Twelve years after disputes about hanging chads and butterfly ballots cast doubt on the credibility of the outcome of a presidential election, the integrity of the election process again has become a partisan issue. If the race between President Obama and Mitt Romney is a close one, look for the losing side to blame the outcome on either fraud or voter suppression. At this point the latter looks to be the bigger problem. Precipitating this debate is a spate of new state laws requiring photo IDs at polling places. Not content to mount legal challenges to such controversial laws, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. has taken to the hustings to denounce them, arguing that they disproportionately suppress the votes of minorities, the poor and the elderly. Departing from his prepared remarks in a speech to the NAACP last week, Holder compared photo ID requirements to the notorious poll taxes of the Jim Crow era, which were used to prevent blacks from voting until they were finally abolished in federal elections by the 24th Amendment. Republicans who have been the principal advocates of photo ID laws insist that they are simply trying to prevent election fraud.
Who’s right? A photo ID would provide an additional measure of assurance that the person casting a ballot was who he said he was and not, for example, one of the deceased citizens whose names aren’t always purged from voter rolls. The question, however, is whether that sort of fraud is widespread enough to justify imposing a requirement that could disenfranchise a significant number of qualified voters. That case has not been made, and the evidence is overwhelming that recent photo ID laws — and other legislation likely to reduce turnout — are politically motivated.
In the 2008 Supreme Court ruling upholding an Indiana photo ID law, Justice John Paul Stevens, referring to the in-person impersonation the law was designed to prevent, conceded that the record “contains no evidence of any such fraud actually occurring in Indiana at any time in its history.” In a detailed 2007 study of voter fraud allegations, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School concluded that voter impersonation was “more rare than death by lightning.
Full Article: Voter ID laws are unnecessary – latimes.com.