Voter ID: Protecting the Right Wing from Urban, Minority Voters?

Marion Edwyn Harrison, president of Paul Weyrich’s Free Congress Foundation, calls on “Every State legislature, and more particularly those with considerable voter fraud" to "consider requiring meaningful proof of citizenship and residence of everyone seeking to register to vote or seeking to vote.” In particular, Harrison calls for requiring voters to produce a photo ID.  A preliminary report from the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission found scant evidence of voter fraud in America, but Harrison makes it clear the kind of place he expects to find “suspicious” voters: urban precincts, poor, with a lot of renters, and a lot of minorities. Writes Harrison:

Perhaps you have served at a polling place on a primary or general election day as a judge, registrar, clerk or whatever the title (which varies State by State) may be; perhaps you have served a political party or a candidate by distributing literature outside a polling place. Maybe you only have voted. Likely, whatever your role or roles, if you are reading this column you have performed any such role in a reasonably literate, reasonably settled ward, precinct or other voting boundary.

In most, if perhaps not literally all, such jurisdictions the following characteristics, if surely not universal, overwhelmingly predominate: Most voters have an official voter identification card, a driver’s license with photograph, a passport and/or a major credit card with photograph - often all four; many voters personally are recognized by one or more functionaries within the voting room or rooms; voters do not arrive in large herded groups but individually, as part of a family or with neighbors. In short, very few voters appear suspicious.

Contrast that phenomenon with many wards, precincts or other voting places. There is a difference. These voting places almost invariably are in heavily populated communities. The area they serve usually has a smaller, often very small, percentage of homeowners or reasonably permanent residents, whether renters or homeowners; a high percentage of lower or relatively lower incomes - and in many parts of the country a large group of immigrants and/or minorities.

"There is widespread but not unanimous agreement that there is little polling-place fraud, or at least much less than is claimed, including voter impersonation, 'dead' voters, non-citizen voting and felon voters," according to the preliminary report pursuant to the Help America Vote Act of 2002. Four years later, the commission has yet to officially release any findings or report. Sign PFAW’s petition to tell the Elections Assistance Commission to release the report and puncture the inflated myth of voter fraud.