Sunday, July 31, 2011

Voter Fraud or Voter Suppression

Prior to 2011 only two states, Georgia and Indiana, required a photo ID in order to vote.  In the 2010 elections the Republican Party took control of many state legislatures and governor's offices as well as the U.S. House of Representatives.  Since then, in 2011, five more states, Wisconsin, Kansas, South Carolina, Texas and Tennessee - all Red states - have enacted laws to require photo IDs from the state motor vehicle department in order to vote.  Each of these Red states claims that they are trying to prevent voter fraud.  However, there is evidence that they really have a different objective.

Voter fraud is so rare that it makes no difference to the outcome of our political elections.  President GW Bush ordered the Department of Justice to target voter fraud during the 5 year period from 2002 to 2007.  During that time only 120 people were charged and only 86 convicted.  However, most of these were not fraud but mistakes; registration filled on incorrectly and voting by ex-convicts and immigrants who misunderstood the law.  Two federal prosecutors were even fired because the administration did not feel that they were adequately pursuing voter fraud.  The Brennan Center for Justice studied voter fraud and concluded that it was too insignificant to impact election resuts.  The results of elections in two states were inspected for voter fraud; in one case 0.0009% (less than 1 in 111,000) of the votes were invalid, in the second case only 0.00004% (1 in 2,500,000) were invalid.

Furthermore, voter fraud is a very ineffective way to cheat the system.  One or even several people could not have a significant impact on the election outcome by voting multiple times when the total number of votes is in the millions.

The real reason in my opinion for requiring photo IDs is voter suppression.  This requirement has a greater impact on the elderly, the young and minorities.  Wisconsin now also prohibits out-of-state college students from voting in state.  Although, the voters can apply for a photo ID and students can use absentee ballots to vote in their home states, a significant percentage of them will not.  Since most young people and minorities vote for Democrats and many of the elderly oppose the cuts that the Republicans plan to make to Social Security and Medicare, these requirements will benefits only the Republicans at the election polls.

Wisconsin Govenor Scott Walker and his Republican lead legislature were not satisfied with requiring a photo ID so they decided to make it harder for Democrats to obtain a DMV photo ID by closing 10 DMV offices in Democratic communities and reducing the operating hours of the remaining DMV offices those areas.  Not coincidentally Walker increased the operating hours of DMV offices in Republican districts.

While for many this is adequate evidence that the Republicans are committing voter suppression rather than defending against voter fraud, there is a significant number of people who are unwilling to admit that these acts are intended only to suppress votes for Democrats.

A corruption that we expect in a dictatorship pretending to be a democracy is being used by Republican politicians to steal elections that they cannot win honestly.

No comments: