People seemingly voting after they’ve been dead for years. Drug kingpins buying votes from poor people to sway elections. Non-citizens being bussed to the polls and coached on how to vote. Stories of voting fraud are shocking, and states have been taking action to make sure that elections are secure. But the Justice Department, led by Attorney General Eric Holder, has blocked states at almost every turn.
This is the same Justice Department that stopped a non-partisan election reform by arguing that if party affiliation were removed from a ballot, African-American voters wouldn’t be able to identify and vote for the Democrats. Holder has continued to stoke the racial fires, calling a requirement for voters to produce photo identification a “poll tax.” Heritage expert Hans von Spakovsky said this argument is merely political. “Holder continues to perpetuate the incendiary error to the public, knowing that the poll-tax assertion is a racially charged one that should not be used lightly,” von Spakovsky said. He explained:
“Even the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals—the most liberal appeals court in the country—did not buy the Holder poll tax claim when it reviewed Arizona’s voter ID law. In Gonzalez v. Arizona (2012), the Ninth Circuit held that even though “obtaining the free identification required under [Arizona law] may have a cost,” such immaterial costs are not a poll tax.”
Holder is now “investigating” Pennsylvania’s voter ID law, on the left’s charge that it disenfranchises minorities.
Former Congressman Arthur Davis, an African-American from Alabama who served in Congress as a Democrat from 2003 to 2011, finds this argument incredibly insulting. Speaking at The Heritage Foundation yesterday, Davis held up his driver’s license and said, “This is not a billy club. It is not a fire hose. I used to represent Birmingham and Selma, Alabama, and I know something about fire hoses.”
In states that have voter ID laws, the real-world results show that minorities have not been disenfranchised by any means. States that require ID to vote have offered free IDs to anyone who does not have one already. In Kansas, which allows any of nine different forms of ID as proof of identity to vote:
“Out of a total of 1.713 million registered voters in Kansas, only 32 people had requested a free photo ID as of May 4, 2012. That represents only 0.002 percent of the registered voters in the state. Of those 32 voters, 80 percent were white, 10 percent were black, and the race or ethnicity of 10 percent was unknown. Thus, there is no evidence that minority voters were disproportionately affected.”
Georgia, which has had voter ID since 2007, allows six different forms of ID to vote. And there has been no stampede of would-be voters who lack identification: “The number of photo IDs issued by Georgia to individuals who did not already have one of the forms of ID acceptable under state law is remarkably small, averaging less 0.05 percent in most years, and not even reaching three-tenths of 1 percent in a presidential election year.”
What happened to minority voting after the law went into effect? In the 2008 presidential election, Hispanic voting in Georgia increased by 140 percent over the 2004 election. African-American voting increased by 42 percent. That is also a higher rate of increase than in other states without voter ID. Von Spakovsky notes:
“The increase in turnout of both Hispanics and blacks in the 2008 presidential election after the voter ID law became effective is quite remarkable, particularly given the unproven and totally speculative claims of the Justice Department that the voter ID requirements of Texas and South Carolina will somehow have a discriminatory impact on Hispanic and black voters. In fact, Georgia had the largest turnout of minority voters in its history.”
The evidence that producing photo ID is a burden simply isn’t there. “How can it be a burden to ask people to do something they do all the time?” asked Congressman Davis, who said he went to a news organization to do an interview on voter ID and had to produce his driver’s license to enter the news organization.
The Justice Department requires ID from visitors as well.
Voter ID battles are not over, and activist groups are trying everything they can think of to challenge these requirements. The Minnesota legislature passed a referendum that placed the question of voter ID on the ballot for citizens to decide. But the ballot question is under litigation because the League of Women Voters has sued, arguing that the question is “misleading” to voters. The Minnesota Supreme Court will be considering it.
In the state of Kentucky, it has become clear that buying votes is a common practice. A person’s vote can often be bought for $50. Recently, it has come to light that cocaine and marijuana dealers are using drug money to buy votes and turn elections. According to one report, “In the Eastern District of Kentucky alone, more than 20 public elected officials and others have either been convicted or pleaded guilty in various vote-buying cases just in the last two years.”
America cannot allow its elections to be anything but secure and legal. Preventing voter fraud is common sense, and it is outrageous that the U.S. Justice Department would stand in the way.
Amy Payne is Assistant Director of Strategic Communications at The Heritage Foundation. In that capacity, Amy serves as Managing Editor of The Foundry, Heritage’s public policy news blog, as well as the “Morning Bell,” one of Washington’s most widely read and influential e-newsletters
This article was originally published at Heritage.org. Used with permission.