RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Lerner writes: "As the Republican National Convention unfolded in Cleveland this week with the Republican Party officially calling for measures to make it harder for people to vote, two different courts across the country issued rulings easing those restrictions."

Voters filling out paperwork in Wisconsin. (photo: Alice Ollstein/ThinkProgress)
Voters filling out paperwork in Wisconsin. (photo: Alice Ollstein/ThinkProgress)

As Courts Strike Down Discriminatory Voter ID Laws, RNC Delegates Cry 'Voter Fraud'

By Kira Lerner, ThinkProgress

24 July 16


s the Republican National Convention unfolded in Cleveland this week with the Republican Party officially calling for measures to make it harder for people to vote, two different courts across the country issued rulings easing those restrictions.

Federal judges this week ruled against voter identification laws in Wisconsin and then Texas, finding that they disproportionately impact minority voters and violate the Voting Rights Act. Those photo ID laws, which have become more prevalent across the country in the years since the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the VRA in 2013, are formally included in the GOP platform.

“We support legislation to require proof of citizenship when registering to vote and secure photo ID when voting,” the document reads. “We strongly oppose litigation against states exercising their sovereign authority to enact such laws.”

Despite evidence that voter fraud is virtually non-existent and that photo ID laws keep younger, low-income, minority voters from participating in elections, Republican delegates told ThinkProgress the two recent court decisions will hurt democracy and compromise elections.

“Why do we even have any sort of laws? Why do we have speed limits? Why do we have any keys on any doors?” Milwaukee election commissioner and delegate Bob Spindell asked. “We need laws in place because if the election is such, there’s no way really to go back afterwards and see what had happened, if somebody was legit or somebody was not.”

In the ruling this week, the Wisconsin judge found that the fears of voter fraud are not legitimate enough to warrant the suppressive laws. A Wisconsin study examining the 2004 election found just seven cases of fraud among the 3 million votes cast in the state’s 2004 election, and none were the kind of fraud that would be prevented by a voter ID law.

Nonetheless, Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) called the recent court ruling unfortunate and said it will allow Democrats to commit voter fraud.

“I find it interesting that the Democrats don’t care that you’ve got to present a photo ID to get medication, they don’t care about that, but they do care about photo ID for voting, which makes me wonder if they’re doing something wrong about the voting,” he told ThinkProgress from the floor of the RNC.

Also standing among Wisconsin’s delegation near the RNC arena stage, Spindell said Tuesday that he has been involved in the past several elections in Milwaukee and has seen “no problem whatsoever” with the state’s voter ID law.

“I don’t know of even one instance in the city of Milwaukee during the last couple of elections where there was a problem where somebody couldn’t have an ID or didn’t have an ID and couldn’t vote,” he said.

As ThinkProgress reported during the Wisconsin primary in April, Milwaukee students were forced to wait in long lines to register and cast ballots on election day, in large part because the state’s voter ID law does not accept student IDs. Across the state, non-white voters were more likely to request a free ID card and were more likely to be denied from the polls.

Noting that impact, the Wisconsin federal judge this week shot down the law because it would be “impossible or nearly impossible” for thousands of qualified voters to obtain a free ID card in order to cast a ballot. The ruling will allow Wisconsin citizens to vote without ID this November if they sign an affidavit attesting to their identity.

Spindell said that the acceptance of affidavits, coupled with Wisconsin’s allowance of same-day voter registration, will lead to people committing voter fraud. “You can just walk in with all sorts of IDs, whether it be a payroll check or any kind of ID,” he said. “What can happen is they can register and go vote, and there’s no way of checking on them into well after the election.”

In perhaps an even more important decision for civil rights, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit handed down a decision Wednesday finding that Texas’ voter ID law violates the VRA. But instead of striking down the law, the appeals court left it up to the district court to decide how to move forward and whether or not the law should be in place during the general election.

If the court strikes the law down before November, Jim Lowder, a Texas delegate who serves as the GOP chairman in Amarillo, Texas, said that we can expect to see Democrats committing voter fraud.

“How many cases of Republican voter fraud have we had in the past several years? Virtually none,” he told ThinkProgress. “How many of Democrat voter fraud? There have been some. We’re not trying to go after anybody, but we need to do the right thing by everybody.”

As the Fifth Circuit noted this week, studies have found that Texas’ voter ID disproportionately hurts minorities — mainly Hispanic and black voters. Yet Republican lawmakers and delegates in Texas insist that the laws have no negative effects.

“I’ve worked in the polls,” Lowder said. “We have a real fair system. Anybody that tries to discourage someone else is not allowed to do so. I’m concerned about voter fraud, but I’m concerned that everybody that can legally vote can do so.”

A total of 33 states will have laws in place this year requesting or requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls. As many advocates and reporters have noted, those laws have the ability to swing elections in favor of Republicans.

Some lawmakers, like Grothman, have even admitted that their purpose is to help Republicans win elections. From Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday, Grothman attempted to explain his admission that photo ID will help Republicans win in Wisconsin.

“I think the cleaner the election, the better chance the Republicans have,” he said. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+17 # MainStreetMentor 2016-07-24 18:55
The chances of voter fraud occurring in such numbers as to "sway" an election, given statistics over the last 50 years or more, is virtually non-existent. I believe legislatures who presented evidence to the contrary in order to get these laws passed in the first place should be investigate, and if found fraudulent or misrepresentati ve of the actual numbers, should be legally removed from office - regardless of their positions, tenure or excuse. If they are no longer in office, I suggest they be criminally prosecuted.
0 # Radscal 2016-07-24 21:57
When the NY DNC admitted they'd screwed up in scrubbing hundreds of thousands of Democrats off the voter rolls, they literally said, "don't worry, we'll have it fixed in time for you to vote for Hillary in November."

Well, it looks like they're fixing this now, too.

Yep. It's all "FIXED."
0 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2016-07-25 08:07
@Radscal - I could be wrong here but I'm pretty sure the State of New York has not ceded its authority over registration and voter rolls to a political party.
+2 # Radscal 2016-07-25 13:28
Ceded? The NY Election Boards are headed by Party Leaders.

Immediately, the REPUBLICAN leader, Diane Haslett-Rudiano was blamed.

But it was the Democratic head who actually provided the list of Democrats to purge. Here's some interesting information presented as news-satire about who she is, and what she's gotten for her "service."
+2 # chrisconnolly 2016-07-25 15:07
The inference that the Dems are the ones who would ever commit such a thing really should point to the Florida non-vote count that allowed Bush to be appointed to office. And the gerrymandering that has so much to do with fraudulent representation. I'd say elections fraud is the culprit we should all be worrying about.
+1 # economagic 2016-07-25 19:48
The DNC is pouring money into Alan Grayson's DINO opponent for the Senate in Florida. We had the same thing here in NC six years ago when the DNC ran Kay Hagan against a progressive former Wall Streeter who happened to by gay. She was a total DINO bust, and was defeated in 2014 by a tea bagger, or some kind of bagger.
+1 # economagic 2016-07-25 06:27
This is a weird article. Even the title is confusing, suggesting that that the court decisions led to the alleged voter fraud, when in fact it was the false allegations of voter fraud that led to the laws that were struck down by the courts!

The writerr from ThinkProgress provides numerous anecdotal quotes from Republican officeholders making statements that are self-contradict ory, meaningless, or patently false, with no commentary. Perhaps s/he believes their absurdity and/or disingenuousnes s speak for themselves, and they do: to people familiar with the issue and experienced in BS detection.

But many people would not see the pattern, and would accept the statements at face value (if they were Republicans) or reject them (if they were Democrats) solely on the basis whether the statements were in line with their own personal Belief Systems, rather than on the basis of facts or logic.

It is precisely that evaluation of claims on the basis of emotion or ideology rather than reason that makes for much of the vitriol in public discourse today. We see it constantly in the comment forums on RSN and elsewhere. Thus a potential "teachable moment" was lost, apparently because the writer didn't have the rhetorical skills to make use of the opportunity.
+3 # elizabethblock 2016-07-25 08:18
In Canada, homeless people can vote. (At least in Toronto.) Could they vote more than once, i.e. fraudulently? Yes. Do they? I doubt it. The procedure for them to get a ballot is complicated, though not impossibly so, but enough to be a deterrence.
And you know what? I don't care. The risk of a few fraudulent votes is a small price to pay for enfranchising people who otherwise couldn't vote. (Very few of them do, in fact.)
Obviously Republicans wouldn't agree.
BTW: It used to be common practice to buy votes with booze, which is why bars and liquor stores used to be closed here on election day. Not any more.
+2 # economagic 2016-07-25 19:51
"The risk of a few fraudulent votes is a small price to pay for enfranchising people who otherwise couldn't vote."

Unfortunately many people, especially in the states of the former Confederacy, take exactly the opposite approach: Better that a hundred deserving people be denied their due than that one cheater escape unpunished.

After all, the pure of heart will have "Pie in the sky, by and by."
+4 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2016-07-25 09:33
It is frustrating when people begin to believe factoids (a piece of unverified or inaccurate information that is presented in the press as factual and is then accepted as true because of frequent repetition). Here is a good example:
From the 2016 GOP platform, pg “…we support legislation to require proof of citizenship when registering to vote and secure photo ID when voting. We strongly oppose litigation against states exercising their sovereign authority to enact such laws.”
Correction: “sovereign authority” means supreme, permanent authority. The States have no such Constitutional authority with respect to voting laws. “Article I, Section 4. The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives , shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations…”

Republicans have been told the lie that the States have the “sovereign” right to pass voter laws so often, they now believe it.
+1 # economagic 2016-07-25 19:54
This matter of sovereignty is a lot less obvious than most people assume. What makes a country -- or a nation, or a people -- sovereign? What is the underlying principle? Can an individual be "sovereign"? (Some claim they can.) What does it mean if a corporation can negate a law passed by a "sovereign" nation, as under NAFTA and WTO and even more so under the TPP and other such agreements now in the pipeline?
-3 # Aliazer 2016-07-25 10:19
Watering down anyone's vote by allowing open voting by everyone is insane and unconstitutional!!

To say that vote-cheating is non existent is a canard, which continues being repeated ad infinitum, but without any proof supporting that statement.
+4 # chrisconnolly 2016-07-25 15:15
Open voting by everyone is exactly what Democracy should be about. It is elections fraud that is the biggest obstacle to democracy. And these voter ID laws, decreasing the availability and affordability of the special ID's, closing polling stations in minority neighborhoods, shortening hours and days of voting, are all contributors to elections fraud. The republicans who are committing these elections frauds must know their ideas and policies aren't popular with the people who are the most adversely effected by them, so they have to cheat to win. That is not democracy and it is not what our founding father had in mind.

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.