Texas has been trying to make its voter photo-ID law happen since 2011, despite the fact that the U.S. Justice Department and federal courts have found on numerous occasions that it would burden black and Latino voters. Most recently, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals struck the law down in a July ruling that the law may have even been passed with the express purpose of racial discrimination. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said on Monday that the state would appeal that ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court; good luck with that with the high court down a justice. But much like in North Carolina and Wisconsin, the reason Texas insists on having a photo voter-ID law is that it swears that zombie relatives, “illegal aliens,” and cloned voters are rigging elections. Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate known for plushly accommodating endless conspiracy theories, is the latest to indulge the voter-fraud fantasy. He’s lately been baselessly fomenting predictions of election-rigging as the only explanation for how he could lose in a battleground state like Pennsylvania.
What he’s talking about watching for are people impersonating other people in order to vote more than once, or people voting “15 times,” or similar unfounded shenanigans. It’s the kind of accusation that Republicans have been making for at least the past three election cycles, and it seems to be one of the few GOP talking points that Trump has embraced comfortably. The racial dog whistle underlying these charges is that black and Latino voters in cities are most prone to this kind of cheating. “Go down to certain areas and watch and study and make sure other people don’t come in and vote five times,” Trump said recently in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers pushed through a voter photo-ID law in 2012 on the trumped-up grounds that it would fight voter fraud. But Pennsylvania courts weren’t buying it, and overturned the law for good. Defenders of the photo voter-ID law were unable to submit one instance of voter fraud as evidence during the court trial.
But that hasn’t stopped Trump from continuing to push the voter-fraud meme in 2016—a push that’s gone from “laughable to … dangerous,” as the University of California, Irvine, election law expert Richard L. Hasen told the The New York Times.