MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
A new study showing the impact of voter suppression in Wisconsin, which Donald Trump won by 22,748 votes, possibly played a role in the Badger State's electoral outcome. The report was analyzed by journalist Ari Berman in a September 25 Mother Jones article:
A comprehensive study released today suggests how many missing votes can be attributed to the new law. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison surveyed registered voters who didn't cast a 2016 ballot in the state's two biggest counties -- Milwaukee and Dane, which is home to Madison. More than 1 out of 10 nonvoters (11.2 percent) said they lacked acceptable voter ID and cited the law as a reason why they didn't vote; 6.4 percent of respondents said the voter ID law was the "main reason" they didn't vote.
The study's lead author, University of Wisconsin political scientist Kenneth Mayer, says between roughly 9,000 and 23,000 registered voters in the reliably Democratic counties were deterred from voting by the ID law. Extrapolating statewide, he says the data suggests as many as 45,000 voters sat out the election, though he cautioned that it was difficult to produce an estimate from just two counties.
Berman knows this topic because he has written on it numerous times before and has also authored a book, Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America. Of course, Berman spends a good deal of time discussing the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the book. Unfortunately, the law was weakened by the Supreme Court in 2013.
The important fact to remember, as BuzzFlash at Truthout has pointed out many a time, is that voter fraud at the polls is infinitesimal nationally. Lorraine C. Minnite, author of The Myth of Voter Fraud, provides examples that disprove the Republican allegations of voter fraud in an article featured in the Scholars Strategy Network:
Replicating my methodology, 24 journalism students at twelve universities reviewed some 2,000 public records and identified just six cases of voter impersonation between 2000 and 2012.
Under Republican President George W. Bush, the U.S. Justice Department searched for voter fraud. But in the first three years of the program, just 26 people were convicted or pled guilty to illegal registration or voting. Out of 197,056,035 votes cast in the two federal elections held during that period, the rate of voter fraud was a miniscule 0.00000132 percent!
No state considering or passing restrictive voter identification laws has documented an actual problem with voter fraud. In litigation over the new voter identification laws in Wisconsin, Indiana, Georgia and Pennsylvania, election officials testified they have never seen cases of voter impersonation at the polls. Indiana and Pennsylvania stipulated in court that they had experienced zero instances of voter fraud.
When federal authorities challenged voter identification laws in South Carolina and Texas, neither state provided any evidence of voter impersonation or any other type of fraud that could be deterred by requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls.
The United States needs a reinvigorated movement to expand voting rights and access. To build confidence in our democracy, we should look for ways to fix actual election problems -- and recognize that individual voter fraud is not one of them.
Berman notes that the suppression of votes by various GOP strategies aimed at generally Democratic-voting demographic groups far outweighs any illegal votes cast. In short, thousands upon thousands of people are kept from voting by restrictions aimed at non-GOP voting groups:
The new study also suggests that the number of voters disenfranchised by the law is far greater than the number of fraud cases that it was designed to stop. In 2014, during a federal trial where Wisconsin failed to present a single case of voter impersonation that the law would have prevented, a federal judge found that 300,000 voters lacked the strict forms of ID required by the state.
One major problem is that due to the repetition of Republican and Donald Trump charges that there is massive voter fraud, much of the public is being influenced by bombastic claims more than fact. According to a Rasmussen Reports survey, "A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 54% of Likely U.S. Voters say voter fraud is at least a somewhat serious problem in America today, with 27% who say it's a Very Serious problem." It remains to be seen how Trump's sham Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity -- created to" justify" Trump's ludicrous charge that three million migrants voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election -- will influence those in the US who actually believe voter fraud is a massive problem, when it is voter suppression that is keeping people from exercising their right as a citizen in a democracy.
With just slight rephrasing, the real fraud is keeping people from voting who are US citizens and who are guaranteed that right under the Constitution and its Amendments. This is the actual voter theft that is going on in Wisconsin and many other states where the GOP has a working majority in the legislature and a Republican governor. There are 26 GOP states with such a configuration, informally known as a "trifecta." Many of them have one or more requirements to cast a ballot that usurp actual voting rights.
Building a robust democracy requires that the right to vote remains inviolable.