|Bigfoot says: "We're off to the polls to steal your vote!"|
Here's what you really need to know:
The numbers [of blocked state ballots in 2008] suggest that the legitimate votes rejected by the laws are far more numerous than are the cases of fraud that advocates of the rules say they are trying to prevent. Thousands more votes could be in jeopardy for this November, when more states with larger populations are looking to have similar rules in place.
"But without photo ID law, anybody could walk into a polling station, give them my name, and steal my vote!" I've heard Republicans protest.
Well, maybe. But the moment it was discovered that ballot would be thrown out, thus defeating the purpose of attempting such fraud. (If this hypothetical vote thief voted before you, then his fraud would be discovered when you went to vote. If he tried to vote after you, his fraud would be detected by the polling official before he could even vote.)
The success of such an attempt is absurd enough, but imagine -- as many conservative conspiracy-theorists do -- of an orchestrated attempt (by dastardly Democrats, no doubt) to do that on a large scale. If dozens or hundreds of those ballots were determined to be fraudulent, that would not only cancel their validity, but also set off alarm bells and criminal investigations. Don't forget, voter fraud in a federal election carries a $10,000 fine and five years in jail, plus state penalties. Indeed:
Election administrators and academics who monitor the issue said in-person fraud is rare because someone would have to impersonate a registered voter and risk arrest. A 2008 Supreme Court case drew detailed briefs from the federal government, 10 states and other groups that identified only nine potential impersonation cases over the span of several years, according to a tally by the Brennan Center at New York University.
So, there are zero cases large-scale voting fraud in the U.S. None. Zilch. Nobody can find any, even though Republicans have certainly tried. Statistically, people are more often struck by lightning. What all these voter ID laws are really about -- even if you give Republicans the benefit of the doubt -- is preventing a terrible but almost impossible what-if scenario. Now, weigh that hypothetical what-if against the thousands of documented, proven cases of legitimate ballots being blocked because of new state photo ID laws, when voters weren't aware of the change.
Which violation is more harmful to our democracy? Exactly. And indeed, remembering our hypothetical identity thief, the best defense against such attempts is... having more people vote. Because the only chance this ploy would work is if the identity thief was fairly certain you weren't going to vote. Thus, we should encourage voting and make it as easy as possible!
However, I don't give Republicans the benefit of the doubt. I don't trust them, at least politicians smart enough to know the truth. This is really about suppressing the votes of the very young, the very old, and minorities -- all groups that tend to vote Democrat. It's a cynical political attack aimed at the heart of our democracy: the right to vote.
Indeed, elections are like the holiest sacrament of our democracy... and Republicans want to post a bouncer at the church door.
By Mike Baker
July 8, 2012 | AP