Voter Fraud: A Bedtime Story

Voter Fraud: A Bedtime Story

Voter ID Laws. Photo from: thekingsmanpaper.com
Voter ID Laws. Photo from: thekingsmanpaper.com

Mark Twain said, “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” On that note, the myth of widespread voter fraud is streaking across America while the truth of minority voter suppression is just stringing up its Adidas.

It is more likely that someone will be struck by lightening than lose an election by voter fraud. That’s the truth.

Mother Jones Magazine compared voter fraud statistics with UFO sightings and Americans killed by lightening. They found:

“Between 2000 and 2010, there were: 649 million votes cast in general elections 47,000 UFO sightings; 441 Americans killed by lightning;13 credible cases of in-person voter impersonation”

The attempt to disenfranchise the minority vote, using the “voter fraud” argument is a slow drip in electoral politics that the Party of “No” leaked long before minorities had to wait in long lines to cast their ballots. The GOP noise machine turned on that faucet before voter ID legislation proliferated in southern states and attorney general Eric Holder brought a federal hammer down on Texas to protect the minority vote. The incising of section five from the Voting Rights Act, that legislated federal oversight of states that had made up goofy laws to keep black people from voting, was the final drip that flooded a dam built to ward against such mean “un-American” practices.

In the 2008 McCain/Obama presidential contest, Republican John McCain said that the nonprofit, Association of Community Organizations for Reform, ACORN, was perpetrating "one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy." (ACORN was famous for registering African Americans to vote.)

The conservative voter-fraud talking point has many people nodding their heads, eager to safeguard the electoral process and feeling very patriotic about it. The need to require ID’s for voting seems innocent on its face so that states like Texas appear to be doing due diligence. Even though some Republicans actually admitted that they were trying to suppress the minority vote in the 2012 presidential election, by cancelling Sunday voting (a tradition mostly for African Americans voting after church), limiting early voting, and requiring IDs -- most disingenuous conservatives deny the gerrymandering of the hard-won franchise for the minority electorate.

The DNC (Democratic National Committee) Report says that approximately 23 million citizens, 11% of Americans, could be disenfranchised by photo ID laws. Older voters, low-income, disabled, young, as well as minority voters are in that number.

Strangely, the ACORN scandal wasn’t even about fraud in casting an actual vote. It was about improper registrations to vote. The Congressional Research Service that collects data exclusively for the U.S. Congress, found that there was no proof that anyone who had improperly registered through ACORN ever tried to vote.

Nonetheless, the Republican fantasy is that ACORN, not only helped steal the 2008 Election, but the Election of 2012, as well. Unfortunately, ACORN disbanded in 2010. Even though defunct, ACORN is dying a slow death on the lips of Fox News pundits who are still punch drunk from the 2012 election rope-a-dope. As a result of this, 49% of Republicans polled by Public Policy Polling, PPP, believed that Mitt Romney lost the election due to ACORN fraud.

Elections expert David Schultz , Professor of Public Policy at the Hamline University School of Business in St. Paul, Minnesota, stated:

“Voter fraud at the polls is an insignificant aspect of American elections…There is absolutely no evidence that [voter impersonation] fraud has affected the outcome of any election in the United States, at least any recent election in the United States.”

The inquiry into ACORN voter registration practices became the “smoking gun” to prove that black people were thwarting the voting process and shredding the very Constitution itself at a time when an African American was running for president. The Republicans and the Fox news bullhorn pressed into people’s minds the dark image of black people lining up in droves to cheat the electoral process and vote more than once. Media Matters reports:

In 2008, Fox’s evening programs aired more than 50 reports connecting ACORN to “voter fraud” between October 1 and Election Day, according to Nexis. During just one, three-day span (October 8-10) Fox’s nighttime programs aired sixteen ACORN segments.

The Party elephants have pulled out the race card so often that it must be dog-eared and faded as they throw out the red herring, that it is civil rights activists who are stoking racial fires. Playing on predictable racial animus, they set up the voter fraud argument on the weary backs of black people.

News21, a merger of The Carnegie Corporation of New York with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, did an exhaustive study on voter fraud and found that “There is more fraud in absentee ballots and voter registration than any other categories.” Analyzing 146 million registered U.S. voters, they found 10 cases of voter impersonation, or one out of about every 15 million prospective voters.

When the Supreme Court recently freed wayward states of federal preclearance for new voting laws, the South rose again. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg gave an interview with the Associated Press and said that it was no surprise that Texas decided to implement a voter ID law hours after the Supreme Court let the southern states off the hook. A photo ID law is simply a weapon for minority disenfranchisement. The southern state took aim as soon as the Supreme Court looked away.

Indiana and Georgia are the two states that have implemented photo ID laws. Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are some of the states pushing for it. According to the DNC Report:

In 2011, Republicans have advanced photo ID legislation in at least 35 states. The report concluded that if these 35 states enact a photo ID law, they collectively will spend at least $276 million, and possibly as much as $828 million, in the first four years alone.

America has gotten mean. It’s a country of haves and have-nots. It’s a place where justice is slanted toward the privileged. It’s a place where a Party unwilling to address the issues of black and brown people, tries to take away a franchise soaked in the blood and tears of their ancestors.

The funny thing is that with Republican Steve King’s recent “cantaloupe” comment demonizing Hispanics, the conservative obsession to legislate women’s wombs, their business-as-usual racism toward African Americans, and heartless obstruction of money to Hurricane Sandy victims, the Party with the pointy tin foil hats will be lucky to see the Oval Office when hell has a Titanic iceberg. Be careful Republicans. That slow, steady drip of injustice may be breaking a dam protecting the rights of America’s “least of these,” but the flood is coming your way.

Auset Marian Lewis

Auset Marian Lewis is a writer living in Baltimore.