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There is a coordinated, nationwide effort right now to enact voter ID laws that do nothing to impact alleged voter fraud and instead disenfranchise voters and infringe upon the fundamental American right to free and fair elections... which is, of course, precisely what the proposed laws are intended to do.

Photo ID laws have been introduced or passed in at least 15 states. They discriminate against those who don’t have driver’s licenses — disproportionately the poor, elderly and minorities. Nationally they could disenfranchise about five million voters. Several states are also pushing legislation to restrict voter registration and to limit early voting.

A quick check of the facts vis-à-vis voter fraud: The Bush Justice Department conducted a massive, five-year investigation into voter fraud that resulted in a mere 86 convictions nationwide. An independent investigation into voter fraud in Missouri in 2000 determined that the rate of voter fraud in that state was 0.0003%. A similar study in Ohio in 2004 turned up a percentage of 0.0004%, while another study in Wisconsin the same year measured the proportion of fraudulent votes at 0.0002%.

Notably, in virtually every case the “fraudulent” votes involved either in- and out-of-state double voting or votes cast by ineligible voters, chiefly ex-felons, problems that would not be addressed by photo ID. None were cases of actual fraud via voter impersonation.

Based on these studies, and expecting about 125 million votes to be cast nationwide in this year’s general election, we can anticipate the number of ineligible or fraudulent votes to be cast in 2012 at between 250 and 500. We like to say that every vote counts, but, really, five to ten votes, on average, in each of 50 states are hardly likely to make a difference in this, or any, election’s outcome. Voter fraud is just not a very real threat to American democracy.

However, the costs of implementing these new laws are very real. States must undertake massive public information campaigns, retrain poll workers, account for longer lines on Election Day, and produce and distribute millions of free IDs to citizens. This has the potential to increase electoral costs in some states by as much as 50 percent — tens of millions of dollars.

Most recently, Indiana's strict voter ID law cost taxpayers more than $10 million in the issuing of new IDs. Estimates by other states projected additional implementation costs of up to $25 million in North Carolina over three years, $17 million in Missouri over three years. Is this really the wisest use of taxpayer money in these tight times?

Of course, the real intent of voter ID laws is not to prevent fraud but to disenfranchise millions of otherwise eligible voters. Studies have shown that about 21 million Americans, or 11% of eligible voters, currently lack a valid photo ID. However, those percentages rise to as high as 25% for African-Americans, 15% for low-income voters, 18% for seniors and 20% for voters under 30. Do you detect a pattern here? These demographic groups are predominantly Democratic base voters. The other pattern at play: all of the new or proposed voter ID laws and other legal obstacles to voting are being put into place by Republican legislatures. Though right-wing efforts to suppress low-income and minority voting are nothing new, the current GOP campaign is unprecedented in scope, organization and ambition.

Not all these measures will likely survive court challenges. The 14th and 15th amendments to the U. S. Constitution and the 1965 Voting Rights Act bar discrimination and other interference with voting in all elections. In addition, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requires preclearance for nondiscrimination by either the Justice Department or a federal court before states can change any voting procedures. This is what led the Texas Justice Department to recently put a hold on Texas’ discriminatory new voter ID law and a Wisconsin judge to strike down a similar law in that state. "Voter fraud is no more poisonous to our democracy than voter suppression”, wrote Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess in his decision; “A government that undermines the very foundation of its existence — the people's inherent, pre-constitutional right to vote — imperils its legitimacy as a government by the people, for the people, and especially of the people."

What we ought to be doing in this country is rethinking our voting laws with regard to how to ensure that every citizen can cast his or her vote with fewer obstacles, not more. Registration drives, extended voting hours, modern balloting technologies — Americans should be having a national conversation on how to encourage and increase voting, not on how to suppress it.

Originally posted to Richard Riis on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 02:44 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  do you have links for the statistics? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    We Won

    thanks

    "Tax cuts for the 1% create jobs." -- Republicans, HAHAHA - in China

    by MartyM on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 03:58:56 AM PDT

  •  Tipped and Rec'd. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MartyM, PSzymeczek
  •  Gov Perdue vetoed the NC Voter Suppression law. (6+ / 0-)

    And the Republicans were unable to override it.

    Laura Leslie, a great NC reporter, said David Lewis said they would just try again next year . He is the Republican negotiator who tried to get a compromise that could get the votes to override the veto.

    That was on a capital coffee interview on July 13th on
     http://www.voterradio.com/

  •  My daughter (14+ / 0-)

    works for a state election board, and it's her job to track down, identify, and hand over for prosecution all incidences of voter fraud.  She's encountered many incidences of voter error that is often easily corrected: a son signs on the father's line or vice versa, someone votes early then dies before the election (that vote still counts), a voter moves (they have a year to change registration, and their vote still counts), but she and her predecessors have not encountered one single instance of deliberate, prosecutable voter fraud.

    We hear about voter fraud from politicians and Republicans all the time, yet when have we ever heard of any trials of people who committed voter fraud?  Surely the trial of someone who committed voter fraud would be Big News! and it would consume the networks, ousting out which celebrity wore what, or which celebrity is divorcing whom or dating whom. At least for a while, long enough for us to remember.

    I'll take a few cases of error and the rare case of fraud in the course of allowing the millions of other voters access to voting. Instead of enacting all these "voter fraud" ID laws, why not increase the pitiful salaries of the election board employees and maybe hire a few extra ones - that's much cheaper and a far better safeguard against voter fraud than all these burdensome voter ID laws.

    All knowledge is worth having. Check out OctopodiCon for steampunk learning and fun.

    by Noddy on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 06:35:00 AM PDT

    •  That's far too logical, Noddy (7+ / 0-)
      Instead of enacting all these "voter fraud" ID laws, why not increase the pitiful salaries of the election board employees and maybe hire a few extra ones - that's much cheaper and a far better safeguard against voter fraud than all these burdensome voter ID laws.
      The REAL purpose of the Voter ID laws is to SUPRESS non-Republican votes, since, IMHO, it's quite clear that if the playing field was left even and equal, the GOP would NOT win elected office in sufficient numbers to be able to ram through all the crap legislation they have rammed through in the past few years since they hijacked the House and a number of state Governorships and legislatures.

      For a better America, vote the GOP out of office whenever and wherever possible and as soon (and as often) as possible!

      by dagnome on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 12:04:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I have never seen bands of marauding foreigners (0+ / 0-)

      standing in line to vote.  

  •  ...and Texas. (4+ / 0-)

    Second-most populous state, 1/12 of the U.S., 8% (that's roughly 24 million out of 305+ million.).  The law is in court now, and the state AG has asked for the same ICE list of non-citizens that FL is going to use.  Remember that last time (2008, I believe), TX used the FL list to look for similar names, so that the name of someone who was a felon in FL could be used to disenfranchise someone in TX with the same name.  Coordinated does not even begin to decribe the effort.  And it's the elected officials like our AG who do it, with complicit state legislatures.  Oh, and I'm guessing the governors are in on it, too.

    Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

    by tom 47 on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 11:47:12 AM PDT

  •  another success for unchallenged RW radio (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dragonlady, LostBuckeye, indres

    they've been selling the fraud fraud for years- it was part of the election theft cover up during the bush admin, a lie regularly sold on talk radio to help republicans excuse and deny real GOP election theft- ACORN was a secondary success for them as part of that and it ties into roves attacks on state attorney generals (like in NM).

    these, like many successes for the coordinated RW radio machine could have been prevented  left/dems/liberals would not have ignored it all these years.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 12:14:42 PM PDT

  •  the rw doesn't want elections, mainly b/c (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PSzymeczek, LostBuckeye

    they can't win them w/o lying, cheating, &/or stealing, so it's no surprise that when a, b, & c don't work, the next step is to eliminate them.

    by claiming voter fraud exists, it delegitimizes the whole exercise & justifies doing away with elections completely, eh voila! no more democracy . . . which paves the way for the authoritarian plutocracy the rw's been cheering for since . . . well, forever.

  •  This effort has been underway for years (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PSzymeczek, dragonlady, citizen dan

    Recall that the Bush firing of republican US Attorneys was because of dissatisfaction with their progress in finding (creating?) cases of voter fraud and prosecuting them. This effort has been manufactured by the republican cabal at is highest levels for the sole purpose of disenfranchising democratic voters. There is not and never was any existence of the type of voter fraud alleged by the right wing media, conservative pundits, hate radio talkers, and every elected republican office holder.  Anyone paying attention has noticed that none of the so-called "fixes" in their ALEC produced laws deals in any way with the type of voter fraud alleged in their representations (false, of course).  

    This voter suppression is a direct assault on the democratic process, no less offensive than the Jim Crow laws, and yet the national media yawns and Obama and many leading democrats say little to nothing. Coordination exists in their every effort: union busting, Citizens United, voter suppression, barriers to class action lawsuits, protest suppression, domestic spying, corporate  media, wage suppression, tort reform, and on and on.  There are only two fundamental objectives for the leaders of this right wing assault on our nation: 1. consolidation of wealth, and 2. consolidation of power to achieve 1.

    The destruction being dealt to this country, every day, is far worse a threat to our way of life than anything the terrorists could every have achieved.  And controlling the vote is essential for them to survive as life gets progressively shittier here.  Remember, Sadam was elected many times, as was Castro, Noriega, and countless other autocratic pieces of crap who used sham elections to maintain their desired image of democracy. It can happen here, and one side is working to ensure it does.

  •  I've been an election inspector for a decade (0+ / 0-)

    or more, and I've never seen any attempt at impersonation fraud. I have seen my Republican Town Board Supervisor wheel in her blind, senile mother every year and "assist" her in the voting booth (which is legal in our state - the only people who cannot assist you are your boss and/or your union rep). Back in 2008 I had a couple of people bring in their developmentally disabled daughter who came up to the sign-up table and asked "Do I vote for McCain here? We're all supposed to vote for McCain!" I explained that, no, you sign in here and then you go over to that machine to vote, and then her parents had to explain to her what I had just said. She was registered, though, so she got the same vote as everyone else.

    Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

    by milkbone on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 01:44:14 PM PDT

  •  With Scalia leading the originalists (0+ / 0-)

    on the Supreme Court, I can almost see them upholding a state law declaring that only property-owning white males can vote. This is what the framers intended, no?

    My sense of justice is most offended by the idea that the Republican legislatures that bring us these laws will go unpunished by the remaining voters. They should all be ashamed.

    Romney's running for office for Pete's sake - which is great if you're a billionaire named Pete.

    by ebrann on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 05:19:55 PM PDT

  •  Republicans in Michigan (0+ / 0-)

    are working to pass these laws. Too bad they haven't been paying attention to the real election fraud being orchestrated by the Speaker of the House in Michigan:

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