Republicans have been using the specter of widespread voter fraud to justify new barriers to the ballot. But as Andrew Rosenthal notes this morning in the New York Times, the evidence for this fraud epidemic is not just scant, it is practically non-existent.
Key Point: “But the big lie is about voter fraud…. NPR quoted Senna Bellows of the ACLU of Maine as saying that in 38 years of same-day registration, there were only two cases of voter fraud… There has never been a problem in this country with ordinary people trying to vote illegally. There is, however, a long, sad and well-documented history of efforts to stop people from voting.”
New York Times: The Voter Fraud Fraud
By ANDREW ROSENTHAL
Even in this cynical era of the politics of fear, obstruction and exclusion, I am surprised at the lengths to which some groups will go to put up barriers to voting.
Take what’s happened in Maine. On this Sunday’s Weekend Edition program, NPR said that for nearly 40 years, Maine voters could walk into a polling place on election day, register and vote. Same-day registration increases turnout and that makes elections more democratic. Those should be goals any American can get behind.
Not the Republican-controlled state legislature. This year, it eliminated same-day registration. The excuse was predictable – same-day voting was too much of a burden on municipal clerks and led to voter fraud.
Whether municipal clerks have to work hard is of no concern to me. Isn’t that what they are paid to do? No one is forcing anyone to be a municipal clerk.
But the big lie is about voter fraud. NPR quoted Senna Bellows of the ACLU of Maine as saying that in 38 years of same-day registration, there were only two cases of voter fraud. The Boston Globe has reported that in 2010, Maine registered 60,000 new voters on election day and there were no proven claims of voter fraud.
There has never been a problem in this country with ordinary people trying to vote illegally. There is, however, a long, sad and well-documented history of efforts to stop people from voting.
New voter ID rules are even more troubling than laws that cut down on the registration period. As the editorial board noted in October, sevens states this year have passed bills requiring strict photo ID to vote. Such measures disproportionately affect the poor, the elderly and minorities — groups that traditionally favor Democrats. They represent craven abuses of power to gain partisan advantage.
As this debate has heated up, some proponents of voter ID laws have used the airport security dodge – I have to show my ID to get on an airplane so what’s the difference?
Well it’s night and day, actually. Getting on an airplane is not a constitutional right. And it would be an understatement to say that the need for security at airports is well proven. But if airport security rules were designed to exclude minorities, or had that effect, they would be illegal. The same applies to voting booths.
In a Times Op-Ed this Sunday, William Galston noted that 31 countries have some form of mandatory voting. There are constitutional questions for Americans about such a requirement. But it provides a rather interesting contrast, doesn’t it? The political leadership of some countries requires citizens to vote. Political leaders in this country (and yes, I mean Republican political leaders) try to stop citizens from voting.
A half-dozen times or so I’ve asked followers of my Twitter feed for examples of voter fraud – particularly of a scale that would justify erecting barriers against whole groups of voters. Haven’t gotten any. The offer stands.