Voter ID Laws and the Integrity of our Electoral System
It’s not often that I post things of a political nature on my blog, most of the time I stick to theological issues and book reviews. However I had a conversation with a good friend of mine the other day concerning voter ID laws and the impact of voter fraud on our electoral system. My friend took the position that voter fraud is a virtually non-existent problem, with very little discernible impact on electoral outcomes… and that such laws disenfranchise voters and are a tool used by the political right to suppress minority votes.
My response to him follows…
Small numbers can make big differences… consider if you will these two examples;
(1) Kansas City MO – A Democratic primary between J.J. Rizzo and Will Royster in a district where the victor was certain to win the general election. Rizzo received about 50 votes illegally cast by citizens of Somalia. The Somalis, who didn’t speak English, were coached to vote for Rizzo by an interpreter at the polling place. Rizzo ended up winning by 1 vote.
(2) Norm Coleman vs. Al Franken – An 18-month investigation found that 341 felons in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area illegally voted in the 2008 election. Compared with the 2.7 million votes cast in the state, 341 seems insignificant. But after the recount of the U.S. Senate race between Norm Coleman and Al Franken, Franken’s margin of victory was only 312 votes. The illegal votes cast by felons were not discovered until after the recount, making 341 an awfully significant number.
It’s a fact that voter fraud is not only real, it’s a real problem, with real, often long-term implications, and to suggest that voter ID laws somehow disenfranchise people or that they are some scheme devised by the Republicans to suppress minority voters who tend to vote in favor of Democrats is totally ludicrous.
The vast majority of low income people have IDs just like the rest of us, even the poorest of the poor. To suggest that these individuals don’t have such identification doesn’t withstand scrutiny because without such identification they wouldn’t be eligible to qualify for the programs the left surely wants them qualified for and dependent upon. Government programs that are designed to help the low income people such as Medicaid and Welfare require photo identification from participants simply because the administrators of such programs want to eliminate fraud. Why should our electoral system be any different?
The political left loves to scream the political moniker “disenfranchisement” from the rooftops every chance they get, this is especially true when denouncing the enactment of voter ID laws. But when we realistically look at the situation it’s the legitimate voters that are being disenfranchised right here and now by a failure to verify the integrity of the system. When improper ballots are commingled with legitimate ballots, there is no way to retract illegitimate ballots from the system. Defending a system that doesn’t take meaningful steps to prevent illegitimate ballots from being introduced into an election undermines the votes of legitimate voters. The reality is that there is no malicious purpose behind asking a person to show an ID and prove their identity prior to voting.
In fact in 2008, SCOTUS upheld a voter-identification law in Indiana, saying that requiring voters to produce photo identification is not unconstitutional and it affirmed the position that states have a “valid interest” in improving election procedures and deterring fraud.
In most states I would need a photo ID to drive a car, buy a gun, cash a check, open a bank account, board an air plane, purchase some prescription drugs, rent an apartment, be admitted to a hospital, get a marriage license, have a beer, or even buy a tube of superglue at my local Wal-Mart… Would those regulations be disenfranchising to me, or are they somehow suppressing my rights if I didn’t have a photo ID? Hardly! Even Michelle Obama, a committed opponent of voter ID laws required people to not only present a valid photo ID but also their social security number to the secret service in order to attend one of her book signings, in that context apparently people she wants voting for her husband here in a few weeks aren’t welcome at some of her events… the liberal hypocrisy on this matter is monumental!
Simply stated… voter ID laws are simply a way to protect the integrity of our electoral system, nothing more, nothing less.