Voter Fraud Allegations Do Not Justify Voter ID Measures

The argument most frequently cited in support for voter ID laws is simple: we need to secure the vote to prevent voter fraud. However, supporters of voter ID laws have had problems finding ample documented support for the supposed voter fraud problem. Recent events continue to expose the real motive behind voter ID laws, and it is not the elusive threat of voter fraud.

In a suit challenging Pennsylvania’s voter ID law, the party defending the law recently stipulated that there have not been any investigations or incidents of voter fraud in Pennsylvania to their knowledge; they will offer no evidence that voter fraud is likely to occur to support the legality of the voter ID law. Huffington Post discusses this development in a recent post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/24/pennsylvania-voter-id-trial_n_1697980.html

The real motive behind these laws is suspect at best. Many speculate that they are a strategic move by the Republican Party to keep Democratic-leaning minorities from the polls. More evidence of this position has emerged in statements by former Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer. Greer faces charges involving diverting party funds for personal expenses and has thus distanced himself from the party that now shuns him. Interestingly, Salon.com reports that during his deposition, Greer allegedly disclosed Republican Party officials' discussions about keeping African Americans from voting. According to Greer, Republican officials also decided “minority outreach programs were not fit for the Republican Party.” While Greer’s motivation for these statements is questionable, if there is even a hint of truth to this sentiment, it is cause for great alarm. Check out the Salon.com article: http://www.salon.com/2012/07/27/fla_republican_we_suppressed_black_votes/

I agree that states must balance protecting ballot security and preserving the legitimacy of our democracy against the burdens placed on those exercising the right to vote. If voter fraud were a legitimate problem, I would support rational solutions to it. But voter fraud is not a real threat and it cannot justify these laws. It is simply not fair to burden elderly, minority or low-income populations’ right to vote without justification.