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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sorely Needed Data-Based Sanity, August 14, 2012
This review is from: The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown (Hardcover)
Our increasingly hyperpartisan political atmosphere in which people with an opposing opinion are not merely disagreed with but denounced as malevolent and unhinged, as now brought the conduct of elections as more accusation to throw in opponents' faces. The fact that many election officials are either elected in partisan elections or appointed and supervised by partisans only adds tinder to the situation.

Hasen's 'The Voting Wars' begins with the 2000 Florida debacle, which Hasen contends mainly taught operatives the benefits of manipulating the rules. Continuing, Hasen covers efforts to suppress voting aimed at minority communities - spreading misinformation through flyers, and restricting registration. He also contends that much of what is described as partisan manipulation often is instead possibly lack of training and/or incompetence. Not surprisingly, efforts to improve via national standardization is fought by local officials fearing loss of autonomy. More disappointing - since 2000 not one state with partisan administration of elections has removed authority from partisans, though we have greatly reduced the prevalence of punched-card balloting.

Between 2005 and 2007, ten states considered new voter ID legislation - always a Republican-led affair. Between 2002 - 2005, only seventy federal convictions occurred for election crimes - only 35 were against voters, the rest vs. party and campaign workers. Less than 20 were convicted of casting fraudulent ballots, 5 for registration fraud.

Why so few cases? It's too easy to get caught when conducted at a level intended to sway election results, and therefore we don't have a single recent example of anyone even attempting it. Absentee ballot fraud is much easier.

Voter registration fraud is easier to conduct, but per Hasen, had not stolen elections - its purpose was simply to steal the money of those paying for voter registration drives. ACORN was just such a victim. Unfortunately, it also was a gift from heaven for voting-fraud chasers.

Of course, not all instances of alleged voter fraud are prosecuted. For example, recently released felons were found to have voted in a Washington state election prior to having their voting rights restored. However, the state had recently sent them ballots and urged them to vote - thus, the real problem was official incompetence.

Hasen also tells us that absentee ballot fraud is rare, usually involves vote-buying, and does get prosecuted. An example - officials in Cudahy, CA. recently admitted intercepting absentee ballots and throwing out those not cast for incumbents.

An email among New Mexico Republican party leaders stated that the voter ID issue should be used at all levels as a wedge issue. Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney Iglesias' failure to meet their expectations of follow-up led to his removal, though denied by Rove etc.

Bottom-Line: Hasen contends that there is very little substance to allegations of voter fraud. Yes, it exists, but we're dealing with it in an irrational and partisan way. We would better spend our efforts looking at corporate interest donations and their influence on actual policies carried out.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 14, 2012 8:26:09 PM PDT
maskirovka says:
I have a fundamental problem with the fact that you need a valid photo id to do many things, including attend a meeting where Eric Holder denounces photo id laws for voters. I accept that voter impersonation probably is rare, but I don't understand why the Democrats don't simply make a big push to get the people they feel will be unfairly impacted valid photo ids so they can vote.

The truth seems to me that while the Republicans may be using photo id laws as a wedge issue, the Democrats are doing the same thing by decrying those measures as a return to "Jim Crow," which they do not even remotely approach.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 31, 2012 1:22:47 PM PDT
I see your point, marskirovka. I speak as a registered Democrat: your analysis misses one crucial point. The very MINUTE that either political party proposes photo ID for all voters, all citizens, all whatever, holy living hell will break out. After all, such photo ID will need to be roughly equivalent in all 50 states, so that the equal protection laws are met. Americans are insanely paranoid about national ID, despite the general acceptance of passports. I suspect strongly that the number of Americans holding passports is far fewer than 50%. In addition, state governments will be loathe to give up the revenue and jobs associated with issuing their photo IDs, i.e., drivers licenses.

It's a tough problem, national ID. The Republicans know full well that the people who will be most disenfranchised by these disgusting, anti-American laws are poor folk, including African Americans.

Food for everybody's thought, I hope.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 8, 2012 11:32:18 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 8, 2012 11:38:25 AM PDT
S. Wright says:
For maskirovka and others:
A notable characteristic of the "Jim Crow" era was the poll tax, which could be used to discourage people with low incomes from voting.

A photo id law can be much more effective in reducing turnout of voters with low incomes, since obtaining the photo id might impose additional costs of money and time needed to obtain prerequisite documents such as a birth certificate or proof of residence.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 8, 2012 12:53:01 PM PDT
Thank you, S. Wright, for posting a precise description of why photo ID will disenfranchise so many people. When you say "additional costs of money and time", I want to emphasize the fact that taking time off from work to make the requisite physical appearance before the relevant agencies is included in the category you describe. How many government offices, especially those relating to birth records, are open during additional hours beyond normal business hours??

For most white middle class people, their frame of reference causes them to assume that EVERYONE has photo ID. People need to get in the habit of imagining life from someone else's perspective.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 28, 2014 8:16:09 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 28, 2014 8:17:06 PM PDT
Why is there a problem with voter IDs? Because it's an undue burden to a fundamental right that unfairly impacts certain segments of the population, giving one political party an advantage over the other. Laws are unconstitutional when the government purpose is not compelling (there is very little actual voter ID fraud and the likelihood of it swaying an election is minuscule, it's a question of principle, I suppose), and the burden is undue out of proportion to the purpose of the law. For many, who are poor, elderly or infirm, if they don't have a driver's license, getting one can mean huge expense or even getting fired from their job. The amount of people who the law can impact can sway an election. It's interesting that the right is always crowing about the constitution and how the left is shredding it, and yet they are so willing to threaten this fundamental right.

It's been pretty clearly shown that when there is a large turnout, Republicans don't do as well. Thus, they have a large incentive to discourage voting, which this does. This is an insult to democracy.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 29, 2014 11:19:01 AM PDT
Everything you have said here is exactly right. As far as how the GOP feels about the Constitution and what they say about it, remember that the Republicans LIE THROUGH THEIR TEETH in public, saying things they KNOW are wrong, if they think it will help them win. It is utterly disgusting, especially since the media seem to have no spine whatsoever where it comes to calling out outright falsehoods as lies. Too bad for the low-information voters, which is, sadly, way too many of us.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2014 7:42:53 PM PDT
Let's not equate paying poll taxes with having a picture ID, and an ID does not need to be some national police state ID.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 4, 2014 8:19:22 AM PDT
Picture ID is something that many people in traditionally Democratic Party support groups do not have. The elderly are disproportionately affected, especially African-American people, poor people, and anyone who is old enough to have been born at home. Students often do not have picture ID, believe it or not, and the hassle of getting one is just enough to prevent many of them from voting. No matter what you say about this, bottom line is that the GOP KNOWS *perfectly well* who will not vote due to picture ID requirements. Instituting such policies actually DOES amount to levying poll taxes, because in case you don't know, getting picture ID costs money!!! Since voter fraud is virtually non-existent, no matter what fantasies/falsehoods the GOP puts out there, there is NO NEED for these picture ID requirements. Shame on the GOP! What our country should be spending money and effort on is making sure there are enough voting machines and polling places everywhere, not just in the rich suburbs, and on extending early voting and weekend voting. Again, shame on the GOP for baldly grabbing for policies that will restrict voting. So anti-democratic! So out of sync with the will of our founding fathers!
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