The hue and cry from some over the recent slate of Voter ID laws passing in key swing states is telling, especially when it comes to how much these critics really care about integrity at the polls. For all the outcry of voter fraud allegations in 2000 and 2004, and even in the recent Wisconsin recall election, it seems voter fraud is all of a sudden a bogeyman the Republicans are using to suppress turnout of voters who generally vote Democrat. But the reality is that 1) voter fraud does exist; 2) it is all too easy to commit without these laws; and 3) opponents have little to stand on except empty rhetoric and race baiting.
Voting is among our most cherished rights, and the protection of the rights of eligible voters is among the duties of the states. So is it logical and reasonable to ensure that the voting process is safe from fraud and abuse by requiring a photo identification at the polls? Yes, said Justice Stevens in the landmark Supreme Court case of Crawford v. Marion County Election Board in 2006. Justice Stevens, at the time the most liberal of the Supreme Court Justices, said “the United States has a long history of voter fraud that has been documented by historians and journalists.” Stevens concluded states have a duty to protect eligible voters from being disenfranchised by fraudulent ballots. This common sense reasoning has opponents crying foul.
Opponents like to highlight the absence of voter fraud cases, yet ignore cases such as in Mississippi, where an NAACP executive is in prison on 10 counts of voter fraud. In West Virginia, a county official has been charged with lying to federal investigators in a voter fraud probe; In Virginia, thousands of voter registration forms have been sent to ineligible voters such as pets, deceased persons, and convicted felons (without the need for photo ID, someone can easily register and vote as these ineligible voters).
Even if you want to discount these and several other recent instances of voter fraud as trivial, the fact remains that it is all too easy to commit voter fraud in several states, as James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas has highlighted. Whatever your views are on O’Keefe and his past ventures, his group has shown just how absurdly easy it is for a young white man to vote on behalf of Attorney General Eric Holder in Washington, D.C. — the top crusader against Voter ID laws — and have little chance of getting apprehended.
In addition, opponents argue that eligible voters will be disenfranchised in droves as a result of these laws. But in virtually all the states that have passed similar laws to Indiana, those voters who are unable to show proper ID are still allowed to cast a provisional ballot on Election Day and are given a week or more to show proper ID or submit an affidavit to the county clerk’s office. In addition, the cost to obtain a state photo ID is either 5 dollars or even free in many of these states if you qualify as indigent, quashing the “poll tax” argument. Opponents also claim the burden too high for some voters, such as the elderly, to go to the nearest state office to obtain the ID. But in states like South Carolina, the DMV is offering free rides to their offices to obtain a photo ID.
Finally, the reason proponents highlight the myriad ways of obtaining a photo ID isn’t to diminish the importance of the right to vote, but to cut into the burden argument of the opponents. Even for the poor and elderly, a photo ID is needed on a regular basis, so it is difficult to assert that taking the time to obtain a free ID presents an overwhelming burden they would otherwise not face.
Opponents of common sense voter ID measures have done their best to fear-monger and use race to slime proponents by using charged words like “poll tax” and “Jim Crow”, but the overwhelming majority of Americans support Voter ID laws even when the question is framed to support opponents of such laws. Most Americans believe the right to vote is one needing protection from abuse and fraud, and Voter ID laws are good faith measures toward achieving that goal.
Samuel A. Rosado, Esq. is a contributing writer for Politic365. He has lived mostly in Texas and graduated from Roger Williams University School of Law in 2010. He is a licensed attorney for both New Jersey and New York and brings a conservative perspective to issues facing Hispanics. Samuel served as Executive Director of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of New Jersey in 2010.