Dec 6 / PV Admin

Voter Fraud Myth Drives Voter ID Issue Into 2011

“There’s this idea that dozens of people are coming to polling places every hour claiming to be someone else,” said Project Vote director of advocacy, Estelle Rogers in a recent news report. “But it’s practically unheard of. It just doesn’t happen.” Despite scant evidence of voter fraud, a number of election officials, lawmakers, and partisans who based their 2010 campaign platforms around bringing photo ID to their respective states appear to be keeping their promise.

“With the struggling economy still the number one issue on most people’s minds, why the fixation on voter ID? The reasons have to do more with politics than any real threat facing the integrity of elections,” asked Chris Kromm of the Institute for Southern Studies‘ online magazine, Facing South last week.

The main reason is the partisan advantage that comes with perpetuating the voter fraud myth, he said.

“There’s little evidence [in-person voter impersonation] actually exists: A five-year investigation by President Bush’s Department of Justice earlier this decade famously netted only 86 convictions out of thousands of cases,” Kromm wrote. “But since the 1960s, the mere accusation of fraud has been effective in rallying GOP voters.”

Newly elected secretaries of state in Iowa and Kansas claim that they will support these issues in 2011, though both have been accused of using fear tactics, rather than actual facts, to rally support.

“I can’t imagine that we want to see fewer people participating in voting,” said Kevin Myles, president of the Kansas State Conference of the NAACP and president of the Wichita Branch NAACP in Wichita Eagle news report. “Why we would want to enact measures that we know would result in lower turnout is beyond me.”

Since mid-November, four states (Missouri, Texas, New Hampshire, and South Carolina) have pre-filed photo voter ID bills to be debated during the 2011 legislative sessions. All bills are Republican sponsored. To follow these bills and others like them, subscribe to Project Vote’s weekly Election Legislation newsletter here.

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