Rigging It For Romney

How the Republicans are using voter ID laws to steal the Presidency

by Gordon Campbell

The art of political spin is about ensuring the cats that the public suspect are in the bag, never actually see get to see daylight. Unfortunately for the Republican Party, its Pennsylvania state majority leader Mike Turzai recently exposed a very large political feline to the harsh glare of bad publicity. After listing the achievements of the Republican- dominated legislature at a gathering of the party faithful in June, Turzai couldn’t stop himself from adding:

First pro-life legislation – abortion facility regulations – in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

ID laws will serve to skew the Presidential race? In late July, this dodge was re-confirmed by Wisconsin senator Glenn Grothman who, in this interview affirmed his belief that in a tight race for the White House, the new voter identification laws would make the difference between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. Uh oh.

So these laws, which have been marketed by the Republican Party as an essential step to prevent electoral fraud are really about… suppressing the Democrat Party vote, putting Mitt Romney ahead in key swing states like Pennsylvania, and propelling him into the White House. In ten states at least, strict voter ID laws have already been – or are in the process of being – put in place by Republican-dominated state governments, alongside a range of other measures meant to suppress voter turnout in November’s presidential election.

By general consent, the voters most likely to be affected adversely by the new voting laws live in urban areas, and they tend to vote Democrat. “The evidence indicates that voter fraud is virtually non-existent,” Ohio senator Sherrod Brown told supporters in Cleveland in July, “and that these new laws will make it harder for hundreds of thousands of elderly, disabled, minority, young, rural and low-income Americans to exercise their right to vote.”

According to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, one in 10 Americans lack the necessary government-issued photo IDs that are now being required in a roster of states that include Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin :

Most of the new laws were passed by Republican-controlled legislatures, and the voting blocs that analysts say the laws are most likely to affect typically favor Democrats.

About one-quarter of African Americans, 16 percent of Hispanics and 18 percent of Americans over age 65 do not have the type of ID that the voting laws require, the Brennan Center report said.

More comprehensive Brennan Center research data on the impact of voter ID laws can be found here. As Keesha Gaskins (pictured left), senior counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program has pointed out, the new voting laws have been passed or are currently in train in states that control 127 Electoral College votes – nearly half the tally of 270 needed to win the Presidency.

The impact will be felt both nationally, and at the local level – since obviously, voters in November will be choosing their representatives at every level of the democratic process. Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Wisconsin has identified the likely victims in her home state of the new photo ID requirements in particular. “Remarkably, 23% of all elderly Wisconsinites do not have either a driver’s licence or a photo ID card issued by the state of Wisconsin.”

One reason being, a staggering number of Wisconsin residents of voting age do not have valid driver’s licences. As evidence of this, Moore cited a 2005 University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee study that had found 17% of all white men and women lack drivers licences, and the figure is worse among black Americans and Hispanics in Wisconsin: “55% of all African –American males, 49% of all African –American women 46% of all Hispanic men, 59% of all Hispanic women…And of course when you start talking about young people, 66% of all Africa-American women aged 18-24 don’t have drivers licences, and among African-American males aged 18-24, 78 % have no drivers licence.“

That situation recurs, with minor variations, across the entire United States. By imposing strict photo ID requirements., the new laws threaten to disenfranchise millions, and the inevitable challenges to produce valid ID on election day seem bound to create disruptions in polling booths from Texas to Pennsylvania to South Carolina. What is the rationale? Stamping out voter fraud is the most commonly offered justification. Yet there is scant evidence that any significant problem with voter fraud actually exists.

Voter fraud is in fact, almost entirely a Republican myth springing from a fixed belief that fraud and intimidation are rife in the impoverished, minority populated urban strongholds of the Democratic Party. Yet the modern evidence is almost completely lacking. For example: in the wake of the 2000 presidential election debacle in Florida, Congress turned its attention to issues of voter fraud and election day reforms. Subsequently, a bi-partisan preliminary survey in 2007 of the extent of voter fraud (and suggestions for further research) foundered in accusations that the report had been politically doctored after it had found little evidence of a widespread problem. The sorry details of this episode are contained in this Washington Post story by one of the survey’s two co-authors, Tova Wang:

According to Wang :

We said that our preliminary research found widespread agreement among administrators, academics and election experts from all points on the political spectrum that allegations of fraud through voter impersonation at polling places were greatly exaggerated. We noted that this position was supported by existing research and an analysis of several years of news articles. The commission chose instead to state that the issue was a matter of considerable debate.

The evidence continues to be lacking of any widespread incidence of voter impersonation and fraud. Moreover, the relatively rare cases that do exist are not of the sort that would be prevented by stricter voter photo ID laws, as columnist Eugene Robinson recently pointed out in the Washington Post:

There’s no fraud to eliminate. Prodded by GOP political activists, the Justice Department under Bush conducted an extensive, nationwide, five-year probe of voter fraud — and ended up convicting a grand total of 86 individuals, according to a 2007 New York Times report. Most of the cases involved felons or immigrants who may not have known they were ineligible to vote.

Not one case involved the only kind of fraud that voter ID could theoretically prevent: impersonation of a registered voter by someone else. Pennsylvania and other voter ID states have, in essence, passed laws that will be highly effective in eradicating unicorns.

The 2007 article in the New York Times that Robinson is talking about is available here.

In Florida, the evidence indicates that shark attacks are actually more common than voter fraud. In 2008, when Barack Obama was elected, there were 28 shark attacks in Florida but only 16 voter fraud cases.

Voter fraud seems equally as rare in Wisconsin. As Congresswoman Moore (pictued left) told a media briefing conference call conducted in conjunction with the Brennan Center in late June:

There was an exhaustive examination of these questions by Wisconsin’s Attorney – General with regard to the 2008 election …and what they found was about 20 instances of possible voter fraud. That is of people voting twice in one state or another and also in Wisconsin and other cases [that] having an ID would not have prevented. That’s twenty cases out of three million votes cast, or .0007 percent. That’s seven ten thousands of one per cent of the votes cast.”

As Moore added with heavy irony, some people would challenge whether that was a statistic significant enough to risk denying the right of so many to vote. Yet she can see the political incentive to do so. “Barack Obama won Milwaukee by 417,000 votes. This [voter ID] Bill in Wisconsin, we’re calculating, would disenfranchise 425,000 votes.” At time of writing, a court injunction against the Wisconsin voter ID laws is being heard in court, and the injunction is itself being challenged. In the meantime, the laws cannot be signed into effect by Governor Scott Walker. “But if those laws were in place in 2008,’ Moore says, ‘there is a very good chance that the 10 electoral votes from Wisconsin would have gone to John McCain.”

Of course, if any reader of Werewolf also happens to watch Fox News regularly (it could happen) they will know the mythology that voter fraud is rampant among the Democratic Party urban strongholds is based on the case of ACORN – a voter registration organization that signed up some voters fraudulently during its registration drives prior to the 2008 election.

Lets get this one straight. Yes, some ACORN workers were convicted of submitting false voter registration forms in 2005, 2006 and 2007. However all – repeat all – these examples involved workers who had been hired by ACORN then falsifying forms to get paid for work they hadn’t done. (ie, if anyone was being scammed here it was not the voting system but ACORN itself, by the people it had hired in good faith.) For a few unscrupulous people, making up names was easier than pounding the streets and signing up real voters. Yet there is no evidence of busloads of fake voters or any kind of ACORN-hatched plot to get fake voters to the polls.

As Pennsylvania newspaper columnist Bill White pointed out here, such failings are nothing new. “Registration drives targeting Republicans and Democrats have been accused of similar excesses over the years.” In any case, the faked ACORN-type registrations would have been picked up by the old system. As White says:

“In fact, newly registered voters in Pennsylvania or those voting in a new location already had to produce identification under the old election law, so Mickey Mouse or other fake registrants [a la ACORN] would have been out of luck.” In sum, the new laws are not about catching out the paltry number of impersonators nationwide, hellbent on cheating the voting system. They’re about making it as hard as possible for certain groups in society to vote at all.

Given how high the stakes are, you might reasonably expect that meddling with the right to vote would be being denounced as a constitutional outrage, coast to coast. After all, try to restrict free speech and Americans tend to be highly vocal about defending their First Amendment protections under the US Constitution. Similarly when it comes to owning guns, many Americans (backed by the lobbying clout of the NRA) can be relied on to rally around the Second Amendment right of private militia to bear arms. Yet the right to vote – the very cornerstone of a democracy – does not seem to arouse the same level of patriotic fervour.

Again, that seems surprising, given that the right to vote was a foundation theme of the War of Independence (no taxation without representation!) and of the Civil War, and of the civil rights movement and of the 70 years of struggle by the suffragette movement to win women the right to vote. All these struggles involved blood and sacrifice, and the rights that were won so dearly are now enshrined in several places within the US Constitution.

For instance: the 14th Amendment promises equal protection under the law, the 15th amendment provides former slaves and those of any race with the right to vote, the 19th amendment protects the right of women to vote, the 24th amendment guarantees that no poll taxes can be charged for the right to vote, and the 26th amendment provides that all those enlisted in the armed forces who are aged 18 years old and who can be dispatched to die in wars also have the right to vote. Which means that there is – or should be – a heavy onus of proof on those promoting new voter ID laws to demonstrate that grave cause exists for putting such basic constitutional rights in jeopardy.

When it comes to some of the states now promoting voter ID laws, the US federal government is well aware of their bloody history of denying and frustrating the right to vote for some racial and linguistic minorities. For that reason, the procedure for changing voting laws is encoded in Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which requires that any voting law changes in certain states must be vetted beforehand – the legal term is “pre-cleared” – by the federal Department of Justice, before they can be allowed to pass into effect.

Before going on to summarise the current position with regard to voting law changes (and the tally of pre-clearance requests) across the United States, one obvious sticking point probably needs to be dealt with first. Those who defend the recent rash of voter ID laws routinely point out that asking voters to present a valid state-issued photo ID is no different from what is required when people are (a) boarding a plane or (b) buying stuff from a liquor store. So, what’s the big deal?

Again, Congresswoman Moore offers an eloquent response to that argument. “You hear proponents of [these] laws say well, what’s wrong with having a voter ID? After all, you need an ID to get on an airplane. After all, you need an ID to get cough medicine from the drugstore. You need a photo ID to go to the bank. Well, you don’t need to be middle class to vote. But you do need to be middle class to ride on an airplane.”

Moore continues: “You need to be aged 21 to have a drink or go to a liquor store. But of course unfortunately, as I’ve told my children, drinking is not a right. It is a privilege that is earned through adulthood. Voting is a right. It is not a privilege. So basically what you hear through the proponents is that there are some sort of voters who should be disqualified from voting. Those people who are disorganised, and who are not middle class enough to have their birth certificate, or who are too poor to send off to another state for their birth certificate – perhaps they’re people who are homeless, and do not necessarily have an address, and so shouldn’t be able to vote.”

That attitude, she says, is simply wrong. “The right to vote does not exclude people who don’t have these types of identification. And it is a poll tax, in our opinion, to pay the $20 [or more] to replace a lost or destroyed birth certificate.” In the cases she has seen in Milwaukee, some people have had to spend hundreds of dollars to correct mistakes and errors on their birth certificates. Among people from poor neighbourhoods, many were born at home or in Afro-American hospitals where reliable records were not kept, or have been lost.

Many people, she adds, are US citizens born in Puerto Rico who cannot get the required form of ID because of a history of inadequate record keeping in Puerto Rico. “Right now,” Moore concludes, “Latinos seem to be the much sought after constituency of both President Obama and Governor Romney. To the extent that there exists a huge gap among Latinos for President Obama, the only alternative [for the Republicans] is to disenfranchise them. Because all the evidence is that Latinos are one of the groups that don’t have this form of ID.”

Moreover, as Keesha Gaskins of the Brennan Center has pointed out, there are some parts of America – she cites rural Tennessee – where the facilities to issue documentary evidence of identity exist only in every other county. As the Brennan Center report linked to above points out:

…More than 10 million eligible voters live more than 10 miles from the nearest full-time state ID-issuing office. About 500,000 of them do not have access to a vehicle, and most live in rural areas with limited public transportation, the report said.

This problem is particularly acute in Texas, which in 2011 passed a tough new voter ID law where only certain types of ID would be accepted : namely, driver’s licences and state-issued identification cards, military IDs, citizenship certificates (with photos), passports, and handgun licenses. The problem being :

Eighty-one of the 254 counties [in Texas] lack offices that issue driver’s licenses. In rural areas, the gap between Hispanics and non-Hispanics who have necessary ID is “particularly stark.” The Department of Justice [DoJ] also argued that the state’s own data showed that Latinos were significantly less likely to have identification; all in all, the Department estimated that at least 600,000 disproportionately minority voters could be disenfranchised

Subsequently (see below) the DoJ has rejected the Texas voter ID laws, but the Texas state government has challenged the DoJ ruling in court in hearings that began on July 9th. Those July proceedings (the final ruling is not due until September) led to a surreal debate in court as to whether making voters drive 100 miles to amass the necessary documentation might not pose a significant hurdle to voting, and/or might constitute a form of poll tax – which has been the term deliberately used by US Attorney-General Eric Holder to condemn the new ID law in Texas.

Nossir, the counsel for Texas insisted, in this exchange with a clearly sceptical judge:

On Friday morning, Judge Robert L. Wilkins looked out across the packed courtroom at the lawyer for Texas and suggested that the state’s voter ID law would force some people to travel more than 100 miles to get the documents required for a photo identification “How does that impact your argument?” asked Wilkins. “Isn’t that unduly burdensome?”

John Hughes, the state’s attorney, said Texans in rural areas are used to driving long distances.

The potential impact of the voter ID laws – and the likelihood that they pose a bigger threat to democracy than the impersonation fraud they are meant to deter – is beginning to sink in. Belatedly, cases like Ruthelle Frank (pictured left), an 84 year old voter born at home in 1927, who has voted in every election since 1948, and who has never before needed a birth certificate, are getting media attention:

Some states with voter ID laws don’t charge for the IDs themselves, but many citizens have to pay for the documentation required to get a voter ID. For instance, an 84-year-old Wisconsin woman named Ruthelle Frank, who has voted in every election since Truman defeated Dewey, faced a $200 fee to get a copy of her birth certificate, which she needed to get a voter ID under her state’s new law. Facing such a steep price, 2012 may be the first year that Frank can’t vote.

The Frank case was not an isolated one. Dorothy Cooper, a 96 year old Tennessee woman was initially denied her request for a voter ID because her documentation package hadn’t included her marriage licence, to confirm her change of surname since her birth in 1915 (The photo ID issued to her by local police as part of their senior citizens service had been deemed insufficient under the new voter ID law). It has only been since these cases got publicised that the bureaucrats have scrambled to assist the individuals concerned. However, the underlying problem (that such cases merely highlight) remains.

The invisible millions at risk of being disenfranchised in November will miss out unless the Democratic Party and civil liberties groups can divert sufficient funds and activists into ensuring that the poor, the elderly, students, Hispanics and Afro-Americans are enabled to surmount the hurdles to voting that are being deliberately put in their path. While some states have made efforts to make ID issuance facilities available online, the elderly are generally less able – given the nature of the digital divide – to take up that option. For obvious reasons, many of the poor also do not possess the technology (ie they don’t have printer/scanners in their homes) to scan and email in the necessary information. In this context, the Web is a middle class luxury, and not a democratic safety net.

In previous elections, what has been the situation? Well, states have always varied in the kinds of identification they have required on election day. A full list of the various terms and conditions for voter identification in the US can be found here, on the National Council of State Legislatures website .

In the past, any form of ID such as a driver’s licence or library card would often do, and in some states, a current utility bill, a paycheck or other document that includes your name and street address will still be sufficient. Clearly, the homeless have always been at a disadvantage in that respect.

The first highly restrictive laws – ie, that require a state-issued or federally issued photo ID – only began to emerge as recently as 2005, with the passing in Indiana of a strict photo ID law. The constitutionality of the Indiana law was challenged in court, but subsequently affirmed by the Supreme Court in 2008. Surprisingly, that 2008 verdict saw the Court’s then most liberal justice (John Paul Stevens – pictured left) not only side with the conservatives and with perennial centrist Anthony Kennedy, but Stevens himself wrote the majority opinion.

This landmark Supreme Court ruling has given the green light for other states to follow suit. Which only makes it all the more regrettable that the ruling appears to have been based on incorrect figures for those in Indiana who were being placed at risk of being disenfranchised, as this 2008 article in the New York Review of Books points out:

In a 6–3 decision in April written by John Paul Stevens, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board , the Supreme Court upheld a 2005 Indiana law requiring voters in that state to produce a government document with a photograph at the polls. In practical terms, this meant a passport or a driver’s license. Since less than a third of adults have a passport, the Indiana case focused largely on how many adults lack a license to drive. During oral arguments, several justices pressed the plaintiff’s lawyer for an answer. For reasons I cannot fathom, he kept using the number 43,000, for a state whose voting-age population is 4.6 million. In fact, the Federal Highway Administration, in an easily obtained report, says that 673,926 adult residents of Indiana have no license, which works out to a not trivial 14.7 percent of the state’s potential electorate. Had that percentage been stressed, we can conjecture that Justices Stevens and Anthony Kennedy might have shifted their position.

Well, that’s water under the bridge now. At the time of writing, the current situation with respect to voter ID laws looks like this:

1. Those states that have that have new ID laws fully in effect; Pennsylvania, Kansas and Tennessee. Wisconsin’s law was also put into effect but has been since challenged in court – and two different actions have temporarily (at least) halted the law. Those cases are ongoing, and are on appeal, leaving it uncertain as to whether the Wisconsin law will be in effect in time for the 2012 election.

2. Those states engaged in pre-clearance motions. Mississippi and Alabama have passed restrictive voter laws this year and both have sought pre-clearance approval under Section 5 provisions of the Voting Rights Act. to ensure the laws do not discriminate against racial or linguistic minorities. Mississippi’s law could potentially go into effect for 2012, but Alabama’s law would not, even if it is pre-cleared.

Virginia passed another restrictive voting law, but it has not submitted the law to the DoJ for pre-clearance. Given that the DoJ has by law, 60 days to carry out pre-clearance, Virginia’s timeframe for submittal is getting pretty tight, if it aims to enact the law and initiate voter education programmes in time.

South Carolina and Texas have both submitted their laws for pre-clearance. In both cases, the DoJ refused pre-clearance and both states have exercised their right to ask the courts to make a fresh determination as to whether in fact, the laws will be prejudicial. As mentioned the Texas proceedings began on July 9 and a decision is not likely until September. The South Carolina hearing will begin on July 30.

So far in this article I’ve focussed on new photo ID requirements as a technique for suppressing the vote. This is not the only method that the Republicans are using. In Florida for instance, highly complex compliance rules have recently been passed by the Republican dominated state legislature in order to inhibit organizations from helping citizens to register to vote. Jill Cicciarelli , a schoolteacher who set up a table at her high school to help students register to vote, has faced a $1,000 fine for doing so.

The paperwork and financial penalties involved with the new voter registration regulations can only serve as a deterrent to any organised attempt to help people enrol to vote:

To comply with this new law, even before setting up a voter registration table in the school auditorium, Ms. Cicciarelli would have had to register online with the state as a “third party voter registration organization,” and to sign an affidavit warning her about all the possible felonies involved in voter registration. She would also have had to ensure that each of the students who were helping her with the drive signed that affidavit, so that she could submit their affidavits to the state. She would then have had to wait for the state to assign her a special number. Once she got the number, that number would have had to be stamped or written on all the forms she used for her drive. At that point, she could have set up her table to help students register to vote. But that’s not all. She would also have had to track the forms that she and her student volunteers handed out so that she could report to the state each month what happened to those forms, whether or not they were used for voter registration. And after helping students fill out registration forms, she would have had to ensure that each form reached state election officials within 48 hours, no matter how far in advance it was of an election. If she was even a minute late, she would face a $50 fine per form.

This is hardly a prescription for encouraging civic activity and voting. As you might imagine, the effect of this law has been just the opposite. It has caused the Florida League of Women Voters, which has been registering voters for over 70 years, and other groups across the state to shut down their voter registration drives completely.

In a recent issue, the Economist pointed to a related technique in Florida to deter minority voters – namely, by purging some of them from the electoral rolls and threatening with prosecution anyone who may still be unsure about their status if they dare to vote in November. In June, this led to a rebellion by county elections supervisors who refused to proceed with the purge “because nearly all of them don’t trust the accuracy of a list of nearly 2,700 potential non-citizens identified by the state’s elections office.”

The supervisors’ concerns seem well founded. As the Economist reported, of those 2,700 potential non-citizens, 87% of them happened to be minorities. Around 500 actually turned out to be fully naturalized citizens and only 40 people were duly removed from the rolls. The U.S. Department of Justice has ordered [Florida] to stop the purge. Again, the prime motive for the purge appears to have less to do with detecting widespread fraud, and more about fostering a fear of prosecution among the poor and those from racial and linguistic minorities if they dared to vote.

In perennial swing states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, other methods have been tried by Republican legislatures. Last year Ohio passed two voter ID laws that in addition to tighter voter ID requirements also (a) forbade untargeted mailouts of absentee voting forms and (b) freed polling booth employees from any obligation to tell citizens that they were voting in the wrong precinct on election day (and thus invalidating their vote) even if the employee could see that they were.

When outraged Ohioans pressed for a referendum on those laws – and the resulting ruckus threatened to increase, rather than reduce voter turnout – the Republicans backtracked, and the controversial laws were partially repealed in May although a restriction on absentee voting during the three days before election day will still remain. This restriction could still prove to be significant, given that between 90,000 – 100, 000 people – or around 19% of the entire vote in Ohio – used that method during the 2008 election. In July, the Obama administration filed suit against the state of Ohio in order to overturn this residual restriction on absentee voting.

Finally, is there any reliable way of estimating how these various attempts by the Republicans to suppress voter turnout are likely to effect the election result? It should be kept in mind that while the Brennan Center estimates that some 5 million people could be disfranchised by the new voting laws (and 3.2 million of them by the new photo ID laws alone) these figures refer only to those eligible to vote. There is no way of knowing how many of those affected – or potentially affected – would have cast a ballot on election day.

In addition, many of the Republican-dominated state legislatures that have passed these voter suppression laws have long had a history of disenfranchisement of minorities – which is why the likes of Texas, South Carolina etc still face the “pre-clearance” requirement by the Department of Justice in the first place. For obvious reasons, such states have also tended to be in the “red state” column of Republican leaning states, with or without the help of voter suppression laws.

Also, as the political statistician Nate Silver has pointed out, some studies have claimed that education is going to be more important than race in assessing the impact of the voter suppression laws. In which case, white voters without college degrees – a social group that tends to vote Republican – could also be disenfranchised

In the column in the New York Times though, Silver concludes that, on balance, Democrats are likely to fare worst from the recet slate of ID laws. How badly? “I estimate this will reduce turnout by about 2.4 percent as a share of registered voters. And based on my formula to convert changes in turnout to changes in the popular vote, I estimate that this would reduce President Obama’s margin against Mitt Romney by a net of 1.2 percentage points.” His conclusion: bad, but not as bad as some Democrats and media reports suggest and potentially, an outrage that Democrats can possibly use, to rally their base.

Besides the moral issues involved in disenfranchising anyone at all… the main impact of these voting laws and regulations will be felt in the so-called swing states. There is no doubt that the perennial battleground states of Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania fall into that category. Yet the impact may well go wider.

In an election as close as November threatens to be, voter ID laws could swing the outcome in states such as Wisconsin. As this recent report indicates, there is reason for thinking that the current court action over Wisconsin’s voter ID laws could decide the election outcome in the state in November:

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) carried Wisconsin by just 0.4 percent in 2004; polls this year suggest it could be another nailbiter. PPP [polling firm] gives President Obama a 6-point edge, 50-44, but Rasmussen put Romney ahead by 3 points, 47-44.

Approximately 300,000 Wisconsinites lack a government-issued photo ID, more than 27 times the margin that Kerry won by in 2004. If the polls are still close in November and voter ID is reinstated, [ Republican Senator Glenn]Grothman may very well be correct that the new law will give Romney an edge on Election Day.

What we do know is that between now and November, the Democratic Party – and organisations such as the American Council for Civil Liberties – will be forced to divert resources and activists to the multiple tasks involved in complying with the new voting laws. The Democrats will have to mobilize (and train) large numbers of polling day observers to ensure that polling booth ID challenges to their voters are resolved fairly. The Republicans already have a polling booth observer force, called True to Vote. During the recent failed recall election in Wisconsin against Governor Scott Walker, the activities of True To Vote were reportedly focused on minority populations, and on Hispanics in particular.

Even if they succeed merely in forcing the Democrats to divert resources and guard this particular flank, the voter ID laws will have served the cause of the Republicans admirably. Such is the centre-right’s hatred for Barack Obama, the Republican Party appear more than willing to destroy democracy, in order to save it.

ENDS

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