Republicans who are pushing for stricter voting laws, like state-issued picture ID or proof of citizenship, seem to believe that there’s an epidemic of voter fraud. I’m not so sure. Voter turnout is abysmally low in most elections. If the majority of registered voters can’t be bothered to go to the polls, why would a flood of illegal immigrants, felons, or others who can’t vote legally take the time and risk of registering, much less turning up at a precinct on election day?
This article in the New York Times confirms my hunch: there is little to no evidence of widespread voter fraud across the US. Cracking down on supposed fraud by requiring a new ID or a birth certificate is only going to suppress the vote of poor and/or elderly people who have every right to cast their ballots but don’t have the transportation, money, or access to time off to scoot around to various government offices in order to obtain documents.
Don’t get me wrong; in theory, I have absolutely no problem with requiring proof of identity to vote. But I live in a little bubble where everyone has a car and a driver’s license and (most likely) a passport and access to funds if they need to order a new copy of their birth certificate. And this kind of comment is truly offensive:
“Democrats believe they represent stupid people who are not smart enough to vote,” said Randy Pullen, a Republican national committeeman from Arizona who championed a statewide initiative on the new requirements. “I do not.”
No, Mr. Pullen, Democrats don’t equate being poor or elderly with being stupid. They do understand that people in these groups have limited access to resources many of us take for granted. That doesn’t mean we should limit their access to the voting booth.