Combating Fraud—or Suppressing the Vote?

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


In the lead-up to the 2010 elections, conservative activists raised the specter of liberal voter fraud, claiming that illegal immigrants, union thugs, and the Black Panthers, among others, would try to rig the election. Tea party leaders, supported by Republican officials, deployed legions of “poll watchers” to flag suspicious activity. But after Election Day came and went, there was little evidence of rampant fraud.

Nevertheless, the right has refused to relent on the fraud issue. USA Today reports that Republican-controlled legislatures in half dozen states have passed new voter ID laws since January:

Proponents say the measures prevent vote fraud. Opponents say they are designed to stifle turnout among students, poor people and minorities, who are more likely to vote for Democrats but might lack government-issued IDs, such as driver’s licenses and passports.

Buoyed by big Republican gains in the 2010 elections, six states have enacted photo ID laws since January — Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Bills in New Hampshire and North Carolina await gubernatorial action. The measures, all passed by Republican-controlled legislatures, could bring to 17 the number of states with photo ID requirements and come nearly 18 months before elections for Congress and the White House. Other states — including Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and West Virginia— have reduced the period for early voting.

Democrats hate voter ID rules because voters who lack photo identification tend to be young people, immigrants, and the poor—all groups that disproportionately vote for Democrats. But it will be tough-going to overturn the new laws: as The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne points out, the Supreme Court upheld a controversial Indiana voter ID law in 2008. If voting-rights groups want to go through the judicial system to block these statutes, it won’t be enough to show that the right’s fears of voter fraud are spurious. They’ll be pressed to provide the courts with further proof that these new laws are suppressing the rights of eligible voters.

Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

payment methods

Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate