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Voter ID Push Continues Despite Lack Of Evidence Suggest Election Fraud

Voter ID Push Continues Despite Lack Of Evidence Suggest Election Fraud

“I don’t want everybody to vote. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

– Paul Weyrich, a conservative activist addressing a gathering of evangelical leaders in 1980

Between 2008 and 2010, Florida saw more instances of shark attacks than it did cases of voter fraud. The New York University School of Law notes that one is more likely to be struck by lightning than to commit voter fraud. Despite the small and potentially inflated occurrences of election fraud, Republican officials continue to propose legislation that targets the issue. Recently, the United States Justice Department challenged Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s plan to prevent illegal immigrants from voting. The department is raising concerns that the plan is politically motivated and unfairly targets minority voters.

During the election of President Barack Obama in 2008, voter turnout was the highest it had been in 60 years. The influx of participants voted primarily democratic, with an increase in ethnic and racial minorities, low-income Americans and women voters. Since then, efforts to curb alleged instances of fraud have been consistent. Fears of double voting, fraudulent addresses, registration fraud and voting by noncitizens have filled headlines.

In Florida, Scott claims his efforts have produced proof of nearly 100 noncitizens participating at state polls. While those findings have yet to be investigated, a report by Rolling Stone would suggest that history is not on Scott’s side. The report showed that there has not been a single case of voter fraud where a noncitizen knowingly or intentionally registered a vote during an election.

Fears of profiling have followed suit with the crackdown on alleged noncitizen voting. In 2005, an instance in Washington saw county officials investigate the status of 1,668 registered voters who had “foreign-sounding names,” according to Rolling Stone. As it turned out, not a single one of the voters turned out to be a noncitizen.

Despite the lack of evidence suggesting that noncitizens are fraudulently participating in elections, the push for voter identification legislation has picked up in various states, and nears passage in states such as Michigan, Virginia and North Carolina. Since January 2011, 13 states have passed bills regarding government-issued photo identifications needed to vote.

But the partisan issue has drawn the bane of Democrats, who, in North Carolina, have vowed to repeal or veto any voter ID legislation that, what they claim, violates civil rights. North Carolina Lieutenant Gov. Walter Dalton said the state has never had a long-standing voter fraud issue and that it is a paranoia sweeping through the Republican Party.

“There is no significant problem with voter fraud in North Carolina,” Dalton told News Observer. “It is intended to intimidate. …This was put forward by the party that says they are for less government and less spending. This is more government and more spending.”

The men behind the curtain
Behind the initial push for voter ID legislation was the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group of legislators and corporate moguls that behave as a lobbying group in Washington D.C. ALEC’s website says it favors federalism and conservative public policy solutions, which could lend a hand in explaining how the voter ID bills have become a partisan tug-of-war. The group’s efforts have seen significant contributions by David and Charles Koch, billionaire brothers who funded the tea party during its rise in American politics and have also been major contributors to Mitt Romney’s run at the White House.

“ALEC and its allies invoked the specter of voter fraud to justify a series of measures designed to erect barriers to voting among Democratic-leaning demographic groups,” Main Street Insider wrote. “The Voter ID Act, adopted by ALEC’s Public Safety and Elections Task Force in summer 2009, is the most prominent of those measures.”

“The ‘voter fraud’ cry has been increasingly used to justify policies that suppress legitimate voters,” according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a civil rights group. “But the cry is baseless; allegations of voter fraud – especially polling place impersonation fraud – almost always prove to be inflated or inaccurate.”

That hasn’t stopped Republican lawmakers from claiming voter fraud allegations of a different realm, however. Many of the lawmakers insist that government issued IDs would put a stop to occurrences of alleged “double voting,” when a voter casts a ballot in two separate elections – most commonly during local and state elections.

In 2005, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office were sent in to investigate 59 instances of double voting in Duval County, Fla. In the same year, the Republican Party in Milwaukee said it had traced the names of nine people who had voted in Milwaukee, and then again in Minneapolis, Chicago or Madison.

But many of those accusations go unfounded, or are the product of error made in the voting process by election officials. Elections taking place in 2000 and 2002 in Missouri produced hundreds of claims of double voting in Missouri and Kansas. An investigation into a random 18 claims found that 13 were made by clerical errors and the nearly 100 alleged double votes only turned up four instances of documented fraud.

“Almost always, you’re dealing with errors – two different voters with the same name and birthdate, or people being counted as having voted when they haven’t,” a Rolling Stone investigation concluded.

Also seen as a priority ripe for repair is the notion that dead people are casting votes in elections, a claim that was brought to life in 2000 when the state of Georgia claimed that 5,412 dead voters had cast ballots over the span of 20 years. An investigation of the matter turned up that no dead people had in fact voted, but that the voter rolls used by election officials were flawed enormously when juxtaposed with death lists.

A February study, reported by National Public Radio (NPR), found that 1.8 million dead people are still registered to vote, suggesting that there is miniscule evidence to suggest that voter fraud is being committed by a dead voter scheme. The report details how voter registration lists across the country are out of line with death records. A Pew study also found that 3 million people are registered to vote in more than one state.

Still, Republican legislation is incessant on voter ID laws that they feel will remedy the problems.

“There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today,” former president Bill Clinton said of the issue. “Why should we disenfranchise people forever once they’ve paid their price?”

Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is currently warding off voter fraud allegations that suggest he voted in the Massachusetts governor’s race in 2010, despite not owning property in the state. Romney registered as a Massachusetts voter by allegedly claiming he lived in his son’s unfinished basement.

source: MPN


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