Investors Business Daily posted an article last August with the headline that the US has “3.5 Million More Registered Voters than Live Adults - A Red Flag for Voter Fraud”. Really? Have there been millions more vote casts than people in the US? Actually, no. Let’s see what is going on.
Nowhere in the article do they ask why there are so many more registered voters than there are actual live people. And that’s the crux of the matter. Are people going around registering illegally so they can vote illegally? No. The answer is quite simple. People register to vote in one state and then move away and register to vote in another state without asking to be removed from the first state’s voter rolls. People who die are also not removed from the voter rolls.
There are not people fraudulently added to the voter rolls all over the US. The worst thing that can be said is that some states do not clean up their voter rolls regularly. However, you can understand that doing too much clean-up is problematic. If you remove someone from the rolls because they haven’t voted in a certain number of years, but they show up to vote in the next election, the poll workers now have a bureaucratic hassle on their hands.
According to IBD, though, all those extra people on the voting rolls mean that we’re ripe for vote fraud. And, President Trump claims that millions of people voted illegally in the last election. So, maybe we do need to be worried?
Doubtful. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, numerous studies in the last ten years show that voter fraud, particularly unregistered people impersonating registered voters, is vanishingly rare. Other studies concur.
What’s going on here? At its core, it appears that this all this hullabaloo is a justification for voter ID laws. Wisconsin and six other states have strict photo ID laws while many other states have varying other kinds of photo or non-photo ID laws.
For most of us, voter ID laws are no big deal. After all, we can just show our driver’s license and be done with it. However, those opposed to the ID laws make a good point that these laws disenfranchise the poor, particularly the urban poor. In the inner city, many people don’t have driver’s licenses and if they aren’t in school, they don’t have a school ID. For most of them, a government issued ID is their best bet, but if they work business hours or more than one job (as those in poverty often do), then getting to a governmental office to procure such an ID may be difficult if not impossible. If they have the time, they usually also have to come up with the money for bus or cab fare. Thus, what doesn’t impede voting for most people is a huge barrier for a bloc of people with particular political and social interests.
So, we’ve got a solution in search of a problem that keeps a large group of people from voting. It seems to me that we need to save the time and energy for that “solution” and deal with real problems.