Good piece about the work behind the latest win on voting rights:
The debate over state voter-ID laws in the lead-up to November’s elections may have gained a national audience, but the legal action has played out largely in Midwest and Southern courtrooms to this point. That’s not to say Seattle hasn’t been well-represented. University of Washington political science professor Matt Barreto has been in the middle of most of it. Or at least his research has.
The 37-year-old professor has lately been a man in demand. The research he and his colleague, New Mexico professor Gabriel Sanchez, are becoming known for has become part of the standard playbook for lawyers challenging voter-ID laws. Using statistically sound large-swath surveys on a state-by-state basis, Barreto’s findings have demonstrated that not only are blacks, Latinos, and minorities less likely to possess valid photo ID, they’re also less likely to have the documents necessary to obtain such ID.
These laws have proliferated in the wake of the 2013 Supreme Court case Shelby County v. Holder, in which the court, by a controversial 5-4 vote, struck down a section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 requiring states to obtain federal preclearance before changing voting regulations or practices. With the federal preclearance hurdle removed, states that pass voter-ID laws can move quickly to implement them—and have, to the dismay of many, including the national legal arm of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Last month the effort logged its biggest victory to date when a Federal court struck down a Wisconsin law, signed by Republican Governor Scott Walker in 2011, requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot.
“[Judge Adelman] just systematically dismantled the voter-fraud myth in a way that went beyond any other court decision that I have seen,” Young continues. “He said, correctly, that when it comes to election integrity, the perpetrator of the voter-fraud myth are the ones that are undermining voter confidence in the electoral process, not actual voter fraud . . . He said you can’t pass a restrictive law based on an imaginary fear.”
Who knows what will happen when it gets to the US Supreme Court, but the truth is the laws have gotten more and more restrictive. We’ve gone from “voter ID” when I first started following this to “photo ID” and now we’re accepting only certain forms of photo ID.
Ohio’s original ID law contained some protections for voters who could not jump through the hoops; utility bills, “government documents” – there was a genuine effort to recognize and address the problems that real people run into. But that wasn’t enough, the compromise wasn’t acceptable to the GOP base and looking back I don’t think it was ever going to be enough. Because, what’s “enough”? Voter impersonation fraud is imaginary. We’ll never be able to prove we fixed voter impersonation fraud with Ohio’s less restrictive ID law because that problem never existed to begin with.
This is the Texas law. We’ll never know if this one fixed the imaginary problem either:
Here is a list of the acceptable forms of photo ID:
• Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
• Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
• Texas personal identification card issued by DPS
• Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS
• United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph
• United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph
• United States passport
The voter fraud fraudsters have all but given up on arguing voter fraud. Now they argue that the ID laws are intended to promote public trust in the election process. That’s a dilemma for voting rights enthusiasts, too, because as the judge in the Wisconsin decision pointed out voter fraud fraudsters created the lack of confidence they’re now “fixing”:
“He said, correctly, that when it comes to election integrity, the perpetrator of the voter-fraud myth are the ones that are undermining voter confidence in the electoral process, not actual voter fraud . . .
I guess they’ll have to tell us when voter impersonation fraud is solved and thus their confidence is restored since this entire issue now rests completely on their “feelings.”