The Voter Fraud That Wasn’t

VOTESo, in confirmations of what we already know, The Washington Post‘s Wonkblog has a post up from Loyola University Law School professor Joseph Levitt detailing his search into instance of voter fraud that could’ve been prevented by ID laws.

There’s a grand total of 31 instances since 2000. Out of “over a billion” cast. As Levitt says:

requirements to show ID at the polls are designed for pretty much one thing: people showing up at the polls pretending to be somebody else in order to each cast one incremental fake ballot. This is a slow, clunky way to steal an election. Which is why it rarely happens.

Levitt points out what I’ve already said before; if you’re going to defraud an election, things like absentee voting, coercion, vote-buying, or ballot-box stuffing are all much more effective than using a few people to vote in-person multiple times. None of Levitt’s 31 instances took place in Rhode Island. So our voter ID law is claimed to have been designed to prevent fraud that hasn’t occurred.

I simply fail to believe voter ID was ever about preventing in-person ballot fraud from taking place. If you’re trying to prevent young people, Latinos, and poor people from voting, though, it’s a pretty great tool.

If you’re interested in the history of the law, former Providence Phoenix editor David Scharfenberg’s account is definitive — mainly it seems to have been a drive by current secretary of state A. Ralph Mollis and then-representative Jon Brien. An in the meantime, absentee ballot restrictions were actually loosened on Mollis’ watch. It’s hard to believe Mollis particularly cared about so-called “ballot integrity” — or if he did, if he gave it much thought.

It’s worth noting that all the Democrats for governor and for secretary of state oppose RI’s Voter ID law. However, the big question remains, should they managed to get elected to their executive positions, will they actually follow through?

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