The Republican War on Voter Fraud

The republicans in this country are quite the crusaders.  They seem to be crusading every time we turn around, and now that they appear to have the Tea Party under control they’ve turned their focus on the real problems that face America in this day and age.  Lowering taxes, keeping government off our backs, making sure those naughty gay people can’t desecrate our institution of marriage, protecting insurance companies from sick people etc.

Lately the crusade du jour is one to make sure people have to use a picture ID in order to vote.  The argument for this is to make sure you are who you say you are when you show up at the polls.  The bumper sticker argument is to stop voter fraud.  Sounds like a noble cause on the surface, if you’re not a citizen you can’t vote, you can’t vote more that once or in a district in which you don’t reside.

If anyone were to google voter fraud they would find dozens of examples of this illegal activity, there’s no doubt, it’s going on.   But when a solution to voter fraud comes up,  to use ID at the polls, it doesn’t take a political scientist to look into it and find that ID only combats one kind of voter fraud, and that’s voter impersonation. Voter impersonation is simply the act of showing up at the polls and pretending to be someone else.  All other forms of voter fraud are systematic in nature and would not be effected by showing an ID at the polls.  People who support voter ID laws fail to tell you this and usually use the blanket term “voter fraud” as if most or all types of voter fraud will be deterred by demanding ID at the polls.

And the real kicker, voter impersonation is virtually non-existent.  That’s right, it doesn’t exist.  Lets get this part straight, the one and only type of voter fraud that ID laws can deter doesn’t even exist on any mentionable level.  According to News 21, a study done in all 50 states turned up 2,068 cases of voter fraud overall since 2000 and only 10 cases came up with impersonation fraud. That’s 1 out of every 15 million voters.   It doesn’t exist.

Think about that the next time you read that some politician like a governor or a senator claim to have uncovered 172 cases of voter fraud in their state and a voter ID law is needed to curb it.  Ask yourself, was this 172 cases of impersonation fraud? Was there even one case of impersonation fraud in the batch?

Of course the republican establishment would have you think otherwise, during an interview on the Diane Rehm show Professor Richard Hasen he said while he was researching voter fraud for his new book, “Voter Wars”, he came across a report by Hans von Spakovsky for the Heritage Foundation that said a grand jury report from New York shows that impersonation voter fraud is a serious problem. When Hasen wrote Spakovsky to get the report, he got nothing.  Spakovski and the president of the Heritage Foundation didn’t want to talk about it.

Here’s Richard Hasen in his own words on the DR Show


Now put aside the fact that 1984 is not that recent and the report covered 1968 to 1982.  I wrote to von Spakovsky who had written to me before to put things on my blog, I’d like to see the report.  Silence, didn’t hear from him.  Put it up on my blog, I’d like to see the report.  Does anyone have the report?  Silence.  I wrote to the president of the Heritage Foundation and said I’d like to see the report.  Silence.  No one would give me the report.  It’s a principle of scholarship that you share your data so people can verify it.

Eventually, the UC Irvine Law librarians were able to track down someone at the district attorney’s office in Brooklyn who found a copy of the report.  I posted it on my blog.  It’s now available to the public.  What did it show?  No impersonation voter fraud, collusion by election officials.

Once you understand that ID doesn’t stop absentee ballot fraud, ballot tampering by election officials, intimidation or any other kind of voter fraud, you then must stop for a second and wonder why the republican party is spending so much time, money and hot air even going so far as to lie to the public in order to enact voter ID laws.  They’re in an absolute frenzy over this.

You know exactly why.  The people who these laws disenfranchise are predominately democrats.  The goal of course is to suppress the vote.  Election fraud goes each way with both democrats and republicans engaging, but voter suppression seems to have an ugly conservative  history with such tactics as poll taxes, land ownership requirements and literacy tests aimed at African Americans as well as working class and poor white voters.

Only 30 to 50% of eligible voters actually get out to do so, depending on the election.   Some of us in this country find that statistic to be a disgrace,  while others it appears find that kind of turnout to be too much.