We would like to congratulate Toni Tabb and the Voter Integrity Project of North Carolina. Not counting actual voters themselves, Tabb and the VIP are doing more than anyone else to show why requiring voters to prove their identity at the polls with a photo ID just isn’t necessary.
During their recent investigation of Currituck County’s voter rolls, Tabb — who was acting as a volunteer for the Voter Integrity Project — uncovered and challenged the names of 62 dead people still on the county’s roster of eligible voters. It turned out that 12 of those voters were already in what’s considered “inactive status” — a designation given to voters who fail to cast a ballot in two consecutive general elections. The Currituck Board of Elections Office, whose job is to remove the names of the dead from voter rolls once their deaths have been confirmed, was in the process of removing one of the names on Tabb’s list.
As for the other 49, Tabb and the Voter Integrity Project’s detective work will help speed up the process of getting their names removed from Currituck’s roster of eligible voters. Knowing now where to look, Currituck Director of Elections Mary Etheridge and her staff will be able to zero in on those voters whose deaths otherwise would have taken some time to confirm, and remove their names from Currituck’s voter roster.
That will slightly improve Currituck’s voter turnout figures in elections to come, since voters who are deceased won’t be counted among the thousands of voters who fail to show up on election day.
Of course there was one other benefit to Tabb and the VIP’s detective work. They proved pretty conclusively that there’s been no voter impersonation fraud in Currituck. Despite looking for it, they found not one instance where someone tried to use the name of a dead voter to cast a ballot. Not one.
And Currituck’s not the only place where there’s been this apparently startling discovery. According to state elections officials, similar challenges of voter rolls in other counties by the Voter Integrity Project have turned up a similar result: no evidence of voter fraud. In fact, according to a recent report, North Carolina Elections Director Gary Bartlett says he knows of only one instance in 20 years where someone tried to vote using a dead person’s name.
Of course, proving that voter fraud is a non-issue wasn’t the goal of the Voter Integrity Project’s detective work. It’s goal was just the opposite: to prove that the potential for fraud exists, and that the only way to prevent it from happening is to have state lawmakers, like their brethren in dozens of other states controlled by GOP legislatures, adopt a voter ID law.
Lawmakers in this state did in fact adopt such a law last year but were unable to override Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto. Perdue vetoed the law for the same reason photo ID laws have been opposed everywhere else they’ve been proposed since Barack Obama entered the White House in 2009: their only purpose is to hurt Democrats’ chances of winning elections by suppressing the voting of poor and minority citizens. Both groups reliably vote for Democrats. They’re also less likelier than others to have a photo ID when they show up at the polls to vote, even when those IDs and other identifying materials are supplied free of charge by the state. Republicans know this sad truth; hence, they’ve pushed for voter ID laws, having them either enacted or at least considered in 37 states since 2010.
Proponents of voter IDs say they’re needed to stop voter fraud. But as Tabb and the Voter Integrity Project have discovered after matching voting records against the names of the dead, there is no fraud to stop.
In fact, a recent study has shown now that it’s ludicrous — ludicrous on the order of “the world is flat” ludicrous — to suggest that the lack of voter IDs has led — or could lead — to voter fraud. News21, a respected national journalism program headquartered at Arizona State University, recently completed an exhaustive database search of U.S. voter fraud cases dating back to 2000.
Their findings: Of the 2,068 alleged voter fraud cases nationally during that period, only 10 involved cases of voter impersonation. Because there were 146 million registered voters during those 12 years, that means there was one voter impersonation fraud case for every 15 million voters. It also means that for every 207 cases of other types of election fraud, there was one case of voter impersonation. By comparison, there were 491 cases of absentee ballot fraud and 400 cases of registration fraud, none of which would have been prevented by a photo ID.
The News21 project noted that the Republican National Lawyers Association released a survey in 2011 that purported to show 375 cases of voter fraud across the country. But when journalists with the News21 project bore down into the actual cases the RNLA group cited, they found most were taken from newspaper articles written about alleged fraud. The examination found very little evidence of in-person voter fraud in any of the cases cited by the RNLA.
It’s clear then that Tabb and the VIP — and efforts like theirs across the country — are engaged in trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. But why? Is it because they truly hope that by passing photo ID laws they can stop some people from voting? Or is it that they believe that by simply ginning up the prospect of mass voter fraud and stolen elections, they can energize more Republican-leaning voters to show up at the polls in November?
Whatever their purpose, one does wonder why they’re working so hard at it. It seems if Tabb and the VIP were truly interested in performing a public service, there are real volunteer opportunities out there — reading to school kids, ladling soup to the homeless, driving meals to shut-ins — where they could put their energies to better use.