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Disenfranchised

07/30/12

GOP's voter suppression a cynical ploy

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Voter fraud is exceptionally rare, according to a report  from the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.

“It is more likely that an individual will be struck by lightning than that he will impersonate another voter at the polls,” the study states.

So the logical legislative response to that is to disenfranchise up to 3 million people, right?

It is if you are a conservative lawmaker trying to limit the number of people from exercising their most basic right.

Republican lawmakers in many states have passed exceptionally restrictive laws to keep voters – usually the poor and minorities – away from the polls. These laws are being fought in many states, including Pennsylvania, where one Republican lawmaker, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, listed the law as an accomplishment at a meeting of GOP activists.

“Voter ID – which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania – done,” he said, according to a report from the Washington Post.

The Think Progress website recently went to Wisconsin to see how its voter suppression law, if allowed to stand by the courts, would affect people. Ninety-five-year-old Florence Hessing let her driver’s license expire when she stopped driving at the age of 90. Likely born with the assistance of a midwife, she didn’t have the required birth certificate to get a new photo ID. A team of lawyers eventually found an exemption for her that will allow her to vote. Some 300,000 Wisconsinites lack photo ID for a variety of reasons, according to a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee study

Many will likely be discouraged from going to the polls because of the hassle involved in trying to prove that they hold the right to vote – the most basic and cherished of American rights.

And that’s exactly what the sponsors of the cynical voter suppression laws want. A small percentage denied the right to vote could tip an election in their favor. This, despite that there’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud anywhere in the country, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

 Most of the problems are due to faulty record keeping by government entities, mistakes by poll workers, and the fact that our society is more mobile and people move more, the study by the center says. Each act of voter fraud in connection with a federal election risks five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, in addition to any state penalties. And it only yields one additional vote.

“There have been a handful of substantiated cases of individual ineligible voters attempting to defraud the election system,” the report said. “But by any measure, voter fraud is extraordinarily rare.

“Instead, much evidence that purports to reveal voter fraud can be traced to causes far more logical than fraud by voters.”