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September 15, 2005 - Image 20

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-09-15

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Continued from page 4B
I found that I could either shell
out a lot of cash on a really good
fake I.D. with all the works - my
picture, black lightable, scannable

- or I could try and spend $20 on
something some kid made in Adobe
Photoshop, which I could only use in
places that card as a formality.
But in my search, I came across
a picture-perfect solution. I discov-
ered a website that actually sells

fake I.D.s: www.fakeidgroup.org,
Don't get your hopes up. I didn't end
up getting the I.D. But the experi-
ence of trying to get it was inter-
esting in itself. Anyways, so there I
was, looking at a website that sold
fake I.D.'s, that it said were guaran-

teed. They even had pictures of "sat-
isfied customers," many of whom
were young women flashing the
camera, as if their fake I.D.'s had
landed them in the center of a "Girls
Gone Wild" photo shoot. It suddenly
became clear that it was my duty as a
journalist to investigate this site.
I wanted to find out a bit more
about the penalties before proceed-
ing. Brown and Connelly had made
it clear that the charge for having
an I.D. could be considered posses-
sion of a forged license, which is a
misdemeanor. However, forging a
state document is a felony offense,
and if I tried to make one myself
on a computer, I could be charged
with using a computer to commit a
crime, which is also a felony. Con-
nelly told me that the FBI. inves-
tigated an operation that had been
producing a large number of fake
New Jersey licenses on North Cam-
pus. So instead of making my own
and dealing with the FBI, I decided
I was willing to spend a little money
and buy one.
At this point, the threat of punish-
ment didn't deter me from pursuing
my goal. But the disorganization of
the website did. The layout and setup
of the site was deceptively profes-
sional. But after I had filled out an
order form with my name, address
and other "novelty information," I
was told to list my e-mail address, so

that I could receive a "confirmation
e-mail" containing further instruc-
The e-mail said that I would be
required to wire the money to a per-
son in Egypt, and that as soon as he
had received the funds, my order
would be processed. There was also
a cautionary note at the bottom of
the e-mail.
This is the un-altered text from
the message:
Although our Western Union
Receiver is located in Egypt our
production facility is not. When
your funds are picked up by our
receiver we are immediately noti-
fied and begin filling your order.
we support terrorism and therefore
do NOT and will NOT pick up the
payment or fill any order for any-
one of Arab decent. We also will
NOT-produce any product for any
customer, regardless of your ethnic-
ity, that has a shipping address to
an Arab country. We are not racist,
but wish to have no dealings with
anyone that could use our products
for any terrorist act.
It's needless to say that my first
reaction was a beyond skeptical.
"Either these guys just rip off
American kids, or this is a set-up
See FAKES, page 7B

Continued from page LOB
sioner and county commissioner .
- put it in an e-mail to me:
Any political scientist will tell you
that nonpartisan elections tend to
accentuate natural divisions in the
electorate, whereas partisan elections
tend to downplay those divisions.
In East Lansing, pro-student City
Council candidates routinely get 90
percent of the vote in MSU dorm
precincts, while Democrats running
in partisan elections would typically
get only about 60 percent. Winning
90-10 gives you an 80-point margin,
while winning 60-40 is only worth
20 points. In other words, when their
interests are clear, students can have
enormously more impact in a nonpar-
tisan election.
erhaps as a result of
those structural dif-
ferences with Ann
Arbor, or perhaps out
of simple decency, East
Lansing officials rec-
ognized the low student
turnout after the 2000
presidential election
and formed a nine-member elections task
force, in part, to deal with it. In its report,
released the following April, the task
force - which included city and county
officials, as well as a student government
official - noted the difficulties students
faced because of the Motor Voter law and,
among other recommendations, called
for the formation of a coalition between
Michigan State University administrators
and city officials to "plan, coordinate and
implement an effective voter registration
and 'get out the vote' drive on campus
Such a coalition was formed later that
year and given the name YouVote. It
quickly started a website, yovo e.msu.
edu, to provide students with a compre-
hensive guide to voter registration. The
website also provides information on
national, state and local issues, initiatives
and candidates that students will see on
their ballots; its student coordinator, who
is either paid or receives credit for the work
as part of a graduate program, teaches a
service-learning English course where
students are assigned to gather informa-
tion for the website. This year's director,
Tim O'Malley, is currently assigning his
students to create and send questionnaires
to be filled out by local candidates for City
Council and city clerk; the responses to
the students' questions will be posted on
the website.
YouVote, whose members include the
city clerk, Michigan State University's
director of community relations and offi-
cials from student government and resi-
dence hall government, also plays a direct
role in organizing voter registration and
get-out-the-vote efforts. O'Malley says
-part of what makes YouVote effective is
the participation of the university's director
of community relations, Ginny Haas, who
has worked with YouVote since its incep-
tion and knows how to prevent the logisti-
cal problems that have arisen in the past.
Having a permanent university adminis-
trator work closely with students on plan-
ning voter registration events, O'Malley
says, helps in countless small ways. When


YouVote brought in a secretary of state
mobile office last year to register students
to vote, he says, there were problems with
the technology; the mobile office required
an analog phone line to connect to the
Internet, which YouVote organizers hadn't
prepared for. When YouVote arranged for
the same trailer to come this year, Haas
remembered that glitch and prepared for
it ahead of time.
If Voice Your Vote worked with
a coalition like YouVote, Woiwode
says, it could have a much easier time
getting its work done. "Institution-
alizing voter turnout efforts at the
University level is a brilliant idea,
that would likely cut through fully
half of all the hiccups and problems
that came along," he wrote to me in
an e-mail. Woiwode cited the Dorm
Storm, for which he had to expend
considerable effort negotiating with
University Housing and the Resi-
dence Halls Association for limited
access to the residence halls, as an
example of a situation in which an
established coalition with decision-
makers from those ends would have
saved a great deal of time.
A close relationship with the Uni-
versity administration could also
provide Voice Your Vote with access
to University resources that are cur-
rently off-limits. For example, Voice
Your Vote currently can only guess
at how many University students
turn out for a given election and
how many are registered to vote in
Ann Arbor or in their hometowns.
Michigan State University's hous-
ing office surveyed the dorm system
after the 2004 presidential election
to find those numbers; it found that
86 percent of students in the dorms
were registered to vote - 28 per-
cent in East Lansing and 53 percent
at their home address - and 82 per-
cent of that number voted. Michigan
State's Institute for Social Policy
and Public Research found even
more impressive turnout numbers
among university students. Working
closely with University of Michigan
administrators could provide Voice
Your Vote leaders with the oppor-
tunity to coordinate similar surveys
on this campus.
And given the unique level of difficulty
that students face voting in Ann Arbor's
local elections, the University could do a
great deal of good by playing a more active
role. Through a medium like the YouVote
website and through the residence halls,
the University could make it easier for stu-
dents to find out which ward they are in,
who represents them on City Council and
- by allowing students to contribute to
the site, like YouVote does through its ser-
vice-learning class - where those repre-

sentatives stand on student-related issues.
University Housing does provide some
help on its own, distributing voter regis-
tration forms with orientation packets,
and Jim Kosteva, the University's direc-
tor of community relations, says he is
cooperating with the city of Ann Arbor
to add a page to Ann Arbor's website
with information for people affiliated
with the University; the page is expected
to include information on voting in city
elections. University President Mary Sue
Coleman, Kosteva pointed out, sends
an e-mail to the University community
every two years reminding people to reg-
ister to vote for presidential and guberna-
torial elections.
But efforts beyond that, Kosteva says,
are left to students' initiative. And when it
comes to local elections, the administra-
tion is strictly hands-off: "We emphasize,
when there is a greater awareness on the
part of the students and the public, the
registration opportunities or deadlines,"
Kostava says. "We don't provide an ongo-
ing bulletin of when the next school board
election is, for example, or the next local
millage for parks ... There is some respon-
sibility here on the part of voters to remain
somewhat abreast of current events."
When asked about local elections,
Kosteva also emphasized the importance
of the University being perceived as a neu-
tral party. "Unless there was an election

or millage that had a direct stake on tb
University, the University does not take
direct stance on ballot issues in local ele
tions," he says. "For example, the Unive
sity would not take a position with the Ai
Arbor City Council suggesting that th
redraw their city ward maps - that's n
the role of the University of Michigan."
That kind of initiative, Woiwode say
is something Voice Your Vote cou
undertake - although it is nonpartisa
it could support local policies for the so
purpose of increasing the student voice
local politics - if it had the time. Wo
wode says if the University played a mc
active role in planning the voter registi
tion and get-out-the-vote efforts, instit
tionalizing as many aspects of the eff(
as possible, Voice Your Vote would ha
the time to deal with long-term issues li

The Necto employee John Clous marks the hand of underage partier and
LSA junior Breanna Bode.

6B - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 15, 2005

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