It’s an election year, so we’re being treated to the usual back-and-forth about whether requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls is an attempt to suppress voting or just voter fraud.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder — never hesitant to politicize an issue — last month likened voter ID laws to Jim Crow-era poll taxes that suppress minority voting. Of course, neither he nor any plaintiff in a court challenge to a voter ID laws has produced any evidence that suppression has taken place. I’ve always thought it is insulting to minorities to suggest they are incapable, or unmotivated, or whatever, when it comes to obtaining a free, state-issued photo ID.
On the contrary: Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp noted in a recent interview that since the General Assembly passed our voter ID law in 2006, the number of minority voters has soared — between both the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections, and the 2006 and 2010 gubernatorial elections. That’s strong evidence against the idea that the law is suppressing voting by minorities. (H/t: Georgia Tipsheet)
Critics of voter ID requirements argue that voter fraud is non-existent, and that champions of these laws are trying to solve a non-problem. A new book by two leading supporters of voter ID laws aims to take away that argument, too.
In “Who’s Counting?”, conservative journalist John Fund and former Civil Rights Commissioner (and one-time Georgia resident) Hans von Spakovsky argue that a current U.S. senator may be in office thanks to voter fraud. Byron York explains in a Washington Examiner column about the book:
In the ‘08 campaign, Republican Sen. Norm Coleman was running for re-election against Democrat Al Franken. It was impossibly close; on the morning after the election, after 2.9 million people had voted, Coleman led Franken by 725 votes.
Franken and his Democratic allies dispatched an army of lawyers to challenge the results. After the first canvass, Coleman’s lead was down to 206 votes. That was followed by months of wrangling and litigation. In the end, Franken was declared the winner by 312 votes. He was sworn into office in July 2009, eight months after the election.
During the controversy a conservative group called Minnesota Majority began to look into claims of voter fraud. Comparing criminal records with voting rolls, the group identified 1,099 felons — all ineligible to vote — who had voted in the Franken-Coleman race.
Minnesota Majority took the information to prosecutors across the state, many of whom showed no interest in pursuing it. But Minnesota law requires authorities to investigate such leads. And so far, Fund and von Spakovsky report, 177 people have been convicted — not just accused, but convicted — of voting fraudulently in the Senate race. Another 66 are awaiting trial. “The numbers aren’t greater,” the authors say, “because the standard for convicting someone of voter fraud in Minnesota is that they must have been both ineligible, and ‘knowingly’ voted unlawfully.” The accused can get off by claiming not to have known they did anything wrong.
York adds: “With 1,099 examples identified by Minnesota Majority, and with evidence suggesting that felons, when they do vote, strongly favor Democrats, it doesn’t require a leap to suggest there might one day be proof that Al Franken was elected on the strength of voter fraud.”
At the very least, those 1,099 examples — and 177 convictions, so far — represent far more evidence in favor of voter ID laws than opponents have ever mustered for their case.
– By Kyle Wingfield