Blocking the Vote: A Look at Who Is Behind Republican Efforts to Erect Voting Barriers in America

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

Last December, the NAACP released a report titled Defending Democracy: Confronting Modern Barriers to Voting Rights in America. The report reveals “direct connections between the trend of increasing, unprecedented African American and Latino voter turnout and an onslaught of restrictive measures across the country designed to stem electoral strength among communities of color.”

Benjamin Jealous, NAACP President and CEO, said, “It’s been more than a century since we’ve seen such a tidal wave of assaults on the right to vote. Historically, when voting rights are attacked, it’s done to facilitate attacks on other rights. It is no mistake that the groups who are behind this are simultaneously attacking very basic women’s rights, environmental protections, labor rights, and educational access for working people and minorities.” He added, “Voting rights attacks are the flip side of buying a democracy. First you buy all the leaders you can, and then you suppress as many votes as possible of the people who might object.”

I should add that African American and Latino voters aren’t the only people who are being targeted by the “block the vote” effort. Young people and the elderly in some states may also face hurdles if they hope to exercise their right to vote in the November elections.

From the NAACP report:

 “The heart of the modern block the vote campaign is a wave of restrictive government-issued photo identification requirements. In a coordinated effort, legislators in thirty-four states introduced bills imposing such requirements. Many of these bills were modeled on legislation drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)—a conservative advocacy group whose founder explained: ‘Our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.’”

In a Nation article titled The Koch Brothers, ALEC and the Savage Assault on Democracy, John Nichols addresses the issue of ALEC’s involvement in the “block the vote” effort:

For the Koch brothers and their kind, less democracy is better. They fund campaigns with millions of dollars in checks that have helped elect the likes of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Ohio Governor John Kasich. And ALEC has made it clear, through its ambitious “Public Safety and Elections Task Force,” that while it wants to dismantle any barriers to corporate cash and billionaire bucks’ influencing elections, it wants very much to erect barriers to the primary tool that Americans who are not CEOs have to influence the politics and the government of the nation: voting.

That crude calculus, usually cloaked in bureaucracy and back-room dealmaking, came into full view in 2011.

Across the country, and to a greater extent than at any time since the last days of Southern resistance to desegregation, voting rights were being systematically diminished rather than expanded.

ALEC has been organizing and promoting the assault, encouraging its legislative minions to enact rigid Voter ID laws and related attacks on voting rights in more than three dozen states.

With their requirements that the millions of Americans who lack driver’s licenses and other forms of official paperwork go out and purchase identification cards in order to cast ballots, the Voter ID push put in place new variations on an old evil: the poll tax.

Some states are becoming extremely selective about the types of voter ID’s that they will accept at the polls. Take Texas, for example: In the Lone Star State, you’ll be allowed to vote if you present a military ID or a concealed-gun license—but not if you present your college ID.

Democrats have argued that the enactment of these new restrictive voter laws was politically motivated.  They have claimed that groups that tend to vote Democratic—the elderly, the young, minorities, and the poor—include many people who lack photo ID’s.

Last October, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University released a report about the new voting laws and how they could affect the 2012 elections. Here is an excerpt from the report’s summary:

State governments across the country enacted an array of new laws making it harder to register or to vote. Some states require voters to show government-issued photo identification, often of a type that as many as one in ten voters do not have. Other states have cut back on early voting, a hugely popular innovation used by millions of Americans. Two states reversed earlier reforms and once again disenfranchised millions who have past criminal convictions but who are now taxpaying members of the community. Still others made it much more difficult for citizens to register to vote, a prerequisite for voting.

These new restrictions fall most heavily on young, minority, and low-income voters, as well as on voters with disabilities. This wave of changes may sharply tilt the political terrain for the 2012 election. Based on the Brennan Center’s analysis of the 19 laws and two executive actions that passed in 14 states, it is clear that:

  • These new laws could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012.
  • The states that have already cut back on voting rights will provide 171 electoral votes in 2012 – 63 percent of the 270 needed to win the presidency.
  • Of the 12 likely battleground states, as assessed by an August Los Angeles Times analysis of Gallup polling, five have already cut back on voting rights (and may pass additional restrictive legislation), and two more are currently considering new restrictions.

Is this what our legislators and others who have been elected to represent us should be working on—writing and enacting laws that will make it more difficult for some citizens to vote?

From the ACLU’s Oppose Voter Registration Fact Sheet:


  • Nothing is more fundamental to our democracy than the right to vote.
  • The right to vote is protected by more constitutional amendments – the 1st, 14th, 15th, 19th, 24th and 26th – than any other right we enjoy as Americans.
  • There are additional federal and state statutes which guarantee and protect voting rights, as well as declarations by the Supreme Court that the right to vote is fundamental because it is protective of all our other rights.

We have heard a lot about voter fraud in the past couple of years. So…one has to ask: “How big a problem is voter fraud in this country?” An editorial that appeared in the New York Times last fall says that there is actually little voter fraud in America—and that “none of the lawmakers who claim there is have ever been able to document any but the most isolated cases.” The Times editorial also suggested that Republicans are passing these restrictive voter laws in order “to give themselves a political edge by suppressing Democratic votes”

Would you describe these attempts by politicians to disenfranchise voters in this country as un-American? Do you think it’s an attack on democracy?


Defending Democracy: Confronting Modern Barriers to Voting Rights in America (NAACP)

A Report by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. & the NAACP (PDF)

Block the Vote: How the Koch-Backed American Legislative Exchange Council Aims to Keep You from Voting (AFL-CIO)

NAACP Denounces Role of ALEC in “Jim Crow, Esquire” Voting Laws (PRWatch)

Voting Law Changes in 2012 (Brennan Center for Justice, New York University School of Law)

The Koch Brothers, ALEC and the Savage Assault on Democracy (The Nation)

ALEC Exposed: Rigging Elections (The Nation)

The GOP War on Democracy: How Conservatives Shamelessly Disenfranchise People Who Vote Democrat: Across the country, state legislatures and governors are pushing laws that seek to restrict access to the voting booth (Alternet)

New Hampshire GOP Speaker Discourages Students From Voting Because They’ll Vote ‘Liberal’ (ThinkProgress)

Students hit by voter ID restrictions (Politico)

GOP War on Voting: AG Holder Joins the Fight (Rolling Stone)

The Myth of Voter Fraud (New York Times)

“There Is Almost No Voter Fraud in America.” (ACLU)

Oppose Voter ID Legislation – Fact Sheet (ACLU)

Who Stole the Election?: Dominating many state legislatures, Republicans have launched a full-on assault on voting rights (Prospect)

105 thoughts on “Blocking the Vote: A Look at Who Is Behind Republican Efforts to Erect Voting Barriers in America

  1. “Voting rights attacks are the flip side of buying a democracy. First you buy all the leaders you can, and then you suppress as many votes as possible of the people who might object.” – Benjamin Jealous, NAACP President and CEO


  2. “Voting rights attacks are the flip side of buying a democracy. First you buy all the leaders you can, and then you suppress as many votes as possible of the people who might object.” – Benjamin Jealous, NAACP President and CEO

    And then you institute a method of voting subject to manipulation and hacking that is unverifiable. It’s a three prong attack. HAVA was a Bush program.

  3. The War on Drugs has been taken to new heights by the current administration, a government policy that has disqualified hundreds of thousands (and perhaps millions) of minorities from voting for life. It is far more consequential than the voter ID policies decried here.

  4. “As ALEC’s chair for Wisconsin, Vos was doing what was expected of him. Enacting burdensome photo ID or proof of citizenship requirements has long been an ALEC priority. ALEC and its sponsors have an enduring mission to pass laws that would make it harder for millions of Americans to vote, impose barriers to direct democracy and let big money flow more freely into campaigns.”

    Put any states name instead of Wisconsin that is trying to pass these laws and you have the same motive and result.

    Per your link.

  5. It is vital to pay close attention to anything that is happening at the state level for it is there that our individual rights and freedoms are most vulnerable.

  6. Great job Elaine. We talk about a lot of “wars”, but the war on voting could be the most serious. If the Republicans can prevent people from voting, the sky is the limit to the damage they will cause. Rep. Lewis is exactly correct. It is a new poll tax aimed at those who can’t afford it.

  7. EMW1,

    Good question. Maybe we citizens should start by looking at where our state legislators are getting templates for their legislation…and at which of our state representatives attend the ALEC conferences.


    Corporate interests fuel group’s desire to shape Va. legislation, critics say
    By Anita Kumar, Published: December 27

    RICHMOND — In recent years, Virginia legislators have proposed bills that would legalize the use of deadly force in defending your home, call for companies that hire illegal immigrants to be shut down and give businesses tax credits to fund private school tuition for needy students.

    All of those bills — and more than 50 others — have been pushed by a conservative group that ghostwrites bills for legislators across the nation, according to a study set to be released in the coming days.

    In many instances, the bills are identical to model legislation written by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a pro-business, free-market group whose members include legislators as well as private companies, which pay thousands of dollars to have a seat at the table.

    ALEC, as the group is known, has seen seven of its bills passed by the Virginia General Assembly, including measures on education, taxes and health care, according to the study, conducted by the liberal group ProgressVA. One of the resulting laws laid the groundwork for Virginia’s legal challenge of the federal health-care law passed in 2010.

    And for the coming legislative session, the first bill introduced in the Senate is an ALEC bill that changes voter requirements — forcing registered voters to cast provisional ballots if they cannot provide identification.

    Critics say the group’s low profile cloaks an ambitious agenda driven by corporate interests.

    “The American Legislative Exchange Council, a secretive organization funded by big corporations, has been writing bills that Virginia legislators are passing off as their own work on everything from education to health care to voting rights,” said Anna Scholl, executive director of ProgressVA.

    Interest groups of all stripes seek to shape legislation, and many of the most influential have a strong hand in writing bills brought before state legislatures and Congress. But ALEC is notable for the range of issues on which it helps craft legislation and for the influence it has accrued, aided by a run of GOP electoral victories in Virginia and by the presence of a former ALEC chairman in the House speaker’s chair.


    Occupy ALEC in Arizona: Fight Corporate Influence In State Laws
    by Kristina Chew
    November 29, 2011

    ALEC will be in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Wednesday, and so will Arizonans determined to shut down the group’s “States and Nation Policy Summit.” ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization with approximately $6.5 million in annual revenue. ALEC describes itself as a “nonpartisan national association of state legislators” and does count about 2,000 legislators (nearly one-third of state legislators) among its members — but these are almost all Republican. ALEC’s other members include some 300 corporations:, BP, AT&T, Chevron, UPS, Wall-Mart, Fed-Ex, Visa, TimeWarner, just to name a few whom you very likely patronize.

    Two progressive advocacy groups including the Washington D.C,-based People for the American Way Foundation have released a report that shows just how deeply ALEC has entwined itself in Arizona’s legislature. The report, “ALEC in Arizona: The Voice of Corporate Special Interests in the Halls of Arizona’s Legislature,” points out that nearly 50 Arizona lawmakers belong to ALEC:

    Arizona corporations that provide financial support to ALEC include the Salt River Project, Taser International, and Pinnacle West Capital Corp., the parent company of Arizona Public Services Co., the state’s largest utility company.

    “There’s no way ordinary citizens can match the level of access and influence that ALEC provides to these corporations,” Baker said. “So Arizonans are subjected to laws that serve the interests of the rich and powerful.”

    In the report are side-by-side comparisons of dozens of “model bills” that were created at ALEC conferences and actual bills that have appeared in the Arizona legislature. ALEC officials indeed note that 19 out of 36 such “model bills” introduced into the Arizona legislature have become law. ALEC spokeswoman Kaitlyn Buss describes ALEC as a “resource” for legislators, though one with an admittedly particular focus, on promoting “free market, limited government and federalism (ideals).”

    ALEC’s “model” legislation indeed has particular traits: It is anti-immigration, anti-union, and anti-federal health-care reform initiatives. You can thank ALEC for the growth of the private prison industry and for the continued attempts to privatize government functions, from public schools, utilities and transportation to the “regulation of public health, consumer safety and environmental quality.” Arizona corporations that support ALEC include Taser International and the Pinnacle West Capital Corp.,which is the parent company of the state’s largest utility company, Arizona Public Services Co.. ALEC also receives significant funding from the Charles Koch Foundation (CFK) and other hard-right groups.

  8. Elaine,
    The discussion of ALEC is all about money. The Koch Brothers and others who are trying to overthrow our democracy are flooding the states with money for the legislatures to do the work for them. .

  9. Can government demand that flyers show ID when traveling?

    Can government require issuance of a picture ID in order to drive a car?

    Can government compel patients to show ID when picking up narcotic prescriptions? Or just buying a decongestant?

    Can the government postal service require ID when picking up a package?

    Can government compel ID checks when purchasing alcohol?

    Can government demand ID to issue a marriage license?

    Does voter fraud disenfranchise legitimate voters?

  10. rafflaw,

    Meet the Influencers: The American Legislative Exchange Council

    This year’s legislative session is already underway and lawmakers are hurrying to put their bills forward for consideration. And where there are lawmakers, there are interest groups. The groups and their lobbyists can be tremendously effective in steering — or killing — legislation, so we’re helping you get familiar with them. Learn about the most important groups and individuals influencing your lawmakers with our series, “Meet the Influencers.” First up …

    The American Legislative Exchange Council

    The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, is not a lobbying firm, but it has quite a bit of influence at the capitol. It’s an organization that brings together right-leaning businesses and legislators from statehouses all over the country. They meet at a series of annual conferences to, among other things, hammer out model bills to be introduced into state legislatures.

    Indiana Legislators Connected To ALEC

    Many ALEC members are lawmakers. Indiana House Education Committee Chair Robert Behning’s resumé boasts of having held leadership positions within the group. And several organizations reported on Indiana State Superintendent Tony Bennett’s keynote address at a ALEC convention in Phoenix, AZ earlier this year. At the same conference, Indiana State Representative Dave Frizzell was appointed national chairman of the organization. The Evansville Courier Journal has a specific list of other Indiana legislators either working on or leading ALEC task forces.

    State Sen. Jim Buck, R-Kokomo, meanwhile, chairs ALEC’s tax and fiscal policy committee. State Rep. David Wolkins, R-Winona Lake, chairs its energy, environment and agriculture committee.

    In all, nine of the 150 members of the Indiana General Assembly attended the summit. About 20 more Indiana Republican legislators are members of ALEC but did not attend.

    What Did They Do Last Session?

    Lawmaker membership in ALEC has led to real legislative results. A recent report from the blog School Matters points to strong similarities between Indiana’s new voucher law and a piece of model legislation drafted by ALEC. They share a name — the ALEC written draft suggested the term “Choice Scholarship,” and the Indiana law is called the “Choice Scholarship” program. And the income limits for families wanting to participate proposed in the model legislation are also similar to the limits included in Indiana’s actual law.

    ALEC is not the only organization writing model legislation. The practice has been common for decades. The Anti-Defamation League, The World Health Organization, ProEnglish, The Marijuana Policy Project and countless other interest groups all draft this kind of material.

    But one of the major differences between ALEC and these organizations is that the group is not legally involved in lobbying. According to a report from NPR and Internal Revenue Service records, the American Legislative Exchange Council is nominally a 501c3 nonprofit. They are therefore not required to disclose who funds their conferences and who makes contributions to lawmakers through their organization. The NPR report goes on to say that conferences hosted by ALEC are often lavish affairs attended by major corporations which lawmakers are under no legal obligation to report as gifts or donations.

    Videos and photos from one recent ALEC conference show banquets, open bar parties and baseball games — all hosted by corporations. Tax records show the group spent $138,000 to keep legislators’ children entertained for the week.

    But the legislators don’t have to declare these as corporate gifts.

  11. ALEC leads the way to corporate governance
    By Nancy Lindsay

    Who’s writing the laws? ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, is writing the laws. ALEC is described in the Nation magazine as “the Nation’s largest, non-partisan, individual public private membership association of state legislators” and is made up of 2,000 legislators and 300 corporate members.

    The Washington Spectator reports ALEC is the single largest source of pro-corporate anti-regulatory legislation in the country, and describes them as a “corporate funded corporate bill-mill, cross dressing as an association of state legislators.” The Nation wrote ”dozens of corporations are investing millions of dollars a year to write business-friendly legislation that is being made into law in statehouses coast to coast, with no regard to the public interest” says Bob Edgar of Common Cause.”

    According to the Washington Spectator, ALEC was founded in 1973 by a small right wing group of activists and elected officials such as Paul Weyrich, who with help from brewing magnate Joseph Coors, set up the Heritage Foundation. Buz Lukens another founder lost his seat in 1990 after being convicted of paying a 16 year old girl for sex. And Woody Jenkins whose campaign commission paid a fine for filing false disclosure forms while Tony Perkins (now director of the Christian right Family Research Council) was his campaign manager.

    The Nation also reports bills introduced in Virginia, Maryland, Arizona, Kansas, Oregon, Illinois and South Carolina, mirror the ALEC model’s with some state’s bill coming directly from ALEC written legislation. Stacks of new ALEC inspired laws passed in Ohio and Wisconsin with both governors former ALEC alums. Voter ID is an ALEC agenda with 33 states introducing voter ID laws. And the Nation magazine states-“Corporate donors retain veto power over the language, which is developed by the secretive task forces”.

    The Spectator lists some of the corporations supporting ALEC as Koch Industries; Exxon-Mobil; Wal-Mart; AT&T Services; and GlaxoSmithKline. ALEC’s private enterprise board includes Exxon-Mobil; Koch Industries; Entergy, and Peabody Coal.

    Between the secretive writing of legislation and the legalized corporate ownership of politicians, thanks to Supreme Court‘s Citizens United ruling, it seems pretty well sewn up to be a corporate government against the people. Real issues affecting the lives of everyday Americans will not be addressed by any politician; their corporate masters won‘t allow it. The problem is, with all the corporate money being paid to buy the politicians, and pay the media to overlook; spin & whitewash the issues, most people see only the PR spin, and are hoodwinked… they buy it “hook, line and sinker“, and even clamor for more of the same.

  12. Can government demand that flyers show ID when traveling?
    Can government require issuance of a picture ID in order to drive a car?
    Can government compel patients to show ID when picking up narcotic prescriptions? Or just buying a decongestant?
    Can the government postal service require ID when picking up a package?
    Can government compel ID checks when purchasing alcohol?
    Can government demand ID to issue a marriage license?


    Does voter fraud disenfranchise legitimate voters?

    NO, because it is a myth.

    Voting is a RIGHT, all of your examples are not Constitutional rights. They are commerce or privileges. When measures are imposed that make it difficult or impossible to exercise a right then the measure should be rejected.

  13. So we have a widespread group in society that does not travel, does not drive, does not drink, does not receive medical care, does not use mail services, and does not get married?

    I should add that this group must also not work – for failure to meet government employment documentation requirements – nor do they cash checks or use banking services, nor rent movies, nor buy drain cleaners, nor use public libraries, nor own a gun, not do they ever return purchases to Target?

    And these millions are waiting in line to vote?


  14. Require picture ID when voting, or a valid Driver’s license. Absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    However, NAACP, etc… do not want something like that because they know that people are voting in multiple districts, dead people are voting, family pets are voting, people in jail are voting, homeless people are voting that aren’t even registered. By law, you’re only supposed to vote ONCE. Imagine what would happen if as much attention and BS was directed when President Bush won the election, was applied to when obama stole the election. But nobody uttered a word, despite rampant voter fraud everywhere.

    There were even districts that had more votes cast than they had people registered to vote in that district!

    And these idiots try to make this out to be vote blocking. NO – just common sense checkpoints to make sure someone only votes once, and they are registered to vote. Absolutely nothing wrong with that.

  15. I understand the arguments made above, but isn’t voting a right for citizens only? Let’s take California for example. It has perhaps the highest population of illegal foreign nationals in the county. For the sake of discussion suppose there was a ballot measure where the California legislature and governor supported giving illegal foreigners some massive benefit. If California or any other state didn’t have a way to insure that only citizens voted, how much real democracy/representation would be achieved for the legal citizens? Certainly the rights of the citizen who got to vote are as equally important as those who may be disenfranchised. Shouldn’t legal voter rights include the assurance that only living citizens of legal age get to vote and that all legal votes are counted?

  16. “Shouldn’t legal voter rights include the assurance that only living citizens of legal age get to vote and that all legal votes are counted?”

    Again, where’s the proof of wide spread fraud? Not some dog whistle appeal to racism, but actual proof? And everyone knows actually counting votes is a nicety after Bush v. Gore.

    Voter fraud is a non-issue. A handy distraction from real issues that happens to foster a racist agenda and suppress voting all at the same time.

    It is literally nothing – both in actual impact and as a concrete issue -compared to the prevalence and negative impact of corporate political spending and the corruption of the electoral and legislative processes carried out by their lobbyist minions.

  17. Gene,
    You are correct that allegations of voter fraud are just a smoke screen to hide the real reason. Republicans are pulling out all the stops to prevent legal and registered voters from casting their vote.

  18. If the Republicans put one tenth the effort into stopping voter caging that they do trying to find nonexistent voter fraud, we would come closer to having honest elections. Stuff like the eighty-three year old woman who is going to have to stand in line at the DMV for two hours to get a new photo ID, even though she is well known to everyone at her local voting precinct because she has voted in every election since Eisenhower was President. And guess what. There seem to be fewer and fewer employees at the DMV. The local DMV office is next door to my office and every time I go over there, the published waiting times seem longer.

    Sometimes it is really blatant, such as Scott Walker shutting down or de-staffing DMV offices in largely Democratic areas while leaving those in Republican (read: white, upper middle class) areas fully staffed and open.

  19. Puzzling, You think I look up stuff and post links because I don’t have a life? I’m trying to help you shake off the cloud of disinformation settled around you by forces that would steal your vote if they could and which aim to subvert the democratic process. Read the study I posted. Voter fraud is a myth. You are being played. You can buy into your own intellectual subversion or not. It’s your call.

  20. if there is no fraud where do the stories come from? The political machines in Chicago and Kansas City and New York were notorious for voter fraud.

    Maybe it is gone and we are hearing the historical echoes of the Daley and Pendergast machines and Boss Tweed?

    I hear stories from friends who live in other states about polls staying open past time and of people voting twice and abuse of absentee ballots. Is that all BS?

  21. OS:

    “Sometimes it is really blatant, such as Scott Walker shutting down or de-staffing DMV offices in largely Democratic areas while leaving those in Republican (read: white, upper middle class) areas fully staffed and open.”

    here in Virginia they have shut down offices as well but those are the ones that were under utilized. Could that be the case?

  22. Election Officials, Experts: O’Keefe Implicated In Another Illegal Stunt
    January 12, 2012 11:56 am ET by Matt Gertz

    In 2010, conservative videographer James O’Keefe and three associates pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of entering federal property under false pretenses in connection with an attempted video sting at the office of Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu.

    Now election officials and election law experts are suggesting that he may be implicated in another illegal scheme. They say that in attempting to create an undercover video showing how easy it is to commit voter fraud, James O’Keefe’s associates may have run afoul of those laws themselves.

    Those experts and officials are questioning whether the conservative videographers may have violated laws banning individuals from falsely identifying themselves at the polling place and requiring both parties to consent to be videotaped.

    In their investigation, the conservative videographers entered polling places, gave the name of recently deceased New Hampshire residents, and were offered ballots by poll workers. In one case, the videographer fled the scene after a poll worker became aware that he was not the deceased voter.

  23. Why the ‘voter fraud’ myth won’t die

    Most serious political experts know that real, documented voter fraud is an extremely small problem.

    When the Department of Justice under President Bush launched a crackdown on fraud in 2002, five years later it only had 86 convictions to show for the effort. That’s .00007 percent of the 122 million people [pdf] who voted for president in the 2004 elections.

    Even if the DOJ’s aggressive efforts only caught 1 percent of the actual fraud going on, it would still be one of the smallest problems facing our electoral system. For example, an MIT study last year found that cracks in our country’s patchwork voter registration system kept up to 3 million registered and fully-qualified voters from casting a ballot.

    So why does the phantom of voter fraud keep appearing? The biggest reason is that powerful forces with very deep pockets are able to relentlessly push the message. In 2010, independent groups with mysterious millionaire donors — such as American Majority Action, peddler of a voter fraud iPhone app — have joined with Tea Party activists, Republicans and media outlets like Fox News to bring hysteria about voter fraud to a fever pitch.

    They purveyors of voter fraud fear also have decades of practice. The modern crusade against voter fraud started in the civil rights era of the 1960s, with growing anxieties among white politicians and voters over the growing power of black and urban voters.

    As historian Rick Perlstein documents, Republicans tapped into — and inflamed — these fears with outrageous claims of black voter fraud, which not only riled up the conservative base, but also laid the groundwork for “anti-fraud” campaigns that could depress Democratic turnout.

  24. Regarding folks that meet the criteria you listed I can name two off the top of my head- my deceased father and the better half. If the better half (disabled, no govt. assistance/programs etc) had to present a current photo ID on pain of death he couldn’t do it. Same for my father prior to his death.

    And keep in mind that the states are requiring specific types of ID that often require things like a birth cert to acquire- supporting documentation. If the better half needed a copy of a current state photo ID along with his ballot request to vote absentee (which was proposed in one state) it would cost the $15. for a BC copy plus the cost of a wheelchair taxi to get him to the DMV.

    My father would have had even greater expense because if he didn’t have someone to go to the DMV with him he would have to pay the nursing home 25$ per hour (old figure- it might have gone up) to send someone with him per the nursing home rules. This is not small change and a medicaid patient in a nursing facility would be severely, severely taxed to come up with the money if it were even possible to do so.

    You don’t hear any of the proposed rules including a ‘we come to you’ clause to make it easy or free for elderly or disabled folks. Why is that?

  25. Bron: “I hear stories from friends who live in other states about polls staying open past time and of people voting twice and abuse of absentee ballots. Is that all BS?”

    Yes, basically. Elaine just posted a good refutation and here is a more general explanation from the Brennan Center for Justice:

    “Many vivid anecdotes of purported voter fraud have been proven false or do not demonstrate fraud. Although there are a few scattered instances of real voter fraud, many of the vivid anecdotes cited in accounts of voter fraud have been proven false or vastly overstated. In Missouri in 2000, for example, the Secretary of State claimed that 79 voters were registered with addresses at vacant lots, but subsequent investigation revealed that the lots in question actually housed valid and legitimate residences. Similarly, a 1995 investigation into votes allegedly cast in Baltimore by deceased voters and those with disenfranchising felony convictions revealed that the voters in question were both alive and felony-free.

    Many of the inaccurate claims result from lists of voters compared to other lists – of deceased individuals, persons with felony convictions, voters in other states, etc. These attempts to match information often yield predictable errors. In Florida in 2000, a list of purged voters later became notorious when it was discovered that the “matching” process captured eligible voters with names similar to – but decidedly different from – the names of persons with felony convictions, sometimes in other states entirely. A 2005 attempt to identify supposed double voters in New Jersey mistakenly accused people with similar names but whose middle names or suffixes were clearly different, such as “J.T. Kearns, Jr.” and “J.T. Kearns, Sr.,” of being the same person. Even when names and birthdates match across lists, that does not mean there was voter fraud. Elementary statistics students are often surprised to learn that it is more likely than not that among just 23 individuals, two will share a birthday. Similar statistics show that for most reasonably common names, it is extremely likely that at least two people with the same name in a state will share the same date of birth. The ostensible “matches” may not represent the same person at all.

    Other allegations of fraudulent voting often turn out to be the result of common clerical errors, incomplete information, or faulty assumptions. Most allegations of voter fraud simply evaporate when more rigorous analysis is conducted.”

    Also, My polling place stays open late if people are still in line at the closing time. Civilized countries make it easy to vote, they do it over the weekend or include a holiday instead of having working people try to get to a polling place before or after work. Of course, if unemployment is high enough that isn’t as much of a problem for a lot of folks.

  26. Bron, whether an office is underutilized or not is irrelevant for this discussion. The simple matter is that voter caging is a much more serious problem for our country than voter fraud, which is a strawman of epic proportions. created entirely by Republican political operatives.

  27. Where is the fraud that you are trying to prevent puzzling?

    How would we know? Without ID, there is really no way to audit it, nor prosecute offenders. Elections are often narrowly won, and as a result there is great temptation to commit fraud, and little risk of being caught.

  28. Elaine, to use an old Southern expression, “There ain’t nuthin’ to see here.”

    A “problem” created by Lee Atwater and Karl Rove for the sole purpose of caging black, Democratic and poor voters.

  29. Elaine M.,

    If you can’t prove that voter fraud is a major problem, how can you claim that it is a major problem?

    Where have I claimed that?

    As I said at the start of the thread, many more minorities are permanently disenfranchised by felony convictions in the War on Drugs than might ever be disenfranchised by voter ID laws. Where is the outrage? A genuine discussion on the topic would include it.

    I hear commenters decrying the Koch brothers motives while I am expected to accept a Soros-funded Brennan report on voter fraud as fact, lines of argument that simply reinforce the partisan genesis for this posting in my mind.

    If you ask me, government requires identification in far too many circumstances already. I would disagree with Lottakatz that government ID requirements for travel, marriage, and medical care are even compatible with a free society.

  30. Let me be the unpopular guy here-In the NYT article they quote from Hans Von Spakovsky, a Heritage Foundation legal voice. Personally I do not like Von Spakovsky but what about his point that illegal immigrants can get away with voting-ostensibly the excuse that Repubs will use in enforcing ID laws. Is there any veracity or evidence that requiring IDs will lessen this threat? Is there overwhelming evidence of illegal immigrant fraud?

    In theory I will answer my own question: As illegal immigrants can now GET state ID’s without documentation, requiring IDs will not probably not even impact this form of voter fraud.

    As voter fraud in this country is rare

    I see no reason for the Republicans to do this.

  31. commoner sez: “I see no reason for the Republicans to do this.”


    Of course you do. It is called, “Keep likely Democrats from voting.” Works every time.

  32. Puzzling: “I would disagree with Lottakatz that government ID requirements for travel, marriage, and medical care are even compatible with a free society.”

    I didn’t say I agreed with any requirement to provide a photo ID, only that the government could make those demands. ‘Should’ is a whole different question. You asked “Can”, not “should”.

    The only one among your list that I would consider a vital requirement is the ID for a marriage license. That is a legal contract that has multi-generational resonance and there are entire bodies of state and federal law that rely on a valid marriage license to prove standing and establish various obligations.

  33. “You don’t hear any of the proposed rules including a ‘we come to you’ clause to make it easy or free for elderly or disabled folks. Why is that?” (lotta)

    That answers the entire question as to both motive and intentionality.

  34. “Of course you do. It is called, “Keep likely Democrats from voting.” Works every time.”

    Haha beyond the obvious.

  35. Hi Ms. Blouise, yea, if they made it free and insured that anyone that needed a state photo ID could get one without leaving their domicile if needs be, it would be a different story. If the state demands that you have to have a photo ID to vote (IMO the most basic and important of rights one has) then the state should have the burden of facilitating compliance by doing whatever it takes. I am as disappointed with the Justice Department as with the states, they should have been all over this.

  36. Lotta,
    I know the Justice Department has expressed concerns over the State laws, but they need to be proactive or the Republicans will steal This election.

  37. SWM, yes the JD is reviewing SC and Texas but they are states that the JD must review based on the Voting Rights Act, it’s the preclearance provision, any changes in voting requirements must be reviewed to insure that the state does not lapse back into its old discriminatory ways. There are both states and counties that are on the preclearance list. The JD isn’t doing anything that’s making news in other states.

    I may be wrong (and I would so welcome you correcting my knowledge in that- please correct me) and just have missed that news but I think the JD is just taking a minimalist approach. I am though glad that they are at least doing their job regarding preclearance. Thanks for the links.

  38. Rafflaw, Between voter caging/suppression and HAVA the Democrats can’t afford any result that isn’t a landslide. It’s like needing 60 votes in the Senate now, a simple majority just won’t do.

  39. Hey Blouise, I hope Tex is feeling better and you are de-stressed on that front. I have to keep in mind that the election is still 10 months away and if I start taking it real serious now, on top of my usual dislike for what the government has become and, like, real life, I’ll be nuts (or totally nuts) by August.:-) I’m going to watch Maher now, he usually gets me grinning.

  40. Americans have not sense of history. Hell history here is ten days. As a dog with generations of being a human and then a dog and then a human, this dog has a sense of fido history.

    Ok folks: How about the 15th and 26th Amendments To The Constitution of the United States? What do they say?
    Go Google becasue you dont dogknow, do ya?

  41. Page 1 of About 34,800,000 results (0.08 seconds)

    FBI arrests 8 in Florida for absentee ballot fraud

    SACRAMENTO — The owner of a firm that the California Republican Party hired to register tens of thousands of voters this year was arrested in Ontario over the weekend on suspicion of voter registration fraud.

    Daytona Beach Commissioner Arrested On Fraud Charges


    8 REPUBLICAN Officials ARRESTED and CONVICTED of Voter Fraud


    Dec 21, 2010 – ALBANY, Ga. — A five-month probe into voter irregularities in Brooks County by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has resulted in 10 arrests.

    TROY — Former Troy City Clerk William A. McInerney pleaded guilty Friday to a charge that he signed a voter’s signature to a Working Families Party absentee primary ballot in 2009 to steer the vote to his Democratic Party candidates.

    1 Voter, 72 Registration. “Acorn Paid In Cash And Cigarettes

    CLEVELAND – A man at the center of a voter-registration scandal told The Post yesterday he was given cash and cigarettes by aggressive ACORN activists in exchange for registering an astonishing 72 times, in apparent violation of Ohio laws.

    Page 2 of About 34,800,000 results (0.08 seconds)

    You get the idea

  42. Here’s your assignment. Google voter fraud followed by name of state and do this for all fifty.

    You have til Friday to next weekend to turn your assignment in. Papers will be graded that afternoon. Those who do not complete this assignment will not receive any extra credit for the entire election cycle.

  43. Wisconsin Set To Disenfranchise Likely Democratic Party Voters

    The Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee has reported out a bill that will require all Wisconsin voters to present certain forms of ID as a condition for voting.

    The legislation, which is expected to pass both houses of the state legislature this week before arriving on Scott Walker’s desk for signature, is in response to the rising concern that voter fraud is fast infecting Wisconsin elections.

    Except there is no such voter fraud epidemic in the Badger State – and it’s not like the Republican State’s Attorney General hasn’t been looking high and low to find some.

    A study of the 2008 election conducted by the Wisconsin Justice Department has turned up just two instances of people “double” voting, six people who engaged in voter registration shenanigans and 11 ex-cons who violated the prohibition on felons voting.

    In fact, there has been a sum total of 20 people charged with some form of voter fraud out of the millions of Wisconsin residents who voted in the 2008 election. And over half of them are already on voter denial lists as they are convicted felons.

    This is hardly what one would call a justification to create a crisis of confidence in Wisconsin’s voting system– particularly when you consider that the program will cost Wisconsin taxpayers millions of dollars at a time when Governor Walker tells us things are so bad he had to end collective bargaining, deny schools the money they need to provide a basic education, and dramatically alter the retirement programs of state employees.

  44. Conviction in GOP voter-suppression scheme
    By Steve Benen
    December 07, 2011 10:00 AM

    Last November, there was a fairly competitive gubernatorial race in Maryland. Late on Election Day, robocalls targeted more than 100,000 Democratic households, telling voters to “relax” and not bother voting because Dems were going to win. It was one of the most blatant examples of GOP voter-suppression tactics in a long while.

    Fortunately, those responsible got caught. Yesterday, a jury convicted the Republican ringleader.

    Paul E. Schurick, the 2010 campaign manager for former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., was convicted Tuesday by a Baltimore jury of four counts stemming from a robocall that prosecutors said was intended to suppress the black vote.

    The call, which Schurick acknowledged authorizing, was placed on Election Day to 112,000 voters in Baltimore and Prince George’s County, the state’s two largest majority-African American jurisdictions. Recipients were told by an unidentified woman that they could “relax” because Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) had been successful.

    Fortunately, other members of the former Republican governor’s team will also stand trial for their role.

    Obviously, there’s a problem when Republican officials believe the best way to win an election is to suppress political participation. But the larger issue here is that GOP officials keep pushing the “war on voting,” putting new hurdles between voters and the ballot box, ostensibly because they fear the scourge of fraud.

    The irony is, the fraud Republicans are worried about is imaginary, while the real-world fraud is coming from their side of the political divide.

  45. Elaine, to use an old Southern expression, “There ain’t nuthin’ to see here.”

    And up until 2004, no baseball players used steroids in the 1990’s.

  46. You can Google almost anything and get megahits on the search. The wild card in the search is the thousands upon thousands of Republican accusations of voter fraud, and Google counts every one of those as well. Instead of bogus, non-scientific, methodology, lets see the REAL fraud. There is one or two here and there across the country. Many were deliberate due to Republican operatives signing fake names such as Mickey Mouse and Osama bin Laden to registration papers. All names are required to be turned in, but in every one of those instances, the registration gatherers flagged the fake names for the local election commission. That such shenanigans as registering a known fake name is a felony in most jurisdictions did not seem to slow down the likes of O’Keefe and his enablers.

    Yet, there was a hue and cry when there appeared to be a discrepancy in about .0001% of the voter registrations. I want to know more about the many thousands of poor people who were disenfranchised. Poll taxes were banned as unconstitutional a half century ago, but now they are back in the form of requiring people to have to purchase an “official” photo ID.

  47. Get Ready Not to Vote: Why 2012 Just Got More Interesting
    By Charles P. Pierce

    Back in 2000, when the Supreme Court stepped in and foozled a presidential election to achieve the outcome that some of its members desired — oh, don’t bother to deny it — the dismissal du jour was to tell grumpy liberals to “Get over it!” This was so successful that not a single Democratic senator was willing to stand up with John Lewis and contest the election, and if you won’t stand up with John Lewis on an issue of voting rights, then you’d have rolled dice for the robe on Golgotha.

    The problem, of course, was that a lot of the forces demanding that people “get over” 2000 were far from getting over it themselves. They set about trying to make sure that their side wouldn’t come that close to losing an election again, and they worked to turn “voter suppression” into a science. It used to be that Ed Rollins could suppress votes by buying off a few preachers. Now, though, it can be done through willing local satraps — Katherine Harris, say, or Ken Blackwell, or that woman in Waukesha, Wisconsin, who apparently keeps election results in her freezer. It can be done through willingly partisan judges who wink and nod — hi, there, Tony Scalia! — or through the wholesale corruption of the Department of Justice, which is what happened during the Bush Administration when U.S. Attorneys were fired because they declined to conduct political prosecutions at the request of political appointees up to and including the president’s political guru.

    In short, voter suppression has moved out of Ed Rollins’s wallet and it now has come to mean the use of the government’s own powers and institutions to reduce the power of the people to affect that government at the ballot box. Put that together with the egregious Citizens United decision on campaign finance, and you’ve pretty much guaranteed that people will look at elections as a game rigged for the wealthy anyway, in which they have to jump through an increasing number of hoops just to play the decreasing part that is allowed them. If there’s a better recipe for increasing public cynicism in politics so as to enable the ascendance of private profit over the political commonwealth, then even Vladimir Putin hasn’t thought of it yet.

    As it happens, the process was slowed just a bit in 2006 and 2008. The president who’d benefited from the Supreme Court’s meddling proved to be such a bungler that even the pros couldn’t suppress the general revulsion. However, as soon as those two elections were over, they set about it again. They were so diligent about it that by 2010, when the Republicans swept to power in a number of statehouses across the country, they already had voter suppression laws ready to go all across the country, and passing them was Job One. (Or at least Job One-A. Restricting abortion may have been Job One in some states.)

  48. Bdaman,

    How do you feel about thousands of people losing the right to vote in an election because their names were purged from registration lists due to typos and clerical errors?

    The following excerpt was taken from The NAACP’s “Defending Democracy” report:

    – Voter Purges. Several states, such as Florida and Mississippi, are also improperly purging voters from the registration rolls. Purge programs purport to maintain the purity of voter registration lists by removing the names of individuals ineligible to vote in that state or jurisdiction, but too often disqualify eligible voters. For example, in Florida, a flawed purge program erroneously flagged and purged 12,000 voters (mostly due to typos and other obvious clerical errors). Over 70% of those flagged voters were African American or Latino.

  49. Bdaman, one illegal vote is the same as a battlefield casualty? Really? Rafflaw’s comment about bad taste is an understatement. Are you that cavalier about dead soldiers?

    How do you explain the widespread caging of poor voters and increasingly high hurdles to making it harder for them to vote? We are a family whose military service tradition goes back centuries. One of the things fought and bled for was to make this country a viable democracy, not a playground for the 1% to exploit.

  50. If state’s are going to demand photo IDs – they ought to pay for them! And if you’re over 65 and disabled you go to the head of the DMV line. But the best idea is that they must come to you. I’m 80 and will soon stop driving. How the hell am I supposed to get to the nearest DMV once my liscense expires?

  51. @Puzzling I hear that you live in Philadelphia in a ward where a cousin of my friend lives. She (the cousin) said she heard that 4,000 people voted there last election. and that 3,000 of them were dead or escaped convicts. That’s what I heard and that’s good enough for me. Well, we can’t have any of that! And we can’t wait around forever while James O’Keefe is raising funds in order to set up a sting. Therefore, the rule for your ward is that every voter must show up with an EKG taken in the last 24 hours to prove that he is still alive and with an copy of their FBI file to prove they aren’t felons. Hope this doesn’t inconvenience you too much.

  52. And just to be sure about the results, “they” own the vote counting machines that guarantee the results. Check out

  53. Pete,

    Speaking of vote caging:

    Huge voter suppression plot exposed in Wisconsin
    MON SEP 20, 2010

    A massive, coordinated and illegal plan to suppress Wisconsin voter turnout in November was exposed today by One Wisconsin Now (OWN).

    The plan, targeting minority voters and students, is a joint effort of the Republican Party, Americans for Prosperity, and Tea Party groups. OWN has somehow obtained both copies of the plan and a recording of a meeting at which it was discussed, both available on a new website,

    OWN Executive Director Scot Ross said the group will request investigations by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, as well as the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Election Integrity Task Force and the Government Accountability Board, to insure the right to vote is not stolen by these plans.

    The term for what the right-wing intends to do is called “vote caging,”and involves sending mail to addresses on voter lists and using returned mail to challenge voters at the polls on election day.

    The result? Some voters are forced to cast provisional ballots, which require them to follow-up the day after an election for the ballot to be counted. Historically, about 35% of all provisional ballots are never counted.

    Voters who have no reason to think their registrations will be challenged at the polling place may not have the required material to complete an Election Day registration, so the voter will be turned away or sent home to get more documents.

    The challenges may create long lines at the polling place as the caging operation challenges voter after voter. Long lines discourage voters and many simply leave without casting a ballot.

    That is why right-wing caging operations target areas which vote overwhelmingly Democratic (like Milwaukee’s central city and college campuses.)

  54. I’m going to complain, this is only indirectly related to the topic but two years ago my wifes brother and his family lost their house and we let her brother who was 56 at the time, his wife and his 30 year old son move in with us.
    The son didn’t have a car, license and hadn’t worked in over a year.
    The wife and I wanted to make sure he got a job and planned to take him to a temp service but we had to get him an ID so we went to the DMV to try and get him a state ID and were unsuccesful. He was a 30 year old white male with red hair and we weren’t able to prove he was a US resident.
    We had a birth certificate but they also wanted a utility bill in his name and since he was homeless and moved in with us where we paid the bills he wasn’t able to get an ID and explaining the situation fell on deaf ears and no one was able to offer us a solution on how to resolve the problem since without an ID he couldn’t even get a job.
    What I ended up doing was taking him back to a DMV in the county where he lived before and we used a bill from the Bureau of Workers Compensation from his defunct carpet installing business and they accepted it because it was a government letter.
    It just shocked me how hard the whole process was and seemed to me very unecessary and ridiculous. I mean it was the DMV why couldn’t they just look up his history or even his picture?

  55. “One vote could put someone in office…”

    True, but thousands of votes NOT cast because of suppression is much more effective.

  56. So the entire argument against instituting measures to ensure that only legal citizen voters get to vote, that they only get to vote once and that their votes are the only ones that are counted is:

    “Again, where’s the proof of wide spread fraud?”

    So , we as a society shouldn’t protect the rights of legal citizen voters because the rights of those who won’t register, don’t want to get a state ID or prove who they are or their residency is more valuable? What happened to equal protection under the law?

    Requiring someone to register in advance or having a valid ID is not being discriminatory. Voting is a right, but not one without responsibility. When free IDs are made available, registration is free, how is asking a citizen to acquire one being unreasonable? The insistence that voting security measures are a direct attempt to suppress voters is offset by the obvious color of the argument to allow non citizens to vote or certain peoples to vote more then once.

  57. quercus454,

    Here are two examples of voter suppression–which I’ve taken from the NAACP’s Defending Democracy report:

    – Requiring Documentary Proof of Citizenship to Register to Vote. Three states (Alabama, Kansas, and Tennessee) enacted legislation requiring documentary proof of citizenship to register to vote. While these requirements will impose burdens on all voters of limited means, they will have a uniquely burdensome impact on elderly African-American voters, many of whom, because they were born when de jure segregation prevented equal access to hospitals, were never issued birth certificates.

    – Voter Purges. Several states, such as Florida and Mississippi, are also improperly purging voters from the registration rolls. Purge programs purport to maintain the purity of voter registration lists by removing the names of individuals ineligible to vote in that state or jurisdiction, but too often disqualify eligible voters. For example, in Florida, a flawed purge program erroneously flagged and purged 12,000 voters (mostly due to typos and other obvious clerical errors). Over 70% of those flagged voters were African American or Latino.

  58. Off Topic:

    Tennessee Tea Parties demand textbooks contain no mean things about Founding Fathers
    If they get their way, history books won’t say anything about “intruding on the Indians or having slaves”
    By Alex Pareene

    For a bunch of people who worship the Founders and like to play dress-up American Revolutionary War, Tea Partyers sure hate knowing anything remotely reality-based about the Founding Fathers. Tennessee Tea Party groups have introduced a proposal to take what few minorities there are in American history textbooks out of American history textbooks, along with any negative portrayals of the wealthy white men who led this young nation in its infancy.

    At a press conference, two dozen activists presented their proposals — I’m sorry, their “demands” — for the new state legislative session. Among them are sweeping changes to school materials that they probably have not actually read.

    Take it away, awful person:

    The material calls for lawmakers to amend state laws governing school curriculums, and for textbook selection criteria to say that “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”

    Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, the group’s lead spokesman during the news conference, said the group wants to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.”

  59. Elaine,
    I saw that story. Of course, the Tea Party in Tennessee is not a racist organization. It is amazing that those pesky historical facts just keep getting in the way.

  60. they’re the reason so many people think history is boring. they sanitize the humanity out of the countries founders. i’ve never understood why they feel the need to put people on a pedestal to respect them.

    i tend to think it’s a god thing. it must be pure to be good.

  61. You Americans need to calm down, your voting system is a disaster, voter ID is simply a way of ensuring that only Legit live American citizens are allowed to vote, this is to prevent what happened 4 years ago with unbeleavable voter fraud by the Obama side, all of the excuses are rubbish, if we in South Africa a “3rd World” country can have only South Africans with bar coded ID’s vote than why can’t you , no because instead of the parties getting out and doing some work and getting your voters legal you gripe and moan and cry racist, grow up you bunch of babies

  62. Ah yes, Bruce. Speaking from a country with such an impeccable human rights record in your past. No skeletons in that closet. No sir! Just move along now, nothing to see here.

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