Is voter fraud that big a problem? Is the proposed voter-identification law even necessary? One of my regular readers, Gene Crain of Georgia, seems to think so.
“I think SB-3 is right on point. We must have voter clarity so that only our citizens can vote. I think Missouri is just trying to prevent illegals and maybe nonresidents from influencing the vote,” Crain said.
Let's continue the conversation from last week:
Former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias said in a 2008 NewsInitiative.org interview, “The Justice Department has prosecuted only a handful of voter fraud cases (during the Bush) administration. I'm aware of there being seven in Milwaukee, four in Kansas City, Missouri, one in Colorado (but) … there had not been any voter fraud prosecutions filed by the U.S. attorney since 1992.”
Four voter fraud cases in Missouri is not an epidemic to be resolved by an unnecessary and restrictive constitutional amendment.
The Boone County Prosecuting Attorney’s office verified that there has not been an allegation of voter fraud in the county in the last four years, if not the last decade. The Secretary of State’s office told me that though there have been complaints of voter fraud, the cases in Kansas City were indeed rare.
The New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice studied voter fraud, and the conclusion is simple. Analyzing data from the 2004 general elections in Washington state and Ohio, it seems that actual cases brought to prosecution were as low as four in 10 million votes cast. The report continues that “many vivid anecdotes of purported voter fraud have been proven false or do not demonstrate fraud.”
Additional data from New Jersey, Indiana and Crain’s home state of Georgia shows that cases of voter fraud allegations are extremely rare and that there is no justification of requiring a photo ID at the time of voting.
During a discussion concerning voter fraud on last week’s PBS Talk of the Nation, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said that his state had a reported 221 cases of alleged voter fraud between 1997 and 2010. Yet Justin Levitt, associate professor of law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles pointed out that the 221 cases were out of more than 10 million individuals who voted in the same time period. Nothing was said about convictions.
In Missouri you can register to vote at the post office, in front of a grocery during a Get Out The Vote campaign, or in person at the election authority’s office. The registration form asks if you are an American citizen (Yes or No), and the last four digits of your Social Security number, required, or your driver’s license number, optional, as “proof” of citizenship, in addition to your name and address. One cannot verify anything with just the last four numbers of one’s Social Security number, your name and address, right? Not quite.
Laura Egerdal, spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s office, said the system is designed to weed out bad or questionable registration cards. The process starts with entering the applicant’s data into the state computer files, which checks the information within the state and nationally. Checks are made for similar Social Security numbers, felony records, and duplicate registrations, to mention a few. At the polling venue you must provide identification, but currently not a picture ID. This is where the costs, in terms of money and time, come in for lower-income voters.
Egerdal told me that Secretary of State Robin Carnahan opposes the bill because it only addresses “voter impersonation at the polling place,” which is more rare than a black swan, as well as the cost to implement this overly restrictive bill.
Isn’t a citizen’s right to vote the most fundamental right of all? You betcha.
So why are the Republicans trying to take that right away? Is it their purpose to spread unfounded paranoia to gain absolute control? If the truth is out there, the Republican Party seems to have no idea where to look.
David Rosman is an award-winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. You can read more of David’s commentaries at InkandVoice.com and New York Journal of Books.