“It’s not a situation where we have a crisis,” that’s from Dem NC State Rep. Larry Hall on the voter ID legislation (from the N&O). That pretty much sums up the issue. North Carolina has had one voter ID bill vetoed by the governor.
Go ahead and look for the piles of data that point to the rampant voter fraud problem today, you won’t find it. The Heritage Foundation – an organization advocating and pushing for the nationwide voter ID bills, explains the argument for Voter ID, citing exactly three cases which involved a grand total of 11 or 12 votes that were fraudulent (article here). You’d think if the problem was such a crisis that we’d be able to learn about thousands of cases, but there is no actual crisis.
Looking elsewhere, another case of so-called “voter fraud” is about falsifying names on a petition to get a candidate on the ballot – which is not a type of fraud that involves the actual voter, nor is it one that Voter ID legislation would prevent. Fox News was so happy to report on this case of four people getting a felony conviction that they needed to break into the broadcast of a presidential speech to bring their audience “breaking news” of these four being charged with petition tampering in 2008. Huh? That’s breaking news? That relates to voter ID? No to both.
It seems that this is another case, like birth control, like austerity, like DOMA – in which the Republican establishment says that they are all about American values of democracy, freedom, equality, and opportunity, then behaves as if they are anti-democracy, anti-equality, anti-poor people, and racist. They make moral arguments (the bible, tradition, economic prosperity, fairness), but their desired result is fixed: they don’t want women to have the final say on their own bodies, they want the government to shrink exponentially, they want the gay people to go away, and they don’t want Democrats casting a ballot. The voter purges and hubub about voter ID laws are grounded in the fact that Republicans would like to get a big chunk of voters that historically vote Democratic off of the eligible voter rolls.
Republicans have historically been against any measures that make more voter participation likely. For our international readers that are so confounded at how half of the country are against those admirable American values – democracy, freedom, equality, opportunity, here is one man that might explain how such unAmerican values are seeded. I give you Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the Heritage Foundation and the so called “Moral Majority”:
A contemporary of Ronald Reagan, he helped start the extreme right wing movement in politics and Christianity. He is blatantly anti-Democratic and religiously insulting considering that our country was founded by pilgrims looking to express their version of Christianity without persecution.
Just like the push through of “Stand your Ground ” gun laws, the voter ID legislation has been pushed through pretty recently and now eleven states have recently adopted new photo ID laws, and many are currently in legislative consideration. It is curious how all of these states spontaneously and simultaneously realized this “crisis” of needing new voter ID rules (and reminds me very much of ALEC – I did find a Koch bros connection to the funding of these new laws). While a photo ID may seem like no biggie for most of us, the Brennan Center for Justice
points out the inconvenience of acquiring a photo ID (article here
Studies show that as many as 11 percent of eligible voters do not have government-issued photo ID. That percentage is even higher for seniors, people of color, people with disabilities, low-income voters, and students. Many citizens find it hard to get government photo IDs, because the underlying documentation like birth certificates (the ID one needs to get ID) is often difficult or expensive to come by
. At the same time, voter ID policies are far more costly to implement
than many assume.
Disincluding any American citizen is an affront to American values, but I am especially offended at the attack on the voting rights of the elderly. Many, many elderly people were not born in hospitals, and/or have been through hell and high water since their original birthday. Jumping through the bureaucratic hoops to obtain a birth certificate involves phone trees, surfing the net, digging in boxes, calling family members, contacting court houses, etc. This cumbersome task can be quite daunting for those that have built, defended, and served their time in whatever capacity for our country. It is not patriotic or honoring tradition – values Republicans claim to espouse – to require them to go through this rigamarole or purge these folks from voting rolls.
The vote of the American public is in crisis, it’s just not about voter ID. It’s about trust, transparency, access, education, misinformation, campaigning, corruption, and corporate influence. It’s not about whether or not Miss Daisy is who she says she is.
This story has many tentacles. Below I will copy some additional reading for more specific stories about what’s happening with voter ID.
National Conference of State Legislatures – a non-profit, bi-partisan organization with a great visual map of what states have passed which laws and when.