There is almost no voting fraud in America. And none of the lawmakers who claim there is have ever been able to document any but the most isolated cases. The only reason Republicans are passing these laws is to give themselves a political edge by suppressing Democratic votes.
The most widespread hurdle has been the demand for photo identification at the polls, a departure from the longstanding practice of using voters’ signatures or household identification like a utility bill. Seven states this year have passed laws requiring strict photo ID to vote, and similar measures were introduced in 27 other states. More than 21 million citizens — 11 percent of the population — do not have government ID cards. Many of them are poor, or elderly, or black and Hispanic and could have a hard time navigating the bureaucracy to get a card.
In Kansas, the secretary of state, Kris Kobach (who also wrote Arizona’s notorious anti-immigrant law), pushed for an ID law on the basis of a list of 221 reported instances of voter fraud in Kansas since 1997. Even if that were true, it would be an infinitesimal percentage of the votes cast during that period, but it is not true.
When The Wichita Eagle looked into the local cases on the list, the newspaper found that almost all were honest mistakes: a parent trying to vote for a student away at college, or signatures on mail-in ballots that didn’t precisely match those on file. In one case of supposed “fraud,” a confused non-citizen was asked at the motor vehicles bureau whether she wanted to fill out a voter registration form, and did so not realizing she was ineligible to vote.
Some of the desperate Republican attempts to keep college students from voting are almost comical in their transparent partisanship. No college ID card in Wisconsin meets the state’s new stringent requirements (as lawmakers knew full well), so the elections board proposed that colleges add stickers to the cards with expiration dates and signatures. Republican lawmakers protested that the stickers would lead to — yes, voter fraud.
Other states are beginning to require documentary proof of citizenship to vote, or are finding other ways to make it harder to register. Some are cutting back on programs allowing early voting, or imposing new restrictions on absentee ballots, alarmed that early voting was popular among black voters supporting Barack Obama in 2008. In all cases, they are abusing the trust placed in them by twisting democracy’s machinery to partisan ends.
Republicans relied in the Supreme Court to deliver the White House to George W. Bush in 2000. They relied in a corrupt Ohio Secretary of State in Kenneth Blackwell to rig the system there to make sure George W. Bush remained in office. The 2008 election was so decisive that even efforts to disenfranchise didn't work. But the Republicans won't take that chance again, especially with what will surely be a weak candidate at the top of the ticket next year.
With the head of the Tea Party Nation saying that it would make sense to limit the right to vote to only property owners, it's clear that Republicans simply do not want Americans to vote unless they are white and virtually assured to vote Republican. That being the case, and with Republican governors having so much success in getting restrictive voter laws on the books, why are we even bothering with this charade of "elections" next year?