(Photo: El_Sol / Flickr)The Republicans have finally found voter fraud, and in Ohio no less!
For years, Republicans have been putting laws in place all across America, in an effort to combat what they say is a rampant voter fraud problem.
Since 2001, nearly 1,000 bills that would tighten voting laws have been introduced in 46 states, and since 2011, 24 voting restrictions have gone into effect in 17 states, including battleground states like Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
34 states have introduced laws requiring voters to show photo ID since 2011, and in 2008, nearly 2.2 million registered voters did not vote because they didn’t have the proper ID required by law.
But don’t be fooled by all of these laws, because they have absolutely nothing to do with combatting voter fraud, and have everything to do with keeping typically Democratic voters away from the polls.
And, not surprisingly, these are all portions of the population that Democrats typically win, and Republicans typically lose.
So this doesn’t have anything to do with stopping voter fraud.
But don’t tell that to Republicans in Ohio and across the country, who to this day, are still positive that America is home to rampant cases of voter fraud, that, as Senator John McCain said in 2008, are “destroying the fabric of our democracy.”
On Monday, the prosecutor’s office in Hamilton County, Ohio announced voter fraud charges against three people – including a nun.
According the prosecutor’s office, the nun, Sister Marguerite Kloos, lived with Sister Rose Marie Hewitt until Hewitt’s death in October of 2012. Hewitt had requested an absentee ballot for the November election, and the ballot arrived in the mail just days after she died. Kloos allegedly filled it out, forged Hewitt’s signature, and mailed it back.
Of course, voter fraud is illegal, and if Sister Kloos did in fact commit voter fraud, she should be held accountable for her actions.
But is finding one person who allegedly committed voter fraud really worth disenfranchising millions of Americans?
Between 2000 and 2010, there were 649 million votes cast in general elections, and only 13 credible cases of voter fraud.
In comparison, during that same period of time, there were 47,000 UFO sightings in the United States, and 441 Americans were killed by lightning strikes.
Legitimate cases of voter fraud in this country are extraordinarily rare. In fact, you have a better chance of dying from a TV falling on your head than you do of finding a case of voter fraud.
And, states that have introduced voter suppression ID laws are having a very hard time finding actual cases of voter fraud.
Indiana was the first state to implement a photo ID law, in an attempt to cut down on so-called cases of voter fraud. Indiana’s precedent-setting law made its way to the Supreme Court, and when it was argued, the state was unable to cite a single specific instance of voter fraud in its entire history.
In support of a voter ID law for his state, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach cited 221 incidents of so-called voter fraud in his state between 1997 and 2010. But, as it turns out, of those 221 incidents, there were only 7 convictions, none of which were related to the impersonation of voters.
Let’s move to Wisconsin, a state that Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus once claimed was “absolutely riddled with voter fraud.”
Sorry Reince. In 2004, Wisconsin’s voter fraud rate was .00002 percent, or just 7 votes.
It’s clear that, instead of being rampant like Republicans claim, voter fraud is virtually non-existent, no matter how hard you look.
Of course, this isn’t that big of a surprise to most of us, because we’ve known that claims about rampant voter fraud have been false all along.
According to a study conducted by Justin Levitt of the New York University Law School, “Many of the claims of voter fraud amount to a great deal of smoke without much fire…Most allegations of fraud turn out to be baseless—and that of the few allegations remaining, most reveal election irregularities and other forms of election misconduct, rather than fraud by individual voters. The type of individual voter fraud supposedly targeted by recent legislative efforts—especially efforts to require certain forms of voter ID—simply does not exist.”
Millions of taxpayer dollars have been and will continue to be spent on these Republican voter suppression schemes, unless we bring an end to them.
It’s time to finally put this right-wing lie to bed, and ensure that every American who has the ability to vote is able to do so.