Thursday, August 7, 2014

Voter ID Shredded by New Study.

Count on Voxdotcom's Ezra Klein to bring us the bottom line on voter fraud, and the new study that shreds the voter ID argument. But will this new research be used in our courts? We can only hope:

Justin Levitt, a professor at the Loyola University Law School and an expert in constitutional law and the law of democracy:

Voter ID laws are back in the news once again, with two new opinions from the Wisconsin Supreme Court late last week dealing with the state's ID requirement, which would allow people to vote only if they provide certain forms of government-issued ID. The Court made some minor changes to the law but otherwise upheld it ... the Wisconsin Supreme Court blew it.  Twice.

First, the court cited the idea that ID laws could enhance public confidence--that is, in theory, the laws might make us feel better about elections in that they might provide some security theater. It turns out, though, that this effect is hard to spot. People in states with more restrictive ID laws don’t generally feel better about their elections than people in more permissive states. People who think elections are being stolen, and people who think they’re not, each hold on to that opinion no matter what the governing ID rules in their area. The factor that really influences whether people think the elections are fair? Whether their preferred candidates win.

Second, the court said that ID laws can help stop fraud. It then cited an example of recent fraud … that ID laws aren’t designed to stop. Specifically, it mentioned a case in which a supporter of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was charged with 13 counts of election fraud, including "registering to vote in more than one place, voting where he didn't live, voting more than once in the same election, and providing false information to election officials," according to an account by Talking Points Memo. Wisconsin's ID law would not likely have prevented any of the alleged violations.

I’ve been tracking allegations of fraud for years now ... So far, I've found about 31 different incidents (some of which involve multiple ballots) since 2000, anywhere in the country. To put this in perspective, the 31 incidents below come in the context of general, primary, special, and municipal elections from 2000 through 2014. In general and primary elections alone, more than 1 billion ballotswere cast in that period.

Some of these 31 incidents have been thoroughly investigated (including some prosecutions). But many have not. Based on how other claims have turned out, I’d bet that some of the 31 will end up debunked. In just four states that have held just a few elections under the harshest ID laws, more than 3,000 votes (in general elections alone) have reportedly been affirmatively rejected for lack of ID. (That doesn't include voters without ID who didn't show up, or record keeping mistakes by officials.)  Some of those 3,000 may have been fraudulent ballots.  But how many legitimate voters have already been turned away.

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