Bill Knight column for Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, 6-12, 13 or 14
Illinois’ House and Senate unanimously approved Automatic Voter Registration, which Gov. Rauner may sign since it indicates that his veto could be overridden. Also, the U.S. Supreme Court held that two North Carolina laws were unconstitutional. However, it’s taking a lawsuit in Georgia to seek transparent, verifiable voting in an upcoming special election, and the Oval Office Occupant appointed a sham commission to look into voter fraud led by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach – two poster boys for voter suppression.
“For too long Democrats and progressives have neglected the fundamentals of voting and election reform while the forces of dark money have perverted democracy,” said former Illinois State Rep. Michael Boland (D-East Moline). “The Koch Brothers and other billionaires from oil and hedge fund fortunes have been funding the Republican dominance of state governments, resulting in voter suppression laws aimed at cutting down registration and voting access for African-Americans, Latinos in some states, college students, the elderly and physically challenged, those low income of any race or ethnicity who don’t drive, and big city dwellers who depend on family or public transportation.”
There’s no proof of massive voter fraud, incidentally; no meaningful statistics, not even anecdotal evidence.
“Examination after examination of voter fraud claims reveal fraud is very rare, voter impersonation is nearly non-existent, and much of the problems associated with alleged fraud relates to unintentional mistakes by voters or election administrators,” says the Brennan Center for Justice, which reviewed elections that had been meticulously studied for voter fraud, and found incident rates between 0.0003 percent and 0.0025 percent.
“Election officials and leaders of the President’s own party also agree fraud is not widespread,” they add.
Indeed, Republican State Rep. Ken Rizer of Iowa last month conceded to the New York Times, “It is true that there isn’t widespread voter fraud,” adding, “but there is a perception that the system can be cheated.”
Yeah, thanks to exaggerations by the GOP.
So: The minscule chances of voter fraud are about like the risk of dying by a bee sting (1 in 6.1 million, accordng to the Harvard School of Public Health). Enacting burdensome voter requirements, then, is like mandating everyone to wear beekeepers’ protective gear.
Popular resistance and check-and-balance government oversight are necessary to protect the vote. Millions could be losing their right: Americans whose polling places are shut down, workers unable to vote early, former prisoners who served their sentences, etc.
Acts of voter suppression, like providing birth certificates, have consequences. For example, Donald Trump in November won Wisconsin by 27,000 votes, according to the Associated Press, which reported that 360,000 registered voters there lacked the required identification to even cast ballots.
In North Carolina, Republicans were smacked down when the Supreme Court denied a review of a lower court’s decision that a 2013 voter-ID law was unconstitutional, and also ruled that two Congressional Districts there were unconstitutionally racial gerrymanders. Both schemes were part of a well-funded national campaign to control electoral maps to the GOP’s advantage.
“Racially discriminatory laws have no place in our democracy,” said the Rev. William Barber, president of North Carolina’s NAACP.
Meanwhile, in Georgia, civic groups are demanding paper ballots in the June 20 election to replace U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Dist. 6), who’s now U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary – to avoid electronic voting machine problems like the April 18 primary seemed to have.
As for the new Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity established by edict May 11 – when Pence, Kobach, et. al, were assigned to “study the registration and voting processes” and report “vulnerabilities in voting systems” – even including Kobach is revealing.
Kobach was behind the Kansas rule (eventually blocked) to mandate new voters prove they are U.S. citizens; has said he believes three to five million illegal votes were cast last year; blocked 18,000 motor-voter applicants from registering in 2016; and promoted the notoriously “Crosscheck” program, which examined 84 million votes and found 14 incidents of duplicate registrations.
“We’re at a very dangerous moment for democracy,” said Ari Berman, author of “Give Us The Ballot.”
“Saving American democracy is the most urgent fight of the Trump era,” he added.
[PICTURED: Graphic from Moyers & Company.]