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Recent News, U.S. Politics

Poll Shows Strong Support for Voter ID

According to a recent Washington Post poll, there is broad national support for Voter ID legislation despite concerns about voter suppression. “Almost three-quarters of all Americans support the idea that people should have to show photo identification to vote, even though they are nearly as concerned about voter suppression as they are about fraud in presidential elections…” reports the Post on August 11. “A controversy over voter ID laws is a prominent backdrop to this year’s election, with courtroom showdowns in Pennsylvania, Texas and elsewhere over voting rights and otherwise mundane election procedures.”

“About half of those polled see voter fraud — people voting who are not eligible to do so or voters casting multiple ballots — as a ‘major problem’ in presidential elections,” it states.

The same day the Washington Post ran an article under the title  “Election Day impersonation, an impetus for voter ID laws, a rarity, data show” which heavily insinuates that because voter impersonation is rare voter ID laws are unnecessary. Although published the same day, this latter article does not refer to the Washington Post’s poll and bears striking similarities to an August 2 article posted by the authors at News21.

“The analysis of 2,068 reported fraud cases by News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, found 10 cases of alleged in-person voter impersonation since 2000,” write authors Natasha Khan and Corbin Carson for the Washington Post on August 11. “With 146 million registered voters in the United States, those represent about one for every 15 million prospective voters.” Carson is a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, which runs the News21 project, according to News21.com. Khan “was an Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Fellow this summer at News21,” also according to the website.

However, the study may be biased against identifying voter fraud cases. “A key distinction is between voter fraud and election fraud,” states the website.

“News21 started with the definitions offered by Lorraine Minnite, a Rutgers University professor and author of ‘The Myth of Voter Fraud’: ‘Voter fraud is the intentional deceitful corruption of the election process by voters. All other forms of corruption of the electoral process and corruption committed by elected or election officials, candidates, party organizations, advocacy groups or campaign workers falls under the wider definition of election fraud.’ (emphasis added).

The organization parses down voter fraud further into even more minute categories, differentiating between “casting an ineligible vote,” felons casting ineligible votes, non-citizens casting ineligible votes, and double voting. These were not included in the “Election Day impersonation” voter fraud category cited in Khan and Carson’s Washington Post article, which had only 10 results.

You can access their database here.

“Civil rights and voting rights activists condemn the ID laws as a way of disenfranchising minorities, students, senior citizens and the disabled,” write Khan and Carson. They quote Eddie Hailes, managing director and general counsel of the Advancement Project as saying “It’s simply a new big burden on the backs of people who just want to have their voices heard during elections.”

The Advancement Project’s mission stated mission is “To develop, encourage, and widely disseminate innovative ideas, and pioneer models that inspire and mobilize a broad national racial justice movement to achieve universal opportunity and a just democracy!”

Citizens in favor of Voter ID laws may be concerned about election fraud, as defined by News21, as well as election fraud.

According to the Washington Post poll, “big majorities of those whom critics see as bearing the brunt of the laws are supportive of them, including about three-quarters of seniors and those with household incomes under $50,000 and two-thirds of non-whites” (emphasis added). In other words, the majority of lower-income households, minorities and seniors surveyed supported Voter ID legislation.

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