Exposing The Lie: South Carolina Can’t Prove the Need for Voter ID Law
December 29, 2011
By Sarah Jones, PoliticusUSA
Ed Schultz talks to Professor Caroline Heldman about South Carolina’s voter ID law being blocked by the federal government. This marks the first time in 20 years a voter ID law has been rejected. Republicans have made voter ID laws their cause of the year, in spite of the fact that there is no evidence of voter fraud occurring. In fact, South Carolina was unable to justify the need for the voter ID laws because they could not prove that voter fraud was a problem in the state.
South Carolina is on the list of states requiring federal preclearance before changes to voting laws, due to its history of racial discrimination. Voting ID laws impact minorities more than whites, as minorities in the state are 20% less likely to have a photo ID. The Department of Justice blocked the new law because it could keep tens of thousands of minorities in the state from voting.
Transcript from MSNBC with minor corrections:
Ed Scultz: Professor, if the law is considered discriminatory, why isn’t the Department of Justice rejecting similar voter i.d. laws in other states? What do you think?
Caroline Heldman: I think it’s probably because those states aren’t on the list of eight states that require preclearance because of their history of discrimination, as Katie has pointed out. He’s specifically going after south Carolina and Texas because they’re on that list. Eric Holder could under section 2 also go after any law that is discriminatory under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He’s not chosen to do that. I guess I’m a little more pessimistic because I think it’s hard for the average American because of the way this has been framed as voter fraud. Who doesn’t want to stand against fraud?
Because of the way it’s been framed by a lot of conservative outlets, I think it’s hard to make the case that we shouldn’t require i.d. I think it’s hard for people to understand that if they have i.d., it doesn’t mean everyone can get it. That’s the uphill battle. It’s a political hot potato for President Obama to step into this mess. He will face backlash from people who think it’s common sense that people should have i.d.s even though 11% of the American public does not.
Ed Schultz: Well, not everybody in thus country understands how the poor actually lives and how destitute some people can be and want to throw all sorts of restrictions on them. This is a bunch of hoops they have to jump through if they’re going to have the process of having their voice heard. You know, professor, when you look at this, if there’s no voter fraud, it seems to me the Republicans are going to do everything they possibly can to make the case to the American people that there’s fraud everywhere. What about that?
Caroline Heldman: I think what we’re doing is lumping three types of fraud together. One is voter registration fraud which a.c.o.r.n. did engage in. These laws only affect voter impersonation fraud which wouldn’t be at all affecting what happened with a.c.o.r.n.
(Note: ACORN got in trouble because a few of their workers got caught registering non-existent people to vote, an example from their voter registration fraud was registering “Mickie Mouse” to vote. They made money per name, so the few that violated ACORN’s rules did this for money, not because someone was going to attempt to vote under the name Mickey Mouse. It was never about voter fraud. Also, while we’re setting that record straight, President Obama did not work with ACORN in the 2008 campaign. He was very specific about setting up his own get out the vote team and volunteers to register voters. The only party affiliated with arrest for massive election fraud and voter fraud in 2008 due to their voter registration schemes and voting under false address is the company (YPM) the Republican Party hired to manage their voter registration and that company’s owner. “Jacoby’s arrest by state investigators and the Ontario Police Department late Saturday came after dozens of voters said they were duped into registering as Republicans by people employed by YPM. The voters said YPM workers tricked them by saying they were signing a petition to toughen penalties against child molesters.” Now you know why Republicans talk about ACORN constantly.)
The second, our poll workers or others in positions of power engaging in fraud. Again, this only deals with voter impersonation. When I have conversations about this with folks on the right, they lump all of it together and say it’s a big issue. As you know, Ed, you’re 39 times more likely to be struck by lightning than engage in voter impersonation and four times more likely to report a ufo. I wish Eric Holder would go after the states to justify the decisions. In South Carolina, they weren’t able to show an issue with fraud which is the boldfaced lie on which the efforts are based.
The next time someone tells you that it only makes sense to show ID at the polls, ask them why South Carolina couldn’t show any proof that voter fraud was going on. If there’s no voter fraud, why do they feel compelled to spend all of this money enacting a policy to protect the system from a non-existent threat?
Here’s the answer: Voter fraud is this year’s WMD.
Voter fraud hardly ever occurs. There are already criminal repercussions for committing voter fraud (which the Republicans who have engaged in voter fraud have largely managed to avoid).
The voter fraud epidemic is a lie. There are good reasons why laws were put into place to protect minority voters and no good reason to change those laws. Minorities are not running around trying to commit voter fraud.
Anyone who tells you they are is not being factual and clearly has no idea what it’s like to live in actual poverty, without access to a car or the ability to get time off of work to go to the DMV to get (and pay for, even though they are supposed to be free – see Wisconsin) their photo ID. People in deep poverty are lucky if they can get to the polls at all.
We need all citizens to vote and we need to protect the rights of the poor, lest we end up in a system where only the wealthy can vote. Sure, they’re not coming for YOUR vote right now, but do you think they would stop at targeting the poverty stricken? What’s next, the middle class can’t vote unless they can prove their address via mail coming from a stockbroker to their address? I suspect many of the folks who think this is common sense have not lived under these rules and don’t realize that these laws stop thousands of people from being able to vote.
Can you dig up your marriage license (if you’re a woman) to prove your name change of twenty years ago even though you have a valid driver’s license with your proper name on it? You’ll also need your Social Security card and three pieces of mail addressed to you, one of which they “prefer” to come from a major bank (not that this is a poll tax).
I hope you haven’t moved recently or lost your marriage license or divorce license. What if you don’t have any money in a major bank or utilities in your name because you are staying with family until you get back on your feet? Too bad for you, and you, and you. You don’t get to vote this time. But oh, boy, you do have to pay those taxes the Republicans think you owe the 1%. You’ll not get out of your taxes so easily.
Imagine being poverty stricken and having to go back home three times to track down the proper items necessary to get your voter ID card; take time off of work three different days, get transportation, and wait in line all to vote? Forget it. Food is more important. A lot of people will be discouraged from voting and are being discouraged under those rules.
The logic in the Republicans’ framing of the voter fraud issue is opposite of reality and sense. There is no need for these laws because voter fraud is not a problem.
We note that last week one of the Republican poster boys for voter ID laws in Indiana was ordered out of office after being indicted on seven felony counts including voter fraud. Voter fraud is rare, but when it happens, it’s often someone wealthy or privileged who votes from the wrong address of their many homes or is using an old address in order to qualify for a certain position or is using their kid’s address so they can vote in that specific area.
Perhaps this whole voter ID thing needs to be turned around to target the people who actually commit voter fraud. Anyone with more than one home should be subject to having their vote held until they can prove they actually live in the area they are voting (see Mitt Romney, Wisconsin Republicans, Republican chief election officer for the state of Indiana).
And since so many Republicans are in the news these days for voter fraud, perhaps we target that group specifically. After all, we wouldn’t want even one person to commit voter fraud. And any Republican who defends these Republicans and is against ensuring that more Republicans do not violate our laws obviously has a political agenda to gain the system with fraudulent votes.
That’s how the logic works in reverse. Is that working for everyone yet?