Better chance of being hit by lightning than finding voter fraud

Michigan voting poll520x310

DETROIT - Voter fraud is so rare "you're more likely to get hit by lightning than find a case of prosecutorial voter fraud," said Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project during a panel discussion at the recent AFL-CIO Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Observance here.

If that's the case, why the rash of voter suppression bills occurring in Michigan, Florida, Texas  and throughout the country?

Browne-Dianis had the answer: "They are not preventing voting fraud, they are preventing voting." She said Republicans are out to undermine democracy by targeting key segments of the coalition that elected president Obama in 2008, including first-time voters, poor people, and people of color.

The numbers tell the story: 600,000 people in Texas, the majority of them poor and people of color, do not have a photo ID. In Wisconsin, 78 percent of Black males between the ages of 18 and 24 do not have a photo ID.

Testifying against photo ID restrictions in the Michigan bill, Susan Smith, president of the state's League of Women Voters, said, "Photo ID laws address impersonation of another registered voter at the polls, an exceedingly rare form of voter fraud."

Making voting accessible for everyone and low voter turnout, not voter fraud, are the real problems in Michigan. In the 2010 midterm election, for example, only 44 percent of the state's 7.3 million registered voters cast a ballot.

Another attack on voting rights has been mounted via a second bill, SB 754. It makes it more difficult to conduct voter registration campaigns by requiring organizations and individuals to be registered, trained and certified by the state. Left open in the bill is how often training will be offered, potentially thwarting the quick organization of a voter registration drive.

People describe as "chilling" a situation where the Michigan League of Women Voters, a non-partisan organization that for 90 years has set the "gold standard" for expanding participation in the electoral process, now faces a law that would restrict its ability to register voters.

As the League's president said in a recent opinion piece, "Registering people to vote is not a complicated process. You hand people a short form, they fill it out and you return it to the clerk. This work does not require specialized training."

The bill also requires that during the final week of the voter registration period registration forms procured from the election board be returned within 24 hours. Fines and penalties await those who fail to comply. The result, of course, is that many who once saw voter registration as a form of public service are now intimidated into considering refraining from doing it altogether.

Civil and voting rights groups are particularly angry, however, that GOP efforts to limit participation in elections do not include anything that would curtail participation of powerful groups that favor Republicans.

In contrast to voting laws restricting voting access to millions, the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, they note, has opened the door for a few wealthy corporations, the top tier of the one percent, to dominate the electoral process by spending unlimited and unregulated sums of money in political campaigns.

Photo: John Rummel/PW


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  • Evidently you have never lived in Alabama. The dead have been voting for years and they were not Republicans.
    I have to show an ID to get VA services,when I show up at the voting booth and other situations.
    It is my understanding there are legal procedures to register to vote and 4 years between elections is more than time enough to register. In the past all one had to do was show their Social Security Number and there is no reason why a picture could not be made at the point of registration.
    I value my right to vote and I detest voter fraud that is carried out in this country. It does happen.

    Posted by SwampFox2U, 01/26/2012 4:22pm (4 years ago)

  • Well put John. But how do we combat this obvious voter repression? The obvious, is to elect legislators who are not Right Wing fanatics come next November. The next is to get the DOJ to intervene. I understand they can in some Southern States because of the voter Rights Act of the 60's but what about our State? The next not so obvious course, is to recall Snyder. He may be a "nerd" but he is a shill for all the Right Wing attack machines now running rampart in our Legislature.

    Posted by Micheal W Smith, 01/26/2012 10:33am (4 years ago)

  • Crikey, a lot of people must be getting struck by lightning, then. There should be a public awareness campaign about the dangers of going out in the rain, or something.

    In the past year, over 200 people have been prosecuted and convicted for voter fraud in Minnesota alone.

    Hundreds of voter fraud cases are under investigation or being charged all across the country. Think Michigan is so special it doesn't happen there? Don't kid yourself.

    Here are a "few" examples:

    Posted by Dan McGrath, 01/25/2012 3:49pm (4 years ago)

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