In the Fight Against Voter Fraud, the GOP Finds Little

Maybe someday, the Republicans howling about voter fraud will come clean and acknowledge what is really going on: It’s a Republican fraud — one designed to discourage Democratic voters from exercising the franchise.

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud. None.

Yet around the country, Republicans have pushed for heavy-handed measures to combat it.

Voter ID seems like a simple matter to most people. Who doesn’t have a photo ID? But in poor communities, it’s more common than you might think. If challenged, a voter should be able to prove where he or she lives. But a standard issue ID isn’t necessary for that.

And here’s the thing: Illegal voting is extremely rare. The Associated Press reports that, try as they might, Republican officials in battleground states have turned up only a few illegal voters. The AP says that searches by Republicans in Colorado and Florida have found less than one-tenth of 1 percent of all registered voters in either state were illegal.

Nonetheless, Republican officials in Wisconsin (notably Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen) and elsewhere are using the issue to make political hay. In Colorado, for example, the secretary of state claims there are “real vulnerabilities in the system.”

Yet his earlier estimates of 11,805 noncitizens on the rolls have shrunk to a mere 141. Of those 141, only 35 have ever voted. And according to the Denver clerk and recorder’s office, which did its own checks, the number might be even smaller than that.

Between 12 and 20 people a year are convicted of voter fraud in Wisconsin, reports Reid Magney, a spokesman for Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board. The state has 3.4 million registered voters. And many of those convictions are of felons who voted before they regained the right to do so. Voter ID doesn’t fix that problem.

That’s some crisis.

In the long run, Republicans would be better off building their party’s base by emphasizing common-sense conservative ideas that have broader appeal. But the party has drifted so far to the right on so many issues that coming back to reality is difficult. It’s enforcement-only immigration policy is but one example of this political pathology. The GOP has alienated an entire generation of Hispanic voters.

The remedy for “voter fraud” is far worse than the feared disease. This country should not be making it harder to vote when we get excited if even half of eligible voters bother to show up at the polls.

But threatened by unfavorable demographics, the GOP is motivated to try rear-guard actions such as voter suppression. The rest of us shouldn’t let the party get away with this deception.

Republished from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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