I was stunned recently to hear a Democratic friend express support for voter ID laws.
Not for the actual purpose of voter ID laws, which is to prevent Democratic voters from casting ballots, you understand, but just for the concept of showing an ID at the polls.
This is not your casual Democratic-by-inertia friend. This is a fire-breathing, all-repugs-are-evil, won't-hear-a-single-word-criticizing-Obama Democratic friend.
And yet she thought it was OK to make people show a driver's license in order to vote. You have to show a driver's license for every other goddamn thing these days, anyway - what's the big deal.
This is how repugs are getting away with stealing elections through voter suppression: the failure of we Democratic voters who have the "right" ID to explain to everyone we meet why it's a crime - a literal federal crime - to make anyone prove their identity in order to vote.
Ask Republican policymakers why they support voter-ID laws, and they'll occasionally admit it's because they're trying to rig elections and prevent voters they don't like from participating in their own democracy. But most of the time, they hide behind a talking point: "voter fraud."
At the surface, a reasonable person might find the argument credible if he or she weren't aware of the facts. To hear GOP officials tell it, there's a legitimate fear that someone might show up at a voter precinct under false pretenses, perhaps pretending to be someone they're not. If, however, voters are forced to obtain, purchase, and show a voter ID card for the first time in American history, the threat of fraud effectively disappears.
Whenever this comes up, someone like me rudely points out, "Voter fraud is imaginary," to which Republican respond, "No, this actually happens." Who's right? Well, it turns out, fraud does occur -- it's just extraordinarily infrequent.
A new nationwide analysis of more than 2,000 cases of alleged election fraud over the past dozen years shows that in-person voter impersonation on Election Day, which has prompted 37 state legislatures to enact or consider tougher voter ID laws, was virtually nonexistent.The analysis of 2,068 reported fraud cases by News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, found 10 cases of alleged in-person voter impersonation since 2000. With 146 million registered voters in the United States, those represent about one for every 15 million prospective voters.The News21 report is based on a national public-records search in which reporters sent thousands of requests to elections officers in all 50 states, asking for every case of alleged fraudulent activity -- including registration fraud; absentee-ballot fraud; vote buying; false election counts; campaign fraud; the casting of ballots by ineligible voters, such as felons and non-citizens; double voting; and voter impersonation.So, in the most comprehensive investigation that I've even heard of, there have been 10 cases of someone trying to cast an improper, in-person ballot -- exactly the problem Republican voter-ID laws hope to eliminate.
In other words, Republicans are imposing the most sweeping voting restrictions since Jim Crow laws to combat fraud that happens, on average, less than one vote nationwide per year. To put that in perspective, the odds of finding a legitimate case of in-person voter fraud are one in 15 million. The odds of you getting struck by lightning in any given year are one in 1 million.When everybody who is eligible to vote actually votes, Democratic candidates win. Period. Repugs can't "win" unless they prevent millions of Democratic voters from casting ballots.
The method they chose is the one likely to disenfranchise the largest number of Democratic voters: requiring a form of ID uncommon among city dwellers, the elderly, minorities and students, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic and by no coincidence are less likely to be able to afford the expense of acquiring such ID.
It's fucking genius. If I were going to prevent repug voters from casting ballots, I'd require voters to present proof they'd ever worked a minimum-wage job. Repugs would never win another election.
It's not about non-existent "voter fraud." It's about stealing elections, and only repugs are doing it.