Tag Archives: Voter ID laws

Voter ID: a solution in search of a problem

vote fraud

Let’s talk for a moment about voter fraud.

If there’s an overblown, overhyped and overstated problem with the American electoral system, it has to be voter fraud.

Even in Texas, ,which has become somewhat legendary because of one instance of voter fraud. It occurred in 1948 when Duval County in South Texas supposedly recorded more votes than registered voters. The inflated number of votes allegedly pushed a young political candidate, Democrat Lyndon Johnson, over the top in his party primary runoff contest for the U.S. Senate.

How many instances of ballot-box chicanery have occurred in Texas since then? Damn few.

Republicans, though, have seized on voter fraud as a compelling national political problem. They keep insisting that Americans must prove they are eligible to vote by showing photo ID documents when they go to the polls.


I don’t necessarily object personally to showing photo ID when I go vote. I am able to present a valid driver’s license. A lot of Americans, though, do not drive; they don’t own passports; they don’t have licenses to carry concealed weapons. They’re out of luck.

Some courts have ruled that voter ID laws, therefore, to be inherently unconstitutional.

The most objectionable element of this discussion, though, has been the canard put forward that the electoral system is corrupt. Fear mongers — now led by Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump — keep insisting that illegal immigrants are voting by the thousands to elect Democrats to public office.

As Erica Grieder writes in her blog for Texas Monthly: “It’s true that voter fraud is real. It’s even true that there have been recorded instances of people passing themselves off as someone else in order to cast a fraudulent vote, which is the specific form of fraud that laws requiring photo ID might prevent. But that crime is not even remotely common, nor do Americans have any real cause to worry about elections being stolen in the most labor-intensive way imaginable.”

Trump is now predicting that the presidential election will be “rigged.” How does he know this to be true? He just says it.

Those who are following his futile efforts to change the subject away from his abject ignorance about anything relating to government and public policy, are buying into it.

Voter ID laws miss real culprit

Texas’s voter identification law is in place to guard against voter fraud.

Is it working? Does it seek out the most common culprit? Frontline, the acclaimed PBS news documentary series, suggests it doesn’t.


The most common abusers are absentee voters, according to Frontline. The Texas law, which has been upheld by the courts, targets those who show up at the polls without proper identification or who have false ID and seek to pass themselves off as someone else.

Yes, those incidences do occur — rarely.

The more common element of fraud occurs away from the polling place.

Frontline notes that most absentee votes are white and older than the rest of the voting population. Accordingly, voter ID laws draw their aim on those who are least able to afford to pay for the kinds of identification that many states now require. As Frontline reports:

“Laws that require photo ID at the polls vary, but the strictest laws limit the forms of acceptable documentation to only a handful of cards. For example, in Texas, voters must show one of seven forms of state or federal-issue photo ID, with a valid expiration date: a driver’s license, a personal ID card issued by the state, a concealed handgun license, a military ID, citizenship certificate or a passport. The name on the ID must exactly match the one on the voter rolls.

“African-Americans and Latinos are more likely to lack one of these qualifying IDs, according to several estimates. Even when the state offers a free photo ID, these voters, who are disproportionately low-income, may not be able to procure the underlying documents, such as a birth certificate, to obtain one.”

Therein lies the problem that some see in these voter ID laws. They make it harder for some Americans to vote and those Americans happen to be among the more disadvantaged among us.

Didn’t we pass a constitutional amendment to prohibit such a thing?