Voter Integrity Laws Gathering Momentum across the U.S.
A basic and elementary right of every American is to be able to vote without being intimidated and to make sure that he or she is not disenfranchised. The Department of Justice has exclusively chosen laws it wants to uphold, yet it looks the other way on laws that need to be enforced. Because Eric Holder's Justice Department refuses to protect the integrity of the election process, the states must step in and fulfill that responsibility. American Thinker interviewed experts to get their opinion on how to make sure voters are not disenfranchised.
Throughout the U.S., there have been numerous incidents of voter fraud. In Troy, New York, a local 2009 election was "thrown" when numerous signatures were forged on absentee ballots. This past January, Project Veritas reporters attempted to vote in New Hampshire by giving the names of deceased registered voters.
Voter registration fraud is becoming a common practice. ACORN employees were convicted of trying to register dead people and of making up voters. Catherine Engelbrecht, who heads the organization True The Vote, which monitors and attempts to stop corruption in the election process, noted that in Milwaukee, 126% of the eligible population is registered to vote; Florida has 29,000 dead people on their voter roles, and in Texas, approximately 1,400 people are registered at the same P.O. Box. Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, told American Thinker that in Colorado, approximately 11,000 legal aliens registered to vote, with about 5,000 casting ballots in the 2010 elections. Furthermore, former Senator Kit Bond (R-Missouri) made a point of showcasing the voter registration card and a "photo ID" of Ritzy Mekler, a Missouri dog who was indeed registered to vote*.
Congressman Brian Bilbray (R-CA) is frustrated over the issue of voter registration since "in many states there are registration people that are being paid for every person that they register to vote. There is a financial incentive to have non-citizens register to vote. In California it's totally on the honor system. Once someone is registered, no one checks. Someone illegally voting could cancel out your vote. In Holder's Justice Department, the integrity of the electoral process doesn't matter."
There have been elections where someone has won by a few votes. Nebraska State Senator Charlie Janssen (R) reported that some of his colleagues won by fewer than a hundred votes. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson (R) concurs and notes that in Florence, South Carolina, the mayor lost by one vote, and in the 1990s, a house member lost his congressional race by 70 votes, with 140 ballots having an X as a signature. He asked, "Is it that those people could not write, or was someone in the back room voting and putting Xs on those ballots?"
Attorney General Eric Holder speaks about his commitment to have "equal opportunity and equal justice ... and to prevent discrimination in our election systems." However, there are those who argue that this applies to only one race.
J. Christian Adams, a former Department of Justice attorney in the Voting Section, wrote the book Injustice about this issue. He directly commented, "Holder is not race-neutral in enforcing these issues and is very much at odds with American values. Race comes first for Holder." This is no more obvious than when Holder's Justice Department dropped the lawsuit against the New Black Panthers that had already gone to default. In 2008 and 2010, a few New Black Panthers, dressed in battle fatigues and armed with nightsticks, intimidated voters by standing outside a voting location.
Adams believes that this Justice Department is openly hostile toward bringing cases against minorities who violate the law. Kobach is outraged that the "DOJ does not go after voter intimidation and does not care to stop voter fraud."
Since Holder is negligent in his duties, many states have taken up the cause of preventing voter fraud. Currently, thirty-one states require voters to show some form of ID before voting in person, with fifteen of these states requiring a photo ID. There is pending legislation is some states to either implement a photo ID law or to amend the law to require a photo ID instead of a non-photo ID. For those states referenced below, someone can vote provisionally as long as he provides ID within a certain amount of days after the election. There are also exceptions made for the elderly or incapacitated. The states will provide an ID free of cost. Yet Holder and the Justice Department make the claim that these laws have "a racially discriminatory effect."
Arizona was one of the first states to require an ID in order to vote. A legitimate substitute for a photo ID is having two different forms of ID that include the name and address of the voter. Governor Jan Brewer felt that the DOJ should step out of the way and allow states to implement laws that cater to their constituents. She wants to make sure that "every vote is counted and not disenfranchised by voter fraud. We take this very seriously in Arizona because we have an open border." During the course of the interview, she also noted that she recently signed a bill to permit a pilot program to go forward that will allow someone to register to vote online with proof of a driver's license. She does not see a problem with voter fraud since Arizona requires proof of citizenship to receive a driver's license.
Texas was a state that amended its law to require a photo ID to vote, and many of Texas's rules are similar to Arizona's, Georgia's, and Indiana's. Because Texas is a state covered under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, it needs clearance for its voter ID laws from either the DOJ or federal court.
The argument by Holder is that the Texas law suppresses the vote since there are those who do not have a photo ID. Engelbrecht believes that "Eric Holder has a different set of lenses that he looks through, and unfortunately, these lenses are tainted with a radical agenda. He looks at a certain group of Americans as the perpetual victim. Holder is following through on his promise that no election law will be put in place unless it heavily favors minorities." Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) cannot understand how Holder and his Justice Department would not support a law that "only represses fraudulent votes."
South Carolina is having the same problem with the DOJ; South Carolina Attorney General Wilson told American Thinker that he thinks the DOJ "has misapplied and abused Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. They have a double standard." He cites their claim that since 10% of African-Americans have no photo ID, they are being suppressed. But Wilson believes that the percentage is even lower -- negligible, in fact -- since the number used included those who have died, those who are no longer residents, and those whose names are listed in different ways (e.g., Billy as opposed to William).
Wilson plans on challenging the DOJ's decision in the Court of Appeals within the next few weeks. He commented that he would make the argument that "our citizens should have the same protections given to the citizens of Indiana, upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, and Georgia, pre-cleared by the DOJ in 2005. We will take it as high up as possible and make as much noise as possible. Unfortunately, we have to fight these battles because of the DOJ's agenda and ideology."
Kansas, in 2011, passed a photo ID law that is considered one of the strongest in the country, in addition to a law, which will hopefully be in place by June of this year, requiring proof of citizenship for those registering to vote. Since it is not a Section 5 state, Kansas did not need to get clearance, and the DOJ cannot unilaterally prevent Kansas's laws from being implemented. This is one of the few states that address the problem of absentee voter fraud. According to Secretary of State Kobach, if one votes by absentee ballot, a driver's license number or a photocopy of a valid ID must be included. Kobach also commented that a very common method of voter fraud is for someone to vote in two states or two different counties. To combat this, Kansas is the host of an inter-state check of voter rolls. There are approximately fourteen participating states.
As are many of the latest voter ID laws, the pending bill in Nebraska is modeled on Georgia's and Indiana's laws. This proposal, as so many of the others before it, has the left making the argument that the voter ID law disproportionately affects low-income, minority, elderly, and student voters. Since Nebraska is not a Section 5 state, it will not have the DOJ on its back. State Senator Charlie Janssen, author of this bill, in answering his critics, told American Thinker, "I am not disenfranchising voters. The only people it might discourage from voting are those who will try to commit voter fraud. In fact, the 30,000 registered voters that do not have a state-issued ID will be sent a voter registration card, which will allow them to not only vote, but will also remind them to vote. This will actually drive people to the polls. I have launched a website, stopvotefraud.net, to have a grassroots effort. If people sign the petition, a clear message will be sent to the legislature in support of my bill. Anyone who is against a voter ID law is for voter fraud."
In the 1950s and 1960s, qualified people were being denied their right to vote; however, today, as J. Christian Adams notes, "voter ID laws are necessary to make sure no one's vote is diluted because of voter fraud." All interviewed agree and argue that citizens need to believe that people are elected through a fair and legitimate process. Kobach considers the DOJ argument ridiculous, since "this is a common-sense issue. It has become a basic attribute to life in America to have a photo ID. You need one to get on a plane, buy Sudafed, and cash a check. This is why it seems sensible to such a large majority of Americans, as reflected in the 2010 Rasmussen poll, which showed that 82% of Americans support photo ID laws. Remember, voter participation increased in Georgia and Indiana possibly because of voter confidence in the process." Since voter ID laws are a deterrent to voter fraud and increase the integrity of elections, it seems logical to enact them, which is probably why Holder and the DOJ are so against them.
*Editor's note (02/08/12): a previous version of this story said that former Senator Kit Bond, to prove a point about lax voter registration laws in Missouri, actually registered his own dog to vote there. The error has been corrected.