With less than 100 cases of voter fraud prosecuted in the last 10 years, it wouldn’t seem to be a problem. So why are giant ClearChannel billboards in poorer and mixed community neighborhoods, typically Democratic neighborhoods, in swing states, suddenly festooned with threatening images promising huge fines and years of jail time for voter fraud?
ClearChannel was called out on this and after they spoke to the parties that paid for the signs, have begun to take them down. It was either that or reveal the identity of the “private family foundation.” Was it community-mindedness that put up those signs, or just a hope of intimidation? We’ll never know for sure, but when the the people who paid for them would rather not be identified, it makes us suspicious of their motives. When we look at where the signs were posted, it gets embarrassing for Republicans. Like we really needed more of that.
According to statical evidence death by lightning is more frequent that actual voter fraud. However, it seems to be part of the current mantra in the party to charge Democrats with thousands of illegal voter registrations. We are asked to assume that hordes of illegal immigrants and poor people are voting two and three times. The problem is that there is no proof of that, none whatsoever. Are there Election violations, sure. Are voting records sometimes inaccurate, sure. Do people routinely impersonate others in order to vote or vote multiple times, nope.
This assumption of fraud has been largely due to the concerted efforts of organizations like a group out of Texas called “True the Vote.” These “do-gooders” are mostly responsible for new voter ID laws in over 30 states. Voter ID sounds like a good idea, until you look at the details. If the state asks for a “government issued ID” then that usually means a driver’s license or a passport. As it turns out 11% of the legal voters in the US don’t have one. Among the over 65‘s it about 15%, with African Americans that figure rises to 25%. It’s not surprising if you live in a big city, you don’t have to drive. If you’re older you may well have let your license lapse. if you're a college student you may well only have your college ID.
This is what happened to my mother in law, and now that’s she’s in physical therapy after a hip operation, she’s probably not going to trot down to motor vehicles to get one. Imagine voting for 40 years and suddenly not being allowed to. There’s several other problems with the “government ID requirement.”
The first is Government IDs always cost money, effectively making it cost money to vote. Federal judges have ruled that that amounts to an illegal poll tax. If we really wanted to crack down on “Voter fraud” then why aren’t voter id’s free?
Second, since the passage of the National Voter registration act states are supposed to make voter registration much easier. Such as allowing citizens to register when they get their drivers licenses or by mail. Requiring an additional ID requirement at voting time seems to counter that idea. We want every legal voter to register and vote don’t we?
Third, elections are handled locally in the US. Voter rolls are local and kept to a manageably small size. Around here we sign the books at the polls every time we vote and the election people recognize just about everyone as far as I can tell. Do we need them to check IDs as well? What would that cost?
Moreover, If we really don’t have a problem with Voter fraud then why the big push for Voter ID’s? Do we really think an election of millions of votes can be swayed by several people trying to imitate someone else? Keep the voter rolls up to date, definitely, and do it accurately, sure. But why suffer the expense and intimidation of Voter ID laws for a problem that only exists in the imaginations of a very few conspiracy theorists? Why put the party behind that?
It is intimidating and inconvenient to be questioned or asked to present an ID. Recently the Pennsylvania Voter ID law was suspended because it was an undue burden on that state’s voters. The same thing happened in South Carolina. Both of these new laws were drafted and passed through the efforts of Republican legislators. The suspension probably vastly disappointed Pennsylvania’s Republican House leader Mike Turzai who had announced that the law would allow Romney to win the state. That’s not going to work out by the way, all the big campaign money gave up Pennsylvania in August. It’s definitely leaning Obama.
Over and over, it’s our party who is driving these suspicious practices. The Democrats may be complicit as well, but our party is the one we’re responsible for. More often than not it’s clearly Republicans who sue to have third candidates removed from the ballot, and enact restrictive voting laws such as requiring special ID’s, trying to shorten voting times or eliminate early voting. And all of these practices target traditionally Democratic voters like Hispanics, African Americans, students and older Americans.
No one knows who’s responsible for the signs, but we all have our suspicions. The question is, when we’re asking voters to hand us the reins of cities, States and the Federal government shouldn’t we start by letting them vote? If we really believe in Democracy, we should.
It’s important to note here that ClearChannel removed the signs after many complaints because they “violated our own internal policy standards.” Does ClearChannel sound familiar? It also owns the biggest Radio network in the US. They're owned by Bain capital and employ conservative radio hosts like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. They also own FOX news radio.