One of the most thoroughly documented histories of voter fraud was recently presented by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican. Over a span of 13 years (1997 – 2010), there were 221 instances of alleged voter fraud reported in Kansas. Of these, 30 individuals were prosecuted and seven were convicted. One was convicted of electioneering (advocating someone’s election too near a polling place) while the other six were convicted of double voting. Comparing the conviction number with the number of eligible voters in Kansas, we arrive at a “fraud index” of ~ 0.00033 percent. Keep in mind that this is over a span of 13 years so the yearly index would be ~ 0.000025 percent. As one can readily see, this number is vanishingly small. The data used for his report was provided to the public by Kobach’s office.
In response to this small-time epidemic, Kobach and the Republican-controlled legislature, passed a very restrictive voter-ID measure which was signed into law by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. Incidentally, Kobach also drafted Arizona’s SB 1070 immigrant identification law.
While the Kansas fraud index is quite small, it mirrors data from other states. According to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law, the accumulated rate of voter fraud in the states with documented cases is minuscule, with overall rates of 0.0003 percent in Missouri, 0.0002 percent in New Jersey and 0.000009 percent in New York.
With regard to the Kansas convictions, no sort of voter ID law could/would prevent any of those “frauds.” The electioneering fraud could just as easily occur with a valid ID. A photo ID would not prevent any sort of double voting. In addition the tax dollar expenditures for photo ID implementation would be excessive. Missouri estimates that a new voter ID law would cost the state $6 million in the first year, and around $4 million in the second and third years of implementation. At that rate, the seven Kansas convictions would cost just under $1 million per felon.
Bottom line with regard to so-called voter fraud:
— The “problem” is so vanishingly small as to be virtually non-existent.
— The proposed cure-all (some sort of voter ID) will do nothing to prevent the handful of documented instances.
— Voter ID laws are but a thinly disguised way to suppress Democratic votes.
Given the above, one has to wonder why nearly 30+ states have passed, or are in the process of passing, various forms of voter photo ID legislation; all within the last year or so. Twenty-one of these states have Republican legislative majorities and Republican governors.
Many if not most of such laws are based on legislation models drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is a consortium of large corporations and Republican state legislators. Corporate memberships cost $50,000 while legislator dues are $50. Secret ALEC committees draft legislation models for use by state legislatures. Needless to say, these models are slanted to favor the agenda of the corporate members. ALEC’s model legislation reflects long-term right-wing goals: downsizing government, biasing elections, removing regulations on corporations and making it harder to hold the economically and politically powerful to account. Until recently ALEC has been shrouded in secrecy but thanks to a whistleblower, we now have access to many of their secret documents (see alecexposed.org).
The net effect of voter ID laws (and the object thereof) is to suppress the vote among those voters most likely to vote Democratic; the poor, elderly and college-age voters who don’t drive a car. South Carolina’s ID law removes the right of university students to vote on campus forcing them to register and vote only in their home location. The Florida version is so restrictive that the League Of Women Voters can no longer register potential voters.