Why are states with new voting restrictions so unconcerned about fraud that is the real threat to our elections? Over the past 18 months, in a bitterly partisan environment, several states have passed new restrictions on access to voting. They often say they did so to prevent fraud. But something doesn’t add up. The very states that passed the most restrictive laws have also failed to take basic security steps recommended by experts to prevent fraud — steps that nearly every other state in the country has taken. Let’s look at the most controversial (and common) of the new voting laws. Nine states have passed restrictive voter ID requirements that could be in effect this November, depending on the outcome of legal challenges. Under these laws, if a voter cannot produce a specified type of government-issued photo identification — most commonly, a driver’s license — his or her vote will not count. Period. Because millions of Americans do not have the kind of ID required by these laws, the Brennan Center for Justice and others have objected to them. We argue that there should be some way for people who don’t have the ID required by these laws to verify who they are and cast a ballot that will count.
Many have argued that the new ID laws have nothing to do with preventing fraud. Instead, they explain, these laws are mere manipulations by politicians, who are trying to prevent people who may not support them — in particular the elderly, the poor and racial minorities — from voting. This viewpoint got a strong validation when the Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, a proponent of the state’s new voter ID law, said it would “allow Gov. Romney to win the state.”
But does that mean these nine states aren’t also concerned about fraud? The best way to find out is to look at their record to combat potential fraud in elections generally. Several studies have shown that insecure voting machines are among the most serious risks to the integrity of our elections. There is wide agreement among computer scientists and security experts who have studied elections that paperless touchscreen voting machines are especially insecure.