Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Voter Fraud Safeguards or Vote Supression?

Several states have recently passed laws requiring more extensive voter identification ostensibly to prevent voter fraud. However, there is little to no evidence that such fraud actually exists on anything near the scale to justify the legislation. Kevin Drum comments on Mother Jones.

Still, let's walk through the evidence:

1. Research showing that actual voter fraud is minuscule — perhaps 0.001% of the vote or so — is overwhelming and very well known.
2. Republicans have nonetheless been pushing voter fraud laws for nearly two decades.
3. This costs a lot of money and sucks up a lot of energy.
4. Parties don't generally spend lots of money and energy on things unless they benefit the party or its supporters in some way.
5. The evidence that voter fraud laws reduce turnout among groups that trend Democratic is also very well known among party apparatchiks who pay attention to such things.

Maybe you can come up with some alternative interpretation for such a tenacious, coordinated, and energetic campaign. But the obvious explanation is that Republican Party apparatchiks think that voter fraud laws offer a method of reducing Democratic turnout in elections that's both effective and deniable. I really think you have to be almost willfully blind not to see this.

E.J. Dionne agrees in The Washington Post.

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