Friday, June 10, 2011

The Real History of Voter Fraud

Historian and blogger Stephen Budiansky, aka the Liberal Curmudgeon, hasn't been writing very often lately because he's working hard on a book and his farm, but when he does write it's always worth reading.

A recent post detailed the ways in which the black vote was suppressed in the South after Reconstruction -- facts I had let slip from my mind. Did you know troops were used for decades to keep black men from voting?

On the current efforts by Republican legislators across the country (and in Minnesota) to require photo IDs for voting, Budiansky wrote:

The fondly cherished bogeyman of today's Republicans of "voter fraud" in the form of individuals impersonating others at the polls has essentially zero basis in history or reality: On the contrary, the real history of voter fraud is the use of legal or quasi-legal mechanisms to intimidate, restrict, and suppress legitimate voting by those who threatened the conservative elite's lock on power.
Minnesota has the highest participation in elections among all the states, in part because we have same-day registration and allow people to register without any ID if their residency is vouched for by a neighbor. There are absolutely no cases of people abusing this, but our legislature recently spent time debating laws and constitutional amendments that would eliminate same-day registration and would make people cast provisional (i.e., second-class) ballots if they don't have a photo ID with their current address.

Some of the bills passed around the country also made it very difficult for organizations to do voter registration drives, prompting groups like the League of Women Voters to say they would no longer do such drives in those states.

Who moves a lot? Poor people and young people, that's who. Who needs to be encouraged to vote at all? Poor people and young people. Who lacks a picture ID with a current address? Poor people, young people, and older people who don't drive.

It may not take the presence of troops to keep people from voting in the 21st century. Not with a bang but a whimper, as they say. But if an amendment like the one debated in our legislature this year does end up on the Minnesota ballot in 2012, I sure hope people use what may be their last chance to vote against it.

1 comment:

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Looks like we'll have lots of reasons to get out the vote in 2012. I love your last line.