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Hullabaloo


Friday, September 02, 2016

 

What will it take to finally kill this zombie lie?

by Tom Sullivan


V-O-T-E-S!
Photo by Kenny Louie [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

The Washington Post and News21 confirm again:

A News21 analysis four years ago of 2,068 alleged election-fraud cases in 50 states found that while some fraud had occurred since 2000, the rate was infinitesimal compared with the 146 million registered voters in that 12-year span. The analysis found only 10 cases of voter impersonation, the only kind of fraud that could be prevented by voter ID at the polls.

This year, News21 reviewed cases in Arizona, Ohio, Georgia, Texas and Kansas, where politicians have expressed concern about voter fraud and found hundreds of allegations but few prosecutions between 2012 and 2016. Attorneys general in those states successfully prosecuted 38 cases of vote fraud, though other cases may have been litigated at the county level. At least one-third of those cases involved nonvoters, such as elections officials or volunteers. None of the cases prosecuted was for voter impersonation.
The Post quotes Christopher Coates, a former Justice Department voting section attorney as saying, “The claim by the liberal left that there is no voter fraud that is going on is completely false.” As is his allegation that that is their claim. It is that in-person voter fraud is virtually nonexistent.

At Slate, Mark Joseph Stern writes:
Voter fraud does happen—but it almost never occurs at the polls. Instead, as election law expert and occasional Slate contributor Rick Hasen has explained, voter fraud occurs through absentee ballots. The vast majority of voter fraud prosecutions touted by conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation involve absentee ballots that were illegally cast. And the only voting fraud schemes with the potential to actually swing elections involved mail-in ballots, not impersonation at the polls. (This makes sense: It’s much easier to forge a signature, impersonate a voter, or buy a vote in the privacy of one’s home than it is in a voting booth at the polls.)

This distinction is critically important because Republican proposals ostensibly designed to eliminate voter fraud universally target in-person fraud. GOP-sponsored voting restrictions, like the North Carolina law recently ruled unconstitutional and blocked by the Supreme Court, roll back early (in-person) voting and create draconian voter ID requirements. But all evidence suggests these measures do absolutely nothing to prevent voter fraud: They are purportedly designed to thwart voter impersonation, which, again, is virtually nonexistent. None of North Carolina’s restrictions—or any of the restrictions recently pushed through Republican-dominated legislatures—would stop mail-in ballot fraud.
Why would they not prevent that? Because absentee ballot use favors Republicans. In fact, they spend good money promoting absentee voting. I have this modest, slickly produced mailer from 2012:

They even included the blank postcards. A state request form is now required, but no photo ID.

But don't voter ID laws apply equally to all. Yes, but they don't impact all equally. Won't some GOP voters get hurt too? Yes. But as I pointed out three years ago, the GOP is cynically playing the percentages:

In a report issued in April, the NC State Board of Elections estimated that 176,091 registered Democrats are without the state-issued photo identity card most will have to pay $20-$32 for before they can vote under VIVA. Plus 73,787 unaffiliated and 1,126 Libertarian voters. Among registered Republican voters, 67,639 have no photo identity cards. Over 2/3 are women.

See, GOP leaders are playing the percentages. They figure that VIVA's voting restrictions will hurt more Democrats than Republicans -- and they will hurt Republicans. Still, Republican leaders calculate that, in the end, the net result will help them hold onto power. Indefinitely.

But the real story North Carolina and the rest of the country misses is that Republican leaders consider any of their own voters hurt by these vote suppression measures collateral damage. Acceptable casualties. Expendables.
As I pointed out two years ago, when it comes to gun laws:
Imposing new gun laws is counterproductive, many Republicans believe, because most criminals get guns illegally. More regulation just infringes upon honest Americans’ rights. But more regulations passed to prevent voting illegally? A nonissue.
Then come the IDs to buy Sudafed and to get on an airplane arguments. And the appeals to what NC Gov. Pat McCrory calls "common sense." Let's put those to rest.

Federal courts up to and including the US Supreme Court couldn't care less what Republican legislators think is common sense. But judges do have strong opinions about what they think is unconstitutional.