Snopes on Voter Fraud
Something that has been bothering me for quite sometime now, years actually, is just why Republicans & Conservatives are so concerned about what they call Voter fraud and seem to turn a blind eye towords Voter intemidation?
So we can keep everything simple, this is after all a very complex subject as any student of Political Science who has had to write a paper on the subject will tell you, lets define some turms first. First Voter intemidation: By this I mean any action or speech taken by an individual, private group (either formal or informal) of government agent, that will be taken by a reasonable person as to attempt to prevent that person from voting. Examples: “If you vote your home will be trashed.” Voter intemidation. “Don’t vote , its just a waist of time.” Not Voter intemidation. Now Voter fraud: Any action taken by an individual to cast a vote they are not entitled to. Example: “Filling out and mailing in a mail-in ballot for your mother who suffers from dementia.” Voter fraud. “Attempting and/or casting a vote at the wrong polling place ( precinct ).” Not Voter fraud
That said lets start with the BIG issue in the news, Voter fraud. No one who studies elections will every say there is NO voter fraud. What they will say is that there is no significant voter fraud. An just what is meant by significant? It is actually quite simple, if the number of suspected fraudulent votes is great enough to swing the election then it is significant. Example: In an election with 1000 voters and side A gets 550 votes and side B gets 450 and their are 51 suspected fraudulent votes then it can be significant. BUT if on inspection there was only 5 fraudulent votes it is not significant.
The current favorite form of Voter fraud we are being asked to worry about is the kind know as Inperson. That is where someone shows up to vote and they are not that person. Example: “Someone shows up and cast the vote for someone else.” In this case lets say the person committing Voter fraud knows the person they are impersonating is not going to vote and they decide to vote for them. Sounds easy, but it really isn’t. Just stop and think about it. This person is taking a very great risk. Voter fraud is a very serious felony and they will be looking for them. It is also one of the easiest to detect, all it really takes is the person being impersonated to show up at the polling place and trying to vote.
But lets now look at the proposed solution to make inperson Voter fraud harder, State issued Photo IDs. To not run afoul of Voter suppression every person in a given state must have an equal and unfettered opportunity to get the correct Photo ID. The kicker here is the unfettered part. Just because something is equal does not mean everyone can do it. Example: Everyone who wants to vote need to apply at a state office. Every county in the state has one, and only one , such office in the county seat. That’s equal, isn’t it? But wait, what about all the people who live in the far reaches of the county? They may have to drive a long way and spend the better part of a day getting the ID. This is very true in states with big counties like California or Texas. See where the unfettered comes in? It is not just that everyone must get the ID, they also must have a equal level of effort they have to go thru to get the ID.
Finally I want to point out the ‘bang for the buck’ of these two voting problems. Inperson Voter fraud is very labor intensive. Each an every vote needs to be cast by an actual person and that takes time. Even if you say voting only takes an hour (10 mins acctual voting, 50 min travel and waiting in line time) and your state has 12 hours of open poles, that’s only 12 votes per person. Now think about how much effort it takes a state legislature from it’s total session time, to inact a Voter ID Law and how many people it can keep from voting. I’m sad to say that accurate numbers are very hard to find as way to many times the Voter ID laws are not voted on individually but are parts of other bills. When I get some good numbers, & citations) I promise to update this posting.
So I ask you, which is the bigger threat to our democracy, Voter fraud or Voter suppression?