Wednesday, August 15, 2012

One in 15 Million

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.

Steve Benen:
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.


Philo Vaihinger said...

So if only ten murderers were convicted for one murder each that means there were only ten murders?

Yes, yes. It's real point is to stop Democrats voting and so far as anyone can tell the problem of impersonation is not large.

So far as anyone can tell.

And an honest effort to introduce an id requirement without even temporarily significantly interfering with voting rights would not work like, say, the PA voter ID law.

Still, probably such an honest effort would be a good idea.

Philo Vaihinger said...

So if only ten murderers were convicted for one murder each that means there were only ten murders?

Yes, yes. Its real point is to stop Democrats voting and so far as anyone can tell the problem of impersonation is not large.

So far as anyone can tell.

And an honest effort to introduce an id requirement without even temporarily significantly interfering with voting rights would not work like, say, the PA voter ID law.

Still, probably such an honest effort would be a good idea.

Victor said...

It's not just the ID.

It's the constant changing of dates and times you can vote, in states where it's not just on the first Tuesday in November.
In Ohio, in wealthier and whiter areas, you can vote for several weeks, 7 days a week, with the polling places open early, and staying open until 8 or 9pm,
while in poorer areas, the polling places are only open Monday to Friday, they open at 8 ir 9am, and only stay open until 5pm - most people's work schedule.

And there's the manipulation of where and how many voting machines are available on Election Day itself.

And it's also the lack of security with electronic voting machines. which are often manufactured by people who are Republicans.

This is all done to make voting a chore. To make it as difficult as possible, so that people think it's a pain in the @$$, instead of something that's not only their right, but their duty, to do. A right and duty that every citizen should look forward to gladly. I've been thrilled to vote, every election day, since 1976.

Too few American vote, either because they've been told their vote doesn't matter, or that the parties are too alike, or decided that it's a pain in their @$$.

We need to fine people if they DON'T vote!
Instead, Conservatives make people jump through hoops to vote - at least the ones who aren't likely to vote for them.

You want a National ID card for everyone to use when they're voting?
I don't like the idea of a National ID card, but if that's what it take to get people to vote, then I can be sold on the idea.
Make the cards free and easy to get, give people a 6 to 12 year window in which to get them, and then fine the ones who don't vote.

Until then, with the chances of voter fraud being less than winning some mega-lottery, if people are registered, let them vote.

Anything else is Jim Crow, and needs to be called out early, often, and loudly.

It disgusts me that we have to talk about this in the 21st Century.
It makes the nation I was born, raised, and live in, seem like some 4th rate Banana Republic.

And we can thank banana's Republicans for that.

Tom Hilton said...

I've run into the same thing--otherwise reasonable people who actually think it would be no big deal, a good idea even, to require ID. Serious messaging FAIL (or rather, GOP messaging SUCCESS).

Uncle Mike said...

I'm with Victor on this.

Make the IDs free, and available at every Post Office, government building, or 7-11 for that matter.

Also, either turn voting day into a national holiday, or make it a three-day-affair, weekend included.

Anything less than this is just bollocks.

Raenelle said...

Is this friend of yours merely a liberal/progressive type? Or is she a class warrior? I'm never shocked when liberals get confused, but it would surprise me greatly to find a class warrior making this type of error.

Anonymous said...

Good point Raenelle. She is a class warrior by both temperament and experience, but you are nevertheless correct.

I think here in Kentucky because we have had a kind of soft-core voter ID for 25 years - Social Security card, credit card or personally knowing a precinct worker suffices - that hasn't been a huge obstacle that we don't realize these new laws are far stricter and would disenfranchise many who vote easily in Kentucky.

Also, because of the rural character of the state and the lack of good public transportation even in the cities, very few adults lack a driver's license.

And finally, Tom Hilton is right - Democratic message FAIL.

Kathy said...

Even among some Democrats, there's a sad lack of knowledge about what life is really like for many elderly, disabled, and/or low income people. If you were born in a hospital to nice middle to upper class parents and you've always had enough money, good transportation, a job with some flexibility, not to mention a birth certificate, it might not ever occur to you that there is a significant number of people in the US who don't have a birth certificate, don't have the extra money to pay for a photo ID even if they have the proper paperwork, don't have access to transportation to get to the proper government office, can't get time off work to go - or, even if they jump through all the hurdles, can't get to the voting booth on election day. I know, I used to be one of those Democrats. Privilege comes with a big set of blinders. Our Democratic leaders need to get busy removing them.

Philo Vaihinger said...


We will need to issue that national ID card at birth (or naturalization) and use baby-footprints as hospitals do, unless we want to get into DNA banking or some equally reliable equivalent.

On the other hand, we don’t want to create just another way for hackers to make chaos or for identity thieves to strike.

I agree with the concept of requiring ID of voters but then you need to make an effort FIRST to distribute proper id to everyone eligible, and I mean EVERYONE.

Lack of id should never be an issue that could stop any eligible voter.

And I agree with you on making voting mandatory, too.

Your remarks about the differences in polling places as between white suburbs and non-white inner city precincts remind me of those videos you always see on Election Day of incredible lines stretching for blocks of people waiting to vote.

Never in my life have I faced such a line or even personally seen one.

At worst I have seen lines extend maybe a few yards during peak hours.

And it always strikes me as astonishing and totally incredible such things can happen.

If it happens year after year, election after election, it’s not an accident.

Just as you say.

Philo Vaihinger said...

People have been suggesting elections be moved to a weekend or Election Day be made a national holiday for decades.

Great idea, of course.

So the GOP will never buy it.

Yellow Dog said...

Kathy: Dead On. Thank you.