One of the primary requirements for any democracy is to safeguard the integrity of its voting system. If the people believe that it is subject to compromised in any way, shape or form, they’re likely to lose confidence in the system. And that will eventually erode the legitimacy of any government that is formed under such a system.
One way to help insure that integrity is to make voters identify themselves before they can cast their ballot with a form of identification that everyone agrees upon and does the job of validating their identity. Most agree that a picture ID issued by the state or federal government fulfills that role. That’s because the such IDs usually aren’t issued until the entity issuing it can certify that the individual it is issuing it too is both a citizen and legal resident of the area.
Critics of such attempts at ensuring the integrity of the system have always claimed that A) voter fraud was a myth and B) such voter ID requirement place an undue burden on minorities. Interestingly, the critics usually come from the party to which minority votes mean the most.
The Heritage Foundation today produced a nice little fact filled primer on why “A” above is not a myth and why “B” is, in fact, the real myth.
The fraud denialists also must have missed the recent news coverage of the double voters in North Carolina and the fraudster in Tunica County, Miss. — a member of the NAACP’s local executive committee — who was sentenced in April to five years in prison for voting in the names of ten voters, including four who were deceased.
And the story of the former deputy chief of staff for Washington mayor Vincent Gray, who was forced to resign after news broke that she had voted illegally in the District of Columbia even though she was a Maryland resident. Perhaps they would like a copy of an order from a federal immigration court in Florida on a Cuban immigrant who came to the U.S. in April 2004 and promptly registered and voted in the November election.
There is no question that voter fraud has and does exist. None. And the Mississippi example is exactly what can happen when no requirement for identification is demanded at the poll. You simply go from polling place to polling place with a new name and request a ballot under that name (voter lists are pretty easy to come by, figuring out who is still on the list but dead doesn’t require a rocket scientist, etc.). Even the Supreme Court members point to it not as a myth but as a fact:
Stevens wrote in a 6-3 majority opinion upholding an Indiana voter ID law: "That flagrant examples of [voter] fraud…have been documented throughout this Nation’s history by respected historians and journalists…demonstrate[s] that not only is the risk of voter fraud real but that it could affect the outcome of a close election."
John Paul Stevens would hardly be described as a conservative justice, yet he knew that voter fraud is and always has been a problem and voter IDs are a reasonable solution. So that “myth” seems to be adequately put to death.
How about “B”? Does such a requirement place an “undue burden” on minorities? Does it place an undue burden on anyone?
[T]he number of people who don’t already have a photo ID is incredibly small. An American University survey in Maryland, Indiana, and Mississippi found that less than one-half of 1 percent of registered voters lacked a government-issued ID, and a 2006 survey of more than 36,000 voters found that only "23 people in the entire sample–less than one-tenth of one percent of reported voters" were unable to vote because of an ID requirement. What about those who don’t have photo IDs? Von Spakovsky notes that "every state that has passed a voter ID law has also ensured that the very small percentage of individuals who do not have a photo ID can easily obtain one for free if they cannot afford one."
If 99.5% of the voting population already has, in its possession, the required from of identification, then the “undue burden” has no foundation in fact. None.
A recent Rasmussen poll found that 70% of likely US voters favored such measures to ensure the integrity of the voting system. Given the facts and figures above, their desire seems reasonable measure to accomplish that goal. The the two myths of the critics, on the other hand, have no validity or credence. One can only surmise, given these facts, that anyone who clings to those myths has an ulterior motive that has nothing to do with the system’s integrity. See DoJ for an example.