Show to vote

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As a democratic republic, nothing is more crucial to our governing bodies (national, state and municipal) than the integrity of our electoral process. For our elected officials to truly be representing us, both the candidates and the voters must play by a fair set of rules each election cycle. Over the past ten years, bipartisan efforts in states across the country (from Democrats in Rhode Island to Republicans here in North Carolina) have focused on protecting the voting process by implementing variations of “Voter ID” laws that require state-approved identification in order to vote. In response to those working to secure our elections, an angry army of partisans, race-baiters and preachy academics has sought to vilify these efforts as vote-fixing and racism. The forces behind voter ID, though, should be commended; recent events demonstrate a need for cleaning fraud out of elections, and voter identification is a simple and effective way to honor the integrity of the ballot.

Support for voter identification laws should derive from an inherent need for them. One of the chief criticisms of voter ID efforts is a low rate of discovered fraud by governmental watchdogs and prosecutors, but the privacy associated with voting makes catching cheaters in the act quite difficult. However, the mathematics of voting demonstrates fundamental irregularities in electoral results: For example, more than 140 U.S. voting counties have corrupted voter rolls, with more registered voters listed than residents. The Justice Department, which is aware of this issue, has intentionally refused to bring lawsuits forward to “clean” these voter rolls, even as citizens have demanded federal oversight. A troubling local example in N.C. is a recent Joint Legislative Elections Oversight Committee report on the 2012 election that revealed disturbing information: The report identified more than 35,000 people with the same first name, last name, and birthday voting in both North Carolina and another state in the 2012 general (with only 28 states participated in the crosscheck). When social security numbers are also considered, almost 1,000 voters with the same information voter in both North Carolina and another state in the 2012 general (and remember, the sample size shrinks significantly when social security numbers are included). Furthermore, video evidence from undercover activists has gone viral, exposing paid Organizing for America staffers and other partisan agents encouraging people to vote more than once. Around the country, citizen watchdogs are beginning to access the information that is publicly available to them on voting—and noticing some troubling trends.

A subset issue of fraudulent voting is ineligible voters, particularly regarding illegal alien and felon voting. From the 2008 and 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study surveys, administered by Harvard University, more than 14 percent of illegal aliens admitted that they were registered to vote in U.S. federal elections. In a fascinating peer-reviewed study, two Old Dominion Professors utilized the CCES data to extrapolate and project the effect of illegal alien voting on the 2008 and 2010 United States federal elections. The results are profoundly depressing—in 2008, non-citizen voting was likely responsible for President Obama’s electoral win here in N.C. and, more importantly, Senator Al Franken’s 312 vote victory in Minnesota. Not to be discounted, felons too have illegally voted in federal elections and tilted results—Senator Franken likely benefited from the criminal vote too, with citizen group Minnesota Majority discovering nearly 1,100 ineligible felons voting in the 2008 M.N. Senate Election. Franken, of course, was the critical “sixtieth vote” for Obamacare that allowed the bill to avoid death by filibuster in the Senate.

Acknowledging the swindling of our voting process, voter identification is a simple solution that allows election operators to verify the eligibility and identity of those casting a ballot. Having photo identification is a prerequisite for flying an airplane, seeing a doctor, signing up for credit or opening a bank account, and, most interestingly, purchasing a firearm and holding a rally or protest. Somehow, ID is required to exercise the first and second amendment rights but not for electing those who protect them. The government mandates identification for these activities because it’s in the common good’s best interest to link the “who” with the “what” for certain societal actions. Voting is the most important action we as citizens take, and it’s our responsibility to ensure only those eligible participate.

Keeping it local, North Carolina recently passed and began implementing a new voter ID law. Starting in the 2016 election, N.C. voters are required to present government-issued photo identification prior to voting. Voters will have had three years to acquire the photo ID (which includes a driver’s license), and can also sign a sworn affidavit and provide identification information should something happen to their ID on or close to election day. The N.C. law is also filled with exemptions for people who might find it harder to get identification—such as allowing expired photo IDs for voters over age seventy and giving free photo identification cards to those not possessing one or unable to afford one. This law represents a good balance of honoring the integrity of elections without adding much, if any, substantial burden to participating in them.

Of course, left-leaning partisans claiming the law discriminates against minority communities nonetheless decry the N.C. voter ID law. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and the rest of the left have screamed racism at these laws. Meanwhile, the rate of photo ID ownership among races is relatively stable around 93 percent overall, with 95 percent of whites, 90 percent of Hispanics and 87 percent of Blacks owning one. The real disparity in ID ownership is wealth, with only 87 percent of those making less than $25,000 possessing a valid photo ID vs. nearly universal ownership for those making more than $150,000. Many states implementing voter ID laws are aware of this inequity and going to great lengths to ensure the eligible poor have what they need to vote by subsidizing, paying for, and/or delivering the required identification. Even President Obama, when pressed by Al Sharpton on the “racism” of voter ID laws, admitted that it’s apathy and not lack of identification that keeps a lot of minorities from voting.

Meanwhile, voter ID laws enjoy broad support from the electorate as a whole (about 80 percent), and some polls indicate majority support from Black and Latino Americans for voter ID laws. What a shocker—the eligible American citizenry, by overwhelming margins, wants to make sure they and they only are participating in our elections. Congrats to North Carolina and many other states on taking steps to protect the integrity of the ballot, and with broad support, hopefully more states will soon do the same!

Max Schreiber is a Pratt senior. His column runs on alternate Wednesdays.


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