Let’s lay this out very clearly: widespread voter fraud is not a thing.
Immigrants, people of color, non-citizens, and poor people are not flooding the polls with fake ballots for the democrats. No one is voting from the dead. Dogs are not voting. There have been only a handful of cases where criminality actually occurred. Most cases of “voter fraud” are clerical errors or other benign sources.
One more time, all together: The fear-mongered voter fraud is not a thing.
But voter fraud is the reason regularly used to justify the voter ID requirements which disproportionately affect people of color and poor people. Some might say, “What’s the big deal about having to show ID? Doesn’t everyone have it?” No. They don’t. State governments have also restricted what counts as acceptable ID – or even acceptable ID to acquire another form of ID, such as a photo voter ID.
Carol Anderson lays out several examples of this in “One Person, No Vote.” Alabama, for example, refused to accept public housing identification, despite the fact that it is government-issued – and for many people of color, their only form of ID. Some governors have closed or limited the hours of many DMVs, meaning people must travel further to reach one that is open. For those living at or below the poverty line, taking time off to go during those limited hours isn’t financially an option. In North Carolina, Anderson states, “Republican legislators… gathered the data on the types of identifications Blacks had and didn’t have, then tailored the list of vote-worthy IDs to favor whites.” State governments can also enact “exact match” standards, stringent clerical rules that flag applications for any discrepancy (including things like hyphenation) that are disproportionately likely to influence people of color (who may have less common or “traditional” names.)
And the gaps in turnout show that these methods work. People, disproportionately poor people and people of color, are kept from voting.
Fun irony to cap it all off: some of the substantiated cases of voter fraud were committed by… white people! Like this Texas judge found with false signatures on his ballot petition, or an Iowa woman who tried to vote for Trump twice because she believed his claims that the election was rigged.
Action item: It’s research time. Go find out: What are the Voter ID laws in your state? Then think: Who in the community might have difficulty fulfilling those requirements? Why? What forces are working for and against them, and how did they come to be? If you’re disturbed by what you find, research some groups in your area (or nationally) that are working on the problem, and see how you can be of service to their efforts. Write and call your representatives.
Header image by ACLU TN.