Friday, August 17, 2012

Preventing Voter Fraud or Defrauding Voters?

Republican-controlled legislatures in swing states have been enacting sweeping laws ostensibly designed to prevent voter fraud in the name of preserving the integrity of the system. But serious questions have been raised about the factual predicate for those laws and about possible ulterior motivations of the legislators. Specifically, is vote fraud an actual problem and, if not, are Republican state legislators really just trying to suppress poor, minority, elderly, and student voters, who are overwhelmingly likely to be affected  by the new legal requirements and also happen to vote predominantly for Democratic candidates? In other words, is the effort to control voter fraud merely an effort to defraud the voters?

As usual, the best summary of this all-too-serious issue comes from John Stewart and The Daily Show:

The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily Show: Democalypse 2012 - Cockblock the Vote

In response, I have not seen any Republican state legislator present evidence indicating that these new laws are actually needed and will not disenfranchise potentially large numbers of eligible voters. More troubling still, courts have so far upheld every one of these new laws despite (a) the complete lack of evidence that the "problem" they are ostensibly designed to control  is real, and (b) substantial evidence that eligible voters are being disenfranchised. 

At least the Republican legislator from Pennsylvania, in the Daily Show clip, was being honest about what these efforts are really all about: securing the election of Republicans by undermining the democratic process. Perhaps the effect will only be marginal, but in a close election even a marginal effect may be enough to swing a swing state.

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