This week’s Herald column: the cruel myth of ‘voter fraud’

Negro suffrage

Racist poster designed to frighten white Americans about “Negro suffrage”, 1866. (Source: Library of Congress: Broadside Collection)

To understand the cruel calculus of voter ID laws, voter purges and other election law mutations one political party has turned into an obsession (second only to their fever for passing laws designed to corner women into giving birth) you have to understand what these laws would actually prevent, if they worked as advertised.

Imagine legions of people turning up at polling places pretending to be someone else. Voter John is really disqualified Juan or Keyshaun.

And why would Juan/Keyshaun be disqualified? Maybe he’s an ex-felon, which in some former Confederate states means you lose your civil rights, permanently. Or maybe he’s?.?.?.?an illegal immigrant! Or maybe his name sounds similar to a felon or undocumented immigrant, which somehow is almost exactly the same thing .?.?.

And so, our Juan/Keyshaun signs the identity affidavit as John under pain of prison and a $10,000 fine, and casts exactly one ballot. Fraudy mission accomplished!

But since one ballot won’t swing even a Florida election, our scenario has to play out hundreds, or thousands, even tens of thousands of times. And if we delve deeper into the darkest recesses of the conservative imagination, Juan/Keyshaun isn’t acting alone. He’s fraud-voting at the behest of nefarious union “thugs” — who may even be paying him, using George Soros’ so-much-more-evil-than Koch-brothers’ money.

So now, we need to believe that our union thugs (who are also Saul Alinsky radical Islamists — hey, this is a conservative imagination we’re borrowing?.?.?.?) are willing to spend, what? $20, $50, even $100 per faker in order to swing a statewide election. Rather than maximizing their resources buying television and radio ads, sending direct mail or just registering more voters — our conspirators pay tens of thousands of people to risk jail time and fines of up to 100 times the bounty paid to Juan/Keyshaun to cast a single vote.

Read more at the Miami Herald.

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2 Responses to This week’s Herald column: the cruel myth of ‘voter fraud’

  1. The (suddenly urgent) campaign against voter fraud is very similar in many respects to the push for welfare drug testing. A pernicious, blatantly racist, and foolishly expensive policy is sold to gullible conservative minds as an eminently reasonable proposition.

    I have conservative co-workers who think that voters should be able to provide their photo ID at the polling booth and completely fail to perceive the true purpose of the policy; namely, to disenfranchise those groups who are most likely to support the “wrong” candidates. Similarly, simple conservative minds think that welfare recipients should be disqualified if they abuse controlled substances. The fact that drug use among welfare recipients is actually no higher or actually slightly lower than among the general population, or that the policy costs more to enforce than it saves, or that their precious Constitution says something about searches and seizures, flies right over their heads.

    I find it disturbingly amusing how the plutocracy, comprised of individuals who consider themselves highly intelligent, educated, and successful, shamelessly exploits the ignorance of those below them on the socioeconomic ladder. They don’t just take our money; they also take our intellectual integrity and morality. God bless the USA.

  2. Much like the equally repulsive policy of welfare drug testing, the Republicans’ assault on voting rights relies on the gullibility of many conservative voters. It seems fair, on the face of it, to deny state support to drug users and traffickers. Likewise, it seems reasonable to require voters to be able to produce photo ID at the polling booth. It is only when we dig a little deeper – and I’m not talking about drilling down to the earth’s mantle here – that we see clearly how blatantly racist and cynical these two policies really are.

    As E.J. Dionne has argued, we should be doing everything in our power to expand voter participation, not restrict it. He favors the Australian model, where voters are required to vote, which places a burden on the state to ensure participation. But in the United States, where the attainment of power trumps considerations of democratic legitimacy, the state is deliberately excluding groups of people who will vote “the wrong way.”

    We’ve been using the term “oligarchy” a great deal in recent years, but I believe “kleptocracy” would be far more accurate.

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