Republican efforts to exclude voters from the polls have been in the news lately. A Pennsylvania judge recently decided it was OK to require voters to have photo IDs there. Many states have been doing that.
Indiana anti-voter fraud efforts got the blessing of the U.S. Supreme Court under John Roberts in 2008. (i.) Indiana Republicans claimed to be terrified that poor people would show up at the polls fraudulently trying to vote, and worse, they would vote for Democrats. So they required picture IDs. Their claims have been repeated in many states.
There hasn’t been a problem with people showing up to vote twice. If they showed up in the wrong precinct they’d be corrected and sent to the right place. That happened to me right here after I moved – I couldn’t figure out where I was supposed to vote in one of the primaries. But we straightened that out. It’s difficult to vote at the wrong places if people actually do show up. And they make you sign the book.
On the other hand, there have been massive, well-known problems with absentee ballots. The election fraud recently uncovered here in Troy was about the misuse of absentee ballots. It’s much easier to vote dead people by absentee than to have their ghosts show up at the polls. Indiana Republicans, however, weren’t concerned with absentees, or fraud. They were only concerned that people who might not have picture IDs would try to vote.
There was testimony in the U.S. Supreme Court case that the major impact of photo ID requirements would be to prevent people living on small incomes from voting because getting those picture IDs could cost a lot of money to get the necessary documentary proof, and could take lots of time because everything had to be done in successive visits to the main office. Indiana wasn’t going to lift a finger to help. The only thing it was going to do was to tell people to get the right documents. But every trip to the Board of Elections would cost a low income worker a day’s pay, and the anger of supervisors questioning why they weren’t at work. And of course it could be a nightmare for the disabled or those in nursing homes. But Indiana insisted on the “integrity” of its ballot. And the Supreme Court agreed – we’re all for “integrity.”
Incidentally I tried to get one of the new New York special photo IDs and showed up without one document that I needed. Still haven’t found it. I could afford the expense of replacing missing documents and I have sufficient control over my schedule, but even I haven’t taken the time to get it.
Perhaps you noticed a story about Charlie White, an Indiana Republican and secretary of state. (ii. )He was found guilty of six felony charges - perjury, false registration, voting in another precinct, submitting a false ballot and theft. Yet everyone knew who he was.
Well my goodness, I guess we were all wrong and the Indiana officials knew what they were talking about. It takes one to know one. Although the evidence of all those poor and disabled voters attempting to defraud the rightfully elected just hasn’t shown up. What’s left is the sanctimonious blather of thieves. And that blather may be coming to a polling place near you.
i. Crawford v. Marion County Election Bd., 553 U.S. 181 (2008).
ii. Indiana Fraud Verdict, The New York Times, February 5, 2012.
Steve Gottlieb is Jay and Ruth Caplan Distinguished Professor of Law at Albany Law School and author of Morality Imposed: The Rehnquist Court and Liberty in America. He has served on the Board of the New York Civil Liberties Union, and in the US Peace Corps in Iran.
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