The Voting Rights Act, now decades old, contained within it, a section (#4) designed to mitigate against voter suppression activities in a number of states with a long history of such discriminatory practices. Most recently, a 5-4 US Supreme Court decision tore down that safeguard. As a result, the specific states that were the targets of Section 4, promptly launched into the passage of what were advertised for public consumption as laws to prevent “voter fraud”. As of April 29, 2013, the Brennan Center for Justice reported that there are now 14 such laws being actively enforced in eight states, seven just passed in another eight, and 50 pending in still another 18.
Of course, all this begs the question “What hard evidence exists that voter fraud occurs with such frequency as to skew national election results?” Here’s the answer that comes to us from a study commissioned by none other than President GW Bush: From 2000 to 2008, there have been a grand total of 2,068 cases of reported voter fraud. Broken down, most of these involved the falsification of requests for absentee ballots. Instances of “in-person” voter fraud at polling stations was described in the commission’s report as “virtually non-existent”. No matter what the source(s), the incidence of voter fraud is “infinitesimal” compared to the hundreds of millions of votes cast in the eight years the commission studied. By no stretch of the imagination could the 2,068 cases scattered across the country, have had a significant impact on the outcomes of the national elections held during Bush’s two terms in office. It is equally hard to posit that a huge upturn in such nefarious activity took place from 2008 to the present. Conservatives have claimed otherwise, but have consistently failed to produce any evidence of such a magnitude as to have impacted the election of Barack Obama or other Democrats seeking national office.
In spite of this reality, many states have proceeded right along with the enactment of laws to prevent voter fraud. Chief among them is North Carolina where the state’s own records show that of 4,500,000 votes cast in the 2012 election, there were a reported 121 cases of voter fraud. That’s .00027% if the math interests you.
What gives away what the state’s conservative-dominated legislature is up to involves provisions in the new law to curtail the early voting period, but permit “dark money*” to be allowed into campaign financing. There is no obvious direct link between these provisions and the prevention of voter fraud which doesn’t exist in the first place. Rather, their purposes are to skew election results by making it harder for certain Democrat-leaning groups to vote, while better insuring that the sources of funding for various candidates remain anonymous; all the better to insure that the public has less information about who is supporting whom.
One would need a thesaurus to come up with all the words that fit what conservatives and Republican-controlled state legislatures are doing nation-wide. But, despicable, dishonest, unamerican, hyperpartisan, and hypocritical all come to mind.
*The term “dark money” refers to campaign contributions, usually in sizable chunks, that are given anonymously and often by individuals or groups who have a slanted, economic self-interest in an election’s outcome.