Earlier this month, the Supreme Court upheld a move by Texas lawmakers to implement voter identification checks at polls during the midterm elections this November. “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a six-page dissent saying the court’s action ‘risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters,’” reports Adam Liptak for The New York Times. “The law, enacted in 2011, requires voters seeking to cast their ballots at the polls to present photo identification like a Texas driver’s or gun license, a military ID or a passport,” he explains. “Those requirements, Justice Ginsburg wrote, ‘may prevent more than 600,000 registered Texas voters (about 4.5 percent of all registered voters) from voting in person for lack of compliant identification.’” At the heart of the voter-ID debate is the specter of voter fraud. Right-leaning pundits have expended hours upon hours of airtime persuading viewers of its widespread existence and insidious growth. “Voter fraud will occur” during the 2014 midterm elections, claims Hans von Spakovsky, writing for The Wall Street Journal. “Many states run a rickety election process, lacking rules to deter people who are looking to take advantage of the system’s porous security. And too many groups and individuals — including the N.A.A.C.P., the American Civil Liberties Union and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder — are doing everything they can to prevent states from improving the integrity of the election process.” “Democrats want everyone to vote: old, young, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, citizen, non-citizen,” Mona Charen writes at National Review. “Voter-ID laws, passed by 30 states so far, are efforts by legislatures to ensure the integrity of votes. Being asked to show a photo ID can diminish several kinds of fraud, including impersonation, duplicate registrations in different jurisdictions, and voting by ineligible people including felons and non-citizens,” she says.
“It’s extremely difficult to track vote fraud,” Ms. Charen claims. But for many observers, it’s not so difficult. As Brendan Nyhan reported for The Upshot at The New York Times in June of this year, while the myth of voter fraud certainly has legs, the act itself is statistically quite rare. “Statistically,” meaning there is plenty of statistical evidence to support the fact that “voter fraud is exceptionally rare across the country,” he wrote. “The New York Times reported in 2007, for instance, that a five-year investigation by the Bush administration ‘turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections.’ Even after this intensive search, the Rutgers political scientist Lorraine Minnite showed in her book ‘The Myth of Voter Fraud’ that prosecutions for migratory bird law violations were still far more common than election fraud during the 2005 fiscal year.”
This supports findings by the United States District Judge Lynn Adelman of Wisconsin, who examined the prevalence of voter fraud in a ruling in April that “virtually no voter impersonation occurs” there, and that “no evidence suggests that voter-impersonation fraud will become a problem at any time in the foreseeable future.” Nevertheless, Republican lawmakers are committed to bringing the issue to the forefront of political dialogues — and according to some, are haphazardly revealing a party-wide plan to disenfranchise demographically left-leaning voters.
“You would think that making it easier for citizens to vote would be something for everyone in a democracy to celebrate,” writes Karin Kamp for Moyers & Company. But “shocking remarks” by six Republican lawmakers suggest otherwise, she says. “Earlier this week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spoke at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce gathering in Washington, D.C. In his comments, The Record reports that Christie ‘pushed further into the contentious debate over voting rights than ever before, saying Tuesday that Republicans need to win gubernatorial races this year so that they’re the ones controlling ‘voting mechanisms’ going into the next presidential election.’”