Stricter Voting Laws Disproportionately Impact Poor, Elderly

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.

16 Responses to “Stricter Voting Laws Disproportionately Impact Poor, Elderly”

  1. Tom Hilton says:

    The key sentence is this: “Experts in election law say most voter fraud involves absentee balloting, which is unaffected by the new photo identification laws.” Absentee voters are more likely to vote Republican, of course. The fact that these proposed measure deal with in-person voting (where fraud isn’t really a problem) and ignore absentee voting (where it is) tells us all we need to know about the partisan nature of the thing.

  2. Dan says:

    There’s also no evidence to suggest that requiring photo ID would significantly disenfranchise Democratic voters. It’s a fake issue. I side with letting people vote, but I don’t think it matters.

    You’re right, though. The thing that is being used to committ voter fraud is absentee voting. Check out the Democracy Defense League’s homepage and scroll down to the table, “Percentage of Absentee Voting Escalation in Hale County, Alabama.”

  3. Don says:

    The importance of this issue is that we can’t have honest government if we don’t have honest elections. As I understand it, this hasn’t yet passed in the US Senate, but as it now stands it would apply only to federal elections, and that states would be required to provide the photo IDs free to anyone who applies, so the argument that it would disenfranchise the poor, elderly, etc., doesn’t seem to hold much water. Most people already have some form or photo ID anyway because it’s required in so many instances.

    While it likely won’t effect absentee ballots unless some provision for that is included, it would help prevent fraudulent voting at the polls which has been known to occur under present law in Alabama. The federal ocean is too large for me to fish in, so I’m more concerned about stopping voter fraud in the Alabama pond.

    Dan offered sage advice. Study the Democracy Defense League website @ to see how prevalent voter fraud is in Alabama, and how that group proposes to fight it through legal means.

    I encourage Alabamians to join the nearly 1,700 members of the group from across the state to help eliminate this cancer on Alabama’s governments at all levels, and let’s get on the road to having honest government in our state by requiring photo IDs to vote in state and local elections.

  4. Kathy says:

    Don, there are several state laws under challenge right now. One is Georgia’s that, IIRC, required citizens to pay for a picture ID and only set up a few offices statewide where voters could get them. That would certainly limit access. A system like the one you mention would be much better as long as there is easy access to the offices where citizens would need to apply.

    I’d love to see much bigger (legitimate) voter turnout, and I’d hate to see the government do anything to make it more difficult for voters to cast their ballots.

  5. Don says:

    Kathy, I agree we shouldn’t make it more difficult for real living and breathing qualified voters to exercise their privilege. As I said, I’m more concerned with having honest elections here at home in Alabama because WE ALABAMIANS can have an effect locally and statewide that we wouldn’t have nationwide.

    For that reason I would like to see the federal law passed by the senate as it was in the house because then our state government would then be required to furnish free photo IDs to those who don’t already have one, and then the state could require that the IDs be used in all elections in Alabama.

    The larger problem in the Yellowhammer State seems to be with fraudulent absentee ballots so I hope something can be done to solve that dilemma and give us honest elections.

    I want to emphasize that the Democracy Defense League is multi-ethnic and non-partisan. Blacks who have been disenfranchised by fraudulent voting, especially in the Black Belt area, are among both its leadership and its most enthusiastic members.

  6. Tom Hilton says:

    The larger problem in the Yellowhammer State seems to be with fraudulent absentee ballots so I hope something can be done to solve that dilemma and give us honest elections.

    I’m still not getting why, if fraudulent absentee ballots are the real problem, you would be arguing for a measure that a) does nothing at all to deter absentee fraud, and b) will almost certainly deter far more legitimate voters than there are fraudulent in-person voters.

  7. Wheeler says:

    “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”

    well, if you choose to be poor and/or elderly, then whose fault is that?

  8. Don says:

    Tom Hilton, as you said quoting me; I said it was the larger problem in Alabama. I didn’t say it was our only problem; any solution that eliminates even a portion of out fraudulent votes will be a step in the right direction.

    Tell everyone why it “will almost certainly deter far more legitimate voters than there are fraudulent in-person voters.”, and cite statistics and sources of them, please.

  9. Del says:

    Wait – I thought we were all going to have our government-issued chip implanted any day now. So none of this will matter.

  10. Kathy says:

    Yes, Del, but if Diebold makes the barcode readers, we can be sure that they won’t work properly. :)

  11. Bottom Line says:

    God forbid we actually had some rules for voting. That might prevent the left from running busses to pick up illegals and non-registered voters to help “rock the vote”. Heck if these rules would have been in place a few years ago, your famed Tom Daschel would have lost by a lot more since he would have been able to run the illegal stuff on the reservations that his boys did.

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