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Tennessee: Court ruling on South Carolina voter ID law heartens repeal efforts in Tennessee | Nooga.com

Hamilton County Democrats heralded the first successful strike against state photo ID voting laws and pledged to step up efforts to repeal a similar Tennessee law, set to go into effect next month.

A federal judge last week rejected the South Carolina voter ID law, labeling it discriminatory against minorities. State Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga, said the decision gave Tennesseans “much needed leverage of our efforts to repeal the law.”

In a statement released Sunday, Favors, who founded the Tennessee Voters Assistance Coalition (TVAC) following passage of the GOP-sponsored bill, said the law was spurred by the large increase of minority voters in the 2008 election.

“Preventing voter fraud was the reason cited for passing this law, but that is absolutely not a legitimate argument for it,” Favors said. “There is no evidence of any widespread fraud. The real reason for passage of this law is voter suppression. The 2008 election turned out massive numbers of minority voters and the law is an attempt to suppress that.”

Editorials: Voter Fraud: Does It Happen? | NYTimes.com

Earlier today I dared the Internet to send me examples of voter fraud — particularly of a scale that would justify erecting barriers against whole groups of voters through photo ID requirements and other such pernicious nonsense.

The Internet obliged, weakly.

A few readers reminded me that the conservative columnist Ann Coulter wasaccused of voter fraud in 2009, for voting by absentee ballot in Connecticut in 2002 and 2004 despite the fact that she was living in New York. The Connecticut Election Commission investigated, but decided to take no further action since Ms. Coulter was a registered voter in the state and did not vote elsewhere. I never imagined defending Ms. Coulter, but this does not seem like a threat to our democratic way of life.

Full Article: Voter Fraud: Does It Happen? - NYTimes.com.

Editorials: Voter ID proponents should have to answer for the ugly history of Jim Crow | Slate Magazine

An elderly black woman in Tennessee can’t vote because she can’t produce her marriage certificate. Threatening letters blanket black neighborhoods warning that creditors and police officers will check would-be voters at the polls, or that elections are taking place on the wrong day. Thirty-eight states have instituted new rules prohibiting same-day registration and early voting on Sundays. All of this is happening as part of an effort to eradicate a problem that is statistically rarer than heavy-metal bands with exploding drummers: vote fraud.

Many commentators have remarked on the unavoidable historical memories these images provoke: They are so clearly reminiscent of the Jim Crow era. So why shouldn’t the proponents of draconian new voting laws have to answer for their ugly history?

Proponents of reforming the voting process seem blind to the fact that all of these seemingly neutral reforms hit poor and minority voters out of all proportion. (The Brennan Center for Justice estimates that while about 12 per­cent of Amer­i­cans don’t have a government-issued photo ID, the figure for African-Americans is closer to 25 percent, and in some Southern states perhaps higher.) The reason minorities are so much harder hit by these seemingly benign laws has its roots in the tragic legacy of race in this country. They still work because that old black man, born into Jim Crow in 1940, may have had no birth certificate because he was not born in a hospital because of poverty or discrimination. Names may have been misspelled on African-American birth certificates because illiterate midwives sometimes gave erroneous names.

Full Article: Voter ID Laws: Their proponents should have to answer for the ugly history of Jim Crow. - Slate Magazine.

National: Democrats Fret About Stricter Voter ID Laws | Roll Call

Congressional Democrats are warning that stricter voter identification laws sweeping through state legislatures could suppress voters in the 2012 elections. At least 34 states have introduced legislation, with varying degrees of restrictiveness, that would require voters to display identification at the polls before they are given a ballot. Some of these laws require voters to produce photo identification; some do not.

The battleground state of Wisconsin has a new law requiring photo IDs, while proposals at various legislative stages in the perennial presidential swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania are also giving Democrats heartburn. The more restrictive voting ID measure in Ohio is pending Senate floor consideration. A bill to introduce ID rules for the first time in Pennsylvania has passed the state House and is currently in a state Senate committee. Democratic National Committee spokesman Alec Gerlach said Ohio is “one of the states where this has been a big concern.” 

Full Article: Democrats Fret About Stricter Voter ID Laws : Roll Call Politics.

Editorials: Five myths about voter fraud | The Washington Post

In “The Breakfast Club,” a geeky high school student played by Anthony Michael Hall says he procured a fake ID not to buy beer, but to vote. But are new photo ID laws in Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin really necessary to stop widespread fraud like that perpetrated by a John Hughes character? Or are photo ID laws just another conservative scheme to oppress young people and minorities and limit Democratic turnout? Let’s put aside what we think we know about the ballot box and find out.

1. We need state voter ID laws to prevent fraud.

Prosecutable cases of voter fraud are rare. For example, a 2005 statewide study in Ohio found four instances of ineligible persons voting or attempting to vote in 2002 and 2004, out of 9 million votes cast. An investigation of fraud allegations in Wisconsin in 2004 led to the prosecution of 0.0007 percent of voters. From 2002 to 2005, the Justice Department found, only five people were convicted for voting multiple times. In that same period, federal prosecutors convicted only 86 people for improper voting.

According to Barnard political scientist Lorraine Minnite, most instances of improper voting involve registration and eligibility, such as voters filling out registration forms incorrectly or a person with felony convictions attempting to register. Neither of those issues would be prevented by a state photo ID requirement. According to George Washington University law professor Spencer Overton, a former member of the Commission on Federal Election Reform, “a photo ID requirement would prevent over 1,000 legitimate votes (perhaps over 10,000 legitimate votes) for every single improper vote prevented.”

Full Article: Five myths about voter fraud - The Washington Post.

Editorials: State voter ID laws: Democracy treads backward | Neal Peirce/OregonLive.com

Could Bill Clinton have it right — that we’re seeing the most “determined effort” in half a century to limit Americans’ right to vote? That the new wave of restrictions are the worst, as the former president puts it, “since we got rid of the poll tax and all the Jim Crow burdens on voting”?

Alarmingly, the evidence supports Clinton’s position. Bills to require government-issued photo identification at the polls have passed this year in several states where Republicans control both the governorships and legislatures — Texas, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Alabama, Kansas and Tennessee. And they’re being advanced in several more GOP-held states.

The alleged reason: serious voter fraud. But the facts beg to differ. The Brennan Center for Justice reports that actual prosecutions, arrests or findings of voter malfeasance are exceedingly rare. Kansas reports more sightings of UFOs than voter-fraud charges. Realistically, there’s no significant problem.

Full Article: State voter ID laws: Democracy treads backward | OregonLive.com.

Voting Blogs: States Ignore the Impact Photo ID Laws Could Have on Their Citizens | Project Vote Blog

“The U.S. Supreme Court upheld voter ID requirements in concept three years ago, but justices said then that they might reconsider if opponents could produce actual voters who had been turned away because they could not get ID,” the Tennessean reports. This may not be far off as more and more reports of voters without photo ID begin to emerge. Although officials in at least three states have attempted to help voters adhere to the law, voters and advocates caution that it’s not enough if voters are not “plugged in” in the first place.

To prevent the disenfranchisement of Tennessee’s 230,000 senior citizens who have non-photo IDs, state officials are planning a campaign to teach them about the new photo ID law that goes into effect during the 2012 election. The new voting law essentially overrides another law that makes it more convenient for drivers over age 60 to renew their driver’s licenses. That law allows seniors to renew driver’s licenses—without a photo—online through the mail.

Transportation for elderly people in assisted living homes as well as long waiting periods at the DMV for seniors with disabilities are major concerns for groups like Tennessee Citizen Action, reports Chas Sisk at the Tennessean.

Full Article: States Ignore the Impact Photo ID Laws Could Have on Their Citizens | Project Vote Blog.

National: Voter ID Laws Target Rarely Occurring Voter Fraud | AP/Fox News

Several states adopted new laws last year requiring that people show a photo ID when they come to vote even though the kind of election fraud that the laws are intended to stamp out is rare. Even supporters of the new laws are hard pressed to come up with large numbers of cases in which someone tried to vote under a false identify.

“I’ve compared this to the snake oil salesman. You got a cold? I got snake oil. Your foot aches? I got snake oil,” said election law expert Justin Levitt, who wrote “The Truth About Voter Fraud” for The Brennan Center for Justice. “It doesn’t seem to matter what the problem is, (voter) ID is being sold as the solution to a whole bunch of things it can’t possibly solve.”

Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin have passed laws this year that allow voters without the required photo ID to cast provisional ballots, but the voters must return to a specific location with that ID within a certain time limit for their ballots to count.

Full Article: Voter ID Laws Target Rarely Occurring Voter Fraud | Fox News.

National: Do New Voting Laws Suppress Fraud? Or Democrats? | NPR

While campaigning to become Kansas’ secretary of state, Kris Kobach held a press conference to make the case for a photo ID requirement at the polls. In his argument, he noted that a man named Alfred K. Brewer, who died in 1996, had voted in the 2010 primary. There was just one problem with that: Brewer wasn’t dead.

Shortly after the press conference, Brewer’s wife received a call regarding her husband’s “passing.” And she says, ‘Well, why do you want to talk to me? He’s out raking leaves,'” Brewer says.

It turned out the voter rolls Kobach referenced had the birth date for Brewer’s father, who had the same name. Despite the mistake, Kobach was trying to make a serious point. He’s part of a growing number of Republican lawmakers trying to crack down on voter fraud.

Full Article: Do New Voting Laws Suppress Fraud? Or Democrats? : NPR.

Editorials: Education on state’s voter ID law a must for Tennesseans | Knoxville News Sentinel

If Tennessee absolutely must have a law requiring voters to produce photo identification, the state Election Commission is absolutely right to conduct an education campaign to make voters aware of the law.

The law was passed by Republican majorities in both houses of the Legislature last spring, despite warnings about its questionable constitutionality. The law becomes effective in January 2012, so it will not pose an obstacle for the 2011 city of Knoxville and state Senate elections, for which early voting has begun.

The law was touted by supporters as a check on voter fraud, an argument that made it to the U.S. Senate on Thursday. However, Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat and chairman of the Senate’s subcommittee on civil rights, said the incidence of voter fraud is minimal and doesn’t require this remedy, according to a story on Tennessean.com.

Full Article: Editorial: Education on state's voter ID law a must for Tennesseans » Knoxville News Sentinel.

Editorials: Tennessee Voters Need Confidence in the Electoral Process | The Tennessean

The Tennessee Voter Confidence Act requires replacement of paperless touchscreen voting machines with optical ballot scanners by November 2010. Optical-scan voting systems read marked paper ballots and tally results, providing a tangible record of the voter’s intent. They are now the most widely employed voting systems in the nation, used by 60 percent of voters in other states. The act was adopted nearly unanimously by the Tennessee legislature — by both Democrats and Republicans — and in 2008 enthusiastically signed into law by Gov. Phil Bredesen. But implementation of the law has been ensnared in legalities and technicalities. Tennessee’s secretary of state and coordinator of elections have argued that the new law requires scanners be federally certified to 2005 standards, and because no machines have yet been certified to that standard, the law cannot be put into effect in time for 2010 elections.

Full Article: Tennessee Voters Need Confidence in the Electoral Process