Using voter fraud as a cover, Republican governors and legislators, rejuvenated by success in the 2010 elections, have devised a number of tactics to block voting by those who are least likely to vote Republican. There are seven specific tactics that are being used to restrict access to the polling place.
One – Tougher voter ID requirements – A year ago, only Georgia and Indiana required photo IDs. Since then, 34 states have introduced photo ID laws. Five enacted them; governors vetoed five; and other states are considering them. A 2006 Brennan Center for Justice study found nearly one in five citizens over age 65 — eight million — lack a current, government-issued photo ID. Some over 65 were born before recording births was standard practice: 3.2 million voters in Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin would find vting more difficult. 17 states require a non-photo ID.
Two – Create hurdles to get required ID –some states even charge for it.
Three – Intimidate voter registration groups – Seven states have tried to add restrictions on voter registration groups and such laws passed in Florida and Texas. Florida has a rigorous schedule for turning in applications and errors result in fines.
Four – Try to eliminate same-day registration – The citizens of Maine shot down such an action. Ohio law is up on a referendum.
Five – Curtail early voting – This is being done mostly by reducing the number of days.
Six – Ban felons from voting – Florida is notorious for erroneous lists. Iowa has recently joined the ban-the-felons crowd. Some 5.3 released felons are denied the vote across the nation.
Seven – Bleed election administration budgets – Texas, Wisconsin and Tennessee have limited the operating hours or closed state offices where residents can get required photo IDs. In the three states above there are a total of 34 counties with no Department of Public Safety offices, including four where the Hispanic population is more than 75 percent.
Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin have passed laws within the past year to allow voters without the required ID to cast provisional ballots but come back with required ID for their ballots to count. Indiana and Georgia already had such laws.
Voter fraud is the most over-hyped claim being made about voting in the United States today. Justin Levitt, author of The Truth About Voter Fraud, written for the Brennan Center for Justice, investigated 250 cases of alleged election fraud and found only nine instances of improper voting.
Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott investigated what he called an “epidemic” of voter fraud; however, reviews of Abbott’s investigation done two years later, yielded no cases of voter impersonation fraud. After a five-year hunt for voter fraud, the Bush Justice Department came up with little actual fraud.
In New Mexico, where I now live, the secretary of state elected in November 2010 thought voter fraud to be widespread in the state. Her investigation, however, came up with a handful of possible cases of voter impersonation. Undaunted, she told the press that even one case of fraud was too much.
Civil rights leaders and voter protection groups see the new state laws as equivalent to poll taxes and literacy tests of a dishonored past.