A reader from Wisconsin sent me this Adam Serwer piece:
From the look of it, there is simply no time to lose in Wisconsin to pass the most draconian and disenfranchising voter-identification law in the country (it surpasses even an extremely controversial Indiana law that requires voters to present government-issued photo ID). The new Republican governor in what’s now an all-red state — all three branches of the government are, after the last election, controlled by Republicans — wants immediate action so the voter-ID law can be in place before the April 5 election for the state Supreme Court. Another, related bill would write the voter-ID law into the state constitution.
Former President Bush pursued this voter fraud crisis. So what did his DOJ find?
an intensive five-year investigation by the Department of Justice under George W. Bush famously netted only 86 voter-fraud convictions. Most of these were for offenses like vote-buying schemes or ineligible voters registering to vote — not for voter fraud that could have been prevented by a voter-ID law.
And here’s the U.S. Supreme Court (pdf), when Indiana’s voter ID law came up for review:
Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita has conceded the state has never presented a case of “voter impersonation,” which the law was designed to safeguard against.
Never. Not once. That’s how widespread voter impersonation fraud is: the Indiana Secretary of State couldn’t present a single case. Yet, Indiana insisted they needed a voter ID law, and now Wisconsin does too.
Kevin Kennedy, director of the state Government Accountability Board, said about 20 people were charged with voter fraud after the 2008 election. Most of them were instances of felons voting while still on state supervision.
A voter ID law does absolutely nothing to fix the problem of 20 felons voting while still on state supervision, so why do we need this law, again?
But a photo ID requirement would boost public confidence in state elections, he said.
Oh. Public confidence. Republicans, in cooperation with Fox News, have waged a ten year effort to destroy public confidence in elections by repeatedly making completely unfounded accusations of voter fraud. Now that they’ve succeeded in that effort, they tell us they must pass laws that will disenfranchise legitimate voters to “boost confidence” in elections.
Ohio, oddly enough, had a crisis of public confidence just like this that also arose with Republican control of all statewide offices. We in Ohio managed to protect some voters by insisting on broad definitions of key terms, like “government document”. That definitional safe harbor has been used again and again and again by real live lawful voters in Ohio since Republicans pushed through Ohio’s ID law. They rely on it. It means they can vote.
However, alternate forms of ID, like a “government document”, won’t be available to Wisconsin voters, because the Wisconsin bill would allow most voters to get ballots only after presenting a Wisconsin driver’s license, Wisconsin ID card or military ID card.
They’re fine-tuning voter ID laws to more effectively disenfranchise (certain) voters, with each new law more restrictive than the last. They’re doing this without a shred of evidence of voter impersonation fraud, and the best defense they can come up with is that they seek to “boost public confidence”.