Scott Keyes has a piece on Slate.com about how Republicans are trying to stamp out voter fraud that doesn’t exist. Despite a complete lack of evidence to bolster their argument, they’ve passed laws across the country to fight this non-existent menace:
Conservatives often note that even if widespread fraud hasn’t occurred, the ease with which voters could misrepresent themselves at the polls warrants stringent preventive measures. Sting artist James O’Keefe has released a number of videos in which people show up at the polls with hidden cameras claiming to be someone they’re not. The fact that most poll workers trust these individuals and hand over a ballot proves, in O’Keefe’s estimation, that we need voter ID laws so people can’t misrepresent themselves.
This view ignores an important point: Regardless of how “easy” it may be to trick an unsuspecting poll worker, it rarely happens. And there is a simple explanation why: Voter fraud is a felony that carries a federal sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If I show up at the polls and pretend to be Michael McDonald, at best, I gain a single vote for my preferred candidate; at worst, I get sent to prison until 2017. Stealing an entire election one vote a time (and risking significant penalties for doing it) defies common sense.
So does the logic that we must prevent any crime that’s “easy” to do. It’s really easy to dump a bucket of water on a policeman’s head. In reality, it doesn’t happen because people don’t want to go to jail. Yet by O’Keefe’s logic, the best way to prevent it would be to ban buckets.
Why does the right keep pushing this issue into legislation? Partly because it fits their agenda of believing nonsense despite a lack of facts to back it up, and partly because they’ve become really good at disenfranchising groups that tend not to vote for them. Read Keyes’ entire piece here.