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"There Is Almost No Voter Fraud in America."

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October 11, 2011

“I hope for four, or five. It could be 10,000,” he said. “It’s a shot in the dark.”

— Tennessee State Elections Coordinator Mark Goins, when asked how many noncitizens may be registered to vote in his state.

The New York Times yesterday underscored an important fact that so many legislators have willfully ignored: “There is almost no voter fraud in America.” Indeed, The Department of Justice investigated over 300 million votes cast between 2002 and 2007 and found no cases of voter impersonation fraud. In Texas, where Governor Rick Perry used a highly unusual procedural maneuver to accelerate passage of a bill requiring a government-issued photo ID to vote, the state Attorney General found no cases of voter impersonation fraud. Zero.

Nonetheless, under the guise of fighting “voter fraud,” legislators instead limited voters’ access to democracy. An unprecedented wave of restrictive laws added burdens to virtually every aspect of the voting process in fourteen states. A sampling of such ill-considered measures include:

  • Florida: onerous regulations now make voter registration drives virtually impossible;
  • Kansas: voters must show proof of citizenship when registering to vote and then show government-issued photo ID when voting;
  • Maine: Election Day Registration, which had been in place since 1973, has been eliminated;
  • Ohio: voters can no longer cast a ballot on the Sunday before Election Day; and
  • Texas: students’ state university-issued IDs are not acceptable for voter identification purposes.

Combined, these suppressive measures disproportionately affect the young, elderly, disabled, low-income, minority, and working voters. Moreover, these regressive laws, especially those requiring government-issued photo ID, are expensive to implement.

At a time when many state legislatures are facing unprecedented budget constraints, legislators should turn their attention and direct scarce resources toward matters of actual relevance to their constituents, instead of wasting millions of dollars to combat a nonexistent problem.

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