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Intro: "Whatever the claims, voter fraud is almost non-existent. The real problem is the regressive forces promoting discriminatory laws."

Civil rights activists confronted by National Guardsmen during a protest in Memphis, Tennessee, 1968. (photo: Corbis)
Civil rights activists confronted by National Guardsmen during a protest in Memphis, Tennessee, 1968. (photo: Corbis)



Voter ID: The American Anti-Democracy Movement's Weapon of Choice

By Kevin Powell, Guardian UK

17 March 12

 

Whatever the claims, voter fraud is almost non-existent. The real problem is the regressive forces promoting discriminatory laws.

nti-democracy forces in the US are relentless.

Each time our nation takes a step forward, sure enough, a collective of well-financed anti-democracy naysayers comes along to shoot holes in the social and political progress of this country. Never mind that voting is a fundamental right guaranteed by the US constitution. Never mind that people have been killed, through decades and centuries, so that ordinary working Americans, including blacks and other people of color, women, and 18 year-olds could have this basic human and civil right. Never mind that the 15th amendment to the constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were added as extra layers of protection to insure democracy for all.

Anti-democracy forces could care less. For they are thumbing their noses at this history, at human and civil rights, and instead, are promoting for all they're worth the "voter ID law" movement, which has been in play the past few years but is now amplified in 2012 because of the presidential election. This means there are now eight American states with voter photo ID laws. These laws vary from state to state in terms of what is "identification". Some require an ID card with an expiration date. Others mandate that an ID be only state-issued and for the state where that person is voting. Still others demand a full name and address on the ID card. While others specifically prohibit even valid college IDs as proof of identity.

Given these new sets of rules, and the very real possibility that more of America's 50 states will adopt similar measures, despite the movement's legal setback in Wisconsin this week, it is little wonder that the Brennan Center for Justice recently reported that as many as 5 million eligible voters could have difficulty casting ballots, come Tuesday 6 November, election day in America, including an estimated 800,000 in Texas alone.

And the most vulnerable to voter ID laws? Poor people of all races, and people of color, who've historically had to do battle with laws preventing them from voting, as well as senior citizens and college students. Then, there are groups like newly-married couples, or newly-divorced ones, the transgendered community, Native Americans, American citizens with immigrant family members, and those who may have recently lost their homes due to the foreclosure crisis.

What this translates into are additional costs per voter to secure new IDs, or birth or marriage certificates, or transportation fees to get to hours-long lines, and away from work and other gainful activity. Many will simply shrug their shoulders and not bother to vote. And this, I feel, is the ultimate goal of the voter ID movement.

This is why Rose Sanders says there is one American "law" that has never been repealed: the law of circumvention. Mrs Sanders should know. Not only is she a long-time resident of Selma, Alabama (a city partially responsible for that Voting Rights Act of 1965), but she is also the founder of the National Voting Rights Museum and co-creator of the 21st Century Young Leadership Movement camp, which educates youth about, among many things, the history of voting in America. She is a daughter of the American South, having lived in North Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama. Before settling in Selma, with her husband Hank, also a civil rights veteran and community leader, Rose Sanders lived in a neighborhood of Birmingham, Alabama named "Dynamite Hill", because African Americans' homes were often bombed as a terror tactic to keep them from voting.

Ironically, I first met Rose Sanders in the mid 1980s when I was among a group of college students who had journeyed to Alabama to re-register voters knocked from voter rolls by Reagan-era policies – not unlike the ID practice today. Sanders is clear that the more things change, the more they stay the same:

"Every means that was used to circumvent the 15th amendment has re-surfaced with new names. Voter ID is the new poll tax. Efforts to stop immigrants or relatives of immigrants from voting are no different than the fugitive slave laws and grandfather clauses that were once used."

This is why Ben Jealous, head of the NAACP, America's oldest civil rights organization, has traveled this week to Geneva to speak before a United Nations panel in Switzerland. Generally the UN's human rights council hears cases from such troubled areas as the Middle East and Africa. But this is not the first time Americans have done this. The irony that this is happening with an African American president sitting in the White House is not lost.

This is also why organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec), must be exposed. Since its founding in the early 1980s, Alec has very quietly played a major role in American legislation, including dramatic changes to voter laws. Much of Alec's base is Republican or conservative, and mostly white, and much of its funding comes from corporations, corporate trade groups and corporation foundations. Alec has, in turn, pushed bills it wants to see in place, state by state. Little wonder that when we hear the clarion cry "We want our country back", it is really coded language to say, "we want an America where not everyone has access to the ballot, or the American dream. Just as was the case in the years before the civil rights movement."

This is why it is such a huge mistake for any leader to refer to what is happening as "voter suppression". We need to continually call it what it is: anti-democracy. Because only anti-democracy forces would go to such lengths to make voting that difficult for that many, especially when the Department of Justice has stated, very clearly, that voter fraud is not rampant in our society. And we need to challenge it from every angle, including voter registration and education drives.

For this is much bigger than one presidential election. This is about the future of our democracy.

 

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-48 # MidwestTom 2012-03-17 20:04
at this article does not address is the at voter ID laws also help prevent fraudulent voting. The classic midwest example is when Lyndon Johnson received 9000 more votes in Lake County Indiana than there were registered voters. Why are there no Republican protests against voter ID laws? If you want to enter our courthouse, rent a hotel room or car you must have a photo ID card. Do we as Democrats only succeed when uninformed and inactive citizens vote? Many we need to look at our message and our candidates if we cannot win a election where only those who drive can vote. Successful Democracy requires requires informed citizens. According to a recent PEW research poll 9% of American voters do not know who the President of the country is. How can their vote be an informed vote?
 
 
+21 # Billy Bob 2012-03-17 21:10
Actually, if you read the article, it DOES address it. As the article states, "Whatever the claims, voter fraud is almost non-existent. The real problem is the regressive forces promoting discriminatory laws". If you read the article, you'll notice that quote from the top of the page, right under the headline.

By the way, what do you mean by "we Democrats"? You're not a Democrat.
 
 
+17 # maddave 2012-03-17 23:00
Whoa, Buddy!
The true incidence of voter fraud detected in the USA is statistically zero - about the same as your chance of wining a major lottery. Those big discrepancies do occur, but they are the invariably the results of EITHER post-election chicanery OR more likely today, clandestine hacking into the sacrosanct secret back-doors of our electronic voting machines that have no paper trail!

Your question "Why are there no Republican protests against voter ID laws?" is very easy to answer: People below the poverty line - those least likely to have "government issued ID's - predominantly vote a straight democratic ticket. These people are citizens too, and our Constitution guarantees them the right to vote.

Your entire posting -to which added the 9th negative - is comprised of bullshit talking points and propaganda generated by the orthodox fascist, Karl Rove and his latter-day acolytes. Check your facts on Google and you will find that I am correct.
 
 
+14 # joestecher 2012-03-18 04:39
There is a difference between voter fraud and informed voters. Unfortunately, the same folks who are alleging voter fraud are also doing all they can to ruin the public education system. But every study that has been done has found very little or no actual voter fraud.
 
 
+2 # vertglnt 2012-03-18 15:09
There is also a difference between votER fraud and votING fraud. Voting fraud consists of dirty tricks like robot calls saying the election has been posponed a day, or illegal purging of voter list of those likely to vote the "wrong" way, or even the shortage of voting machines in precincts likely to vote the "wrong" way. Voter fraud is virtually non-existant, while voting fraud is rampant.
Probably the best response to those proposing picture IDs, etc., is to approve those measures in principle while insisting that they be phased in over a sufficient period of years that everyone in need of the requisite ID has time to obtain one, FOR FREE.
 
 
+2 # Billy Bob 2012-03-18 16:20
Great idea! I'm sure that would go over well with repugs, who afterall, just want what's fair!!!

NOTE: SARCASM
 
 
+9 # jwb110 2012-03-18 09:00
Quoting MidwestTom:
at this article does not address is the at voter ID laws also help prevent fraudulent voting. The classic midwest example is when Lyndon Johnson received 9000 more votes in Lake County Indiana than there were registered voters. Why are there no Republican protests against voter ID laws? If you want to enter our courthouse, rent a hotel room or car you must have a photo ID card. Do we as Democrats only succeed when uninformed and inactive citizens vote? Many we need to look at our message and our candidates if we cannot win a election where only those who drive can vote. Successful Democracy requires requires informed citizens. According to a recent PEW research poll 9% of American voters do not know who the President of the country is. How can their vote be an informed vote?

How about the voter fraud of Bush 2 being elected by the Supreme Court. That was the fraud of the century no matter how much Scalia tries to re-write history!
 
 
+28 # Billy Bob 2012-03-17 20:23
When an angry but powerful minority is sick of not getting its way as much as it's used to, the only option it has left is to rid our country of democracy. If that doesn't work, elections could actually (GASP!) reflect the will of the people!!!
 
 
+21 # Patriot 2012-03-17 20:28
So, where are our Democrat members of the House and Senate? Why aren't they scream loud and long about these laws? Where's the ACLU? Why aren't these state kaws beng challenged in court?

Why isn't THERE IS NO VOTER FRAUD being shouted from the rooftops? All the fraud that's been perpetuated in several decades was perpetuated by the Republican Party in Florida and Ohio in 2004 and 2008, and by all the Election Commssions that have "purged" voter rolls and eliminated many like-to-vote-De mocrat registered voters.

Drop by your local Election Commission TODAY and ask exactly what identification is required. Then go out and help everyone you can find to obtain identification that will meet those requirements. Don't wait.
 
 
+11 # maddave 2012-03-17 23:13
The governing document - the 15th Amendment to the Constitution - reads thus:
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Begin by facing the fact that Congres will do NOTHING about this situation for as long as the House has a GOP majority!

The majority of people disenfranchised by the ID laws will be minorities and Afro Americans. Therefore the ACLU & Eric Holder and the DOJ ought to be all over these egregious, massive racial disenfranchisem ent drives states like white on rice.

So just where are these people?
 
 
+12 # danielvenzon 2012-03-17 20:41
I disagree with the first statement:

"Whatever the claims, voter fraud is almost non-existent. The real problem is the regressive forces promoting discriminatory laws."

While part of the problem is discrimination, look at these videos and tell me the votes can't be flipped.

http://farmwars.info/?p=8024

The company that owns most of the vote counting is in the UK and made up of Goldman saks people.

"It isn't who votes it is who counts the votes"... Stalin.
 
 
+12 # Billy Bob 2012-03-17 21:11
What you're refering to is known as "ELECTION FRAUD". It's not the same thing as voter fraud. Voter fraud is when voters pretend they are someone they aren't or vote more than once. Election fraud is when the counting of votes is corrupted. Voter fraud is RARE. ELECTION FRAUD on the other hand is RAMPANT.
 
 
-2 # MichaelSSmithNJ 2012-03-19 15:01
Yes but it does not mean that we should igonre "voter Fraud" it may be rare but does happen If rarely if one time is one time too many bothe are equaly bad for the democratic process
 
 
+4 # Regina 2012-03-17 21:30
There is far more voter fraud -- i.e., defrauding OF voters, not BY them! -- than wrongful votes ever cast. Consider all those voting machines that lose votes untraceably and deliver no record, manufactured by (e.g.) Diebold, whose ATM machines never miss a penny and deliver a reliable paper record.
 
 
+4 # joestecher 2012-03-18 04:37
That MAY be true, but if so, it is being accomplished by the same folks who are alleging fraud -- the Republicans who, these days, are afraid of democracy.
 
 
+2 # barbaratodish 2012-03-18 00:19
Activists and dissidents are also kept from voting, and also kept from much political candidacy by nitpicking bureaucracy, in addition to Voter ID's. For instance, my own signature was disallowed on a candidates petition because I had written out my name in full instead of signing with Initials for my first and middle name. This is an under the radar disenfranciseme nt strategy that is used when anyone is an "outlier-outsid er", i.e., anyone who threatens the staus quo of those in the vetted, groomed, and recruited "annointed" pool, namely the corporatocracy political military industrial wisardry crony 1%!
 
 
-18 # lnason@umassd.edu 2012-03-18 06:00
Republicans are indeed wrong to claim that voter ID laws will ameliorate fraud. They won't because people voting under different identities doesn't happen often enough to worry about.

But Democrats are wrong to claim that fraud doesn't exist -- it most certainly does and any election follower can cite numerous cases of it -- or that voter ID laws disenfranchise anyone. Every study of the impact of voter ID laws has shown that minority participation has not been impacted or has actually somewhat improved with the imposition of voter ID laws. So the "War on Minorities" rhetoric should be shelved.

We do not need voter ID laws because they are an superfluous hassle for poll workers and voters. We also don't need progressives getting their shorts in a bunch over the issue since their accusations are disproved by actual peer-reviewed scholarly studies.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
 
 
+10 # pbbrodie 2012-03-18 07:17
Well, lnason, you do not cite a single resource for your absurd claims that voter fraud exists or that minority participation is actually improved. There have been numerous articles and studies cited that prove the exact opposite of your claims. We can start with the study of voter fraud by the Brennan Center for Justice at the NY University School of law. The first 2 lines of the summary at the beginning tell the tale and I won't bother with more citations. Here are the lines:
"* Fraud by individual voters is both irrational and extremely rare.
* Many vivid anecdotes of purported voter fraud have been proven false or do not demonstrate fraud."
As for the disenfranchisem ent of minority voters, I will use an article from the same Brennan Center about the alleged Hispanic voter increase in Georgia after their enactment of a voter ID law, Analyzing Minority Turnout After Voter ID. Here's a quote: "any assertion that voter turnout among Hispanics increased in Georgia following enactment of its strict voter ID law is simply not true."
It doesn't take much thought to realize that these ID laws reduce minority participation. I don't even see any need to do any studies to prove it and it isn't just minorities anyway. It is the poor, elderly, college students, immigrants, and more. All of these people have much more trouble obtaining these ID's and it costs money to obtain the required documentation. These alone reduce their participation.
To be continued.
 
 
-4 # lnason@umassd.edu 2012-03-18 17:14
pbbrodie:

Voter fraud exists but is fairly difficult to detect. The Brennan Center is correct that fraud by individual voters is extremely rare. That is not how fraudsters do it. They go to nursing homes and gather the names of dementia patients and register them to vote and send in absentee ballots. This is never detected but I have seen this scam perpetrated twice during my mother's long stay in a nursing home where I visited her daily.

The other sort of fraud has to do with counting the votes at the precincts. You can also look at the few cases where more votes were reported than there were voters (a particularly stupid case of fraud) or the cases around Chicago and northwestern Indiana. I am also aware of cases in West Virginia.

Since comments are limited, I will continue with study citations in response to your continuation.
 
 
+2 # Billy Bob 2012-03-18 18:57
I guess we'll just have to trust you on this, huh?
 
 
+8 # pbbrodie 2012-03-18 07:25
continued from previous reply to lnason
If you wish to make wild claims such as these, you should at a minimum provide at least some documentation to back them up. In particular, you made this claim. "Every study of the impact of voter ID laws has shown that minority participation has not been impacted or has actually somewhat improved with the imposition of voter ID laws." It didn't require much research to see just how completely absurd this claim was and is. A quick Google search turned up numerous articles and studies showing that minority participation is impacted by the enactment of voter ID laws.
You are certainly correct about one thing, though. Voter ID laws are definitely superfluous. The laws on the books now do an admirable job of preventing voter fraud as supported by the US Department of Justice, which has written that it is virtually non-existent.
 
 
-3 # lnason@umassd.edu 2012-03-18 17:24
pbbrodie

While there have been several studies purporting to show that minority participation does not suffer from voter ID laws, the most conclusive and pertinent study was done of the Indiana Voter ID Law by Jeffrey Milyo, professor economics and public affairs at the University of Missouri and the Hanna Family Scholar in the Center for Applied Economics at the University of Kansas. He states that

“Previous studies have examined the effects of voter ID laws more generally, but none of these separately analyzes the effects of so called ‘mandatory photo ID’ on turnout in Indiana. I examined a variety of models on voter turnout. After controlling for several factors that influence county-wide turnout, there is no consistent or statistically significant evidence that the photo ID law depressed turnout in counties with greater percentages of minority, poor or elderly voters. Contrary to conventional wisdom, turnout in Democratic-lean ing counties actually increased in the wake of the new photo ID requirements, all else constant.”

Democrats have been making this claim as proof of their case that Republicans are waging a war on poor people and minorities so you will find many of these assertions around the web. I suggest you shouldn't believe them quite so naively.

Continued in next response
 
 
+3 # Billy Bob 2012-03-18 18:55
Do you have any evidence NOT collected by members of the CATO INSTITUTE?

I can cite many proofs of anything you want to discuss if you don't mind the bias of my sources. All I had to do was Google "Jeffrey Milyo". It wasn't too hard to uncover the fact that your source is yet another repugnant who agrees with the idea of making it harder to vote.

billy bob
USA, Earth
 
 
-3 # lnason@umassd.edu 2012-03-18 17:27
Voter ID laws are superfluous and we should tell Republicans the truth as often and as calmly as we can. Many Republicans improperly believe that voter identity frauds are occurring all the time and they are wrong.

But it would be helpful if Democrats dropped their wrongful accusations too about fraud being non-existent or about voter ID laws suppressing minority voting. If both sides were well-informed, maybe we could discuss it sensibly, decide not to implement voter ID Laws and figure out how to address the real frauds that do occur.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
 
 
+3 # Billy Bob 2012-03-18 18:57
It's not "non-existent". It's statistically non-existent. Even Gore v. Bush in Florida was differentiated by more than 2 votes.

The Supreme Court decision on the other hand......
 
 
+2 # reiverpacific 2012-03-18 10:09
"Whatever the claims, voter fraud is almost non-existent" -you must be kiddin' me!
In 2003, Walden W. O'Dell, the chief executive of Diebold Inc.declared that he'd "Deliver Ohio" to Dimwits Bush, aided and abetted by Secretary of state (and Bush campaign manager for that state) Ken Blackwell. And Jeb the slightly- brighter brother's whore, Anita Harris in Florida and the intimidation thug-mob of the re-counters staff in Tallahassee, flown there by "Ken-boy" private jet. And it goes on and on and much back farther than that. It was just more blatant in these case.
And wasn't it Scott Walker/Koch lap-dog's idea to start the extra ID con game which has spread all over the nation since?
No voter fraud -eh?
Land of the free -eh?
I used to sport a bumper-sticker post 2000 selection which stated "One person, one vote -not applicable in certain states".
And it's only gotten worse since.
 
 
+1 # steve98052 2012-03-19 19:54
Those examples are election fraud, but not voter fraud. They didn't steal votes by having voters cast ballots fraudulently, they stole votes by manipulating the machines and intimidating voters.

"Voter fraud" has taken on a specific meaning thanks to Republican voter suppression campaigns: casting fraudulent votes by registering under multiple names without proper identification. As far as I'm aware, the only time that's happened is when a right wing activist did it to prove it happened.
 
 
-2 # MichaelSSmithNJ 2012-03-19 14:58
While I believe that the reason that the Republicans are pushing for ID laws IS to supress the vote that does not mean that it is not a good Idea (but for the wrong reasons) Voter fraud even if it is only like 1 out of 100 or 1 out of 1,000 or 1/10,000 or what ever numbe is still one too many I think that there can be ways to have a voter photo ID that would not discriminate or supress the vote. How about if we made the Social Security card into a Photo ID since all persons who are citiezen and over 18 has to have one anyway. All we need to do is to make it that it would be easy enough to get it with a picture on it so I would have any place asocated with the Gov Schools, Libraries, POs be where one could get his card
 
 
+2 # fcrider 2012-03-19 14:58
I pastor quite a few poor in my church which is in a poor neighborhood. There is much talk about needing ID to cash checks or get on a plane. An informal survey in my church showed that most poor have no credit cards and only a few had checking accounts. They buy with CASH. No ID required. Further, very few have been on an airplane. Some have cars but some don't. DPS is only open in one location M-F only until 5 PM. Who will get them there? Will they open more hours or open in my neighborhood? Will they pay for the birth certificate to get the Voter ID or Driver License? (Read Poll Tax)
 

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