Friday, July 20, 2012

No Vote Fraud? Union Didn’t Get The Memo

by Jonathan S. Tobin

In recent weeks, opponents of voter ID laws have escalated their attacks on the measures by claiming the common sense requirement that a voter be able to identify him or herself at the polls is a new form of Jim Crow. But since the measure applies equally to everyone and the Supreme Court has ruled such laws are constitutional their charges have more to do with inciting racial discord than actually affirming the right to vote. At the same time others are seeking to undermine the entire premise of voter ID advocates by claiming there is no such thing as voter fraud in the United States. That’s the conceit of a piece in the Daily Beast today that repeats the charge made by liberal and Democratic foes of the laws that there is no evidence of voter fraud going on anywhere in the country.

But on the same day the Beast piece was published, evidence surfaced that union officials in Wisconsin have been subpoenaed in an investigation of, you guessed, voter fraud. As the Washington Free Beacon reports, the DA’s office demanded the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) hand over records that relate to the conduct of their officials who may have voted in the city earlier this year while using a Marriot hotel as a residence and using out of state IDs. The Wisconsin legislature passed a photo ID law but state courts have blocked its enforcement so the lack of such a requirement and a same day registration process that makes it easy for anyone, including those who aren’t legally qualified to vote there, cast a ballot. All of which makes a good argument for exactly the laws that liberals tell us are not only racist but also unnecessary.

While the Daily Beast tells us that a voter is more likely to be struck by lightening than commit fraud, that conclusion doesn’t hold up when you consider that several Philadelphia precincts have reported vote totals in heavily Democratic districts that exceeded 100 percent of the tally of registered voters. It was that practice that motivated the Pennsylvania legislature to pass a voter ID law there. Moreover, the idea that fraud is unheard of not only contradicts much of American political history but also an elementary knowledge of human nature which tells us that where there is something to be gained (such as the unions’ hope that Governor Scott Walker would be defeated in a recall election), people will cheat if they think they can get away with it. That’s especially true when the stakes are as high as they are in many elections.

Believing that the concept of voter fraud is itself a fraud only requires that you ignore what happened in Wisconsin or the routine trickery that remains a standard part of election hijinks any time or place that politicians believe no one is watching. Given the unfortunate timing of the Daily Beast piece, opponents of voter ID laws will probably do better sticking to specious allegations of racism than by pretending that cheating is a myth.

Jonathan S. Tobin


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