do not say what they are lobbying for.