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Hard Evidence Supports the Need for Voter ID Laws

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As long as I count the votes, what are you going to do about it?  – William M. “Boss” Tweed, c. 1871

History shows that for as long as the right to vote has existed, that right has been threatened. Thomas Nast’s caricature portraying “Boss” Tweed leaning against a pedestal on which stands “the Ballot” symbolizes a dark time in late nineteenth century America, where the “playing field” of politics was leveraged by party bosses and machine politics at the expense of the voters. Tammany Hall-era politics was defined by Tweed’s ability to manufacture votes and reap the substantial financial rewards.

Fast-forward to present day and election integrity remains a contemporary concern. Specifically, a trend toward some kind of voter Identification law has emerged. But, what should be a debate about preserving the integrity of the electoral system has been hijacked by the politics of division.

Facts, however, are a stubborn thing.

 

To date, 34 states have adopted some kind of voter ID law, which come in several different variations:

• In states that have adopted a “Strict” voter ID law, voters cannot cast a valid ballot without first presenting ID. If they cannot, voters are given a provisional ballot that are kept separate from the regular ballots. If the voter returns to election officials within a short period of time after the election and shows an acceptable form of identification, officials count the ballot. If they do not come back, officials do not count the ballot.

• Other states have enacted “Non-Strict” voter ID laws. Example of such provisions are states where voters are permitted to sign an affidavit attesting to their identity or poll workers may vouch for a voter’s identity if they know him or her. A common characteristic is that voters are not required to return with any kind of identification after voting.

• In states that require a “Photo” voter ID, voters must show an accepted ID with their photo at the polls. Depending on whether the state’s photo ID law is “strict” or not, voters that fail to provide a photo ID may be given a provisional ballot which will be counted if the voter provides the requisite photo ID within the applicable time frame.

• In “Non-Photo” voter ID states, there is a wide array of IDs that are acceptable for voting purposes, some of which do not include a photo of the voter.

 

In 2005, American University’s bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform — co-chaired by President Jimmy Carter and former secretary of state James Baker — wrote:

The electoral system cannot inspire public confidence if no safeguards exist to deter or detect fraud or to confirm the identity of voters. Photo IDs currently are needed to board a plane, enter federal buildings, and cash a check. Voting is equally important.

Justice John Paul Stevens of the U.S. Supreme Court wrote in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board that “flagrant examples” of voter fraud “have been documented throughout our nation’s history by respected historians and journalists” which “demonstrate that not only is the risk of voter fraud real, but that it could affect the outcome of a close election.”

Not so say the critics, who point to the “negligible” rates of voter fraud documented by state boards of elections. For example, North Carolina, a state where voters favor voter ID laws more than 2-to-1, had an infinitesimal rate of fraud of 0.00174% in 2013. But such statistics are misleading given the severe under-enforcement and under-reporting by those same election boards.

For example, New York’s Moreland Commission on Public Corruption found that election fraud complaints were hardly investigated, languishing for years without any action.

Recently, proponents of voter ID laws have found a champion in James O’Keefe and Project Veritas, an undercover project where “voters” surreptitiously filmed encounters on election day that they claim prove the need for voter ID. Activists claimed to be registered voters — including Attorney General Eric Holder — and poll workers, in turn, offered to hand these “impostors” ballots so they could vote. This is similar to the NYC Department of Investigation’s “sting” in New York City where investigators claimed to be deceased or otherwise ineligible voters.

O’Keefe’s exposure of the possibility of voter fraud in the 2012 New Hampshire Primary led to a probe by the state’s attorney general, and ultimately led to the passage of the state’s voter ID law over Governor John Lynch’s veto.

 

The main argument against voter ID is that the requirements become a barrier to low-income citizens, disenfranchising the poor and reducing turnout on Election Day. Some have even gone as far as suggesting that voter ID laws are a tool of voter suppression. But, the empirical data disproves these assertions.

A study by the University of Missouri in 2008 found that voter turnout in Indiana’s first election after its voter ID law went into effect actually increased. A similar study of the Brennan Center concluded that “concerns about voter identification laws affecting turnout are much ado about nothing,” finding that such laws had no effect on turnout, even across racial/ethnic/socio-economic strata.

One reason these studies show no detrimental effect on turnout is that just about everyone is issued some form of government ID nowadays. An American University survey of voters in Maryland, Indiana, and Mississippi found that less than 0.5 percent of respondents had neither a photo ID nor citizenship documentation. Considering that proper identification is required in such everyday activities as buying alcohol and cigarettes or registering a vehicle and entering certain commercial buildings, one’s anecdotal observations would back up those findings.

Spin control may work on the campaign trail and may inflame the passions of some voters one way or the other, but the case for voter Identification laws should be beyond the pale of partisanship because it is a position rooted in verifiable fact. And, the facts show that these laws are intended to protect voters from unsavory tactics by partisans looking for an edge on the competition at the expense of our fundamental right.

Join the discussion Please be relevant and respectful.

The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.


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734 comments
EarlBabbie
EarlBabbie

The article promised "hard evidence" but only gave a lot of opinions. You disagree with the official North Carolina rate of 0.00174%, but what is it then? Saying "it's much higher" is not what I normally think of as "hard evidence."

gberardelli
gberardelli

@EarlBabbie The NC number is meaningless because of the failure of jurisdictions to investigate Voter Fraud. As far as the article's hard evidence, I guess you missed all those academic studies linked that contain quantifiable evidence that show that Voter ID laws do not effect turnout?

SanityClause
SanityClause

The reason, which should've been fairly easy to suss out on your own, is that there are additional expenses incurred while acquiring a 'valid' ID.  This effectively disenfranchises the poor, as many of them simply cannot afford it.  We've been through this tactic before, is it 1950 again?


DeNeice Kenehan
DeNeice Kenehan

It would more likely have the appearance of being "independent" if the author was not a Republican activist espousing a party position.

Terry Brewer
Terry Brewer

While I did not see this particular post on your page, I was still upset nonetheless at your recent post which claimed requiring ID to vote would result in voter suppression. I am upset at the insanity of the thought that it could even possibly result in voter suppression. That would be similar to saying that if we put sheep and chickens in the same barn, they would produce elves. That is exactly how ludicrous it sounds. If we lived in a society where identification was not required for pretty much everything, the argument might be valid, but not here, not now. UNLESS of course, you are talking about suppressing the vote of non-citizens, who have absolutely NO right to vote. If that is the voter suppression you are talking about, then yes, it would result in voter suppression.

Pam Pinkston
Pam Pinkston

Yes, Jonathon, and that righteous provisional ballot was MINE, while the unrighteous one WAS COUNTED!!!!!!

karlwb
karlwb

I have no objections to voter IDs. I guess I've always had one all my life. I object to measures taken by states to curtail hours or don't allow certain IDs (Student IDs for example, representing a traditionally Democratic group. Many college students don't have cars nor the license). Is this leveling the playing field?

gberardelli
gberardelli

If the student ID is a state-issued ID from a public college, I would think it may be considered valid, depending on the letter of the law. I went to Manhattan College, which is a private Christian Brothers school. My school ID wasn't recognized for anything off-campus.

livefox
livefox

Then they can simply get a " non drivers" license insinuating all non

drivers cannot vote is plain silly or plain ignorant

livefox
livefox

Lol. Curtailing Hours? Oh please. Every one manages to fulfill ALL their needs, yet get A simple iD s impossible? That is a pathetic claim!

If you do not drive you would obtain a non drivers license! To imply all non drivers would be unable to vote is silly! Anymore democratic rhetoric?

Im more suspect to any party that would make such a simple requirement seem anthing but.

Mary Lou Fahrlender
Mary Lou Fahrlender

We show our ID for all aspects of life. Why not for the right to keep only citizens voting?

SanityClause
SanityClause

How silly.  In the past 10 years or so there have bveen less than a dozen cases of actual in person voting fraud nationwide.  By contrast, election fraud is rampant, and mostly committed by Repugs. 

Yourewrong
Yourewrong

@SanityClause actually, there have been over a million voter fraud cases just in the past 5 years. People don't think of it enough to actually put pressure on it, but it has swayed many elections. 

Derek Wade
Derek Wade

It is easy to understand why the addition of voter ID laws causes greater turnout. People are disenfranchised by the reality that their votes are worthless. When the vote of a citizen can be canceled by the vote of an illegal alien or dead man, why bother voting at all? By contrast, when you make the vote mean something by restricting it to people who actually deserve it and have earned it, then you are encouraging more people who have the right to exercise it. It's not a difficult thing to figure out.

Derek Wade
Derek Wade

Do you actually know what voter fraud is? That article actually claims that republicans TRYING TO DEMONSTRATE HOW EASILY VOTER FRAUD COULD BE PERFORMED, registered fake accounts. THAT is not voter fraud. Voter fraud is willful intent to disrupt or sway an election with fraudulent votes, and the article makes the fabricated claim that republicans have "more cases" of voter fraud-- WITHOUT EVEN DISCUSSING DEMOCRAT FRAUD. "More" implies a comparison. Without the facts on both sides, there is no way to compare. Dismal article and poor source.

Lin Otherlyn
Lin Otherlyn

....and... PROOF OF CITIZENSHIP for Voter Registration!!!

Sarah Murphy
Sarah Murphy

You ALL really still don't get it do you? Your caught up in the Game They (corporate power brokers and their politician puppets they OWN) want you to play. What game? Us against Them. Diversionary distraction manipulation to keep your eye off the Real ball. A sophisticated shell game where we the people will always lose! Democrats? Republicans? Demlicans? Republocrats? While they (politicians) whip you into a competitive 'm team against your team' frenzy they are all buds going to 5 star 2 martini lunches together. Who is in the real power seat? The Seven Sisters! Put on your big boy pants and your big girl knickers and TRULY vote INDEPENDENT!

FallonReid
FallonReid

With all due respect, this article is about voter id.

Patrick N. Smith
Patrick N. Smith

One does have to show an ID to buy a firearm, and one does already have to have a background check. The only exemption I'm aware of is for transactions between private individuals (not stores, not dealers...) to not make the requirements onerous on for ordinary people. So since we have to have ID for guns, Hell Yes, you should to vote too. Sauce for the goose.

Patrick N. Smith
Patrick N. Smith

I've read it. It reinforced similar results from experiences in Texas too. No surprise there. To the extent VID calls attention to voting as a privilege and perhaps calls into question the right of some to exercise it, it might very well encourage turnout. Of course the results are limited and tentative, but the prior evidence certainly does not support any contention that VID suppresses voting in any measurable way.

Janet Alton
Janet Alton

WE CAN ONLY HOPE .WHILE DECENT CITIZENS WERE SLEEPING AND TRUSTING OUR GOVERMENT THE EVIL ONES SNEAKED INTO OUR GOVERMENT AND FEEL THEY ARE SAFE IN OVERRIDING OUR LAWS OUR ELECTIONS OUR COUNTRY. WELL WE ARE AWAKE AND AWARE AND EACH MUST CHOOSE LIFE AS SLAVSES O MURDERERS OR RISK LIFE FOR THE SAKE OF LIBERTY OF OUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN. WE AS PERSON OF CHOICE MUST NOT WAIT AROUND FOR ELECTIONS AND SUCH FOR OTHERS OF THE SAME ILK AWAIT IN THE WINGS TO FURTHER THE ONE WORLD ORDER PLAN.SHOULD WE LET THIS CONTINUE WE WILL EXIST NO LONGER AS A COUNTRY OR AS A PEOPLE . folks the plan is to

Jd Hoover
Jd Hoover

I think you should have to show your ID.

Jake Reed
Jake Reed

You need 2-5 forms of ID to work to pay taxes, but none to have a say in where they are spent...

Bob D. Beach
Bob D. Beach

Only dishonest politicians don't want voter I.D. bo for instance!

Donald Moore
Donald Moore

SAVE AMERICA-Obama needs to be stopped right now! "Heil Obama",“Heil Hillary R. Clinton!” “The Butchers of Benghazi AND THE CONSTITUTION should be in Jail !!!!!!!”

Jay Hodge
Jay Hodge

I support voter ID ... I would also like a test be required in basic economics, U.S. and World History, the Constitution, Bill of Rights and a bit of Geo-Political Science .... done in ENGLISH.

Johnny Ritchie
Johnny Ritchie

By your own article the people, the masses, who do not have the proper voter ID are many, many, many, many more than the actual cases voter fraud. So, based on the numbers, the changes are to suppress voters...another way of winning elections, like gerrymandering to further bad policies the majority of America does not agree with.

FallonReid
FallonReid

There is no reason why all people don't have or cannot get id. The reason why the left opposes it is because their voting base are minorities - and lots of them. If the law is made fairly for them to obtain id if they don't already have it - either for free or for a pittance - there is no reason everyone who votes should not have id.

Tom Myddelten
Tom Myddelten

Why not just use election ink? And the fallacy I see with the Voter ID debate is that when/if voter IDs are needed, unless there is an increase in voter turn out, both sides will speculate on the reasons one side will say "see we squelched the illegal votes" the other "see this is disenfranchising the poor".

Mark Baland
Mark Baland

The saddest part of the whole voter ID mess is that even if it doesn't end up keeping minorities from voting (for Democrats), as it is designed to do, and a Democrat actually wins the presidency (as Obama did), the Repugnicans can still just control the Congress, in great part through Gerrymandering congressional voting districts to make their's mostly rich and white, and just block every progressive action that the President tries to make.

Mark Baland
Mark Baland

It's probably because Indiana is very conservative and watches Fox News and thought that their votes didn't count until the ID laws went into effect, because some evil community organizer like ACORN might be getting poor inner-city blacks registered to vote, which Republicans consider fraud, since they think that blacks and the poor are not supposed to vote...

Stephen McDuffie
Stephen McDuffie

Maria please cite cases and news stories of convicted GOP voters before you blame the GOP. Moron! let me cite to you a few stories of obama voters caught for voter fraud. one person was GOP from southern Vegas. the majority of stories across the country was for Obama. http://www.8newsnow.com/story/19990635/breaking-news-woman-arrested-for-trying-to-vote-more-th http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/02/19/ohio-poll-worker-obama-supporter-investigated-for-potentially-voting-six-times/ http://www.wral.com/news/local/politics/story/9984810/ http://eastaustinvoice.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/democrats-arrested-andor-convicted-of-voter-fraud-specfriggintaculars-blog/ The correct version is Maria is that there is voter fraud out there and it happens. Voters IDs should be enforced while making it free to receive the said ID.

TheLimberMind
TheLimberMind

Just like guns you can't stop criminals from voter fraud, they can just make a fake ID, they do that all the time easy peasy. So just like guns and the constitution there should be no regulations period, common sense or not.


And none of those cases would have been different with an ID, they are all early, absentee or two timing, voter ID laws would not have stopped any of them. And also, even taking  all those at face value, it is still microscopic compared to the more than a hundred million voters. 

I would support a voter ID law, if it were a national ID issued with SS cards. One national standard, one acceptable ID, and every citizen automatically gets one.



Kathleen Knapp
Kathleen Knapp

The Intent of the Law has merit. The problem lies again in Sloppy Government Records : Voter Registration Process Example: Just got a mail in Washington Ballot for my Brother who died last YR. I live in Texas? I can t believe with all the technology they can 't cross link SS & Voter Records. People Move, Die etc. Ballots are based on where U live. More elections are effected than U realize. Last but not least - ID theft. If they can sell It to thefts - do you really think they don't sell it to Greedy Power Types ! Those Who take $ from Lobbyist- Ability 2 not only Control the free world but a life time Pension & Consulting Gigs. Yes there is Voter Fraud - just believe the VID is a bandAid.

Jacqueline Lynn
Jacqueline Lynn

Voter ID is provided without cost to citizens presenting their Birth Certificate, SS card and a utility bill in their names at any DMV or Tax Office. EVERY state should enforce this! FRAUD is rampant here. Other countries mock our voting procedures as they stand!

Gary Silvia
Gary Silvia

Really, so why don't you go ahead and commit voter fraud then if it is so easy and has no risk or consequence. Oh wait, maybe going to jail for years to get one vote for your side is what rational people would consider too high risk and stupid. Like that lady who tried to make your point and ended up in jail for voter fraud trying to show how easy it is to get away with fraud in voting. http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2012/nov/02/southern-nevada-woman-arrested-suspicion-trying-vo/

Mark Anthony Smith
Mark Anthony Smith

It is only used to suppressed the vote. Voter fraud is used as an excuse. You could be struck by lighting first - than fraud this day and age.

TheLimberMind
TheLimberMind

So, a national voter ID then, tied to Social Security cards, everyone automatically gets one, no paperwork no fee, every citizen gets one. Better yet compulsory voting, make voting a requirement, don't vote you get fined, the fines can pay for national IDs.


The problem with voter ID laws is the inequitable application of the law, not everyone has the "right" ID, not everyone can easily get the "right" ID. I smell something fishy when an ID to carry a gun is accepted but not a student ID, that is the problem, not the concept, but the application. The only fair and democratic option is to treat each citizen equally, and that can only be accomplished if everyone had the exact same ID, a federal ID.

Rick Loughrey
Rick Loughrey

hahaha which means you get your butt kicked in debates and are mad about it!!! thats funny as hell right there!

Rick Loughrey
Rick Loughrey

think about what you said.. People who work pay taxes to support the people who dont... Correct? Now im pretty sure of two things,, most people dont like paying taxes and the repubs are always trying to lower taxes...thus, by simple logic sir you are oh so off course..